No way I could take an 8 day work trip to Seattle and not ride, right? I mean, middle of training, beginning of race season, eating out for every meal, and my mental health… all depends on riding a darn bike!
So I rounded up a rental road bike from the Bicycle Repair Shop in downtown, and made some rough route plans using Strava and Google. I kinda freaked out once I arrived in Seattle and was walking down to the shop and realized downtown Seattle was a lot like… any major city downtown. Crazy traffic with murderous drivers. Eek.
I picked up “my” 2015 Giant Defy 1, added my pedals and Garmin mount and nervously headed out into the scary streets of Seattle. The shop is located on Alaskan Way, so I made my way north and ended up on the bike path. Whew. Still alive. The weather was sunny and I saw a nice view of Mt. Rainier. I rode up a bit and then turned around and then nervously entered downtown traffic. I struggled because I had a bag with my street clothes and shoes in it (from my walk to the bike shop) and it kept swinging around in front of me. But wouldn’t you know, I survived and made it back to my hotel in one piece!
Tuesday was rainy so I donned my new Showers Pass rain jacket and threw on my Columbia capris which are water repellent over my bibs and headed north on the bike path to Magnolia and Discovery Park. Took a wrong turn at a marina and realized that all I really needed to do was follow the signage that they have set up bikes. I eventually made my way to Discovery Park, which I found kinda creepy as it’s quiet and abandoned looking, and I’m sure I did one of the fastest uphill sprints ever to get out of the creepy trees I found my way into. Rode my way back down Magnolia and back via the bike path.
Wednesday was my big day to conquer my fear of bridges over water and ride the I-90 floating bridge over to Mercer Island. After conquering Chinatown at the start of rush hour (an experience in its own right), I found my way to the bike path that heads to the bridge. I made it across the bridge with some fierce concentration on the road in front of my tire to avoid the water of Lake Washington to my left and found myself safely on Mercer Island. Mercer Way is a pretty enjoyable ride, about 10.5 miles of curves and punchy climbs without any stop signs or stop lights. It winds it’s way through the temperate rainforest and big lakefront homes. Once I looped around once I turned around and went back the way I came, to make it about a 33 mile ride once I got back to my hotel. It was a gorgeous day which made it that much better!
I took Thursday off from the bike to explore downtown a bit with some newfound friends. After walking through Pike Place Market, I made my way to the Gum Wall in Post Alley, which was my top thing to do in Seattle aside from riding across the I-90 floating bridge. Nothing like an alley filled with chewed gum, right?
Friday was rainy and dreary. Not a good day on the bike… I was forced off the street by a car and chose to hit the pavement on the curb side (alternative was a car… I’ll take the curb!). The wreck shook me up, and after several days of dealing with the horrid drivers of Seattle, I was broke. Done and done. After checking out my wounds – skinned knee and ankle, cut palms (stupidly didn’t have gloves on), torn rain pants, and a hole in my favorite “Fat Fish Racing” socks – I climbed on the bike and still continued on to Alki Beach, which was my final choice of a bike destination. Yes, I still rode another hour, ha! After getting some photos of the Seattle skyline, I turned around and decided to return the bike a day early. I was just done with the whole cycling in Seattle thing. Dripped blood on the bike shop floor, swapped stories, and bought some cleat covers for my carbon soled S-Works shoes I’d be walking a mile back to the hotel in, and I officially said goodbye to riding a bike in Seattle. For forever.
Overall, glad I got to get in some miles in Washington, which means another state checked off the list! I vow to never ride a bicycle in Seattle ever again, though. Painting some lines on a road and making bike paths does not make a place cyclist friendly in the definition I think of when I hear “cyclist friendly.” Plus I miss cyclists who at least nod, smile, or goodness, even wave when you pass them! I got stoney glares the entire time. Eek. Nope. I ride a bike with a smile on my face, and with cars at least a good 3 feet away from me, thanks!