Archive for Bicycling

Seward Park bike ride

This is one from 2 weeks or so ago I’m just getting around to posting. Well, I started with the GPS turned off accidentally, so I ended up missing the first mile or so of the ride on the map. Whoops! I tried a different route and discovered how darn hilly Seattle can be!

This time I went down to Seward Park, around through the park (accidentally up and over the top of the hill — I had meant to go out and around along the water but got shunted a different way due to a race going on at the park). Then I biked back along Lk Washington Blvd and split along the water up to the end of Madison. Back up Madison (note to self, next time try following Lk Washington blvd to shortcut the big hills on Madison!) to MLK and then up MLK to Jackson and home.

Whew! It was a fairly short bike ride, as such things go.. only 15 miles (+ about 1.5 miles for my GPS-off mistake). But it was hilly enough that it still took me 1:34 to do it (I’ve been doing nearly 20 miles in that amount of time on my Ballard loop).


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A beautiful weekend bike ride

I’d actually gone for the “first bike ride of the season” 2 weeks ago, but my Garmin Edge didn’t work quite right due to a partially-completed GPS-firmware update so I ended up without a map to post. Drat.

In any case, yesterday’s bike ride was the same course and the weather could not have been better.

I did the same “up and around through the Ballard Locks” route that I’ve grown quite fond of. It’s about 18-19 miles depending on whether I round it out with Jackson St or via Dearborn St.

April 22nd Bike Ride

According to MotionBased, I finished this 18.51 mile course in 1:36:15.

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Evan Can Stop Breaking Jodi’s GPS Watch Now

As much as I liked using Jodi’s Forerunner 305 GPS watch while I was doing my bike rides, it was always a bit of a hassle to see my current speed, etc while I was biking (trust me, it’s hard to twist your wrist that way while you’re going at speed down a steep hill!).

Plus, although she would never come out and say so, I suspect Jodi doesn’t really like me wearing her watch when I am continually falling (and landing on it… and scratching it up a bit). It’s time I start breaking my OWN GPS training assistant.

That’s right, Jodi bought me the bicycling equivalent of the Forerunner — the Edge 305 — for my birthday! With heartrate monitor AND cadence sensor!! Sweet! So now (once I can figure out how to set up the cadence sensor) I can get started with my training rides for next summer! 🙂

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Wow is Mercer Island ever Hilly!

On Sunday, I decided to take a bike ride out across the I-90 bridge. It’d been a while since my last bike ride, and I’ve gone just about all the other directions but that one.

What a disappointment! Perhaps because it’d been several weeks since my last bike ride, or perhaps because it’s just much hillier than I had expected, I found myself worn out very quickly. I made it out across the bridge and up (and up and up) into some parks on the island, but by that point I was just totally out of breath and worn out from so much climbing. When I started to go down a very long (and steep) hill, I realized what a horrible pain it was going to be to bike back up this same hill when I eventually went back the other way. I turned around and headed home.

Total distance was 7.77 miles, with an appalling amount of the time spent ascending (and with my heart-rate > my 90% target the whole while)!

The map:

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Alki ride

This past Sunday (didn’t I point out I was way behind on my blog posts?), I took a bike ride down to Alki Beach and back. My goal was to not totally ruin myself like I did the weekend earlier (ie – do a shorter ride) and it worked out that way at about 20 miles vs 31 the week before.

Here’s the map. No green numbers this week.


I did have a few interesting things to note, however:

  • Driving down Jackson Ave seems like it would be fast, since it’s a fairly steep hill. In fact, it’s very slow since you have to dodge cars constantly and stop at nearly every intersection. Ugh.
  • Driving back up Jackson Ave is painful each time I do it. I need to find another (less hilly) way to get to the water. I’m not holding my breath.
  • Alaskan Way going south is pretty poor for bikes. The Seattle bike map called it out as a good way to go — and I suppose it’s better than the alternatives — but there was a lot of bumps, cracked sidewalk, and glass. Yes, I said sidewalk. I spent most of my time southbound on the sidewalk once the trail under the viaduct ended. This because there was no bike lane and an even nastier (than the sidewalk) shoulder.
  • The northbound Alaskan way is a bit better with a bike path in the road most of the way.
  • It’s pretty easy to get lost along Spokane street vs finding the ped/bike bridge over to West Seattle. The signs are far from effective. Short version is you head along Spokane until just after you feel like you might have missed it (but not until you’ve run out of path). Then you cross to the middle, toward the bridge. And voila, there’s a path up and over a smaller bridge (thank goodness, it was steep enough as it was and you’re looking right up at the underside of the bigger West Seattle Bridge!).
  • Alki is lots of fun to ride – flat and pretty. But lots of people out walking, running, and roller-blading means lots of vigilance for bike riding. I ended up leaving the nice trail along the beach and riding the road to reduce the hassle.
  • I got to bike around the police tape from this crash, which closed off a bit of the road (and the trail) right at the northern point of the beach.

Heart rate was still a bit higher than I had expected, although probably mostly because of the steep hills going up and over to West Seattle and then back up Jackson toward the end.

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Burke Gilman and Sammamish River Trails

In my continuing effort to make use of my new bike, I decided to spend my Sunday morning riding the whole way up and over down and around the two lakes (Washington and Sammamish). Now, this turned out to be a bit optimistic, as this would have been a VERY long bike ride indeed!

In any case, I *DID* do about half of it. I went up along the Burke Gilman trail, over the top of Lake Washington and then back down to Redmond along the Sammamish River Trail. A total of about 29 miles on that side of the map. Then I caught the bus from the Bear Creek P&R (got some practice loading and unloading my bike, along with being totally paranoid for the whole 45 minute busride that it was going to fall off!). I ended up at 5th and Jackson and did another mile and a half up the Jackson St hill back to the house.

I also forgot (or, rather, don’t know how) to reset the Garmin so the map looks a little silly connecting from far NorthEast Redmond down to South Seattle via “as the crow flies”.

But, all in all a great bike ride. I am proud (and also a little bit embarrassed) to point out that I “biked a marathon in olympic time”. And yes, I do mean that the first 26.2 miles I biked equate to the mileage of a marathon in just over 2 hours, so right on olympic pace. I can’t imagine how those folks RUN that fast for 2+ hours. Un… believable! I suppose it’s good that I was able to keep at 13+ mph pace for two hours on mostly flat/level!

Here’s the map (click the large thumbnail for an even bigger view):


And, of course, as always… I learned some new stuff:

  1. The little road where 26th Ave says that it dead-ends which I blogged about last time really is a dead end. But only for cars. If you are biking you can carry your bike on a wooded path about 100 yards or so to a long, descending staircase and then you’re back out on the road on the other side. Yay, shortcut to avoid hills!
  2. A consistent theme on this bike ride (since it was my first time on many of these trails) is VERY POOR SIGNAGE. When you’ve been placing regular signs telling bicyclists to go straight, to turn, to turn again, etc… you can’t suddenly NOT have a sign when another turn is required! I had to backtrack a ways to get over to Montlake and the stadium area after the signs suddenly stopped directing me and I ignorantly kept on going (now, the wrong way). I hit this a few times later on too on the trails (particularly Sammamish River Trail) where there was a choice to be made on which way to go, and no sign to tell me which was the right one. Frustrating!
  3. Toward the end of my ride I hit a brick wall. Not literally, of course, but I had just overestimated my stamina for long, hard bike rides without substantial training. I decided that I was going to catch the bus home instead of doing the whole (probably 45+ mile) ride around the lakes. I started to get really tired, and really hungry. And after finishing “my marathon” I took about a 20 minute “nap” on a conveniently located park bench along the trail. Seriously. I was totally zonked. Lesson learned, I can’t just go out and ride 45+ miles without any training, even if I had a good breakfast.
  4. I had a nice (big) lunch in Redmond and then I went a-looking for the Bear Creek P&R so I could catch the 545. It worked out ok, and now I know where it is, but it was a bit of a pain to find and it caused me to miss an earlier bus. So I got to wait 20 mins for the next one once I finally got there. I probably should have looked first to realize that the 545 stops lots of places in Redmond, including the Redmond P&R. Oh well, but the good news was that by putting my bike on the bus right at the start of the route (on a Sunday, no less), there was no big deal about slowing down the bus by putting on a bike, etc.
  5. Then I flew, like an Eagle, across the span of Redmond to downtown. We didn’t even need a bridge.
  6. And, of course, I had to have a fall. It wouldn’t be a bike ride without at least once not being able to unclip and falling hard. So this time it was because someone came flying around a blind corner on their bike and I had to quickly stop (then teeter, and then fall) to avoid hitting them. After picking myself (and my now scraped up knee and elbow), I apologized for the near wreck and he graciously accepted my apology. How thoughtful of him.

Total Distance (not including the bus ride) was 30.61 miles!

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Another Day, Another Bike Ride

This bike ride was even better than the last one for a couple of reasons:

  1. Jodi came along
  2. Nothing too terrible happened (no almost getting hit by cars, no cleats falling off, etc)
  3. We went to the Ballard Locks and saw a bunch of HUMONGOUS salmon making they way into and through the fish ladder

Once again, the Garmin Forerunner 305 provided us with a great map. It also provided us with heart rate stuff, but we’ll just post the map (thumbnailed. Click it to expand.):


Now, the first thing you should notice when clicking is that the map is HUGE. Yes. It sure is. We biked 19.2 miles over about 2.5 hours. The second thing you should notice is that there are five, yes FIVE green numbers on the map. So much to learn! Here are the five things I’ve highlighted:

  1. When 26th Ave “dead-ends” into a T-intersection and there’s a huge hill to your left (up to 25th) and an angled street off to your left but heading in generally the direction you want to be going… take the angled street. I think I read the city bike map wrong, because no way should anyone on a bike have to go up that horrible hill! The angled street could turn into a boat ramp for all I know, but it would be better than that horrible hill!
  2. On Sunday morning, a section of the Burke-Gilman trail is closed for the Fremont Sunday farmer’s market. No problems, they have great “detour” signs for the bikers.
  3. When coming to a stop, declip early. This was my only fall of the day (I think) and it was due to bad habit on my part… I’ve always been a proponent of doing the bike-stand thing where you balance while at a stop. This is great. I’ve always been pretty good at it. It’s not too hard with strap pedals, since you can rip your shoes out in an instant to plant feet on the ground if you go too far out of balance. Much harder with clipless pedals locked in. Lesson learned, I hope.
  4. Counter intuitive, but if you go across the Dravus bridge (seemingly the “wrong direction” to get home) you can take this really pleasant bike path near Pier 91.
  5. … A really pleasant bike path that ends suddenly with very poor markings on how to get back into civilization. If you follow the signs for bikes at the end of the path, I suspect you’d end up at Discovery Park eventually (hint: this was the wrong way for us to go). Instead, take a deep breath and go up and across the Magnolia Bridge and back over to the busy street for a few blocks, then follow the signs to get to Elliot Bay park (and Myrtle Edwards park).

Next time, perhaps an even longer ride?

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Making use of the bike

In the spirit of “making use of my new bike”, I decided to take it out for a spin on Tuesday night after work. It was a bit eventful and definitely a learning experience! I brought along Jodi’s Garmin Forerunner 305 so I could get some stats on my ride, along with a map. The experience proved that I desperately need an “Edge 305” bike computer to do the same thing, but allowing me to see the details as I bike (hard to twist your wrist and read the forerunner while you’re biking)!

Here’s the map that resulted from my approximately 8 mile ride:


Important events or things learned, marked with the green numbers:

  1. Cars will turn right in front of you without seeing you, such that you will have to skid to a stop to avoid being hit. This was about 10–15 minutes into my first ride on my new bike. I can only imagine how many times I will nearly be hit while riding over the next few years if I start doing it regularly. Scary. Especially in a supposedly bike-friendly city like Seattle!
  2. Here my left foot cleat didn’t disengage when I tried to declip at a stop. I fell over and looked like an idiot to all present. Lesson learned here is that if your cleats aren’t bolted in tight enough, they will rapidly loosen to the point where you can’t get enough torsion to get them to disengage if you need to do so suddenly. I also learned that even for a fun-ride the first day with your new bike, you should bring along a basic set of tools so you can re-tighten your cleats (or whatever else) if you need to. Your finger will do a lousy job of re-tightening the bolt for the rest of the ride home.
  3. I figured I’d avoid the terrible “Massachusetts St Hill” and come up something less steep further up the lakeshore. So after my loose-cleat incident, I was already on fragile ground with one loosely-cleated shoe to be wary about. And it turns out, going up this other hill (that leads to Yesler) is 4 times as long and probably nearly as steep as Mass St. Whoops. I ended up walking my bike up the hill since I was nervous about losing my left cleat under the strain of biking up a steep hill — plus, I was still a little jittery about falling off again. Lesson learned here was two parts: first, this hill is terrible too… next time I go up all the way to Madison or something and try that. Second, even walking with a loose cleat is likely to make it fall out and get lost… fortunately only a bolt was lost, not the cleat itself.

Whew, so good, clean fun for sure. I ratcheted down the cleats super tight for my next ride (thankfully there were several extra bolts included with my cleats). And I need to get a saddle-bag with some tools and tire repair stuff to make sure I’m more prepared for problems like this next time.

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