Saturday, September 01, 2007

Vashon Island Bike Tree


Berkeley Breathed tells the best version of this story in his book Red Ranger Came Calling and I don't know what the true story is. But I do know that there is an old bike, solidly embedded in a tree on Vashon Island. I've heard about it for years and this morning I'm riding with some friends to see the bike tree for ourselves.

By the standards of my peer group, this is just a short trip -- no camping, less than 100 miles for the day, out from home before sunrise, back home by early afternoon. A small adventure designed to fit into lives filled with other responsibilities and projects.

My pal Brad Hawkins can't shake loose enough time to go over to the island, but he meets up with Mark Vande Kamp and myself at the I-90 bridge and rides with us to west Seattle. I hope Brad's students appreciate what a responsible guy their teacher is.

Mark and I meet up with Matt Newlin on the ferry and then the three of us spin our low-geared bicycles up the island's first big hill. None of us have ever been to the tree before, but I have these directions:

The bike tree is off of Vashon Highway (which runs between the Seattle and Tacoma ferry ports on either end of the island) on the northeast corner of the Vashon Highway and SW 204 St. intersection, about 50-60 ft (very rough guesstimate) into the woods on the north side of Sound Food Cafe.
The directions are perfect and at 8:00 AM we are at the tree.

The day and the island and the company are all wonderful. We ride the quiet, hilly roads of Vashon and Maury Islands, picnic under blue skies and ride some more.

If you get tired of riding your bike on the island, then perhaps you are tired of life. The tree bike isn't the only odd thing on the island, a fleet of exercise bikes look out toward the mainland.

We wander the small roads over and around and eventually back to the ferry. Burma Road makes us reach for every low gear we have and convinces each of us that we've finally done enough climbing for the day.


Anonymous said...

A wonderful adventure, thanks for sharing. Nice scenery for a ride whether in motion or not, I suppose.


Tarik Saleh said...

Thanks for posting that, charlie and I will visit that for sure now that we know where it is. Then I can have a post that looks just like yours.

Anonymous said...

Love your site! Especially the Bike in the tree photo. When biking on Vashon, be sure to make the long journey out to the Robinson Point Lighthouse. Kenneth Dahl just finished a new painting of that scene. It makes you want to go see the real lighthouse...

bathmate said...

As always an excellent posting.The
way you write is awesome.Thanks. Adding more information will be more useful.


·⋆·Ṭåηḳ✪Ꮆⅈяℓ·⋆· said...

that's pretty neat seeing the bike stuck in the tree like that.i do wonder what the story behind that could be. off topic:i have to ask, the guy in the blue shirt,in the pics...where did you get that big triangle reflector? would be a great addition to my safety protocol while on my motorcycle.(even if it does look cheesy) i like to be seen :)

Kent Peterson said...

Amy S.

That's a Jogalite reflective triangle that Mark is wearing. You can see one here:

Your local running or bike shop may have them.

Teddi14 said...

Someone on my facebook just posted a picture of this bike in the tree with the following caption.

"Lest We Forget"
A boy went to war in 1914 and left his bike chained to a tree. He never came home and the family left the bike there as a memorial to the fallen soldier. Vanshon Island, in Puget Sound, Washington State

Kent Peterson said...


The Facebook story is widely circulated and one of the provably false explanations of the tree bike. It keeps getting circulated because it is a good story, but it isn't true.

William_Scott said...

Go to this link for a more credible account of the bike in the tree: