Peter and I are doing our best to see and do more things in Seattle because we feel it is the only way to tolerate living here, especially in the winter. This past weekend we participated in a 5k brunch run event at Magnuson Park on Lake Washington and pedaled through Seattle via the Emerald City Ride. The weather on both days was as unpleasant as possible with pouring rain, cold temperatures and wind.
5k brunch run
There’s not much to write about on the 5k brunch run event. I’m currently in rehab for a shin splint issue in my right leg which has somewhat migrated to my left leg. These issues generally come in pairs so I’m now rehab’ing both legs. The issue began about eight months ago and my approach of resting for three weeks and then going balls-to-the-wall had proven unsuccessful multiple times so I finally sought professional help at the end of March.
Forbidden to run, I walked the mostly flat 5k course as quickly as possible. The only thing that got me through 3.1 miles in the cold and rainy weather was the thought of brunch bites and bloody marys accessible a few steps from the finish line.
Emerald City Ride
Sunday we woke at the crack of dawn and drove ourselves and our bikes to Safeco Field where the 12-mile loop started and finished. This year’s route led us along the Alaskan Way Viaduct, through the Battery Street Tunnel, over the Aurora Bridge, through Gas Works Park, and down the lower deck of the I-5. Most of the route was closed to motor traffic and dozens of police officers directed traffic along the route. I bet this was a welcome change of duties from tending to various issues with the homeless and heroin overdoses.
There were approximately 7,000 cyclists who took part in the event. I saw kids as young as four years old crossing the finish line, proud of their achievement and forgetting their tears and meltdowns along the way.
The Alaskan Way Viaduct is a double-decker elevated highway that hugs Puget Sound (specifically Elliott Bay) and Seattle. It is an eye sore, is not up to modern-day seismic standards and is set to be demolished. The viaduct and the Battery Street Tunnel will be replaced by a gazillion dollar tunnel which began construction in 2013 by a boring tunnel machine named Bertha. The current projected opening of the tunnel is 2019 after many delays and budget overruns.
The view of downtown Seattle from the viaduct will soon cease to exist so I stopped and took as many photos as I could.
The viaduct feeds into the Battery Street Tunnel. The tunnel will be backfilled once the gazillion dollar replacement tunnel opens. A group of Seattleites rallied to save the tunnel with hopes of turning it into an urban park of sorts. Their request to “Recharge the Battery” was denied citing enormous financial costs and other unspoken concerns like the tunnel becoming a giant homeless camp and drug den. Seattle can’t have nice things.
A long uphill journey greeted us as we exited the north entrance of the tunnel. We gradually climbed through the Queen Anne neighborhood and then descended to the Fremont neighborhood via the Aurora Bridge. The Aurora Bridge was the site of the fatal duck boat tour accident in September 2015, three weeks before we moved to Seattle. Five people were killed and dozens were injured in the accident.
All bridges in Seattle are in rough shape and it is scary that these bridges carry the load of hundreds of thousands of cars every day. Rebar is exposed in many areas, giant potholes wreak havoc on cars and large gaps exist between sections of pavement. It is only a matter of time before Seattle experiences a bridge collapse like the 2007 Minneapolis 35W bridge collapse.
Once across the bridge, we made a quick pre-8am pit stop at Gas Works Park for a mini donut and chocolate chip cookie. I glanced up at the I-5 and saw fellow bikers on the lower deck taking photos of downtown Seattle. I wondered how difficult the ascent was going to be to get up to the I-5.
The lower deck of the I-5 is home to the I-5 Express Lanes which are free to use. The direction of travel on these lanes is dictated by traffic congestion, day of week and time of day. If you are passing through Seattle and these lanes are open for your direction of travel, please use them so as to decrease your travel time by as much as 30 minutes and help reduce congestion on the regular traffic section of the I-5.
The view of downtown Seattle while traveling south on the I-5 is pretty great and is also the cause of traffic congestion on this section of the interstate. On a clear day, cars slow to a crawl and gawkers lean out of their windows to take photos, completely unaware of the traffic problems they are causing.
The remainder of the ride was a bit surreal as we pedaled on the I-5 Express Lanes which were sandwiched between the regular north and southbound lanes. Cars were whizzing by at that fast Seattle driving pace of 52 mph. I stopped quick to take a photo of our old house. It was surprising to me how close it looked to the I-5.
Though the house was very close to the I-5, the photo does not give the perspective of how high the house was perched above the I-5. I miss living in that house for many reasons but one thing I do not miss is the black “dust” (pulverized rubber from car tires travelling along the gritty I-5) that accumulated on the surfaces in the house and in the air we breathed.
As I was taking photos and marvelling at the fact that I was standing in the middle of the I-5, I asked Peter to take a few photos of me. Per usual, he provided no clue as to when he was tapping the photo button so here is me after my tap dance which got lots of cheers from passing bikers. Is it just me or do the lamp posts resemble giant IUDs?
A mere 10 minutes after the above photo we arrived back at Safeco field. We were drenched, full of road spray and freezing cold. Even given the shit weather, it was 100 percent worth it to get out of our cozy bed to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime ride – or maybe not once-in-a-lifetime. Perhaps there will be more delays in the gazillion dollar tunnel and there’ll be one more Emerald City Ride along the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Battery Street Tunnel next year.