Monday, March 19, 2007

Failed ride from Seattle to Bellingham a success

A friend and I set out this past Saturday to ride from Seattle to Bellingham, which is roughly 100 miles. We wanted to use the Centennial Trail, which goes from Snohomish to Arlington, and skips the suburban sprawl that is closer to I-5. That we did, but getting to the trail was not as easy as I expected.

The problem was that we didn't have a clear route from Bothell to Snohomish, so we just jumped on a road and started heading North. But which was is North? Apparently we didn't know because we went waaaay East and ended up on Avondale road, south of Woodinville. At the time I didn't realize how far off course we were, but a couple on the side of the road made it clear once we asked for directions.

The other problem was that it began to rain in Woodinville, at first that light Northwest rain that doesn't really bother anyone, but then came down harder, and never stopped. We got Soaked.

It took us about four hours to get from Seattle (Capitol Hill) to Snohomish, when it should've been more like two hours! And did I mention we scheduled to catch the Amtrak at 7:30 PM in Bellingham ON THE SAME DAY?!

Well, we didn't make it.. We got off of the Centennial trail at around 4:00, but at that point our maps were falling apart due to the rain, so once again we were left up to our senses and directions from uninterested bystanders. We found Highway 9 and rode it through some foothills of the Cascades, and came out south of Mt. Vernon. There was barely any shoulder, but not much traffic either so it was a nice ride. We were trying to meet up with Chuckanut Drive, which would've taken us all the way to Bellingham.. But Chuckanut is in Burlington, just North of Mt. Vernon, which explains why we couldn't find it.

We bailed out at about 6:30 PM and got a hotel in North Mt. Vernon. We were both disappointed not to make it all the way, but it felt good to get into warmth and take a shower. I think we totaled about 80 or 90 miles, given how off-course we rode.

Next time we're gonna nail that fuckin' route! (and bring laminated maps)

Monday, March 12, 2007

solo century - twice around lake washington!

the lake washington bicycle loop is a popular ride in the seattle area, with both city and suburban views and some nice hills in between.

since i'm shooting for the one-day STP (200 miles!) this year, i decided to do an unsupported solo century just to see how i'd feel. the easiest route i could think of (and that i've done before) was to do the lake washington loop, but twice.

i completed it yesterday, and here are the stats:

  • distance: ~110 miles
  • total time: 6 hours, 50 minutes
  • bottles refilled: 4
  • flats: 0
  • cramps: 2
  • sore knees: 1
  • boosted ego: 1
anyway it wasn't all that bad, although 200 miles this july won't be very easy, and this put it in perspective.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Critical Mass rules Aurora Ave once again!

This past Friday (2/23) i was late to 'mass', but caught up with the group downtown, in a super-stroke of luck. It's easy to see 100+ cyclists in the dark, what with all the flashing lights, and the traffic backed up behind them!

We slowly headed north towards Fremont, and while stopped on Denney Ave something weird happened: a Washington State Trooper pulled up beside us and shined his spotlight at our faces, kind of scanning the crowd, of course this yielded hollers and laughter from the crowd of confused cyclists. What was even more confusing was that the trooper then just sped off, and never said a word. Guess he figured it wasn't worth it to try to arrest us all!

Anyway we eventually snaked up Westlake Ave and cross the Fremont Bridge into the 'center of the universe'. Upon turning up the short but steep climb to the Troll, some kid on a fixie (and in a t-shirt in 30 degree weather) bit it hard, basically slid on his chest! and as usual with critical mass, lots of old road bikes instantly gave up on the hill, protesting to years of neglect no doubt. seriously, every time we go up a steep hill at least 10 chains come off!

After partying at the Troll (thanks to the dude with the keg on the trailer!), we eventually decided to take the Aurora Bridge! We walked up the East steps, which meant we had to stop both directions of traffic (all six lanes) - at first a few of us just stepped out into the street, halting oncoming traffic. This is super-scary consider the traffic NEVER sees bikes on this road, and they're cruising at 50+ mph... but they stopped when they saw our flashing lights in their path..

After we all regrouped, all 30 of us rode south on Aurora for 10 minutes or so, to the tune of a half-mile of honking traffic behind us! I tried to do a backwards circle on the bridge before the pack caught up, but drunken backwards-circles are no easy feat! Damn, I just wanted to say I'd done that, guess I'll have to wait till next time.

P.S. If you haven't seen the Fremont Troll yet check it