I’ve lived in Bellevue for more than 35 years, but have never previously done the Bellevue Lake-to-Lake Bike Ride. The 9th annual ride, held Saturday, June 11, featured a 23.8-mile loop that roamed from Robinswood Community Park in east Bellevue through trails and streets westward to Lake Washington, east to Lake Sammamish, and back to the park where it started. A smaller, 8-mile ride also was offered, and some 250 people did one course or the other.
I used to skip this event, sponsored by the Bellevue Parks and Recreation Department, because it was on or near weekends I’d be doing the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Flying Wheels ride or some running event. I also thought it was a wimpy ride. But that’s not how I feel today, a bit sore a day after what was a challenging course that included the toughest hill in my neighborhood — riding up Kamber Road.
The long course was almost entirely contained in Bellevue — a small stretch entered Beaux Arts Village — and included not only hilly stretches but many narrow gravel or dirt trails (through Kelsey Creek Park, Wilburton Hill Community Park, the Lake Hills Greenbelt, and Robinswood Park). The narrow tires on my road bike caused me to be extra careful at many spots — I stopped and walked my bike through several stretches. On the positive side, it was awesome to ride through the fast-growing Spring District, downtown Bellevue, and my Woodridge Hill neighborhood near Factoria.
I missed a turn near Microsoft’s Advanta campus and also skipped an optional half-mile trail loop, so my mileage as tracked by MapMyRun.com was 22.24, not 23.8. Counting the time I spent at a rest stop and those walking stretches, the ride took me just over three hours. I was glad to do it, even though I’d been traveling and on my feet a lot this past week, working the F5 booth at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. Glad also to have today, a Sunday, to relax from it.
My first organized bicycle ride of 2022 just happened to be scheduled on the warmest day of the year in the Seattle area, which was a good thing. Dry weather with temperatures reaching the low 70s on Sunday, May 22, felt just right for the long but flat Seattle Bike-n-Brews, a 38-mile, out-and-back ride that features stops at three different King County breweries.
Several hundred people joined me for the ride; I couldn’t get an estimate on the number of participants (which included two people on skates). But it appeared to be a slight decline from past years.
This is my third time doing this event, organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club, which was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic.
I rode it in 2018 and 2019, and in both of those years, the ride started and ended at the Georgetown Brewing Co. brewery. Not this year, to my surprise, long after I had assumed it still was the finish line in 2022. When I re-read the course map later — I guess I should have read it more closely earlier — the actual finish line was 0.95 miles further north at Two Beers Brewing in Seattle.
I’d wondered why some people left Georgetown Brewing quickly as if they were not quite done riding. I thought they might be riding to where their cars were parked. Based on seeing a number of other tired and content people enjoying beers at Georgetown Brewing, it is possible many others also quit riding there, even if they did know where the finish line was.
My car was parked about a mile away and I simply rode to it, about the same distance as the finish line. So I pedaled 38 miles altogether; however, I missed getting the free beer and souvenir that is promised with the event ticket. Oh well.
No beer for the first time
Actually, the beer lines at Georgetown Brewing and at the ride’s halfway point, Half Lion Brewery at the Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent, were long and they culminated indoors. No one seemed to be wearing a mask. I decided to skip both and did without beer for the first time. I was also chagrined to see no food trucks at Georgetown Brewing — food was promised — but I bet I would have seen them at the real finish line, at Two Beers Brewing.
By the way, I did find my way to the starting line at Two Beers Brewing. That’s because, before the ride, I followed other riders from my car to get there. Silly me that I didn’t realize the finish line is likely going to be the same place as the starting line.
As for the overall course, it was slightly tweaked from previous years, apparently so that riders could safely spend more time on paved trails such as the Duwamish, Green River, and Interurban trails and less on south Seattle’s busy city streets. No complaints; it just made for some boring stretches along trails through drab industrial sites in south King County.
It also made for some tight turns on bridges and roads connecting the different trails. I didn’t succeed at making one of the turns and crashed my Trek bike into a barrier, knocking me to the ground. I think I scared the rider right behind me. Fortunately, there was no major damage to me or my bike — just minor bruises on my arms. I was more worried about my trusty Trek, but it seemed to be fine for 18 or so remaining miles to Georgetown Brewing and my car.
Eager to do Emerald City Ride next
This was my 42nd bike event, including seven 100-mile-plus rides, since I started doing organized rides in 2011.
I’ve ridden most of the Cascade Bicycle Club events now remaining in 2022, but one I’m hoping to do again is the 20-mile Emerald City Ride through Seattle. Part of the course has bicyclists taking over the Interstate 5 express lanes, which are always fun to ride when car traffic is not allowed. This ride is usually in the spring or summer, but no date has been set for 2022.
No longer do I have to worry about beating the bridge — or not beating the bridge. I ran the 40th annual Beat the Bridge 8K Run in and around the University of Washington campus on Saturday, May 14, for the seventh time ever. In my earlier years of running it (2003-2007), I usually ran a fast enough pace to avoid waiting for Seattle’s University Bridge to open for daily ship traffic and then close again. Located around the two-mile mark of the race, it launches and remains uncrossable for about five minutes, and requires 10-minute miles to “beat.”
In Saturday’s race, Neil Sturgeon, CEO of Allytics, and his band Acquired Taste were not playing at the bridge stop. No band was. But it didn’t matter. The bridge had opened and then closed again by the time I got there, a sign of how slow my pace has gotten. I didn’t have to stop at all, and neither did my fellow runners at the back of the pack.
The last time I ran in this event, 2018, I missed beating the bridge; it was already erect when I got there. But the momentary break allowed me a minute or two to hear my company’s CEO and his four-piece rock band play — they were hired by race organizers to serenade runners milling around waiting for the bridge to come down.
I finished the five-mile run in 1:09:44 (14:02 per mile), only 12 seconds slower than my 2018 time. However, my time four years ago included stoppage time at the bridge (I’m not sure how much) that I didn’t have this year. Some 1,326 runners completed the 2022 run, and I’m happy to have beaten 49 of them. Full results are here. I used to do this race in 44 minutes (my 8K PR is 43:00 in 2007), but after two ankle surgeries, those days are long gone.
Still, despite the cloudy weather and drizzle, this Nordstrom-sponsored race was loads of fun, especially crossing the finish line inside Husky Stadium. Also, it is for a worthy cause: raising money to fight juvenile diabetes.
For me, it was my fifth road run this year, my first 8K since 2019, and, overall, race No. 246. I’m looking forward to getting to 250, likely before the end of 2022. More immediately, I am looking forward to next Sunday’s Seattle Bike-n-Brews, a 38-mile ride organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club, my first group ride of the year.
The All in for Autism 5K on Sunday, April 24, gave me a chance to do a road run in my hometown of Bellevue, Wash. We had great weather for the race, which turned out to be 3.45 miles, a tad longer than a 5-kilometer race (3.1 miles). So, times for everyone were a bit slower than they might have been.
There was a 10K race as well, but only 157 runners chose this longer option. I selected the 5K race, simply so I could beat the many walkers who do the shorter event. I finished in 45:53 (14:46 per mile), one of my slower 5K times — but, as I said, this course was 0.3 miles longer than a traditional 5K. I came in 269th out of 610 5K participants, surprisingly in the upper half of the finishers. Full results are here.
It was my 245th race overall, and the second time I’d done this event. In 2018, this was my first road run after ankle-fusion surgery, my second of two left-ankle surgeries. I finished that race in 45:27.
Even if the course on Sunday was a tad long, the race in and around downtown Bellevue is for a good cause. Sponsored by the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club, it benefits Kindering and other autism-related organizations.
Great to see fellow runner and former Microsoft teammate Jackie Soo after the run. She beat me by 10 minutes; glad she was hanging around the finish line afterward.
I’m looking forward to my first organized bicycle ride in May, the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Seattle Bike-n-Brews Ride on May 22 (38 miles). I may do another run earlier in May; not sure yet. Thanks for reading. Till next time.
The cherry blossom trees gifted to the University of Washington years ago from Japan always bloom around late March. This annual event is celebrated on the Seattle campus with, among other things, a weekend of running events, including a half-marathon and 5K. I ran the 5K today along with members of the Norred family, Chris, Sally, and Ollie, and more than 2,400 others. The race shirt characterized the event as “The Legion of Bloom,” playing off the Seahawks’ famed Legion of Boom.
The course started near big, bad Husky Stadium, looped around the stadium, and then went up the transit station ramp over Montlake Boulevard to the main campus. It was challenging with the crowded trail behind the stadium and then the hills in and around campus buildings.
After we labored up the long last hill, a left turn took us downhill to the finish line, well north of where we started the race. I can’t remember seeing the cherry blossom trees until after the run, as we walked back through the campus to get to our cars in the stadium parking lot. Congrats to Sally Norred for finishing first in her age group! I was just happy to see the finish line — my race No. 244. Full results are here.
I got up at an ungodly hour this morning to join more than 4,000 other runners and walkers for a race where you actually gain weight after doing it. It was the annual Hot Chocolate 5K in downtown Seattle. People of all race levels brace the early morning cold so they can feast afterward on a tray that includes a hot chocolate drink and a banana, marshmallow, graham crackers, rice crispy treat, and Oreo cookies that you dip into warm chocolate syrup.
There usually is also a 15K, but it was canceled this year, according to a race official, because race organizers and the city of Seattle could not agree on an appropriate 9.3-mile course. We will see if this race moves to the Eastside next year, as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon races have.
Besides the food, this event always has the best swag — this year’s was a nice black long-sleeve running coat. It was my 243rd race; I’m inching closer to 250. My time was nothing to write home about, though I spent the first half-mile dodging the many walkers in this race. Race results are here.
Before being deflated by Oregon’s upset loss to California in Eugene today, I ran my first race of 2022, the Alexander’s Hope Valentine Day Dash 5K in Kirkland. It was a small race with less than 200 runners (another 100 or so did the virtual run). The course was flat and the weather was sunny and mild; a great day to run. My time was one of my best in recent years, but, according to the race organizer Bella (holding up the race shirt below), the course was 3 miles rather than 3.1. Still fun, and for a good cause — to spread awareness of organ donation. Also, my 242nd road race. Race results are here.
I ran my longest race in more than two years today, the 12Ks of Christmas, a 12K run in Kirkland that I’ve completed 13 times since 2003. Many people wear Christmas-y outfits and the mood is festive. More than 1,200 runners and walkers did the 12K or 5K races, which covered Lake Washington Boulevard, the Cross Kirkland Corridor, and neighborhoods just north of downtown Kirkland.
My time was 1:49:32 (14:40 per mile), which beat my worst time of 1:51:45 in 2012, a year after my first ankle surgery. The full race results are here. My best time for this race was 1:06:57 in 2005.
Great to run the 12K with friends Sally and Chris Norred, who both waited for me at the finish line. Nice job, you guys! My run No. 241 overall was a fun one to end the year; the Resolution Run 5K on New Year’s Day would have been next, but it was canceled for 2022.
Today I made one of my infrequent pilgrimages to enemy territory for the 2021 Dawg Dash 5K, which returned to the University of Washington campus after being a virtual run in 2020. It was my 240th road race since 2001 and the ninth time I’ve run this event.
Also, it was my first race where everyone had to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Most people wore masks; I wore one too but lowered it for much of the race while I sucked wind. Some 1,154 people ran or walked the race, perhaps 30% with dogs.
The UW campus is a challenging course, as was weaving around runners, walkers, and dogs. My time was 43:00 (13:52 per mile), good for 751st place. It felt good to finish. I’ll be back here next month for the Ducks-Huskies game at Husky Stadium. The full results are here.
My bicycle ride opportunities again in 2021 have been truncated by the pandemic, but I finally did my first (and possibly my last) organized ride of the year today.
The Woodinville Wine Ride is a 25-mile jaunt through northeast King County, with two winery stops and a wine garden at the end (riders had the option of a shorter, 17-mile route). It’s a largely flat but still vigorous ride with lots of miles on trails. More than 400 bicyclists rode today, the rain held off, and I finished in time to watch the Seahawks blow a 24-9 halftime lead.
This ride, my 41st organized ride since 2011, took me two and a half hours, a speed of 9.3 mph.