The Emerald City Bike Ride was AMAZING! The new SR520 will have a bike lane that won’t be open for a year, but for one weekend the city closed the freeway to cars for a few hours and allowed runners on Saturday and bikes on Sunday. And a lot of people took advantage of it. I read horror stories of stranded celebration-goers on Saturday, and on Sunday I experienced a much less over-packed, but still over-packed, situation. The marked route wasn’t equipped to move as many people as were allowed to register for the ride, but despite a horrible bottleneck at the beginning and quite a few during the course of the ride (several of these were caused by people on unicycles who rode two abreast and were hard to pass, interestingly enough), it was a blast.
No photos of the jam-up at the beginning, but see all my pictures here.
The ride opened at 7am, and everyone had to start by 8:15am (to be off the bridge by 9:30am and release it back to the cars). So I set my alarm for 5am (oof), and met a few friends for breakfast at the 5 Point Cafe. The cafe was out of the way (I live really close to the start of the ride), but it’s open 24 hours. Also, I’ve seen the place a million times biking the kids to the Seattle Center so there was no chance I was going to grab an extra hour of sleep and miss a chance to go in. I hit the Fremont Bridge at 5:45am and was number 39 on the bike counter. I have a feeling most of the previous 38 bridge crossers were up late Saturday night, not up early Sunday morning (the bike count resets at midnight). I saw a few women biking the other direction on Dexter a few minutes later (soon to be numbers 40 through 42 on the bridge)–they had numbers on their handlebars and helmets and were also headed for ECBR, probably breakfasting somewhere closer to the start. They shouted a cheerful hello to me and I smiled, but wasn’t awake enough to whoop back at them.
I’m not often up to see the sunrise and it was gorgeous.
The light on the bridge was great, too, once we finally walked our way far enough through the backup that we could ride.
I read that there were over 7000 participants and assumed I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew whom I hadn’t intentionally hooked up with, but I ended up seeing so many of my friends! I saw a ton of family bikers, which was very heartwarming. I hope they all fared OK during the initial backup. I know it would have taken a lot of work to keep my kids happy given how long it took to get to the actual riding, especially given the early hour!
The 520 bridge was pretty hard to ride–I was surprised to see that one side of it was open to cars after all so bikes were confined to just half of it. The shorter course (8 miles versus 21 miles) was just over the bridge and back so once we navigated our way through that, the second part of the ride wasn’t as congested.
I know people who have biked the I-5 express lanes in the middle of the night and it’s awesome! I mean, I hear it’s awesome. Seeing it in the daylight was even more awesome. And the course was much much longer than just the express lanes. We got to ride an amazing amount of I-5! I loved how everyone pulled over to the side to take pictures as soon as we got onto the I-5 bridge. It’s just that cool to get to ride on the freeway!
And then the tunnel!!
I didn’t check out the snack stops since they were so crowded, but I hear there was great food at the International District one, and I got to talk to a lot of friends at the Lake Washington one while Marley refilled her water bottle.
There seems to be some hope that this could be an annual event. I sure hope so!
One more thing: 10 of the below miles are from a bike camping trip, to be recapped in the next blog post.
30 Days of Biking stats:
April 3 miles: 41.8
April cumulative miles: 77.6