Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Scootering The Eastside

The cities and towns located between the eastern shore of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains are collectively known as "The Eastside" reflecting, I suppose, a certain Seattle-centric viewpoint. Those whose only experience of this area is driving through it on freeways, dining at chain restaurants that could exist anywhere and thus feel like they are nowhere, or attempting to navigate thru labrinthian cul-de-sac neighborhoods tend to have some negative impressions of the area. My own experience, having lived in the area for several decades and exploring it by foot or human-powered wheel, has been different. There is much to be found that is beautiful and good. The key is to not rush past it.

I tend to rise earlier on my days off than I do on my work days. When my time is my own I like to get in as much adventure as I can. This week, on a Tuesday when I didn't have to work, I was out the door at 6:00 AM, headed up to Redmond to meet up with my friend Mike Kearsley.

The old rail line alongside Lake Sammamish is a trail now. It's paved in Issaquah and Redmond and the section of the trail within the city limits of Sammamish are smooth gravel. Work is ongoing to complete the paving through Sammamish.

I love riding in the night and early morning. It's quiet and I find it is like living in less crowded, less hectic world. Having good lights opens this world to me. My Portland Design Works Lars Rover 450 has proven itself to be a fine, rugged light for my scooter. I run it on its 250 Lumen setting most of the time.

The sky lightens as I work my way north.

There are some houses with amazing views along here.

The dawn is a bit too bright for my camera to capture the pinks and oranges of the sunrise. But I'll remember it.

Here's where I have to leave the trail. I'll ride the next few miles on the shoulder of the Parkway.

The shoulder is fairly good for scootering and at this hour there still isn't too much traffic.

At the Redmond town line, I cut under the Parkway via this little tunnel.

Back on the paved trail.

 Much of the land alongside the trail is wetland wildlife habitat.

The thermometer in Redmond confirms what I'd suspected, it's just above freezing. But the day is definitely going to warm up.

I warmed up with a hot chocolate at the Peets Coffee Shop in Redmond where I met up with Mike. We spent an hour or so discussing the Montana section of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which he'll be riding in July.

We have to stop and take each other's pictures next to some geese on the Sammamish River Trail.

We're riding north, but turned around for these pictures because it made for a much better shot, given the angle of the sun.

We rode the Sammamish River trail to 116th, then over to Willows Road, up to 124th and then west to Slater Avenue. There we connected with the Cross Kirkland Corridor.

We're going to head southwest on the trail. Eventually the trail will extend north from this point as well.

The undeveloped section is currently unimproved.

This section of trail just opened up a few weeks ago.

The trail is mostly very smooth gravel, with asphalt at the road crossings.

Mike is riding a classic old Bridgestone today.

Once it warmed up, Mike and I stowed our warm jackets.

The trail features these nifty solar-powered flashers at the crossings.

A nice map shows the trail as it exists now. An online version of the map can be found here:

They are still constructing the trail around Google's headquarters.

They did a real nice job retrofitting the bridges along the corridor.

A closer view of Mike's MB-1

Mike is the champion of flagging down passers-by to take our picture. By the way, it's about 60 degrees now.

Mike's creative front rack attachment.

This is the current end of the trail. From here we went down the hill to Northrup Way (which is lousy riding) and then connected up with the SR-520 Trail.

We were headed back to Marymoor Park when we met up with this fellow on the trail. Todd is a friendly Senior Quality Engineer at Microsoft and he was happy to answer our questions about his vehicle. He told me people stop and ask him about it a lot!

It's an Organic Transit ELF, a pedal-powered trike with a solar-charged electric assist.

The ELF was super cool. Not cheap, but if you sell your Tesla you could buy about ten of 'em.

Mike headed north to his home in Woodenville, and I returned to Marymoor Park where I filled my water bottle and headed south.

Marymoor Park has WiFi.

The day warmed up nicely.

They should be done with paving the northern section of the Lake Sammamish Trail later this spring.

Some of the trail work in progress.

Back on the gravel trail. I'd been going slower and slower. I thought I was just getting tired.

 It turns out I had a slow leak in my rear tire. It's a good thing I travel with tools.

The Portland Design Works 3Wrencho is a great little tool, serving as both a 15 mm wrench and a very well-shaped, sturdy tire lever.

A sharp little bit of green glass was the culprit.

Back in action.

Rolling into Issaquah.

Back downtown.

The Rainier Trail goes right by the old train depot. Most of the trails I've been on today are built along the old rail routes.

Just under 46 miles for the day, seven hours of rolling time. I would've been a bit faster if I'd noticed the low rear tire sooner.

I was famished when I got home. I demolished a large bowl of pasta and the remains of a Valentines box of chocolates. I regret nothing!

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