Wednesday, April 13, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: East Lake Sammamish Trail & Bike Lane

North of Gilman Boulevard and south of the freeway in Issaquah, there is a small field where the sheep graze. It is at the southern end of the Lake Sammamish Trail, a fine gravel path that follows the old rail route north to Redmond.

You are not supposed to park at any time on the corridor, but I park anyway, just for a moment, to read and wonder about a missing wallaby.

I fear for a sweet guy in the subwilderness of Sammamish. There are coyotes and cougars in these hills and speeding cars on these roads. I hope Mac is simply out having a great adventure.

Many cyclists ride machines so optimized for asphalt that they can never ride anywhere but on a smoothly paved road. There are plans to pave this trail, but I'm not sure every problem of mobility needs to be solved with speed and asphalt. I'm perfectly happy this morning on a bike with wide tires and a slower nature.

The trail bisects some very expensive land, for we humans love to look out on the water and have nature in our back yards. The freeloading geese enjoy the same views for free.

The connector trail just south of Marymoor links the trail to the Sammamish River Trail but plans also include completing the trail along the old train corridor through downtown Redmond. Today I follow the trail to the end, then backtrack through the park to downtown Redmond and the thrift store. For the price of a cup of coffee, I get this week's novel. I think of the line from Erasmus, the one Christine and I had on the bookmarks back when we ran a used bookstore: "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."

Going back home, I start to take the faster way, the Sammamish Parkway. There are bike lanes heading both north and south and it is the place where one can ride for speed.

The path is only a few feet from the bike lane and the rushing road, but the riding is quite different. The lane is louder and while I may be going faster, I feel slower. I don't want to linger here with my fat tires. I see the value of moving swiftly and I think I should be riding something faster, something with aerobars perhaps. I'm the slowest thing in a world moving quickly and I'm reminded to speed up. I'm not sure I want to speed up.

On the trail, I'm a fast thing in a world moving slowly and I'm reminded to slow down. Aerobars would be a useless accessory, but a bike bell helps me make friends with the joggers and people walking their dogs. On the trail, I still have time to wonder about wallabys.

There is nothing wrong with racing and I have many friends who love going faster than I ride these days. And some days I'm in the mood for fast riding.

But not today.

I leave fast lane to the faster folks as I turn my bike's fat tires onto the gravel path that leads me home.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA
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