I’ve had a lot of time to think about my Sunday adventure. Cascade Bike club had the first (and possibly the only) Emerald City ride. This ride was unique in many ways.
- We were able to ride across Highway 520, the longest floating bridge in the world.
- We were allowed to ride on the I-5 Express lanes, which means MILES of interstate highway were closed to cars for us bikes.
- Only 6000 riders were allowed to ride…
Given this alone, people should have been happy as hell! In reality though, there were complainers…
First let me tell you about a common cyclist lament. Cars drivers get mad at us when they have to slow down if we are in front of them. To a cyclist (myself included) we frequently say, “Really? A 3 minute delay is really THAT big a deal???” (please remember this as you read along.
Now, being who I am, and having ridden in Seattle for years, I have learned one thing: the earlier you are there, the better. So I left my car at 6 AM, and biked 10 miles to the starting line, I was there before sunrise.
Because of this, I was able to start with the first riders, and got onto the bridge 10 minutes later. I will admit at times it was crowded, and it sure as hell wasn’t a fast ride. But that was not the point, this ride was for the experience and the views
The route took us back past the initial starting point, and I could see that it was quickly getting backed up with more and more riders showing up…
Since I was going the other way, I didn’t think much about this crowd, but it continued to grow during my travels…
Funny thing though, as I rode along, I soon noticed every single intersection had a police officer blocking traffic for us and waving us through.
This never happens. In most rides, even the Seattle to Portland, there are a few intersections with a traffic cop, but never ALL of them!
Again, enjoying my ride, I didn’t think much of it at the time.
As we approached the Express lanes though, I heard more than one rider say something to the effect “Wow, $35 apiece, times 6000 riders, Cascade bike club is making a ton of money for a 20 mile ride…”
OK, refer above to the spot when I mention that we SHUT DOWN part of an interstate for miles and for hours just so my bike riding buddies and I could ride safely!
Doing this can NOT be cheap!
The police prescence continued on for the entire ride, I did not have to stop for one stop sign, red light or even a speed bump. I pedaled steadily through the day, enjoyed the views, talked to my cycling buddies and had a blast.
Now once again the route hit a bottle neck (sorry no photos, the GoPro ran out of juice.)
Back at the start there were still people starting the ride, and people coming off the bridge heading for the express lanes (as I did) but now add people who were finishing the ride. PLUS, there were crew races going on and people were running across the University bridge to watch the boats.
This meant one thing, after 19 miles we had to stop. (GASP!)
Yep, for about a quarter of a mile and maybe 10 minutes we inched along as we crossed the bridge…. You’da thought it was the end of the world!
“How could they have let so many people ride this!” “This planning sucked!” “With the amount of money they made this should be MUCH better run!” “Cascade you suck!”
I have ridden almost 23000 miles in the last almost 8 years and had some memorable rides. This little short 20 miler will be one of the best.
I have NO idea how much money it cost to get this set up. How many man-hours went into the planning, how many volunteers it took to pull this off. Hell, paying for Seattle PD alone had to suck up a chunk of the money!
For the record, I want you to know I am the first to complain if I think they (Cascade) does something wrong. In this case, I applaud their efforts, and I honestly think the those complaining were dumb asses!
I have no idea if they will do this ride again, it has to be tough to shut down two freeways. But I will always remember being able to weave across 4 lanes of travel on I-5, just because it felt good!
Those who whined, remember you did so the next time you have a car driver yammer at you. You have lost your right to indignant, as you have become the Unappreciative Jerks.