Ride on Sunday, August 13
OVERVIEW: Combine the lakeside views with a few turns and mild hills. It’s a familiar route for many — the ‘south lake loop’ and a spin around Mercer Island. Lots to see as you get a good workout.
The 50-mile ride leaves Fred Hutch, heading North, with a short incline up to the University bridge. The gentle downhill to Fuhrman Ave E is a nice way to continue this urban section as you then roll east on Boyer Avenue. Once on Boyer you will meander through the Montlake neighborhood, through Madison Valley and then up to Lake Washington Blvd. You’ll turn right, head south, and keep rolling down Lake Washington. Look around at the beautiful trees, homes and lakefront views as you pedal south through Leschi, under I-90 and then cruise along Lake Washington past the Mount Baker Crew House. As you pass Mount Baker Beach you’ll suddenly notice you’re surrounded by cyclists, walkers and runners. Welcome to Bicycle Sunday and enjoy the fact that Lake Washington Boulevard is closed to motorized traffic all the way to Seward Park.
The miles will glide under your tires as you approach Seward Park. Enjoy your rest stop—grab some Nuun, water, bars, cookies, chips and whatever else keeps you moving. And get ready…the climb out of Seward Park is likely the toughest of the day. The first section is steep and short. You’ll turn left and see another hill, but with a much easier grade. Enjoy the peak and start cruising down, but be sure to obey the stop signs and watch the intersections. It’s a great coast down to Rainier Avenue South and very well-traveled by cyclists year-round.
The left on Rainier Avenue South brings 3-4 miles of shoulder-riding with traffic on your left. Ride single file in the bike lane, signal and verbally alert fellow riders as to potholes, cars and other obstacles. Ride this fairly flat terrain till you reach Renton. Here you’ll see the signs and follow the course marshal as you turn left into the Renton Municipal Airport. These low-traffic roads are familiar to local cyclists and provide a smooth route around the south end of Lake Washington. Follow the flat roads through Renton till you reach the southern edge of Lake Washington. Here the Lake Washington Bike Loop follows the east edge of the lake with rolling hills, a well-marked bike lane and a view of Mercer Island. You’ll be there soon enough.
This lakeside route takes you by the Virginia Mason Athletic Center (a.k.a. the Seahawks training facility) on to shared recreation path alongside I-405 and into the Newport Shores neighborhood. While this is a very popular bike route, stay alert to curves in the path, fellow cyclists and walkers.
In Newport Shores you’ll meet Coal Creek Parkway, head into the Mercer Slough (bump, bump, bump along the boardwalk) and up on to the East Channel Bridge. Enjoy the sight from high above the lake and swoop up on to Mercer Island where you’ll enjoy another rest stop. Take a rest, fuel-up and head south along East Mercer Way. While you watch the road ahead, be sure to peak out at the lake and enjoy the scenery. Most of MI has little rolling hills; they’re small and keep you moving with short swift descents. The only real burn comes as you near your return to the I-90 bike lane. There’s a ½-mile slow-climb, but don’t worry, it’s followed by a fast hill down to the I-90 bike lane entrance, where you cruise right on to the bridge deck.
Feel the fresh, lakefront breeze as you pedal across Lake Washington on the I-90 floating bridge. Remember it’s a shared path, so stay right, use your voice to notify others of your position and watch for walkers and runners. As you reach the West high rise, get ready. There’s a pitch as you climb up to your next rest stop. Here you’ll be rewarded with more great munchies, cookies and salty snacks—power as you prep for the last segment of your ride.
As you leave the rest stop, consider whether you’re ready to pedal up a very short, very steep hill or if you’re just as happy pushing your bike up this 50-yard face. It’s not a race and there’s no good way around it…this is part of biking in Seattle. After that short crank, you’ll enjoy a smooth coast through Leschi and get back on Lake Washington Boulevard, where you’ll pedal through Madrona towards Madison Park.
Heading back up to the Arboretum, you’ll remember that the downhill was fun, but the uphill burns a bit. It’s short and sweet. For you spinners out there, think of it as one song at 70% resistance. Once you get back to the University Bridge, you’ll turn left to loop around the South end of Lake Union, making your way toward the Finish chute at Gas Works Park.
Enjoy the celebration—what an accomplishment!