Here's my reward on Thursday for a half-hour drive and nearly an hour of butt-busting climbing on my old Rockhopper mountain bike.
That's me checking out the view of Mount Rainier from the east summit of Tiger Mountain. It was such a wonderful day for Seattle — sunny and 70s — that I wanted to commemorate it with a new bicycle route.
Earlier in the week I had stopped by Half Price Books and stumbled across “Mountain Bike Adventures in Washington's South Cascades and Puget Sound” by Tom Kirkendall. What a great find and a great bargain, I thought, until I got home and realized the book was 14 years old.
With warm temperatures and blue skies, I was willing to see if these routes still exist. Lucky for me, the routes that Tom reviewed around Tiger Mountain east of Issaquah haven't changed much, if at all.
Even on a Thursday morning, the parking lot on Highway 18 was fairly busy. A couple of guys who had just showed up pointed me the way up to the fire roads and trails.
It was a slow climb of about three miles up Tiger Mountain Road before I turned off on the last dash up to East Tiger.
While I was up there, I was reminded what I like most about bicycling. It's not so much the exercise, and it's not so much saving fuel, although those are just great side benefits.
The primary reason I like to ride my bike is to just get away. If I get some warm sun, that's even better.
On the way down, I witnessed some very bizarre bird behavior. I had stopped at a crossroads high up in no-man's land when I heard a loud racket that sounded like someone hammering a piece of metal. I nearly jumped out of my skin.
I looked around, and finally discovered this little woodpecker repeatedly tapping at an old faded metal sign on a post. I have no idea why he was doing that, but he certainly had something in mind because he kept at it for five minutes until I left.
[There's a very short video clip of the noisy woodpecker at flickr.com.]
For this ride, the pedaling was all in the first half of the ride. I returned the way I'd gone up, and coasted down the entire distance. I suppose that's another reward for the climb.
Checking on the internet after I got home, I see the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance has lots of information about bicycling on Tiger Mountain, as well as other backcountry routes in Washington state.