My bike tires start rolling, a right then a left and I slip off the steep hill. Less than two minutes and I’m in the village. It is quiet with a few people wandering about in not much of a hurry. They don’t desire to be back in their quarantine homes either. The village is small and the stores mostly empty. Nothing to see today, nothing to stop for and nobody I know to give a smile to. My ride takes be back up a hill on a divided street lined with trees. Parked cars make the narrow street even more so, a car comes up behind me and I squeeze to the right to let it pass. My pace is good and I glide through the intersections always checking twice for the distracted driver.
Not long ago the city resurfaced Thorndyke Avenue. My 20 mile per hour glide is smooth and I float for almost a mile. I barely hear the tires spinning. After the road flattens out I make a sharp right past the Barber Shop and down to the trail along the tracks of the Balmer Yard run by BNSF Railway. Everyday is different along those tracks but always the sound of the massive diesel locomotives. When the yard is busy I listen as cars driven by gravity are slowed by the Dowty Retarders. The sound is a distinctive clack clack clack and then the boom as the car couples with another. Sometimes the wingless frames of Boeing 737s are on specially built cars. They are green in color, treated to weather the elements. There are fewer now after negligence at Boeing killed 346 people. Orders dried up and still there is not a fix for the software flaw in the system.
Roots from trees make the narrow path uneven. Heading south the smoother side is the left. It would be nice if the city could shave down the bumps but even so the roots will alway win. More people are riding and walking the path and I’m forced back to the uneven side. I ride by rail cars built to transport oil, coal, goods, grain, cars and waste. Always something going on in the yard.
Expedia’s new headquarters is still under construction. Seems like it’s been years since building started. 4,500 employees are expected. It came with an upgrade to the waterfront path. Someday I’ll stop and explore the new landscaping and enjoy the views. At the height of the work the bike route detoured and at one intersection I met Preston who directed traffic. We always waved and shouted out best wishes but I have not seen him for a while now.
Now I need to be careful along the path and keep my speed to 15 miles per hour or less. Only when the path is empty do I go faster. The multi use trail is typically crowded unless the weather is poor. A grain ship takes on its load at the Pier 86 terminal. 8,000 tons of grain transferred from the silos to the first vessel to take on a load in 1970 just after opening. Grain cars fill the silos and the silos fill the ships. When a ship first docks the water mark rides high and then it eases down into Elliott Bay from the weight of the grain.
At the other end of the trail before I exit onto Alaskan Way there is the Olympic Sculpture Park. My favorite work is Echo the 46 foot tall slender meditating head. The park is a part of The Seattle Art Museum.
To head up to the Pike Place Market it is best to head over the train tracks then make the right to ride up Elliott. If the crossing gates are down I’ll watch the train if I’m not in a hurry. Sometimes they are long. There is a way around by going south and I’ll cut up Western Avenue after the train has entered the tunnel.
It is quiet in the market these days. Some stores are open but only for take out. My tires roll over the cobble stones. In the middle of the day the main street, Pike Place, is too crowded for me to ride. Few people are around now so I ride. Some people still come down to take pictures in front of the original Starbucks. There’s another larger store a block and a half away and many tourists mistake it for the first store. Sometimes I let them know.
Before I move on there are two breweries to visit. It is carry out only and the people at Cloudburst and Old Stove are grateful to see me and they thank me for wearing a mask.
I’ll take my time going back and maybe it will be by a different route.