2017 Ride for Major Taylor: Invigorating ride through an unfamiliar part of Seattle

Early in the ride you pass through downtown White Center, shown here

Early in the ride you pass through downtown White Center, shown here

In an effort to try a new event, ease my way back into bicycling, and see a part of the Seattle area that I don’t know well, I signed up for the third annual Ride for Major Taylor. Held last Saturday (April 29), it accomplished all three objectives.

Several riders sported the Major Taylor Project jerseys

Several riders sported the Major Taylor Project jerseys

This somewhat hilly, low-key 24-mile ride supports the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Major Taylor Project, a youth cycling program focused on introducing youth from lower-income communities to bicycling and its fitness and other benefits.

Some 250 bicyclists rode the course, which roams through some of the Seattle area’s oldest and most ethnic suburbs. These include Burien, White Center, Normandy Park, SeaTac, Tukwila and Des Moines. A rectangular loop, the course is located to the west of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and south and southwest of the Seattle city limits.

Many of the participants were casual riders, not elite bicyclists, which was probably a good thing. The course was peppered with intersections and stoplights, and a rider focused on speed would have been frustrated with all of the stops.

Riding through working-class and airport neighborhoods

The ride starts and ends at Evergreen High School in the White Center area, one of the region’s older high schools. You ride through decades-old neighborhoods with lots of smaller homes, commercial areas with mom-and-pop shops, plus signs in Vietnamese, Korean and other Asian languages, a whiff of marijuana here and there, and streets that could be worse but still in need of repaving.

The 24-mile course is outlined in red

The 24-mile course is outlined in red

The Major Taylor Project sponsors activities at a half-dozen or more schools in the area, plus others in Tacoma. It’s a genuine working-class area until you get closer to the airport, where you find more parks, hotels, parking lots, strip malls and government offices.

Though this is the third year of this event, the course seemed to be new to most riders, including me. We all had to follow the so-called Dan Henry course markings to stay on course. About five of us veered off course at the 15-mile mark — and it was not because of any marijuana fumes. We followed a rider who seemed to know where he was going. But he didn’t.

Day-of-race signups were high

Day-of-race signups were high

This miscue cost us 20 minutes to a half-hour, but did not mar the event. We used GPS on our smartphones to find our way back on-course. Thanks to the fellow rider (I did not catch her name) who got us back on track!

I finished the ride in 2 hours, 38 minutes, counting time stopped. The reward was a free meal — hot dogs or brats with cream cheese and onions, chips and a drink. The food from Seattle Sausage was delicious.

My 28th organized ride since 2011, and my second of 2017, this event was a worthwhile event, and for a good cause. I would ride it again.

Next up: my favorite taco lovers’ run

Crossing the finish line was a good feeling for most

Crossing the finish line was a good feeling for most

This Saturday is the Fiesta 5K Ole Run in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. I am looking forward to doing the run with a few colleagues from Allytics. There will be tacos and beer afterwards, so we all hope the sun is out.

As for bicycling, I’ve got at three more rides planned: The Emerald City Bike Ride through Seattle on May 27, the 7 Hills of Kirkland two days later on Memorial Day, and the Flying Wheels Summer Century (my seventh 100-mile-plus ride) on June 10. So lots of riding ahead — there aren’t half as many bicycle events as there are road runs in the Seattle area, so you have to take advantage of the rides that are held.

Thanks for reading! Till next time.


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 5K, 7 Hills of Kirkland, Bicycling, Century and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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