Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Green River Trail, Interurban Trail, oh... and a Couple of Parking Lots

There's an interesting phenomenon among cyclists on a sunny Saturday following several weekends of rain and even snow... they all turn out for a ride! This Saturday we had 20 cyclists show up at Eastside Foursquare Church for our morning ride to Renton, Tukwila, and Kent and back again. The day was beautiful if a little cold. We headed south through Kirkland and Bellevue stopping occasionally to corral all our riders. We picked up two more at the Bellevue Way Park and Ride and then headed to the Lake Washington Loop Bike Trail. Lots of riders out today which sometimes made it difficult to make sure we stayed with the right group and didn't start following a different group, or coax other riders into our group!

After a rest stop at Gene Coulon Beach, we weaved our way through Renton. This is where our group took on more of a collaborative leadership facet. Those more familiar with the south end helped us get through the crazy streets of Renton and make it to Tukwila. There, we worked our way south to the Green River Trail. One wrong turn took us into our first parking lot of the day, but we figured out where we needed to be and found the GRT shortly thereafter.
The Green River Trail winds more than 19 miles from Cecil Moses Park near Seattle’s south boundary to North Green River Park in south Kent near Auburn. Office buildings and suburban warehouse landscapes give way to open fields and hedgerows as the trail winds its way along the river.

When we reached Kent, we planned to turn east on 212th and return via the Interurban Trail. But before we could make the turn, Warren and another rider overshot the turn and continued on the GRT. We phoned him, told him to turn around, and then headed east to the Interurban. Upon reaching the Interurban Trail, someone in the back of the 20+ pack shouted to stop. I could see Warren on his phone about 100 yards away. Soon, my phone rang. It was Warren calling to make sure I had made the turn.
I had removed my yellow jacket and that must have thrown him. I waved to him and said, "Warren! I'm right here at the front of the pack!" I laughed, told him this was a "blog-worthy" move, and we continued on the Interurban. The Interurban Trail links Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Algona, and Pacific along a near-straight 14 mile-long alignment following the historic Interurban Rail Line.

When we reached Tukwila again, we continued a bit further on the Interurban and soon found ourselves in a second parking lot near Fort Dent. I remarked later to another rider, "I lead like this--occasionally making wrong turns--so other riders will say, 'I could lead a ride... I could lead better than Bob!'" We backtracked to Grady Way and returned through Renton, stopping once more at Gene Coulon and then back through Bellevue and Kirkland, reaching Eastside Foursquare Church with 57 miles behind us.

Hey, I'll take a beautiful day of riding on trails like these even with a couple wrong turns. It sure beats staying home watching the snow!

Dist: 57.07
Time: 4:06:48
Avg: 13.8
Max: 33.8
Riders: 20 of them!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Our Own Paris-Roubaix... With Slightly Fewer Cobblestones

Created in 1896, Paris-Roubaix is a spring classic road race over the muddy cobbled roads of France. Known as the "Hell of The North" this is the most rugged of the spring classics as the racers make their way over 21 sections of "pave"--cobblestones--in typically horrible early spring weather. If the road conditions and teeth-rattling pave don't take you out, then one of the frequent crashes will. As we set out on this Saturday morning, our intent wasn't to duplicate the Paris-Roubaix experience, but to merely have a taste of it.

Leaving Eastside Foursquare Church's parking lot, Kristin, Jay, David, and I headed toward Woodinville and soon climbed over 124th to Avondale. At the corner on the other side, we encountered a training team of Group Health women riders in a pack of nearly 20 riding two across. While they were headed in the same direction as our group, we never caught them. Shortly after turning north toward W. Snoqualmie Valley Rd., I passed a new home and noticed a grandmotherly lady looking out her window toward the road. I gave a friendly wave and she waved back. Just checking out the morning cyclists, I guess.

The weather in the Snoqualmie valley was grey skies but dry. In the far distance to the east, I could still see snow on the Cascade foothills. I was glad it wasn't snowing today... or raining. The sun was even beginning to peek out as we began our climb over Ames Lake-Carnation Road and headed to Redmond.

Our ride on Rt. 202 brought us to the Red Brick Road, our Paris-Roubaix equivalent for the day. This historical road contains the longest stretch of exposed historic red brick highway in King County. Kristin said it best when we began to bounce over the bricks, "Thank the Lord for sports bras!"

After completing our red brick stretch, Kristin learned that our friend Brenda was in Redmond shopping for a new road bike at Gerk's Alpine Hut. We decided to try and meet up with her. We found her in the back parking lot about to take a test ride on... none other than a Specialized Roubaix! Nice work, Brenda. Glad you could keep your bike shopping consistent with the day's theme!

Dist: 46.31
Time: 3:31:18
Avg: 13.1
Max: 36.3
Max Elev: 554 ft.
Total Ascent: 2339 ft.
Riders: Kristin, Jay, David, Bob