Desperation bicycle ride around Lake Washington

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The sight of black pavement in my neighborhood this morning was enough to coax me out onto my bicycle after about a week-long hibernation.

Ordinarily I use better judgement about picking my bicycle rides, but we've been snowed in for awhile. And with only a few days remaining to knock out the last 90 miles of my 4,000-mile bicycling goal for 2008, just about any conditions are adequate for a bike ride.

By the end of the day, I was 33 miles closer to my goal. By riding gingerly or walking through sections of slush or carrying my bike over snow dunes at some intersections, it was one of the slowest rides of the year.

Lake loop

I chose a route that would take me along the eastside of Lake Washington, then out the Cedar River Trail. One look at the trail, however, and I knew it  would be impassable. So instead I opted for the South Lake Washington loop with a side trip to Bellevue to pick up brake pads.

The roads I used in Renton were in good shape. Not so for Seattle, where the bikes lanes were just a place to dump snow along South Rainier Avenue. Lake Washington Boulevard past Seward Park looked like it might have seen a plow during the storm, but I just followed the tire tracks on the climb through Colman Park to the I-90 bridge bike lane.

The closer I got to the bridge, the more I doubted whether it would be passable. I figured I'd get there and have to return the way I came. As it turns out, whatever the state road crews used to keep the bridge open had sprayed onto the bike bridge as well, keeping it free from snow, slush and ice.

Happy to ride

The roads on Mercer Island were clear, and I hit the only unrideable section on part of the bridge from the island to Bellevue. The slush was so thick I just couldn't get traction.

On this bridge, I stopped to talk to one of the only two bicyclists I saw all day. He'd been across the bridge a few times in the past week and didn't seem concerned about the conditions. He said he was in his 60s, and “I'm just happy to be able to ride.”

Well, me too. I thought that was a great attitude to take on a day like today.

Then he pedaled about 100 feet, got off his bike, and pushed it through the slush on the bridge.

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