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Seattle Cycling

Hey! I have not made the time to write a new blog post because I have not made it a top priority but today I am! So! This week I came down to Seattle, WA for an impromptu family visit. The weather cooperated immensely as we have had blue skis, 70F weather and pleasant cloud cover to cool the afternoons. In addition to spending time with family, I wanted to take advantage of this insane weather (relatively speaking coming from Alaska) and decided to rent a bike. Big surprise.

When evaluating my bike renting options I opted to rent from Gregg’s Green lake Cycles. I choose this shop because of its close proximity to where I am staying and because they rent relatively “high-end bikes,” specifically carbon road bikes which I have never had the privilege to ride…until now! Although, the per day rental cost is a ghastly, $50/day. I decided that I could justify the cost if I rode extensively and I will go over some ratios that will rationalize the cost of renting.

Here is the sweet bike that I had for the week!

Specialized Tarmac

If you are ever in Seattle and want to rent a sweet bike from Gregg’s Cycles,

check out: Gregg’s Rentals.

I grew up in Seattle, in the Greenlake area and I rode and explored more areas of Seattle this week than I have ever done in the 18 years that I lived here. It has been an amazing week of exploring, riding, and getting tan! Oh yeah!

I would like to expand on the amazing riding opportunities that I have been ignorant of and would like to share so that anyone can use this page as a reference for some riding ideas. One of the most common rides is the Burke Gilman trail which I was familiar with but was not aware of much else. This week changed all of my previous assumptions!

Prior to coming to Seattle, I dropped my mountain bike off at a local Anchorage bike shop, Speedway Cycles. The owner suggested riding around Mercer Island, which is off of Interstate 90 and relatively close to Seattle proper. I decided that I would make that my first ride out of 4 days of riding.

I started off by picking up the bike at the shop which was a smooth process. I brought my personal bike seat and pedals which the shop attached at no additional charge. Nice! I biked home, grabbed some more supplies and headed off on a grand Seattle bike tour! My route consisted of the following:

I started off by heading west on the Burke Gilman trail and then over Mercer Island and then back through downtown Seattle.


Mercer Island

The best part about this trip was that I met Beau. A local Seattleite that enjoys biking and is knowledgable with the surrounding area. I met him randomly as I was on Lake Washington Boulevard headed towards the I-90 bridge. I was not 100% sure on my route finding skills and casually pulled up to him as he was on his bike too. I started to talk to him and asked him, “do you know how to get to Mercer Island?”

Beau: “Yeah, that is where I am going.”

Self: “Great! Do you mind if I join you?”

Beau: “No, I would be happy to show you where to go.”

That conversation resulted in a 39 mile day of touring Seattle, with Beau as my tour guide, showing me various bike friendly streets and today was just the 1st day!

I have done a fair amount of solo bike riding but I am always open to biking in groups as it makes for better conversation and helps the time go by. Thanks Beau! The route that we took was a great way to explore the city of Seattle and re-familiarize myself with the surroundings that I grew up with.

Biking within the city, especially on city streets can be really exhilarating. Especially when you have to be aware of all the surrounding traffic, cars, buses, and large SUV’s buzzing feet from you at all times, as you try to maneuver within this system of chaos. You are trying to go from point A to point B and you have many obstacles that you have to overcome. You need to be able to be flexible, creative, and knowledgable of available resources which in this case is bike friendly streets. What are bike friendly streets? The best case scenario is the photo below, ample spacing between the curb and cars, bike marked paths, and ideally small amounts of traffic. 🙂

Seattle Bike Paths

So, that is a brief description of day 1. Here is my route from day 2:

Burke Gilman Trail

Day 2 consisted of riding 46 miles on the Burke Gilman Trail. It is a classic bike, running, route that is packed with people on nice days! I decided to head east towards Woodenville without any knowledge of where that was exactly or how long it would take. I packed my bag with water, a peanut butter and honey sandwich, some clothing and hit the trail! Riding is epically more enjoyable when you have no exact destination in mind or time that you need to be back. You can take as long or as little time as your heart (or legs) desires.

The 1st section is cumbersome because it takes you through the University of Washington campus which is bustling with students. The trail is a popular corridor to access the university. Therefore, it is not an area that you should try to set a new land speed record. I am not suggesting that I was but my point is that you should take it easy. Afterwords, the trail heads north along Lake Washington. The trail is not directly on the water but is tucked away between residential neighborhoods. There are alot of stop signs at road intersections. It is important to be aware of your surroundings and slow down to watch traffic. Shortly thereafter, the trail has been repaved. It is AWESOME! There is nothing like biking on smooth asphalt.

As you start to distance yourself from the University, the amount of people start to dwindle. Once you pass Bothell, the trail really opens up and there are stops less frequently. I cruised out to Woodenville and turned around and went back.

On the way back I started talking with a fellow bicyclist whose name is Clark. He is a UW professor and was enjoying the beautiful day, as I was. We ended up biking together for a bit and I joined him to the Fremont Fred Meyers. Eventually, we split ways and I headed home. I really appreciated his insight and biking knowledge. Thanks Clark! Happy riding!

Day 3:

Lake Washington Bike Tour

Day 3 was awesome! I met-up with Beau, whom I had met on the 1st day and we cruised down to Renton and around Lake Washington. There is a road that follows along the water and we made a pit stop at Seward park. There is another park next to the Boeing plant in Renton that we stopped at as well. Stopping to enjoy the sites and your surroundings is equally important while riding. Eventually, when you start heading north along the lake, there is a specific bike trail that is along I-405. There is enough of a buffer that you do not hear the sound of cars whizzing by at 60+mph.

Once we intercepted, I-90, there is a bike lane that goes along the bridge over Lake Washington. Once over the lake, we cruised up to capital hill, through Seattle University campus and then hooked back to the Burke Gilman Trail. Another awesome day of blue skis and sunshine. Nice!


Day 3 was really fun and I ended getting home later in the day. Beau and I were both pumped about the riding and I asked him if he wanted to go riding the next day. He responded positively! So I agreed to meet him on Friday morning at 8am. I woke up early, made some eggs and toast and cruised over to his place. By this time I have biked the major bike artilleries in seattle. There is one area that we have not traveled too, West Seattle. We decide to bike over to Alki Beach and cruise the coastline and then head back through West Seattle to our starting point.

Day 4 Route:

West Seattle

On our way, once we reached Alki beach, there was low cloud cover so we could not see much of the ocean and there was a cool breeze coming off the ocean but it was nice to cool down. After our West Seattle tour we cruised back through the downtown Seattle waterfront.

Also! On our way out to West Seattle, we spotted a commercial truck that had fallen over which we passed as EMS had arrived and we passed it again on our way out as a truck with a crane was bringing it back up. It made the five’o clock news and was not an everyday occurrence.

In conclusion, this week has been an awesome week of some great biking! The bike held up great and had no mechanical issues. But, it did taunt me into wanting a carbon road bike… I was able to explore areas of Seattle that I had never been to before! That is after having grew up in Seattle proper for 18 years. The interconnectivity of the city via bicycle is amazing and the city has done a great job aiding in the ease of getting around via a bike.

Now! For the explanation of the bike rental cost. I rented the bike for $50/day for 4 days for a total of $200. I rode a total of 173 miles and a total of 13 hours. Therefore, I spent $1.15/mile or $15.38 per bicycling hour, which includes some stops. Not bad! Till next time Seattle! Thank you sunshine!

Nathan currently lives abroad as an American expat and is based in Hanoi, Vietnam. He enjoys learning new languages, meeting new people and exploring new places. Nathan has been living abroad since 2014 and likes to stay busy plotting his next trip.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I am totally psyched to go biking in Seattle! 2nd time i read your blog; very nice! Thanks for the stoke!

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