Now that our lives are ruled by The Pup, I have to squeeze in my rides when he is either a: worn out and okay with being caged or b: with another family member, preferably A Child. Last Wednesday, The Fatherly Guy and The Girls were at home. I was working until four, then again at seven, in the same area of town. Since I had no responsibility to The Pup, I threw The Gazelle Chaimpion Mondial on the bike rack, and figured I’d use that three-hour gap for a long ride.
Of course, by the time I had prepared for the following day’s lessons at work, grabbed a drink, and run a quick errand, I had less than two hours. By the time I drove to the building where I had my next appointment and parked, I had just over an hour.
Where to go?
My private tutoring appointment was arranged to meet in a conference room in south Bellevue. The office complex is prettily situated in the Mercer Slough, a large wetland. The buildings are built on stilts and there are trees and marshes surrounding each one. It’s quite lovely. Might there be any interesting trails in there?
No, there aren’t. So moving on.
I headed out onto the road, after a couple hopeful circuits of the parking lot. There were two ways I could go: down the street and onto the freeway (generally a bad idea on a bicycle), or out along the slough.
I have ridden along the slough several times. It’s part of the Lake Washington Loop. It is also, despite being a marsh, situated near a giant hill. Perhaps this is related to the marshiness. Who knows? But I did know I wanted to avoid that damned hill, if possible.
But it was a choice between the hill, a ride downtown during rush hour, or the freeway.
I went with the hill.
And you know what? On The Gazelle, it wasn’t that bad. My previous attempts had been on The Raleigh (remember The Raleigh?). I lost to a perky-butted commuter who zoomed in front of me half-way up when I had to stop or die, but let’s face it — that’s all about my fitness level, not the bike or the hill. After I gained the top, I rode down via a pretty little walking trail through the woods. There is a bike lane out on the street, but please. Woodlands trump road.
The Raleigh has also posed here.
The end of the trail deposited me near the entrance to the fabled I-90 trail, which I rode the other day (I am chillingly self-referential right now!). I didn’t have the time to do that ride, but I decided I’d head out a ways on the trail just for variety, then turn around and head back.
As I crested the super-tall bridge over the wetlands, I spotted a sign. One direction led toward I-90, and the other was labelled: “Blueberry Farm and Park & Ride.” Here’s the funny thing — my office is just a few blocks from the Blueberry Farm. I had discovered a loop!
Yes, it’s a real blueberry farm. There are u-pick bushes and a there’s a small fruit stand.
So that was the direction I headed, taking a small trail under the freeway and emerging where I would have assumed would have been my stopping point, had I ridden the other way from the office park.
When I reached the actual farm, I stopped and purchased, of course, some blueberries. I had plenty of room to put them in the Carradice, next to my camera and purse and repair kit.
By the time I arrived back at the building, I had just enough time before my appointment to stop sweating. Perfect! The blueberries, alas, tasted rather like… well, all other blueberries on earth. I mean, that’s not a bad thing, but you expect more, somehow. But loops!