Monday, May 21, 2007

The Five Trails Ride

This is one of my favorite springtime routes. I think I'll call it "The Five Trails Ride." The route takes you on five King County Regional Trails and through at least ten different communities.

We started at Eastside Foursquare Church in Bothell and headed south through Kirkland, and Bellevue. We turned west on the I-90 Bike Trail (trail #1) and crossed Mercer Island. The wind was blowing like my daughter's hair dryer as I rode with white knuckles across the I-90 span into Seattle. Upon reaching the other side of the bridge, we stopped to enjoy the view and then entered the I-90 bike tunnel. This tunnel is a treat for the first-timer. It's brightly decorated with children's murals and well lit. You can't tell that hundred of cars are hurtling along at 70 mph just over your head.

Once in the Rainier Valley, we turned south along Airport Way and then east through SoDo to make our way towards Alki. A few cruise ships loomed several stories above the waterfront, preparing for their voyage to Alaska. Hmmm. That would be a good detour. But, no, we've got a date with a Tully's on the Alki waterfront. We successfully made it to bike trail #2: Alki Bike Trail. This was not only a great day for cycling but apparently an equally good day for diving. Scores of divers waited along the waterfront for their turn to raise the red and white diagonalled flag and submerge in the cold dark waters of Elliott Bay. I shouted as we rode by something along the lines of "Hey, another sport that looks good in black tights!"

Our stop at Tully's was well timed. We enjoyed getting to know three of our new riders: Jake, a 15-year old who is attempting his third or better STP; Tom, a sturdy rider who fits in great with our group and our penchant for good natured ribbing; and his friend Cameron, a Scotsman and 10-year newcomer to the States to work for a small software company based in Redmond. We decided that anything Cameron said was entertaining. At one point in our ride, Kristin said, "Keep talking," and Cameron thought she was sarcastically telling him to shush. She corrected him, "No, I mean it! Keep talking! I love your accent!"

We departed Alki and headed south toward Fauntleroy much to Tom's dismay that we now had a good series of climbs ahead of us. The headwind today was blowing from the southwest, so it was considerable effort throughout the ride thus far to ride both south and west. We ached to finally turn east or north. And turn we did. We crossed through White Center and then dropped down to the Duwamish River Trail (trail #3 if you're keeping track). I wonder what this area looked like when the Duwamish native americans resided here. (It's slightly less than idyllic when the tide is out and you see a mud flat surrounded by shipping containers industrial parks and shipyards.)

Now we hit trail number four on the Elliott Bay Trail taking us along Alaskan Way and the Seattle waterfront. I thought about stopping for some nice, warm Ivar's clam strips, but have never read that to be good cycling food. Opted for the chewy granola bar instead and we pressed toward the Ballard Locks. My favorite part of this ride is the hidded pedestrian bridge crossing the railroad that is tucked between W. Government Way and W. Commodore Way. After bumping across it, we rolled out into the Ballard Locks. Stopped for a photo or two and then walked across the Locks amid the out-of-towners and their Seattle hosts showing them the sights.

Our return to Bothell was on Trail #5, the good old bumpy Burke-Gilman. We finished the day in sunshine, blue skies, and fair warmth. Not bad considering the day started with clouds and drizzle and three phone calls asking if we were still riding. Of course we're riding. Afterall, this is my favorite ride... It's "The Five Trails Ride."

Dist: 67.01
Time: 4:56:41
Avg: 13.5
Max: 35.0
Riders: Kristin, Warren, Tom, Cameron, Jake, Jim, Bob H.

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