Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Storm Chasing

Actually, that title is more about storms chasing me. They haven't caught me yet, but ...

I went out for a ride yesterday afternoon. We are into the rainy season here in the Pacific Northwest, so every day when it isn't raining, or if there's a good clear window of time, the bike's siren call seems to get louder. There have been three days in the last two weeks when I have actually gotten out. Today may end up being another. If this keeps up, I'll have to buy more cold weather gear (or do laundry more often).

So yesterday seemed like an opportune time to go see how far the Burke Gilman trail goes to the west. A quick ride down 15th led me to it, and a turn to the right sent me the direction I wanted to go.

I can see the allure of the trail right now. It skirts along several urban areas, allowing you to ride without having to constantly watch for cars (except where the trail crosses roads). Watching for other cyclists and for pedestrians is another matter, but at least right now there aren't as many out there as during the summer or on a weekend.

The Burke Gilman ended quicker than I expected it to. I knew it would end, but I didn't think I'd gone that far when it did. So I hit some urban streets (with at least some markings for cyclists from time to time) and headed further west through Fremont/Ballard, rather than crossing a bridge toward downtown. I will have to cross one of these days, but yesterday wasn't the day.

Right about at the Chittendam Locks (aka, the Ballard Locks) I picked up trail again and followed it as it curled north along the western shore of northern Seattle, ending up at Golden Gardens Park. From there I had two choices. I could turn around and go back the way I came, or I could climb this heinous-looking hill up the ridge. MG and I had driven on it before, so I knew it would be steep. Looking to the southwest, I noted that the clouds - dark clouds - were starting to mass and move in my direction. Going south would be toward them. I climbed the hill.

Now maybe I'm just used to climbing by now. After all, I usually rode some very steep stuff back in TN. I've also ridden a goodly portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway several times. (Sitting here typing this, it is very hard to reconcile just how far away those places are now.) I kept preparing myself for the climb to be worse than it was. I am out of shape, after all, having not ridden very much this year (I've had other stuff going on, OK?). I also haven't been climbing since I finally went cold-turkey off of the beta-blockers. But it wasn't so bad. That's not to say that it was easy - it wasn't - but it wasn't what I'd mentally prepared myself for. Maybe that was the difference.

I got to the top and realized that the quickest way back to the house was to head due east on 85th. A glance over my shoulder at the clouds motivated me to get going, perhaps a little faster than I meant to. 85th rolls a little as it crosses north Seattle, and I was out of the saddle moving quickly up each uphill section. I crossed several major roads, rode with a lot of traffic (but was able to maintain about the same speed, mostly), and finally turned down Wallingford to get from 85th to 80th. I figured that crossing the bridge over I-5 on 80th would be a little better than doing it over 85th.

After the bridge, a quick right on Banner Way led me to 75th, and then it was only about 4 blocks or so back to the house. I jumped off, headed into the house, stripped off my outer layer and sat in a stupor due to pushing harder than I'd meant to. But I felt justified about five minutes later. When the clouds reached the house.

And then it rained for a while (and I dozed off dreaming of riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway).

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