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Cascade Night Ride

July 1, 2018 Leave a comment

It must have been three or four years ago when I came over the Fremont Bridge to a bike train of people with multicolored lights over their bikes. This being out of the ordinary but me being tired from a long day that it didn’t fully register beside, “That isn’t usually on the Burke Gilman, even on a Friday.” Sometime later I found out about Cascade’s Night Ride.

It hadn’t been a goal to ride it but a want. Two years ago I forgot to sign up and last year there was too much going on to be able to go. This year I made it work. Despite the baby and slightly heavier than usual workload,  I even managed to get some lights on my bike so I could enjoy it more.

Getting ready for tomorrow's @cascadebicycle #nightride #bikelights #bikedecoration

A post shared by SalPonce (@that1tech) on

So the ride itself was interesting. The bulk of it had been some version of my commute until I left Ballard for Capitol Hill. In fact, as I rode it was reminded of part of “How to be a Road Biker” that said something about riding a Gran Fondo where you can pay hundreds of dollars to ride a route you could for free.

Now I spent much less than hundreds but it had some feel of that.  True, there were way more colorful lights and folks had a good time. Lots of kids on bikes which is also good.

My take away besides this was remarkably easy is how much getting through Magnolia changed. In a much earlier blog post I wrote about my first attempts at getting to work. For that ride, I took the Ballard Bridge, to Magnolia, to Elliot Bay Trail. I did this route for a few months until realizing it was so much safer to go over the Fremont Bridge and go over what would become the Westlake Cycleway but was a series of parking lots then. My route had a hill on Emerson before Gilman that I dreaded. Steep enough for me to hardly be able to do it, busy enough to put me in close contact to cars on the road, and sidewalk bumpy with roots that even that wasn’t an option.

Leaving Fisherman’s Terminal I shifted and prepared to go up that hill only to find we were routed to a 2 way protected bike lane. My smile was huge! I even said, “Where was this years ago!” Then someone had to walk their bike which caused me to move more center, and the person attempting to pass me to almost be run into the safety rail. This then connected to a 2 lane bike path on Gilman and a better intersections where it turns on Thorndyke before going the hill by the train track to the Elliot Bay Trail.

Now that trail hasn’t changed and is still a dark, scary strip of land between the train tracks and port warehouses. Just a little more light would be appreciated. Especially on that the overpass midway through. That took a few people by surprise. Hills seemed to get a few people now that I think of it. The number of people that had to walk their bikes up Harrison was also pretty large. Could have been just folks not knowing the hills are there or it could have been my attitude of the last few years of hating hills but just finding the right gear and going.

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Finish line!

In the end, I had a good time. I question some of the choices for the route. Seems like a few tweaks and it could have gone better but there are probably reasons for that. The first rest stop felt too soon and the second rest stop maybe a bit too far. Perhaps a bigger party one at Seattle Center would have been better. Yet that would have caused greater problems as bike route connections from the Center aren’t great. Wayfaring wasn’t too good as the signs with glowsticks were hard to read and the spray-painted markings didn’t work after dark.

Also other cyclists.

I don’t ride in groups very much but many people were far worse than me. At one point, I was behind some people and a biker coming up rang their bell to pass. In front, a person swerved left, overcorrected right, then overcorrected left, and fell. It happened, in slow motion and I was far enough over and behind to avoid them.  Their group stopped and besides being embarrassed they were ok.

Had this happened at a different part they would have been run over by a few people. Pretty freaky.

 

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Building a Greenway

June 27, 2018 Comments off

 

20180626_0917531Near my house in South East Seattle, there’s been a fight about making biking safer. This fight predates my first clumsy ride to Gasworks Park but maybe not as long as the one for the Missing Link. Anyway, some weeks ago my little family went for a stroll through Genesee Park and I noticed bike markings painted on the ground and some speed bumps that looked new. I noted it but didn’t really give it much thought.

Then sometime later I went for a ride and noticed a Greenway sign and followed it for a bit but ended up losing the Greenway. Not that it mattered I was doing a quick ride just to Coleman Park and back for no reason other than a ride.

Yesterday, I decided to try to explore this Greenway in progress and see how it is going and will this add a better route to my commute to Downtown or Capitol Hill. Overall, maybe. It felt better than going down MLK taking the Pedestrian Overpass and then meeting up with 31st but this route isn’t direct in the slightest.  Pardon just the pictures of the infrastructure pictures. It’s gonna be a lot of paint on the ground because that is what most of a Greenway seems to be.

I admit there are problems with the idea of Greenways and problems with the budget cuts surrounding them. Yes, Move Seattle wasn’t perfect but it made some improvements. Other people can go into better detail about the failings of that measure but right now how about we enjoy the ride?
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Riding Again

June 22, 2018 Leave a comment

Last post I mentioned a new bike in my life and here it is.

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Bike with a view

I did get a question about the why of getting a touring bike and some of it is hope. I hope to be able to bike tour or bike camp one day. Not the summer, obviously, making sure a baby doesn’t die and my wife doesn’t kill me for abandoning her for the open road is more important but someday. Also, I found myself doing long and long rides with my Jamis.

These were great except the pain that occurred in my neck, shoulders, arms, etc.  In fact, less than a month before my daughter was born I did a 30 mile ride with Cascade and while it went well my body ached after. This was a leisurely style ride meant to get people into group riding and fit exactly what I wanted to do and learn. During the ride, I found myself easily outdistancing many of the riders. I kept up with a couple others and as we rode we ended up chatting.

We were all bike commuters, all had hilly neighborhoods, and all enjoyed the lollipop ride with the hills. Challenging but very fun we each remarked. At the end, I got to chatting and brought up the setting an arbitrary goal and looking to get a touring bike because of distance. The ride I was chatting with mentioned having done the same with a new bike and wished me luck.

Just before the birth I got checked out a few bikes, thought I made a decision, rode a few more, and picked a bike I barely considered because it felt the best. Still need some more things to complete the bike but much closer than I was at the start. Also, love the ride.

Doing a work commute has been a bit daunting because I have to get up Beacon Hill or fight through the traffic of Rainier. Beacon is scary because it’s a hill and goes on and Rainier is prioritized for cars and will be for the foreseeable future. Still new bike, new goals, and Scare Yourself, right?

Going back to work I figured why not? I need some personal time and Biking has been my personal time. I have done the ride up Beacon Hill a few times. It wasn’t easy on the Jamis and it still isn’t on the Kona. Now it is easier. So this could be a few factors some being my personal fitness level others being bike related. Regardless, I went up the hill more easily and actually biked to work. It took me about 30 minutes to ride in.  It often takes me an hour to drive and 45 minutes to bus. When I commuted for the first time from Ballard I felt like my world opened up and felt like I had a greater control. Also the views.

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Seattle and my finger in the afternoon

Also, l like Ballard I end up with some exercise, some chance for reflection, and the ability catch up on my podcasts. Going every day doesn’t work as some days I’ll be working from home and others I have meetings stacked in locations where it isn’t feasible as well as childcare. Much like riding during tech week it could become something I look forward to on the days when I can.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to my commutes and should probably start a couple of knitting projects before it gets cold.

 

Coffeeneuring 2015 Part 1

October 4, 2015 Leave a comment
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Lost Lake

Deciding to take the theme rides I figured going to diners for each ride would be the most interesting.  For my first rise I did an easy ride to Lost Lake in Capitol Hill from another part of Capitol Hill.
2 miles round trip
Sitting at the bar meant I could be served faster but I swear the coffee was better at 5 Point but not sure at least isn’t the 5 Posts by Stumptown?
Really don’t remember.
Any way easy ride,  good breakfast,  and nice coffee.
Also quick service if sitting in the bar on a Sunday.

Dexter Hill

June 16, 2015 Leave a comment

After 2 years of looking up Dexter Avenue from the Fremont Bridge I decided to try it.

Gritted my teeth,  changed gears,  and climbed up that hill.

Know what?
It wasn’t that bad.  Sure I had to pause at the top to catch my breath but I did it and will do it again.

Two Years in the Saddle

June 7, 2015 Leave a comment

It’s been about two years since I decided to try my hand at riding a bike.
These days the notion of my riding my bike to work seems almost mundane.
Especially during the summer. The excuse to not ride mainly comes from having to lug a computer back and forth, or meetings, or some similar activity but the fear of doing the trip has all but disappeared.

Yet I am still no spandex wearing bike riding.
I do not feel comfortable have that sort of exposure and why I see a few larger gents wearing biking stretchy bike clothing I just don’t feel I can. Hell I still feel not fearing a jacket even on hot days. It’s a small quirk but one of my own. But recently I have had the idea of getting some bike knickers.
Which turned out to be an interesting time in trying on clothing.
I could either get a fit in the waist or the thighs. Sure there was one pair that fit pretty well in both but when I gazed into my reflection I was rewarded with moose knuckle that I would need to be lead singer in a band to pull off.
And I am no singer.
Hell I’m not even the back up tambourine player, I’m just some guy.
So I broke out a sewing machine and altered a pair of pants that I had been meaning to hem for at least 3 years.

Short pants, tall socks, and heavy boots.

Short pants, tall socks, and heavy boots.

Yesterday it was a beautiful day in the 80s and set out for my longest ride as I decided a voyage from my home in Ballard to Woodinville for a beer, a look around, and perhaps milkshake on the way back would be a good idea.
Now when I say “Longest trip” this has all the fanfare of being something for me. Sure only a few weeks ago I had done 31 miles without many issues but this was nearly 50. How near? Well 2 miles under had I gone stopped at the Sloop on the way back it would have been that magic number but considering my ride back took almost 4 hours because I putzed around it’s fine.

Around 3pm I decided to set out.
It being a hot day I put on a white linen shirt, grey undershirt, my brown knickers, tall wool socks and heavy boots, stuffed a bandanna into my pocket and filled a water bottle. First thing to note I should probably use my second water bottle. Not that I became dehydrated but I could have used more water at each stop and my 24 oz bottle just wasn’t enough. So the ride out was great. I made it past 192 Brewing in what felt like no time. I made excellent progress along this route and had no need to stop. It was sometime later when winding through Bothell that I made a minor mistake.
I should have taken the Sammamish River Trail but I kept on the Burke Gilman. Not a huge issue but the Burke suddenly dumps onto a road in Bothell.
And by road I don’t mean a nice divide one with a bike lane, well it had a bike lane for a while, but a 2 lane country road with a small shoulder. Yet it was fun.
Eventually I passed an area I recognized from Summer Concerts at San Michelle Winery but the thing is all the times I went down that road in a car it felt like nothing. On a bike it actually had some distance which makes me wonder just how long that road is and how fast I must have driven down it?

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At Redhook there were a lot of bikes. I regret not taking a picture because many had cleared out by the time I left. Yet the one thing that was really different between me and them was the clothing. Bikes, accessories, hell attitudes I’m certain were very similar but I had not gone into typical bike wear. Still as much as I judged them for their choices on what to wear I wager each bike I passed or passed me made similar judgments about me.
Or maybe they didn’t, I don’t know.

What I know is my love of Redhook is mostly over. Sure it’s not a bad beer, by any stretch but, to be frank, it is not the glorious beer it once was to me. Perhaps I am more picky or it has grown too much but the distinct lovely flavor of the ESB that I enjoyed many years ago just doesn’t thrill me as much. That being said the Apple Ale was surprising and Long Hammer is still Long Hammer. Thought about getting the Blackhook but it was warm and a lighter beer sounded good.

Then back on my bike for the return trip.

Now why did it take me hours to return?
Well I went rather slowly. The trip up had been a good trip but I really enjoyed the way back. I stopped to chat on the phone twice at different times. Stopped into Third Place Books and noticed it had both changed and not changed, had a milkshake at Kidd Valley, and looked at the same expanse of Beach on NE 130th that is trying to be saved. The way back was really about enjoying the trip while the way up had been about getting there. About proving to myself I could do that trip.
Like when I biked to Chuck’s for the first time years ago this trip was about doing something I didn’t think I could do.

Now I have one small admission.
A number of years ago a coworker told me that he would drive out to Woodinville, do a load in, bike home, hang out, bike back, load out, and drive home.
At the time this seemed like an impossible journey and I was living much closer than I am now. Had I not been so taken with had tough that seemed and really thought about it I wonder what sort of Bicycle Adventures I could have had?
I wonder what sights I could have seen and where I could have gone?
Instead I am making up for lost time and capturing these trips when I can.
Still I look forward to all of the bike adventures I will have now that I realized distance is a thing.
And soon I will try my had at Dexter Hill.

Long Ride

May 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Earlier this week I had wanted to go for a long ride.
Unfortunately life got in the way I couldn’t do it so when I suddenly there was only a matinee and evening free I decided to wave good bye to Seattle and see how far I could go by bike.

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Good Bye Seattle. Hello Lake Forest Park

When i moved to Seattle I lived in the Lake City Neighborhood.
This was a mixed blessing in a lot of ways. For the most part I got to live in a part of Seattle I may not want to live in a gain but I also got to understand that while this was a far away neighborhood that didn’t have a lot of problems it was still not a great place to live. But honestly those 6 months I spent in Lake City weren’t terrible.  Yes I was worried about finding work or using all my savings but it had moments of entertainment. I strolled the neighborhood a lot. Read a lot of odd books and learned many places that offered refills of coffee and didn’t mind if you stuck around all day.
One such place was called Third Place Commons in Lake Forest Park. The Honey Bear Bakery had free refills of drip and day old pastries there was an additional plus of a King County Library in the mall area so there were free books or books for buy from the book store. Also nearby was a park.
And the Burke Gilman trail.
At this point I would see bikes go by and wonder who would ride this far.
What manner of person would hop on a bike and go this far?
As I crossed that intersection and looked over I had my answer.
I would.
tt look me almost 8 years but I rode my bike from Capitol Hill, over the University Bridge, through UW, and then North until I got to Lake Forest Park. I had a goal of seeing how far I could go or to 192 Brewing whichever came first but as I passed Third Place Common I knew I could go the rest of the way for a drink and there wouldn’t be a problem.
Sure it I hadn’t gone 17 miles in a go but I beat my previous of 13 miles which I hardly count because it was so flat but so was the Burke Gilman and yet it was so good. Making that distance and not feeling like my body was failing me helped. It was so doable. I had no problems even if I felt out of place when I arrived at 192 and I was the only cyclist in normal clothes. This made me happy.
Sure some may have come way farther than I did or much faster or are training for  a major ride but it was still good to know I don’t require special clothing to bike. And that is the real plus.
Even after 30 miles I contend that my clothing was fine. Sure my legs ache a bit from the strain but it is in a good work out way not in a “I hurt myself through stupidity way” and that is what matters. Good old soreness instead of real pain.

Also my ass does not hurt which means even though I still find a hard leather seat odd I am so happy I’m not butt hurt.

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Good Bye Lake Forest Park. Hello Seattle.