For the first time that I can remember, I returned to my car after a long bicycle ride hot, sweaty, spent and … slightly tipsy. It was after the Seattle Bike-n-Brews last Sunday, May 6, in temperatures that reached the high 70s. I’d downed two 12-ounce beers, one during the ride and one after.
So, instead of driving home right away, I decided to ride a few more miles. Then I took my time getting my bike set up on my car’s bike rack. I was beat. Then I drove.
The Cascade Bicycle Club’s Seattle Bike-n-Brews is an awesome event — you ride 37.5 miles (or 27 miles for the shorter route), mostly on trails. The course is entirely flat, fellow bicyclists are serious but friendly, and you can build speed on some of the long, straight stretches. Just watch how much beer you drink, and make sure you have some food with it. On a warm day like May 6, the beer goes down extremely easy.
This raises a question about drinking and bicycling — it’s a similar story with the Harvest Century ride in the Portland area, which has a rest stop at a Washington County winery. But in either case, I don’t think it’s a problem. As far as I can see, most people do these events for the ride, more than the alcohol.
Again, just watch how much you drink! I will, as well. Fortunately, the Seattle Bike-n-Brews limited the free beers to one at the mid-race stop and one at the finish line.
Not a ride for slouches
When I first heard about this ride, I figured it was a leisurely ride with a series of stops at several bars and breweries. After reading more about it online, it seemed like a serious ride, so I signed up. Indeed, it was.
Yes, the course is flat, but you can’t lollygag through those narrow trails. Riders are on your tail through most of the ride and don’t want anyone to slow them down. With the weather warm and muggy, the nearly 40-mile ride was a good workout. I finished in a slow but decent 3:30, though official race times were not kept.
About 1,000 bicyclists did the ride. We started at the Georgetown Brewing Co. patio south of downtown Seattle, and headed south to Tukwila and Kent. After a stretch along Airport Way South, we were dumped onto the Green River Trail, then a bit later to the Interurban Trail.
Most of the way down, and most of the way back, the course had us on the Green River Trail for a time, then the Interurban Trail for a stretch, and back and forth again. While on the Interurban, we had a fork in the road — those doing the 37-mile ride went straight and those doing the 27-mile ride turned right. I went straight.
Just south of the ShoWare Center in Kent (where the Seattle Thunderbirds play their home games), those on the longer route turned right off the Interurban, crossed under State Route 167, got on the Green River Trail again and made our way back.
Memories of the Green River Killer
Riding along the Green River brought back memories of perhaps the ugliest decade in Seattle’s history. Some 71 women are believed to have been murdered by the Green River Killer in the 1980s and 90s, most with their bodies dumped near the river. The killer, Gary Ridgway, is locked up for life in the Walla Walla state penitentiary.
My wife and I moved from Oregon to the Seattle area at the height of the killings in the early 80s, and had roles in covering or following this story as journalists. I was once part of a media mob waiting outside Ridgway’s house in south King County while police searched for evidence. We’ve all moved on from this, but it was a horrifying period for the Seattle region to endure.
Yes, there were stretches of the ride where I was alone or with only a few riders. However, I got a chance to converse with a couple of riders about RSVP (the Ride from Seattle to Vancouver & Party!), as I was wearing my RSVP jersey from 2014. I’d love to do RSVP again.
Finally, at 27 miles, we had a rest stop — at the Odin Brewing Co. in Tukwila. Beer and pretzels for me; I had a pilsner and it tasted great. Oh, and I ran into my Allytics work colleague Stefanie Hairston, and got in a picture with her. Great to see you, Stef! She got back on the road before me and I never saw her again.
It was only 10 more miles to the finish line, and that was uneventful. The beer at the Georgetown brewery was just as tasty; I had another pilsner. I’d rate the food as 2 or 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, however. The only choice for the ride’s free meal was a tamale from a food truck (The Tamale Guy), and it was simply not enough to satisfy. Still, an enjoyable ride.
Two big bicycling events coming up
I’m trying to rally some workmates to join me in running the Beat the Bridge 8K Run in Seattle May 20. We’ll see how that goes. I ran this Nordstrom-sponsored run for five straight years until 2007, and would be eager to see if I can indeed beat the bridge again.
For those who don’t know anything about this race, it crosses the University Bridge near the University of Washington at mid-race. Those running at a slower pace (like me) may not be able to cross the bridge before it rises for boats at around 9 a.m.
What happens if you don’t beat the bridge raising? You wait five minutes for it to drop back into place, then you continue running. The time you spend waiting becomes part of your overall race time, so it pays to beat the bridge.
Meanwhile, coming on the heels of that are the backbreaking, back-to-back rides I do each year — the 7 Hills of Kirkland (40 miles with tough hills) on Memorial Day and the Flying Wheels Century (this year, I’ll do the 65-mile route) on June 2.
In recent years, I’ve done the metric century (60 miles) for the 7 Hills ride and the full century for Flying Wheels (last four years in a row), but am dialing it back a bit for 2018. The RSVP in August, if I can find someone to ride with me, will be my century this year.
Thanks for reading! Left ankle is doing fine. Knock on wood.