Monday, June 14, 2010

Seattle to San Juan Island

So after a long and full day on Saturday that started with running 13 miles, a lollygagging ridiculously slow 16 mile bike ride, and then several miles of walking around town I was pretty beat.  But I definitely wanted to get a long ride in on Sunday as well as make the trip north to San Juan Island.  And as tired as I was when I woke up at 5am to get ready to head out it was so worth it!  What an amazing day!

I got up at 5am and packed up all my gak and loaded up the rental truck and headed east from Seattle to Redmond Washington to a park called Marymoor park.  This particular park is home to a nice little bike path that links to many other bike paths.  Its called the Marymoor Connector.  Its also at the top of a lake called Sammish or somether er other.  Inside Marymoor park is also a velodrome!  Which I didn't manage to have time to go and find.  Incidentally also at the park on that weeked was one of Cirque de Soleil's touring tent shows.  So that whole half of the park was a bit chaotic with blocked off areas and parking for the Cirque show so figuring out how to get to the velodrome was complicated by a giant tent being in the way.  In fact I never even saw it, I just knew it was back there somewhere.  Anyway...    I got to the park around 615am and proceeded to lay out all the maps I had to figure out what my route was going to be.  I knew that it would be around the lake and that it would be about a 25 mile loop that I would do twice.  I know...  not super imaginative considering the giant networks of bike paths in that area, but I'm directionally challenged and on a tight timeline today so I figured a keep the lake on your left sort of day was a good safe plan!  So after studying the maps and figuring out the turns I headed out loaded up with powerbars, gatorade, cell phone and camera.

When I first got started I felt pretty groggy and tired.  The time difference was still getting to me and I was not super energetic.  My pace on the first lap clearly reflects this as it was more of a warm up 25 miler than a fast paced one.  I think I averaged around 16mph.  The course isn't super hilly, but there are a fair number of rollers and long slow ascents and descents.  So its not an easy course by any means.  There just aren't any monster hills anywhere.  As I got through about half of the first lap I started to wake up and feel a bit better and I started to pay attention more.  As it got closer to 7am more and more cyclists started appearing.  And then runners started popping up everywhere.  Apparently this particular lake is a very popular training ground.  It wasn't long before there were cyclists everywhere.  And not the lollygagging kind on giant comfy seats either.  The I'm wearing a 200 dollar cycling outfit and I paid more for my bike than I did my car kind of cyclist.  As the day got later there were more and more of them.  Some of them on large group rides in matching club outfits, and some in smaller groups of 2s and 4s.  I must have seen at least 50-75 other people on road bikes during my ride and another 6 or so people on tri bikes riding around the lake.  As well as that there were many many runners (many of which wearing tri clothing) and I even rode past a triathlon team of sorts all running in matching gear.  There were about 10 of those guys running single file.  It seemed like everyone around the lake was in fantastic shape and was there to put in a hard workout.  It was inspiring.  It drove me to push harder and harder as I woke up more.  The other nice thing about it was that there was always someone passing you from behind and there was always someone just a tiny bit slower than you up ahead to reel in and pass.  And everyone was so friendly!  When they would pass they would say the customary "on your left!" followed by "good morning!, have a great ride" or "Its so nice out isn't it?"  It was really a great ride.  I felt like I was in this community of serious athletes than I was one of them!  I felt welcomed into their community and I loved every minute of it!

I rode the second lap much much harder.  I don't know quite how hard but my average speed after the first 25 mile lap was something like 16mph and my total average speed for the entire ride ended up at 17.5mph so I was going pretty quick on lap 2 to bring the average up so much.  Around the halfway point of the lap theres a series of about 2 miles of steady climbs and rollers.  During which I passed this very fit looking guy on a mountain bike.  We said hello as I passed and I went on with the rest of my lap.  I was having such a good time and really really pushing as hard as I could to go faster.  About fifteen minutes later I hear a voice from behind me saying...  "Ok I'm starting to feel guilty now!"  Apparently I'd been pulling this mountain biker along for 15 minutes.  So he took a turn pulling and I grabbed his wheel but he went up the next hill too slow so I passed him again and this time managed to shake him off my wheel.  I didn't really mind that he was there, but I wished he'd asked or let me know he was there.  What if I'd braked really suddenly for some reason?

By the end of my 50 miler when it was about 10am there were cyclists EVERYWHERE!  It was so fun to be around.  In Rhode Island I hardly ever see other cyclists, and certainly not ever this many of them, and certainly not all this fit and riding this hard.  The whole thing was quite inspring.  It was fun too to see so many triathletes out there riding, running, and probably swimming in the lake too I'd bet.  Seemed like an amazing place to do brick workouts.   Theses guys are quite spoiled.  All around the lake is a nice 3-4' wide bike lane thats painted on the road.  Theres also plenty of room for cars so you can really fly down these roads and feel very safe.  There are so many cyclists there that the drivers are also used to them being there and were very courteous at intersections and gave the cyclists right of way pretty much which was great.  Here's a pic of the bike lanes...  sorry its not the best shot but I meant to get more during my first lap and I was too tired, and I was too into my second lap to stop and take photos.  So I went for a quick drive afterwards to capture these. 

The bike lane is on either side of the white lines.  You can see that there is a bike lane on both sides of this particular road.  Nice and wide.  This is what the entire route around the lake was like.  Nice shady trees and a lovely view of the lake every time you looked to the left, and lovely wooded areas on the right.  Sadly I don't have any pictures of the lake.  Oops!

As well as these lovely bike lanes, and several parks with small lakefront beaches you could start swims from there is also a trail running path that went on for at least 12 miles that I saw.  I'm sure it actually goes on for much longer though.  And it looked really nice to run on.  Lots of runners out too.  Many of them distance runners loaded up with fuel belts.

This place was an athletes, and certainly a triathlet's paradise.  Loads of other athletes, gorgeous scenery, and perfect places to train.  I was so glad that I stumbled upon it to get my long ride in, and sad to leave it.

Once I was back at the truck I packed my bike back up and headed north to the ferry to San Juan Island after a brief stop for coffee and carbs!  From Redmond it was about a two hour drive to the Ferry.  Which I was lucky to get to about an hour before it left so I could secure a spot for the truck on it as it fills up quickly.  Heres a pic I shot while waiting in line with all the cars to get on the ferry.

The ferry ride out to San Juan Island is gorgeous.  There is a large network of islands off the coast and its a beautifull ride through all of them to get to San Juan Island and town of Friday Harbor.  I have piles of photos I took last year when I made the same trip but here are a couple I shot just for here.

Promptly after taking the above photos I went back into the truck, lowered the seat and promptly took a nap for an hour!  I was beat!  I got into Friday Harbor around 5pm and drove out to my friends place.  We spent last night eating a fantastic giant salad full of chicken, and beef, and piles of greens and good stuff and then sadly both their little girls weren't feeling well so they had to tend to them and I got to business updating my blog and passed out asleep by 9pm.  So Sunday was a very long, but a very good day!

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