Cascade has a series of “free” rides called Brother Loves’ Traveling Salvation Show (placement of the apostrophe is theirs, not mine). The one the weekend before last had three notable features:
- It covers seven trails and five rivers from Seattle to Auburn. I tried to find them all, but only came up with six:
- Burke-Gilman — from Gas Works Park past the Lk Washington canal
- Elliott Bay — along the waterfront in front of downtown
- Alki — Crossing over into downtown
- Duwamish — the industrial area northwest of Boeing Field
Green River — the industrial area west of Boeing Field to Tukwila
- Interurban — Kent back up to Tukwila
The two rider leaders, Rob and Chris, were decked out in the coveted “Ride Leader” jerseys and equipped with some kind of radio. Rob, who was the “lead” leader, must have been a drill sargent in a previous lifetime, because he seemed to always be barking terse orders to us. Chris was more laid back, and for the intial segment of the ride, he worked “sweep.”
The ride is officially listed as “moderate,” meaning someone should be able to maintain 14-16 mph on the flat portions. All seven trails have a posted 15 mph speed limit, though only the Burke-Gilman has a reputation for law enforcement of these. There are enough stops, turns, bumps and traffic crossings that the average speed works out closer to 13.
The first kink was one mile from the start, where the Fremont Sunday market had cordoned off the entire block. We worked our way to the Fremont bridge, where we followed a horribly pocked and gravel-laden road to join the Elliott trail.
The ride near the waterfront was chaotic because the primary group took an aggressive interpretation of the stoplight, e.g., the yellow bulb hadn’t fully cooled off yet. The combination of the later lights’ timing and the anarchy near the ferry terminals meant two of us who actually stopped for the red light played catch-up to a receding group.
There was a transition to the Duwamish trail where I fully expected us to have a National Lampoon’s Vacation moment, that is, we’d pull up to a burnt out car, wake up the guy inside, and ask where we could find his cousin, Chip, who’d tell us where to turn next. The segment of trail was narrow, overgrown with blackberries and littered with debris. This led to the road near Boeing Field, a very industrial area, where the trail had poles, pipe covers, and railroad tracks crossing it.
Eventually, we found our way to the serene Green River trail, following that south to Ft. Dent for a stop for the third segment of B.L.T.S.S. to join us. When we left, Rob and Chris swapped lead positions. After Chris made a couple of mis-turns, he was chastising Rob for not using the radio. Rob seemed to care little what Chris thought, and rode off leading the group. Chris was still fuming and departed the ride. This changed the tone for us newbies, and I bailed out of the group to ride the remainder by myself.
The return trip was challenging because of the circuitous route we took. Looking at my map now, I think they chose this particular route to maximize the number of trails and rivers used and to facilitate the multiple-length concept. Whatever the reason, I was glad my GPS recorded the outbound track.
I initially just reversed this. However, towards Boeing Field, I followed one of the other trails out to the west, avoiding some of the nastiness and railroad tracks. Unfortunately, after crossing the bridge from West Seattle, I ended up on the wrong way of a one-way street as the path abruptly ended. I cut through the lot, found 4th Avenue, and followed it into downtown.
With the Mariners-Yankees game starting, traffic was sheer chaos, but at least people were paying more attention to jaywalking pedestrians.
Once downtown, traffic thinned out. I followed the surface roads to Fremont and Gas Works Park.
I rode 48 miles, putting me at 2,020 for the year.