2016 Emerald City Bike Ride: Long lines, but worth the wait

It was a slow-moving starting line, taking about 45 minutes to get on the course

It was a slow-moving starting line, taking about 45 minutes to get on the course

It wasn’t the most challenging bike ride I’ve ever done, but the first-ever Emerald City Bike Ride last Sunday (April 3) was enjoyable and worth doing. Yes, even if I had to share the starting line and much of the first mile with 7,000 other bicyclists, including young kids on Sting Rays.

At the 520 bridge turnaround in Medina

At the 520 bridge turnaround in Medina

“It’s well worth the wait,” said a women bicyclist, just coming off the new Evergreen Point (State Route 520) floating bridge span, as she passed by thousands of us waiting to get on it. We were backed up on Montlake Boulevard near the University of Washington. Afterwards, I agreed with her assessment, because the new bridge offered great views and was easy to ride across.

A big purpose of the Cascade Bicycle Club-sponsored event was to give bicyclists a chance to ride the eight miles across the new $4.65 billion floating bridge span. That new span opens to automobiles on April 11, and it was clear there was work that crews needed to do between now and then to get it ready. The Seattle-side section where the existing bridge meets the new bridge was still a bit abrupt and needed some smoothing out.

The scene at the Asian food stop

The scene at the Asian food stop

Afterwards, I began wondering how crowded this ride would be if held again in 2017 and beyond.

Next year at this time, it won’t be such a novelty to ride across what will be a well-used bridge between Seattle and the Eastside cities of Bellevue (where I live), Kirkland and Redmond (where I work). So a second year of this event — if it is planned — is likely to be less of a draw. But it still may be worth doing.

A bicycle ride food stop with Asian cuisine

Opening the new bridge span to some 43,000 pedestrians (including 13,000 runners) on Saturday, April 2, and then to bicyclists the next day was a cool idea by the state Department of Transportation to promote the work done on it. I was torn whether to do the GO LONG SR 520 Floating Bridge Run 10K the day before or the bike ride, but chose the bicycle event because there are just a lot fewer rides than runs in the Seattle area.

Heading east on the 520 bridge

Heading east on the existing 520 bridge

And it was a very nice day for a bike ride (much, much better than my first bike ride of the year). The Emerald City Bike Ride started and finished near Husky Stadium on the UW campus. Altogether, it covered about 21 miles, including a later jaunt down the express lanes for Interstate 5 — those lanes were closed for the morning too.

It also included a food stop in Seattle’s International District, where potstickers, dumplings and other Asian goodies were provided as thousands of bicyclists descended on a small city park.

With all the stops I took for pictures and to enjoy the vibe, plus the long wait just to get to the starting line and then to the new freeway span, the ride took me nearly three hours.

Best part of the ride: Speeding down I-5

The finish line was on south side of Husky Stadium

The finish line was on south side of Husky Stadium

While I appreciated the chance to experience the new 520 bridge span on a bike, the best part of Sunday’s ride was the five-mile I-5 sprint. Having the entire freeway express lanes all to ourselves was darn cool. I may never get that chance again.

There were a few, manageable hills, mostly in the ride along Lake Washington back to the UW campus finish line. But after a finished this ride, I was glad I did it — but still yet to really break a sweat. So I went for a four-mile run when I got home.

This was my second organized bike ride of the year and 24th overall. I’m hoping to do at least three or four more this year, including two in one week, starting on Memorial Day with the 7 Hills of Kirkland ride. The Flying Wheels Summer Century quickly follows on June 4.

The green event T-shirts were free

The green event T-shirts were free

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to running the Seahawks 12K Run on April 17, and hoping some of my Allytics teammates will join me. At least two say they will.

Thanks for reading. Till next time.

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About monteenbysk

I am not an elite runner or bicyclist, though I am friends with many. I run, walk, and bike for fun and the health benefits. I can get you to the finish but probably not to the Boston Marathon (and especially not to the Tour de France).
This entry was posted in 7 Hills of Kirkland, Bicycling, Century, Flying Wheels, Seahawks 12K Run and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 2016 Emerald City Bike Ride: Long lines, but worth the wait

  1. Pingback: 2017 Memorial Day weekend: Back-to-back bike rides fun to do, but selfish to try | Monte's running commentary

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