The big bike commute – part 1

Claire Petersky has really been a great influence on my commute, both in figuring out the route, as well as making it kind of fun to document. These photos were taken over three sessions because my Clie’s battery doesn’t hold out that long. Thus, you’ll see cloudy, rainy, sunny all alternating. Do Not Panic.

Maps
Home to Lake SammamishLk Sammamish to EastgateEastgate to Factoria

This is my bike, a humble 10+ year old Trek. It’s served me many miles, but I’m going to replace it at the end of the year with a new bike. I’ll still keep it for a “dirty commute” or perhaps my spouse will take an interest in cycling.
The commute is full of hills, the first of which is my
driveway
.
My neighborhood has fairly
wide streets
, which is nice because I hate weaving around cars as much as
I dislike riding on the sidewalk.
We have a brisk downhill. If I’m not fully awake by now, the cold wind
rushing by will certainly do the trick. The grade is about 12%, and I easily
hit the mid 30s going down. .
The next road is rather busy. This section has a lovely shoulder that,
unfortunately disappears. I live on a plateau, and the worst part of my
commute is getting up and down.
The main roadway has been realigned, leaving a lot of cones, uneven
shoulders
, pools
of water
, dangerous
obstacles
,
and sections
that
lead nowhere
.
Following this is a rather steep downhill and about two and a half miles
in busy traffic. Sorry, no pictures.
But at the end of this, we parallel Lake Sammamish State
Park, which has a large chunk of prime condo real estate allocated for
wetland. It’s
very pretty. However, snapping us out of our reverie is the other side
of the street, paralleling Interstate 90. (And check out those
condos just across the freeway
!)
Past
the park, we’ll continue up a long but
shallow
climb
that steepens at the top.
A short descent leads us to one of four traffic circles in the area.
I’m still not sure how to best approach this, other than trying to act
like a car and take
up the full lane. This does not fool
the school bus
, who proceeds to cut me off anyway.
Now comes the tricky part. I have to find the bike trail
connecting this to eastgate. Oh sure, now I know where it is and do this
subconsciously,
but until I knew where to look, it’s really hard to find. (Thanks to Claire
Petersky cpetersky
at yahoo.com). Hint #1: It’s behind the school.
Getting
colder: .Getting
warmer: .
Warmer… .
Hot…
Ah!
The
connector is pretty cool because it saves me from having to take some really
nasty roads (hilly, busy traffic, no shoulder) to do
the same thing. The climb’s are about 7%. .
The first time I took the trail, I was going the opposite direction —
downhill — at night, before coming to one of these switchbacks.
I am so glad that I had my light on!
After spiraling up, we’re running parallel to I-90 again. Note the closeness
of the highway traffic. . In a few minutes we will be entering
Bellevue
. Too bad I don’t have a radio (not).
This is the exit of the connector. Note that this side is almost as
hard to find as the original point. Oh sure, you’d
think you couldn’t miss this, but it’s a hidden driveway that, unless
you’re standing right in front of it
.
Our next challenge is The
Scary Tunnel
. It’s “scary” because it’s mostly unlit, and, as you
can see in the photo, the “shoulder” is about a foot wide. .
What you don’t see is the shoulder has rain grates in it, thus you don’t
want to ride to the right of the white line. . The good news
is there
is light
at the end of the tunnel
We wind past a shopping center and patiently wait at the traffic light.
We’re on the other side of the freeway, but looking down at it. Following
this is another lovely downhill, which I won’t take pictures on so I can
enjoy the hill.
Following this is another lovely downhill, which I won’t take
pictures on so I can enjoy the hill.
This is the last, busy traffic area we have to contend with. We’re near
Factoria Mall, perhaps the most chaotic area after the plateau. Traffic
exiting I-90 doesn’t typically look for the cyclists trying to cross the
road and join the trail just ahead of us.

(Please go to part two…)

3 thoughts on “The big bike commute – part 1”

  1. Very nice! I’ve thought about doing a write up similar to yours for my commute. It’s also funny (or sad) that several of your commute problems are the same as we have here in San Francisco and Marin county.

    Thanks for motivating me.

  2. Thanks for posting this! My wife and I just biked around the lake, and we would have been terribly lost without your site. We needed to get from Marymoor Park over I-90 to the Burke Gilman. I’d read a bit about the I-90 trail, but had no idea where to find it. We followed your route from the French-American school – having a picture of the connector trailhead really helped. And then the Scary Tunnel – thanks for the warning about the rain gutters! Got a little confused by the gas station (left and quick right), then loved the downhill. And, again, your pictures saved us, because there’s no way we’d’ve found the trail by Richards road without looking for the “cryptic” wrong way sign. But we did, and the rest of the way was pretty easy.

    So, THANK YOU for posting the pictures, the directions, the warnings, and for the general humor/enthusiasm of your site!

  3. Good stuff! Your commute really makes me apreciate my commute from the East Side of Mercer Island to downtown Seattle. With the nice (dry) winter we’re having I’m also becoming a four-season commuter for the first time.

    Anyway, it’s late and I digress.. I like to go East once in a while and connect with the Preston trail and then the John Wayne trail but the area between Factoria and the Plateau is where I needed help and tips. I’m going to try the scary tunnel to the hidden connector way next time. See you on the (I90) trail, Clydesdale Andy with the big yellow Lemond

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