Biking the Burke-Gilman Trail

August 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Posted in biking | 1 Comment
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Completed my second full day of biking around Seattle — starting out from near Mill Creek, a long trek down 527 to Bothell, and then onto the end of the Burke-Gilman Trail [found after a search].  Seattle has a lot of nice trails, bike lanes and most of the other features a guy could want [racks; parks with well-maintained restrooms and drinking fountains].

I rambled around Ballard, Discovery Park and Green Lake.  Really impressed at how the Burke-Gilman threads the urban fabric.  Well done!

I don’t cut the figure of classical middle aged serious biker — I refuse to wear cycling clothes, and I am only going medium speed on my compromise bike.  I stop to look at views and to pick blackberries along roads and trails.

On the Burke-Gilman, which was fairly crowded but flowing along smoothly, I tried to make eye contact and smile at every person coming the other way.  In Anchorage on the Coastal Trail, probably seven out of 10 would respond in kind.  Here, maybe seven out of 100, at best.  Sorry Seattle — I still adore the city, but Anchorage is much friendlier.  Some popular reactions from Seattleites [usually a combo of two or more]:

  • no response at all
  • looking away
  • eye roll
  • looking down
  • short, bug-eyed leering
  • quizzical, or vacant stare
  • fish lips
  • wounded look, as if to say, ‘who gave you permission to look at me?’.

One man I smiled at, who was standing drinking water at a trail wayside gave me the bug-eyed leer and then hopped and gestured with both arms!

Another cyclist near UW took it upon himself to direct traffic.  I don’t know about you, but if I’m driving I follow the rules, but I don’t necessarily do what cyclists and pedestrians tell me to do.  Maybe if they wore a police uniform I would pay attention.

About half the riders on the Burke-Gilman were guys my age, give or take [not many women in this club, for some reason] who were so much alike it was like a uniform — newer road bike, skin-tight cycling jersey and shorts on their fit body, wraparound sunglasses.  “Passing on the left!”, they announced as they zoomed around me.  About half of them coming the other way had strobe lights on the handlebars, in the middle of the afternoon.

A disc golfer in a park on the north end where I stopped to rest and fill up my water bottle greeted me before I even saw him.  Kind of surprised, and just kind of mumbled, “Great, thanks.”

In Bothell on the return leg, right after the trail ends the way to 527 is over a narrow bridge and into a little downtown area.  A bus passed me right after the bridge, driving slowly around me in part of the other lane.  And then a gray-haired, spandex-clad road biker zoomed around me, and with a wild careening, swerving dive around the tail corner of the bus, raced up and confronted the bus driver.  He looked up into the bus, shaking his fist and yelling, “HEY!  You CUT ME OFF, asshole!  You gonna CALL THE POLICE?”  [No.]  “Oh, yeah?  Well, FUUUCCK YOU!!!  YOU ALMOST CUT ME OFF!!”  And then he rode off, slowly in the middle of the road.

On the more positive side…

A homeless man near Fisherman’s Terminal in Magnolia was laughing so hard, I started laughing too.

And the best part of the day was when a twenty-something woman who was playing a wiffle ball game with an older woman, on a narrow street between the trail and houses along the lake looked up and said, “Way to go, good job!  Biking is way better than a car!”.  This woman was very wise!


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  1. loved this

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