Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Off to the Expo! But Stop for Bunnies...

It's Sunday morning and we're heading to the Bike Expo! I switched our usual Saturday morning bike ride to Sunday due to a conflict I had this past weekend on Saturday. So following the 9 a.m. service, four of us--Ken, Johnny, Jeannette, and myself--met in the EFC Parking Lot, shared a brief devotional, prayed, and hit the road. The weather was in the low 50s with an overcast sky, but the rain stayed away all day for us. As we reached Juanita, a fifth rider, Kimberly, met us and joined our train. I think Jeannette was pleased to have another gal riding with us, especially since they are friends.

We continued through Kirkland and into Carillon Point. I realized it was odd for me to be on a ride on a Sunday since I'm usually in church service. I discovered that there's a lot of Sunday morning walkers out at this time of day! After Carillon Point, we turned west and climbed the big hill that parallels I-520 and leads into Yarrow Point. I found that the hills today were not going to be kind to me. (I discovered later that I was just beginning to get a viral infection and should have been at home sleeping instead of hammering out this ride!) As we turned south through Medina, I saw more morning walkers and joggers. Upon rounding Meydenbauer Bay, I enjoyed the pretty view across the water of downtown Bellevue. Despite the overcast skies, it was an attractive view.

We rode through Old Bellevue and then turned south on Bellevue Way stopping at the Park and Ride just north of I-90 for a brief breather. The pace was good for everyone and so far, the ride and route were going well. We hit the paved and winding trail that connects to the I-90 bike trail and began our ride over Mercer Island. The Mercer Island Half Marathon happened earlier in the morning. While we didn't see any runners, we saw the road markings and signage for the race. Halfway across Mercer Island, Jeannette called for us to stop. We had just passed a funny sign announcing an upcoming "Rat Show." Who participates in a rat show, I'm not sure. But this sign prompted her to recall that she was caring for a friend's show rabbit and had not watered or fed said rabbit since Friday night.

Now, I've had to stop for riders in our bike groups for lots of various reasons: flats, chain problems, bathroom stops, food stops, clothing adjustments, and the like. But I have never had to stop in order to check on a bunny! Jeannette pulled out her cell phone and began making frantic calls to friends and family to find someone willing enough to check on the show-worthy rabbit. To make matters more challenging, she didn't have an exact address and had to describe the home's location. After a 20-minute break, she finally resolved the issue and we could pedal on. We learned later that the rabbit was safe and sound and still very much alive.

After Mercer Island, we crossed Lake Washington on I-90 and ventured into the I-90 bike tunnel. A few of our riders had never experienced the tunnel. That's always fun to take a rider someplace new. From there we went through the Rainier Valley, along Dearborn and the International District, to Safeco and Qwest Fields. Now it was just a short distance along Alaskan Way to the Expo at the Cruise Terminal 30. Plenty of people were walking from their cars to the Expo and a few were biking there. We parked in the bike parking area and ventured inside.

I enjoy the Bike Expo, but also find it to be a sizeable temptation. New bikes, new products, new rides and events, new accessories, all begging to go home with me. Last year, I brought a backpack. This year, I removed the temptation and left it at home. We surveyed all the exhibits, purchased lunch, enjoyed Ryan Leach and his crazy Mountain Bike Trials exhibition, and then departed around 3:30 p.m.

We shortened the route home by riding directly through Bellevue and bypassing the scenic Clyde Hill-Medina route. But, it was on the route home that I realized just how lousy I was feeling on the hills. I could pedal fine on the flats, but once I started climbing... I had no power. Fortunately, I was able to complete the ride and when we all returned to EFC, I was thanked for leading the ride and selecting the route. That's a good feeling, but the best feeling was being done... and knowing that the bunny was okay!

Time: 3.29.19
Dist: 43.48 mi.
Avg: 12.4
Max: 34.2
Temp: 55F
Total Ascent: 1885 ft.
Max Elev: 213 ft.
Riders: Bob, Johnny, Ken, Kimberly, Jeannette

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Riding the Interurban

Where are all the regulars?

That's what I said to myself as I rolled up to the group of three cyclists in the parking lot at Eastside Foursquare Church on this Saturday morning. I knew they were new riders to our group. How did I know? First, they were parked in a different spot than where our group usually meets. Second, I didn't recognize any of them! Here we are, the first official Saturday morning ride of the year and none of our regular group of riders is here. Instead, three new people invited by Rick, who leads a spin class at a local health club. These were his students. And he didn't even show up to join them! I introduced myself and met each of them: Mike, Michelle, and Eva. They wondered where Rick was, too. So we called him and learned he had a family emergency. He was terribly apologetic.

So, what do you do with three new riders and none of your regulars? You go for a ride!

We headed down the hill from EFC to Kenmore and turned north. We chatted a little as we rode and I got to know a bit more about these three. It was Eva's birthday today. And her present to herself was the longest ride to date. She had only ridden short Burke-Gilman rides and never done a long one like this.

As we neared Lynnwood, we turned onto the Interurban Trail. The trail follows the route once used by the Interurban Trolley that ran between Ballard and Bellingham until 1939. In 1910, The Seattle-Everett Interurban Railway began electric passenger service. After the railway was abandoned in 1939, it was converted to a power line corridor. In the 1990s, the right-of-way was opened to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Interurban Car 55 is a restored trolley from this route, and is located at Heritage Park, east of Interstate 5 on Poplar Way in Lynnwood next to The Wickers Building, which is now the Transportation Museum. This 11.8 mile trail extends through Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, unincorporated Snohomish County, Everett and Lynnwood.

We left the Interurban in Mill Creek / Silver Lake area and rode along 132nd to Seattle Hill Road. This corner has really been developed in the past few years. Now there's a drive-through Starbucks at the corner! From this point, we turned south and worked our way through some neighborhoods I hadn't previously explored. This route took us through Cathcart to Broadway and then we headed south toward Maltby and Woodinville to finish our ride along the Sammamish River Trail. You can view our route on Bikely.com.

Well, even without our regular riders, we had an enjoyable and dry, if cold, March 1st ride. Perhaps next week, we'll see some familiar faces. But, if not, I'll still be ready to add some more miles to my odometer... and meet some new people.

Dist: 37.03
Time: 2:46
Avg: 13.4
Max: 30
Total Ascent: 2123 ft
Max Elev: 591 ft.
Cloudy, dry
42 degrees
Riders: Bob H., Mike, Michelle, Eva