Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Trails! (Lake WA, Interurban, and Green River to Be Exact)

This was a full weekend for me. A Boy Scout campout conflicted with our usual Saturday morning club ride, so my solution? Ride on Sunday! We gathered at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon with hot sun, blue skies, and good friends ready to head south. Our route would take us through Kirkland and Bellevue to Renton and Tukwila where we would find the Interurban Trail, ride it south all the way to Kent, and return north on the Green River Trail.

Our group included Gary, Ken, Jim, myself and a new rider, Tenille. I had encouraged Tenille to come ride with us all Spring. I suggested she start early in the year with us so that when the longer rides come, she'll have some training and be ready. She didn't follow my advice. She waited until mid-May. This was her first ride with us--67 miles. Her longest ride to date was about 35 miles. Hmmmm. This would be interesting to say the least.

As we pulled out of Eastside Foursquare Church's parking lot and headed south through Kirkland and Bellevue, the waterfront was packed with sunbathers, dog walkers, and joggers enjoying the summer-like weather. It felt like July today and I was enjoying it immensely!

Everyone was keeping up just fine on the early hills, including Tenille. So far, so good! We stopped at Gene Coulon Park in Renton for restrooms and water bottle refills. Then I tackled the circuitous route through Renton and Tukwila to reach the Interurban Trail. It's not easy to do. Renton and Tukwila don't have too many good bike routes through town--there are a few--but it takes someone familiar with the communities to navigate the right roads. We took a slightly more creative route but eventually found the trailhead to the Interurban Trail. This 15-mile trail is flat, straight, easy, and was largely empty on this Sunday afternoon. A marked contrast to the closer-to-home Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River Trails which are packed on weekend afternoons!

The Interurban bisects the Green River Trail. We turned onto the GRT and began our return to the north. While the Interurban is arrow-straight, the GRT twists and turns as it follows it's namesake, Green River. We passed well-manicured golf courses, parks, condos, and office complexes. One of the favorite regional sculptures among cyclists is "Slip Stream" by David Govedare located at Van Doren’s Landing Park, 21861 Russell Road. We took our photo with the three steel cyclists and wondered how they maintain their riding stance for hours on end without back strain.

As our ride continued north, we stopped at some off-trail restrooms, surveyed our map, and plotted our return through Tukwila and Renton. I was determined to make my return route less creative than our initial one. Tenille was riding strong and had emphatically told us four guys not to inform her how many miles had passed until we finished the ride. I guess what you don't know can't fatigue you?

We ably navigated through Renton, got back on the Lake Washington Trail, and cruised back through Bellevue, Kirkland and arrived in Bothell back to the EFC parking lot. We congratulated Tenille on her first ride with our group. I asked her to guess what our mileage was. "60?" she replied cautiously. Nah. "Sixty-six point nine three!" She had ridden nearly 67 miles almost doubling her previous highest mileage. "I rock!" she shouted and fist-pumped the air. I shared with Ken her secret. She's a former figure skater. Not too bad for someone more used to ice than asphalt, huh?

Riders: Bob, Ken, Gary, Jim, Tenille
Dist: 66.93
Time: 4:52:28
Avg: 13.7
Max: 35.5
Elev Gained: 2216 ft
Max Elev: 310 ft
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 8%
(can you tell who got a new cyclocomputer with an altimeter?!)

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