Tag Archives: bicycling

Taking a spin with Spin

After running a few errands on foot yesterday afternoon, I wandered my way through the neighborhood on my return trip home. I was making my way past a popular playground park when I spotted this:

Spin bike at park

This, my friends, is a Spin bike.

Spin is one of two private bike share companies (the other is LimeBike) that launched services in Seattle this month. They’re easy to identify: Spin bikes are bright orange and LimeBikes are bright green/yellow. Both bikes are equipped with front baskets, kickstands and locking devices.

You need a smart phone to download an app and a credit/debit card to use either bike share. The apps help you locate nearby bikes, unlock them and pay for your ride ($1 for thirty minutes). This screenshot shows the distribution of Spin bikes in West Seattle at this moment. As you can see, most of them are clustered along the waterfront.

Spin map

I had downloaded both apps earlier this week in anticipation of trying out these bikes, so I was ready to ride when I discovered the Spin bike at the park. I scanned the barcode to unlock the bike, paid for my ride and took off for a test ride. My ride lasted for about twenty minutes and here are my quick observations:

  • The bike is easy to use but the 3-speed gearing isn’t low enough for Seattle hills. Spin is aware of this and promises lower gears on its next round of bikes in the city.
  • I like the convenience of parking the bike almost anywhere at the end of my ride (public bike racks or on the sidewalk out of the way of pedestrian traffic).
  • With good citywide coverage, these bikes will make good options for spontaneous short trips.
  • Downside: Not everyone has smart phones or credit/debit cards in order to use the system.
  • Downside: Unless you travel with bike helmet in tow, you’ll probably violate our local helmet law when you ride of these bikes.

Will I take a spin with Spin again? You bet. I’m also looking forward to trying out a LimeBike soon.

spin bike 2

Bike up!

Fremont Bridge

In urban, traffic-gridlocked Seattle many folks (me included) often opt to move around the city by bike.

The Fremont Bridge, a drawbridge spanning the Lake Washington Ship Canal, is a bicycle thoroughfare. It links Fremont and other North Seattle neighborhoods to Queen Anne, South Lake Union and downtown. It connects the Burke-Gilman Trail, which parallels the waterway’s north shoreline, to the South Ship Canal and South Lake Union Trails on the other side.

Yesterday there were 4,525 bike trips across the Fremont Bridge. Yes, you read that number correctly. In 2016, people on bikes crossed this bridge 981,908 times. That’s nearly a million bike trips across this bridge!

An Outside Kind of Day

If you read Outside Magazine, they often feature Outside weekends. These are packed, multi-sport affairs at some awesome destination and include sampling local food and craft beers at some hip joint.

Yesterday, I managed to pack an Outside weekend into a day.

bike-pugetsoundMy morning began with a meeting with my supervisor. The weather was overcast, dry and mild, so I packed my laptop in my pannier and pedaled to a local coffee shop–our meeting spot.

We reviewed this week’s work and discussed upcoming projects over our morning java. My caffeine beverage of choice was a double-shot soy latte. Mmmm!

Our meeting wrapped up a little before noon, so I decided to take the scenic route back home. I pedaled along the shores of Puget Sound, taking in the sounds of ferries, seagulls and passing conversations of pedestrians. The air was fresh and held a hint of saltiness.

I made the climb back up to my neighborhood, stopping at a quiet viewpoint. There was too much cloud cover to see the Olympic Mountains but I did get views of Bainbridge and Blake Islands.

It was back to work for a few hours until Steve arrived home for the day.

“Let’s do something,” he said. “What do you want to do?”

“Let’s go to the mountains,” I announced.

spring skiWe grabbed our nordic skis and packs and took off for Snoqualmie Pass where we were greeted by sunshine and warm temperatures. Excellent choice! I donned my sunglasses but left my jacket and gloves in the pack.

The snow was soft and, in spite of the rain that fell earlier in the week, pleasant to ski. We went swish-gliding down the trail.

We traveled quietly, stopping frequently to take in nature. The air was fresh and scented with trees. Birds entertained us with a chorus of chirps and songs. The sun warmed our faces.

We skied for several hours and only encountered one other couple on the trails. That’s a rare experience in this winter recreation corridor heavily used by residents of Pugetopolis.

In no hurry to return to the city, we swung into The Commonwealth at Snoqualmie Pass. We snagged seats with a window view of Guye Peak and Mount Snoqualmie, chowed on some great pub fare and quaffed some tasty locally brewed Dru-Bru. It was the perfect ending to my Outside day!

bicycle prayer wheel

Riding a bike can be meditative. The rhythmic revolution of each pedal stroke and steady breathing can help clear your mind and put you in the present.

It feels natural then to make a short pilgrimage to the bicycle prayer wheel in Nord Alley. The wheel is mounted outside Back Alley Bike Repair and is available 24/7 for spinning prayers and good thoughts.

bike-sunrise

As a bicyclist, the desired road taken is often the road less traveled.

Not the case with Mount Rainier’s Sunrise Road.  This classic national park road is narrow and twisty as it winds upward 3000 feet to Sunrise Park (elevation 6400 feet) and an in-your-face view of the mountain. In the summer, this road is also clogged with vehicles and looky-loo tourists–not so pleasant for a bike ride.

However, there’s a brief window of opportunity in May/June when the park service plows the snow off the road but keeps the gate closed to vehicular traffic. This in-between period before the upper elevation is opened for the summer season is a cyclist’s dream. It’s an opportunity to bike Sunrise Road car-free!

The Road Taken

Barn Quilt Trail

A few weeks ago, I embraced the day by traveling east of the Cascade crest for a bike ride. My destination was the pastoral Teanaway Valley with its scenic, low-traffic backroads.

I pedaled leisurely up a road enjoying the sunshine and rural beauty of Kittitas County when I spotted this:

bike-barnquilt

Displayed on the side of a barn built in 1900 was a quilt block called a Wagon Wheel. Hmm, I thought to myself. An historic barn featuring a traditional quilt block in rural central Washington seemed perfect. I had stumbled upon the Kittitas County Barn Quilt Trail.

The first of its kind in Washington state, the Barn Quilt Trail highlights the region’s agricultural heritage and celebrates the tradition of the American quilt. The route features over 100 quilt blocks scattered throughout the county.

The Barn Quilt Trail is designed to be a self-guided driving tour but it’s possible to turn segments of the route into a bike ride. Their website includes downloadable maps and information on each of the quilt block installations.

 

The fitness industry must be booming. There are six fitness facilities within a mile of my home–more if you include yoga, martial arts, and other specialty studios.

I’m glad that people care about their health and well being, but I don’t relate to going to the gym for a workout. Why spend time indoors spinning on a stationary bike when I can be outdoors exploring roads like this one?

I’ll share my 5 reasons to #optoutside:

  1. Variety. I can change up the scenery, terrain and duration simply by varying my travel route. My ride can be at dawn, at night, or anytime in between. I can ride rain or shine, on streets or trails, or in urban or rural environments. I can do all of this walking on my two feet as well.
  2. Time. The beauty of biking and walking is that it’s active living. I don’t have to carve out special time to do these things. Walking the dog, biking to work, jogging to do errands are examples of active living–daily tasks that incorporate physical activity. I am free to allocate my time to other pursuits rather than going to the gym.
  3. Money. Joining a gym or signing up for a fitness program costs money–sometimes a lot of money. I’d rather spend my extra dollars on travel, a night out with friends, or adding to my yarn stash.
  4. Accessibility. Almost everyone can walk or bike. Most of us can do it from our door step and it’s affordable. Neighborhood sidewalks and streets that take you to local parks, shops and libraries are enough to get you started.
  5. Nature. There’s a growing body of evidence that spending time outdoors is good for our health. That walk in the park or bike ride on a trail reduces my stress and mental fatigue, among other benefits.

Ok, now it’s your turn. Do you #optoutside? What are your reasons for doing so?