Despite the fact that I have worked there for almost three years, until last Saturday I had never biked to Europe Through the Back Door. While working at the UW, biking was my primary means of transportation for a large part of the year, so this was a real difference to me. Of course, biking to the UW was also a snap - about five or six miles along the flat Burke Gilman Trail, with the only real hill being the one I had to crawl back up to get to 130th Street at the end of my commute home. Getting to downtown Edmonds is another story.
The trip on Saturday morning wasn't too bad, however. Sure, it had its ups and downs, but I made it to the Aurora Village transit Center in time to catch the 131, providing me with the ease of bussing in for the last third of the trip. My bike stayed at work over the weekend, and then Monday I was struck by a strange urge to ride it all the way home, rather than take the easy way out and use the bus part way.
Had I known what I was in for, I don't know if I would have made the same decision.
I'm very aware of the fact that there are numerous hills filling in the approximately twelve miles between downtown Edmonds and my Lake City home, and traffic, to boot. Wanting to avoid some of the hills I chose to sail down Edmonds Way, which meant I had to deal with the traffic instead. A word to the wise: don't bike down Edmonds Way if you can help it. This is a road with almost no shoulder, and although there are two lanes heading in each direction, and traffic wasn't even particularly heavy, you would be surprised at how many people will whiz by at 40 miles per hour, not bothering to shift over to the empty lane on their left despite the fact that they are a mere foot from a stalwart cyclist. I could just see myself meeting my demise by tripping over a grate just as a Lexus SUV barreled by. It wasn't a pretty thought.
After that experience, I was more than happy to move to less crowded streets. Feeling pretty good about myself, I cycled down 185th Street, and was greeted by the most monstrous hill I could have imagined. Apparently I had chosen Shoreline's steepest street when I figured out my new route home, and there was no way I could pedal up this behemoth. Panting, I made it to the top , wheeling the bike beside me. I really do believe the top of the 185th Street hill must be the highest point in all of Shoreline. I could see both the Olympics and the Cascades over the lesser hills to my east and west, but frankly, given the way I was feeling at that point, I can't say I appreciated the view.
The good part was that it really was almost all downhill from there. A very long, winding way down. The bad part was that it was bone-chillingly cold, and by the time I got to the entrance to the Burke Gilman Trail in Lake Forest Park my hands were like red lobster claws numbed into place. I could barely zip my sweater, my fingers had become so clumsy. But I was in the home stretch! And I only had to get off and walk my bike two more times on the way up from the Burke! Woohoo!
Still, I may try this again - avoiding Edmonds Way, of course. And probably that 185th Street hill. Why do we have so many hills here, anyway? Who said Seattle is a bike friendly city? Ah well, without the hills I guess we'd be the Midwest, so I should probably count my blessings.