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Old 04-26-08, 11:06 PM   #1
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Ride report w/pics: voyage to downtown Seattle

I signed up this weekend to take the Park Tools advanced bicycle maintenance course at the REI flagship store in downtown Seattle -- 8 hours over two days. My only riding this weekend will be to and from the class, so I thought my ride report this time would be photos to show what a Seattle ride looks like. 80% of this ride is also my regular commute (my office and the REI flagship store are both in downtown Seattle). So this shows you what my commute is like on a good day. On a bad day in the winter, it looks like the inside of a very cold shower.

I live in a suburb on Seattle's East Side. All of my rides begin by riding up this hill out my driveway. It's always hard to show the angle of a hill in a photo. These first two blocks average about an 11% grade (and steepens to 15% in places); there are another 2.5 blocks of hill past the little summit you can see here; the grade is less steep but it gets one's heart pumping to start every ride this way.




It takes me about 5 miles of riding down pretty quiet roads to get to the I90 bridge over Lake Washington. This morning I left home about 6:45 a.m.; this Prius was one of the few cars I saw until I got to the freeway.



This is the bike lane on the Interstate 90 that goes to downtown Seattle; you can just barely make out a few buildings in downtown Seattle toward the right. The body of water we're crossing is Lake Washington. For two days during salmon season, this lake will be wall-to-wall boats as the salmon come through Lake Washington to reach their spawning streams.



These houses are just off the bike lane...the one in the middle is for sale. (Here's the listing: http://www.coldwellbanker.com/servle...&page=property) At these prices, I think all of these houses should come with a free Bike Butler.





Three days each summer, these guys show up and fly around over the Lake...this shot is taken from the same bridge where the bike lane is...


Houses on the Seattle side of the bridge...this neighborhood is called Leschi. There is a pleasant, flat road along the lake that is popular with cyclists, and a couple of nice bike shops along the lake. At the very north of this photo is the University of Washington (not visible in this shot).


Looking back toward the east, this is the bridge we just crossed...you can see the Cascade Range in the background. I think the ski resorts are still open this weekend.


This tunnel takes us through the hill on the Seattle side of the bridge...



Looking back at the tunnel we just came through.


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Old 04-26-08, 11:07 PM   #2
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Seattle ride, part two:

After getting through the tunnel, the route to downtown winds through a nice set of small parks. This building is an old school that was just renovated; it contains the Northwest African American Museum.



At the end of the bike path, there is a new building that is going to soon contain artists' lofts. Someone is opening this bike store on the ground floor. The I90 bike path will go right past his front door....



The route to downtown soon winds through the International District, formerly known as Chinatown, the historical heart of Seattle's Asian immigrant community. There are hundreds of great restaurants here, great groceries, etc.



We then hit Pioneer Square, the first part of downtown Seattle that was settled...



...and pass the Pike Street Market, where they throw the fish around for tourists...this place is mayhem on a nice day in the summer.



About 3 blocks up Pike Street from the market is this block, which in 1999 was ground zero for the "Battle in Seattle," the riots surrounding the WTO convention. If you recall seeing scenes of attacks on chain stores like Banana Republic, Nike, Starbucks and McDonalds...that was all right around here. At that time my office was in the building on the left, so we had a front-row seat for the festivities. (Soon to be a Major Motion Picture: http://www.battleinseattlemovie.com/synopsis.html. I wonder who they got to play me, as the clueless corporate guy walking to work past the police barricades?).


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Old 04-26-08, 11:14 PM   #3
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Here we are at REI; this is the flagship store for the chain. I think their corporate offices are in this building, too. This tower in the front of the store contains the REI climbing wall. It overlooks Interstate 5, on the north edge of downtown Seattle. It's a "must see" if you're ever in town (esp. if you need some gear...).



Here's my bike up on the work stand in the REI bike shop. This is where the bike maintenance class was taught.



After class, I went down the waterfront for a bowl of chowder at Ivar's Acres of Clams...



Shot of the Seattle fire boat and Bainbridge Island ferry. This is how McDreamy gets to work on "Grey's Anatomy."



Now I'm going to cheat a bit. This photo is from another day; if you go to the point of land just past the ferry in the shot above, and look back at where I had lunch today, this is what it looks like:


Almost forgot. There's a law in Seattle that all photos of downtown must contain photo of Space Needle...

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Old 04-26-08, 11:53 PM   #4
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Thanks for the tour and the really well-done photos. Every time I see pictures of Seattle I want to move there - but you probably don't want any more people. Why is it so sunny? ;-)
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Old 04-27-08, 12:02 AM   #5
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Its sunny for one or two days each summer and even the weather forcasters miss them. Great shots of the Jet city it seems like everytime we get to Seattle its never that nice and its usually even worse in the south sound except for today it was really nice too so one more sunny day to go. I have to correct you on the REI corporate offices they are in Kent a not nearly as cool as Seattle suburb.
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Old 04-27-08, 12:07 PM   #6
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So, what did you think of the Park Tool class? I am thinking of signing up for one.
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Old 04-27-08, 12:17 PM   #7
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Very nice ride report and pics!
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Old 04-27-08, 02:08 PM   #8
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So, what did you think of the Park Tool class? I am thinking of signing up for one.
I liked it a lot. Last year, they offered it over 6 Saturdays, and I only managed to make one class (derailleurs). This year they decided to do it over one weekend, 8 to noon each day. There were supposed to be 6 people in the class, but everyone else canceled, so it was just me. So I got to ask every stupid question that I've always wanted to ask about my bike, and we skipped over the stuff I knew pretty quickly.

I took my new bike (December), which only has about 600 to 800 miles on it...I had done some minor adjustments on it but hadn't even had it back to the shop for its post-purchase tune-up. Via the class, we basically went through and tuned up and adjusted everything on the bike, including removing and cleaning the chain and rear cassette. I also told the teacher I wanted some hands on experience replacing spokes, so he got a trashed wheel that a customer brought in yesterday and we practiced replacing damaged spokes and then truing up the wheels.

Got lots of little tips, too...just a few tricks on making adjustments I'd never heard or forgotten that make some of the basics like adjusting brakes or derailleurs easier. I recommend it.
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Old 04-27-08, 03:01 PM   #9
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Great pics which remind me why I love Seattle so much.
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Old 04-27-08, 07:56 PM   #10
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Okay, this brought me back. First of all, do you live on Mercer Island? I grew up there in the 50's and 60's (Mercer Island High School Class of 1969). I assume the bike lane was on the new bridge? I rode across it in 1992 when I left my brother's house on Mercer Island to start my trip down the coast. I rode through the then-new bike tunnel and up onto Capitol Hill. The next morning I rode through downtown to the ferry dock and headed over to Bremerton.

When I was a kid (and there was only one floating bridge) I used to ride across every summer and head towards Seward Park to go to the hydroplane races.

My dad worked at the Navy Yard in Bremerton. He used to commute via bicycle to the ferry dock. I think his route was close to yours, although that was long before the new freeway interchange where I-90 meets I-5. On Saturdays he'd ride downtown to the library, then out to the U-district to go to the University Bookstore, then through the Arboretum and along Leschi to the bridge to ride home. I was in awe!

Then, after I graduated from college (Western), I spent a year living on 50th by Green Lake and commuting to a boatyard in Ballard via bicycle.

I had a close friend who lived in one of the houses on Mercer Island on the other side of the old bridge. It was about 3 houses from the bridge. She lived right on the water. It was a nice location, except that you could hear the big trucks going up the hill off of the bridge all night long. They'd downshift for the grade, and then you'd hear their wheels growling across the large expansion grid. It was loud!


Thanks for spurring this trip down memory lane. I've been living in California for 22 years, but Washington will always be home.
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Old 04-27-08, 08:11 PM   #11
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Beautiful pictures and great ride report. I love Seattle. Having flown helicopters up there for three years and gone to University of Puget Sound in Tacoma it is one of my most memorable cities!
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Old 04-27-08, 08:20 PM   #12
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Thanks for the tour, the pics are supurb.
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Old 04-27-08, 10:04 PM   #13
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Okay, this brought me back. First of all, do you live on Mercer Island? I grew up there in the 50's and 60's (Mercer Island High School Class of 1969). I assume the bike lane was on the new bridge?...
Yes, I live near the southern end of the Island, and that's the new bridge. The old bridge is still lying on the bottom of the lake from its unfortunate "accident" back in 1990.

Every bike trip for me starts with 5 miles up either the western edge of the Island (toward downtown) or 5 miles up the eastern edge of the Island (east towards Bellevue). Lots of cyclists come over from Seattle or from further east to do the lap around Mercer Island; it's a nice 14 to 16 mile loop, depending on how you get around the Island.

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Then, after I graduated from college (Western), I spent a year living on 50th by Green Lake and commuting to a boatyard in Ballard via bicycle.
..which meant you rode downhill to work, and uphill home!
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Old 04-27-08, 10:16 PM   #14
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Nice pics.

I spent 8 days out there just 6 months ago (last October). Spent 4 days at a conference in Seattle, drove up to Vancouver to visit my daughter, and spent some time in Port Angeles/Port Townsend & hiking in Olympic National Park. It was great. Rode the ferry over to Victoria and back too, from Port Angeles.

I briefly visited the area on another business trip about 12 years ago and had wanted to come back every since. I love the deep greens, tall trees, craggy coastlines, and mountains. Truly a beautiful area.

Didn't see a whole lot of people on bikes while I was there. Noticed a few commuters in downtown Seattle. One guy caught my attention due to how fast he was moving on a folding bike, he was buzzing along keeping with traffic.
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Old 04-27-08, 10:48 PM   #15
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I didn't know we had that many blue sky days. Good picture archive.
Excellent post.
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Old 04-28-08, 10:53 AM   #16
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Great writeup.

So I take it you disassemble your bike during the class and if you can't reassemble it and ride away you flunk?
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Old 04-28-08, 12:49 PM   #17
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I live in the wrong place. But I did recognize a couple of places from when I was a tourist out there a few years ago.

My only other comment is that, if I could afford a $10M house, I'd want it to be more than ten feet from my neighbors' houses!
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Old 04-28-08, 12:53 PM   #18
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My only other comment is that, if I could afford a $10M house, I'd want it to be more than ten feet from my neighbors' houses!
...not to mention, I'd want to be more than 100 feet from the Interstate, too!
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Old 04-28-08, 01:19 PM   #19
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Great fun to see and read, Thanks!
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Old 04-28-08, 08:55 PM   #20
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Every bike trip for me starts with 5 miles up either the western edge of the Island (toward downtown) or 5 miles up the eastern edge of the Island (east towards Bellevue). Lots of cyclists come over from Seattle or from further east to do the lap around Mercer Island; it's a nice 14 to 16 mile loop, depending on how you get around the Island.
Nice posts, and familiar territory (MIHS '73). I'll guess you live on Avalon Dr.!
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Old 04-28-08, 10:55 PM   #21
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Beautiful Davidson.

I bought this when I lived in Seattle over 20 years ago:



I live in Brooklyn now and never see them anywhere. Only the wheels and pedals are not original. Bill Davidson did the paint job himself as his painter was out at the time and I was getting antsy. It is lugged Colombus SL tubing. Right now the chain has rusted up so badly from sitting in that damp basement that I need a new one, this time I'm putting a 10sp Ultegra on it, and the Velomax wheels have a 10sp cassette. This will go with the downtube friction shifting. It works better than you'd think.
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Old 04-28-08, 11:07 PM   #22
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Great pictures, I enjoyed the tour of Seattle!
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Old 04-28-08, 11:19 PM   #23
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Beautiful Davidson.

I bought this when I lived in Seattle over 20 years ago:



I live in Brooklyn now and never see them anywhere. Only the wheels and pedals are not original. Bill Davidson did the paint job himself as his painter was out at the time and I was getting antsy. It is lugged Colombus SL tubing. Right now the chain has rusted up so badly from sitting in that damp basement that I need a new one, this time I'm putting a 10sp Ultegra on it, and the Velomax wheels have a 10sp cassette. This will go with the downtube friction shifting. It works better than you'd think.
Nice bike! I have a ton of respect for Bill; he's built more kinds of bikes than most people know existed (I was in the shop recently and even saw a prototype, titanium-framed police cruiser w/a Nexus hub that he made some years ago...).
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Old 04-29-08, 03:19 AM   #24
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Wonderful pictures. Seattle looks so beautiful!

The Park Tools class sounds interesting. You've inspired me to see see if our local REI has one on the calendar.
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Old 04-29-08, 08:31 AM   #25
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Has Davidson done any carbon fiber? That would look cool, a nude carbon frame with his name in the gold letters I've seen on some. I went carbon a few years ago, my 50th Bday present to myself, and only go back to steel for nostalgia, although putting higher-end wheels on the Davidson made a big difference.
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