In the interest of full disclosure here, I am a long-term member and big fan of Cascade Bike Club. Many of my biggest accomplishments on two wheels have occurred while on one of their well-run organized rides. The support is amazing, the people friendly and the advances they have gotten for us Washington State riders are too many to count. They are one helluva group.
However, no one or no organization is perfect. We all make a mistake or do something dumb. In my opinion, Sunday was Cascade’s turn!
Some background first. Both Saturday and Sunday were relative rarities in Seattle. A June weekend without rain! In past years, we have been known to call this month Junuary since it can be very cold and wet!
Michelle and I slept in a bit, (ok for us 7:30 is sleeping in!) We then drug our butts out of bed and headed down to the Burke Gilman multi use trail. I was going to do an easy 25 or so miles on the bike, and her goal was an 8 mile walk. (She has a half marathon coming up in Portland!)
The trail was relatively quiet on my way out, being relatively early still. There were some other early bird riders and some joggers. It was a great time to ride.
On the way back though it was much more crowded. More riders, baby joggers and little kids on training wheels. On this trail, at least in my opinion, the little ones have the right of way. Where else can they learn to ride safely and not have to worry about cars. Every one of us adults were once a training wheel kid, so it is up to us to watch out for them.
I slowed down a bit, and kept an eye out, but I had no issues whatsoever. A couple of times when a kid did a hard left near me and I swerved or braked, I reassured the Mom it was ok. It’s how kids learn.
I was riding back and getting close to the car at Lake Forest Park, so I was watching out for Michelle, thinking I’d catch her near the end.
Next thing I see, is pace line or 20 – 30 riders, all sporting number bibs from Cascade! They were traveling well of the 15 MPH limit on the trail, weaving around people, almost going into on coming bikes. One mom looked scared to death as she held on to the kidlet on the training wheel bike with these morons passing within a foot of them.
It was the Bike and Brew El Norte ride…
I had seen the ride, it stops at 3 or 4 brewpubs here in the north end, but I did not look at the route. Someone decided it was a good idea to run it right along the Burke Gilman!!
Now, there are other rides in which the Burke Gilman is used. The RSVP for example. (Goes from Seattle to Vancouver, BC). It travels along the same part of the trail. However, this happens at 6 AM! The trail is empty and kidlets are still in their beds.
Today the ride was going on at 10 AM, a time that the trail is already busy. Not smart! I know there has to be another route to take (It would be longer and have hills, but then they would EARN the beer.)
This alone would make me mad, but then they had to go and make it personal. I caught up with Michelle, and had to wait for another pace line to go by before I could safely pass her. She had about 10 minutes left in her walk. I stopped, told her good job, and I went on to get her ice tea at Starbucks ready.
Right after I left, another group of the Cascade riders started coming along fast, this time three abreast, right when two casual riders were passing her. Per Michelle the three refused to give way, so one of those passing her moved right quick, causing the lady he was with to panic and swerve hard and hit Michelle!
The lady on the bike fell, Michelle didn’t, but her hip is hurting her and she is sore. She told me the lady seemed like a very new rider, unsure of herself, and was scared. Michelle helped her up, and she had cut her hand, we aren’t sure if she had any other injuries.
I have no idea why Cascade would think it is a smart idea to put that many riders on the trail when they know it’s already going to be crowded. PLUS, they are stopping at pubs, which mean there will be beer, which could cause them to be even ruder on the bike.
Cascade I am very disappointed in you! It seems like you took the easy way out and used the trail instead of researching a route that would be less of an impact on the other users. You lack of foresight put little kids, elderly people and many less experienced riders at risk of injury.
I know you tell people on your rides to ride safely, in single file, and be aware of others. Y’all and I BOTH know, though, there are many rides who flat ignore the rules. Hell, a pace line put a guy into a car and flat on the ground just last week, in the Flying Wheels.
I really think you owe the users of the trail an apology, as well as my wife. I seriously doubt she was the only one that had someone hit or almost hit her. If you do this ride in the future, I hope you put more thought into the impact of others.
There were signs posted warning people of the ride, but:
- Some of the people were on the trail for the first time this week today, so had no idea it as coming.
- It didn’t say, “The riders will be going too fast and think they own the trail”
I will continue to ride with you (STP next month), and again I appreciate all you have done and continue to do for us riders. But pure and simple, y’all Screwed up this time!