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short and arduous: cycling up Rainier View

It's been almost seven weeks since my last bike ride. That's due to a combination of factors: crappier weather than one would expect through most of July, being busy with Doug's visit at the start of July, and generally feeling out of sorts for the most part since then. If I had been making myself get out for regular rides, I may not have been so out of sorts, but that's past and not worth worrying about.

This afternoon I had plans to go to the Saccos for dinner. I thought about cycling there. However, it's a fairly ambitious ride, at least 12.8 miles following the shortest path according to Google. (In order to keep some privacy for the Saccos, I'm not going to link to the map with their address, but generally speaking they're in the Rainier Beach / Rainier View neighborhood in south Seattle, almost at the city limits. Note that I've never heard anyone refer to "Rainier View", but that's how the hill is labeled in Google Maps, and it makes more sense to call the hill Rainier View than Rainier Beach.) I've already done longer rides, but I haven't done any in seven weeks as I mentioned, and also they live atop a hill, so trying to cycle the whole way there seemed like maybe not a good idea. I decided I should take the bus and light rail combo to get there instead.

I left my house somewhat later than planned, and hadn't walked very far toward the bus stop before I started thinking how I could probably get downtown faster on my bike than waiting for the bus, and in any case as I was leaving later than planned I might be able to make up the difference and still catch the bus I wanted at the far end if I had my bike to help. And it just seemed too nice a day to not take advantage of my bicycle, not to mention taking the opportunity now to see how feasible the trip was with the bike. Finally, I knew I didn't have to bicycle the whole way: I could bicycle downtown—a relatively easy and flat ride—and catch the light rail to south Seattle, and then either transfer to the bus to get up the hill or just cycle the rest of the way. So I turned around and got my bike.

The trip downtown was easy as expected but took a bit longer, partly because I was trying to follow the marked bicycle routes instead of just taking the shortest path—which would've involved cycling down Westlake, a busier road with no marked bike lane. And because of leaving late to start and then changing plans, I was much too late to catch the transfers I needed to get there by 4:30 or even 5:00 as I'd wanted to. So when I finally got down to the Rainier Beach station, it was already 5:10. The next bus was due in about ten minutes, but I figured heck, I'd brought the bike for a reason, I damn well would bike the rest of the way and probably could get there before I would by waiting for the bus. And I believe I did get there a minute or two sooner, but boy, those were some tough hills to climb. That was not the wisest decision considering the warmth of the day and the fact I hadn't been cycling in almost seven weeks. Still, making the effort was a good thing for me. And I'd been sensible enough to bring a spare shirt (as well as jeans and a sweatshirt for later; I wore shorts on the way there), so I didn't have to sit around feeling chilly in a sweat-soaked shirt.

The trip home was much easier. Downhill to the train station in ten minutes is much nicer than uphill in twenty. And it was a lovely night for cycling. I really should get a light for my bike though. I'm entitled to a free 90-day check/tune-up of the bike, which I need to do in the next few days, so I can get a light then. And I need to continue cycling more regularly.

Edit to add: The trip from my house to the Westlake station is about 3.3 miles (using Westlake Ave). The uphill portion from the Rainier Beach station (MLK Jr Way S & S Henderson St to the Saccos' house) is about 2.4 miles, using the Chief Sealth Trail. (Interestingly, it's only 2 miles downhill by Renton Ave S.) So the total trip was about 11 miles.


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