While it may seem melodramatic to declare that long evening rides are done for the year by the end of October, here in the Great White North, evenings are done for the year by October. As soon as we switch to Daylight Savings time, we naturally lose all shot at this thing called “daylight.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not out in the fields harvesting hay at seven a.m. so I can enjoy the sunrise. Nope: I’m in my car on the way to work. The only time I get to actually see long stretches of the world outside a classroom is after four p.m. Given that the sun is now setting at that point, I’m a bit bitter about where this surfeit of daylight is actually being utilized.
I remember reading somewhere that the rationalization for this time shift had to do with kids waiting for the school bus in the dark. Considering most parents won’t let their kids walk half a block on their own anymore, I’m not sure who we’re protecting. The last time I saw a group of school kids waiting by themselves for a bus, I was standing with them. Ah, the glory days, when a bully could still beat the crap out of you before the bus arrived, without a single helicopter parent to intervene… good times!
I’m just grouchy, admittedly, because for two weekends in a row, I’ve been unable to ride. Last weekend, this had to with my sinus/ear infection and the fact that I managed to pull my bike rack down onto my head when I shut my trunk without remembering that said rack was there. One concussion later, I will admit to a certain crabbiness about the universe. Looking out my window, it’s forty degrees and has been raining solidly for the last four hours.
Looks promising, doesn’t it?
Now, I realize I could go ride in the cold rain. People far less hardcore than me do it all the time, and some even enjoy it. Heck, there are days when I’ve enjoyed a rainy ride. But honestly, this isn’t going to be one of them. I feel like I’m viewing the entire world through the narrowed glare of a squint that Captain Ahab would find intimidating.
Plus, I know I’m not supposed to ride when I’ve got a concussion. Or a “recussion,” as I said to one of my students the day after I got it. If that’s not a sign that my brain was messed-up, I’m not sure what would be. They’ve been asking me about my “recussion” ever since: “How’s the recussion, Ms. M?” *Giggle*
So you see, this ride may indeed have been my last long evening ride for a very long while. I would imagine that by the end of the month, I’ll have a few more rides to discuss, considering I have a week off for Thanksgiving and my son only has three days. I could also probably drag him out on his bike, too, if I believed the sun was ever going to shine here again, which I’m not sure I do.
Anyway, I’ve whined enough, I think. On to the ride. I’m not quite sure what possessed me on this one. Literally, it was so long ago that I can’t even remember my own full thought process on this, but I decided to ride the entire length of the Interurban Trail.
Yes, that Interurban Trail. The boring one, with no scenery or hills or challenges. You see, I wanted to ride 30 miles. I’d been inspired, I think, by Veloria’s Century on a rented Bella Ciao. I wasn’t going to aim for one hundred miles, but I had yet to officially hit the big Three-Oh on The Raleigh, so I thought I’d go for it. Since the Sammamish River Trail-to-the-Burke Gilman route is closed at the 13 mile mark for me, that wasn’t going to work. The Cedar River Trail is 12 miles from start to finish. The Green River Trail is half-closed. Soos Creek is only 6 miles. The Interurban Trail is 14.7 miles long: close enough! By the time I add in the two blocks over to the trail from the park-and-ride, I’m willing to call it 30 and be done.
Having ridden the Interurban’s first seven-ten miles many times, I decided to do that stretch fairly quickly, without stopping for pictures. I was more interested in the part I hadn’t ridden yet. The Interurban South, as this trail is more properly known, runs from Tukwila to Auburn along an old rail line through the “power corridor” of the local utility company. Much of the first portion is urban, sandwiched between the tracks and a series of blank warehouses, under the power lines. Tukwila is a suburb of Seattle that is mostly known for it’s large mall and plethora of chain retail shops.
From Tukwila, the trail hits yet another suburb called Kent. I’m not sure what Kent is famous for. I once saw an ad in Sunset Magazine for “Scenic Kent,” which reminded me of this ad in a Hollywood newspaper, from the Simpsons:
Kent isn’t really very scenic, as far as I’ve ever been able to tell. No offense to Kent intended, but seriously. We all have our strengths, Kent, and being “scenic” isn’t one of yours.
From here, the trail hits Auburn. The Girls’ mom lives in Auburn, so I’m well-familiar with the drive down there. In fact, when I first met My Busy Guy (who I swear I haven’t seen in at least three days for more than five minutes at a time), he lived in an apartment in Auburn. Had I known this before we met, I might not have gone out with him, actually, as I lived considerably north of where we are now. Truthfully, the distances we log to be divorced parents and to also live together are somewhat ridiculous, but love is a strange beast. I don’t want to drive fifteen minutes to rent a DVD, but I’ll rearrange my entire existence around what I like to refer to as the “Commuting Quadrangle of Death” so that we can get the kids to our exes in Auburn and Lynnwood, and ourselves to jobs in Seattle and Kirkland. To those unfamiliar with this area, I submit this:
Distance-wise, that’s about 45 miles from top to bottom, on some of the most congested freeways in the United States.
God, I feel like such a red-blooded ‘Merican as I look at that map! Subtle political commentary aside, I’ve ridden to Kent many times on the Interurban, but I usually run out of steam there, as the trail is my “I’m tired and I don’t really want to do this” fall-back. But not today!
The City of Kent provides a very helpful map, which would have worked perfectly, had I been heading the other way. As it was, I realized I was about to Plunge Off the Edge of the World.
I’m like the Christopher Columbus of Cycling, only with fewer massacres, less small pox, and no federal holidays! The trail did not suddenly become more interesting as I left Kent behind, though it did get a bit more scenic (oh, the irony, Kent!). Mostly, I was riding through a buzzing cloud of enervating high-tensile line emissions that either did nothing or gave me instant brain cancer. You know, one or the other.
Help me! I’m trapped in a electrical field!
Or a real field. Take your pick.
Take that, Kent! At any rate, I then passed Emerald Downs, which is our local horse-racing track. When I was about seven, my dad took me to see the horse races at Longacres, which was our old local track. I bet $10 over the whole afternoon, won $40 and bought like… six Barbies. It was a true highlight of my childhood, and a fond memory. Since no one in my family really drinks or gambles, this isn’t one of those whiskey-soaked, bitter Memoir-type moments where I spend the rest of the blog reveling in my family’s alcoholism and misery so I can sell my story to Lifetime and get berated on Oprah. Especially since her show’s not even on anymore (missed my shot, eh?).
Tell me that isn’t one of the ugliest buildings you’ve ever seen. Seriously. It’s as though some monstrosity of turquoise, silver and those little glass-block windows descended from the late 80′s and landed in a field in rural Washington like the Mothership of Miami-Vice-Inspired Architectural Madness. I just object to it on some deep, fundamental level. Maybe because it was built in 1996, when everyone involved should have known better.
Did I mention that if I hadn’t gone to grad school in Writing, I was going to go into Architectural History instead? Because that would have been way more lucrative, you know. But still: I’m offended by this building. It Arouses my Ire.
When your Ire is Aroused, there’s only one thing to do: go find a bathroom. Not really, but by this point, I really needed to find a restroom. I wasn’t even going to attempt to locate one amidst the snooty drunks at the horse track, so I headed over to that bastion of public bathrooms: the fast-food franchise. Jack In the Box, in this case. I realized, as I locked up the bike, that I had only brought my U-lock. This meant the bike wasn’t actually attached to the rack. When I came out less than a minute later, there was already a shady-looking young man casing the bike. He drifted away as I approached. Could he have stolen it? Well, I suppose, if he’d had a pick-up truck. As it was, I think he figured it was unlocked, and free for a quick joy-ride. I don’t think most bike thieves look at my Raleigh and think “profit.” Especially as I keep my Brooks well-covered when I’m not there.
It does look tempting, doesn’t it?
A tractor is a sure sign you’re nearing the end of the trail, I think. It’s a harbinger of trail apocalypse.
Yep, here we are less than a couple miles later:
I like that it just dead-ends in somebody’s yard. There’s not even a sign. Oh whatever, Community of Pacific or Algona, or wherever the heck this is, we didn’t need more trail anyway! The funny thing is, the last few blocks of the trail were the most busy I’ve seen, with many folks clearly riding around town on it.
It was not the best-maintained portion, certainly.
That said, it beat Kent for scenic-ness, which admittedly isn’t hard, as I’ve pointed out. For instance, here we have some of those high-falootin’ race-horse types:
Okay, probably not.
At this point, my desire to photograph The Raleigh right next to yet another electrical tower began to wane. What to do? Out of nowhere, my saviors appeared.
So far, I’ve seen unicorns, giraffes, and now gingerbread men spray-painted on bike trails (in addition to the usual four-letter words and misspelled gang names). Who does this? What sort of merry mischievousness is behind these strange examples of trail vandalism? I mean, let’s be real here: tagging bike trails isn’t exactly the sort of thing that’s going to get you into the Crips. There’s not a lot of inherent street cred.
“Yeah, last week I mugged an old lady and beat up some teenager for his iPod, and this week I snuck out in the night and painted happy cookies on the Interurban Trail!”
“Dude, you are sooo out of the gang.”
Clearly, my next project should be an entire novel written in a hyper-realistic style about teenage gang bangers. Because the voice I managed there was just totally authentic.
Onto other subjects… All this rain is really ruining my ability to enjoy the fall color. Scenes like this are a lost cause now:
The Interurban Trail is, besides being a naturally happy spot, clearly labelled:
Yes, yes it is.
One last pretty marsh — I carefully avoided photographing the giant U-Haul Storage place on the right of this bridge — and we were approaching more familiar turf (get it? That’s a serious gang reference, you know).
The bright green train bridge below doesn’t mark the end of the trail, but it does mark the spot where I usually stop when I’m riding and turn around to head home. From here on out, there was little point in taking photos.
Take a last, long look folks. This is probably the last sunlight we’ll see until May… or at least another couple weeks. Stupid La Nina weather patterns!