Fun Commuting Home

One of the cool things about this area during this time of year is you can see other folks cycling to work. Even cooler was on Monday, when my friend Doug caught up with me at the top of the hill. Doug’s a much stronger rider than I am, even when his legs “are cooked.” I had motivation and fun in pushing to keep up with him.

Newport Way vs. the
Eastgate connector
and the TCoH

He showed me yet another diversion from my usual route. Instead of turning left and following the feeder to the scary tunnel crossing under I-90 (green line), the route snakes uphill along a residential area to Newport Way (red line). From there, the downhill is bugs-in-the-teeth quick. As an added bonus, the route avoids having to traverse through the Traffic Circle of Heck.

The TCoH is located near a school. In the morning, the plethora of minivans, SUVs and school buses drop off kids. In the evening, the roads are clogged by escapees of Microsoft’s Redmond Campus. Both groups forget to use turn signals in the circle. They also are puzzled when I aggressively take the entire lane as if I were a car.

Traffic circles are reproducing around the area as an alternative to having too many lights in a short distance.

Select difficulty

Doug took off for a sprint along Lake Sammamish Blvd. It’s too tempting not to. When I got to the traffic light, he was up on the sidewalk waiting. Normally he’d head up to 43rd avenue, then to 228th to Sammamish proper. I live a bit south, and there are three practical ways up the hill. We’ll call them Larry, Moe and Curly. Larry is depicted in the green arrows, and follows the sidewalk along the roaring Issaquah-Fall City. It tops out at a 9% grade, and the roar of traffic can be deafening. The air is very stinky if the wind isn’t blowing. It’s hard to believe that only six years ago, this was an unlit, tree-lined road.

Moe is along Black Nugget, marked by the red arrows. Its grade tops out at a 12%. Although there’s a center lane, meaning one can theoretically ride on the road, it’s steep enough that the sidewalk’s preferred. It’s moderately busy with shoppers, but because there’s nothing sheltering the road to the southeast, it’s well-ventilated. It’s also well-lit, making it desirable at night. Then there’s the “Curly” route, marked in blue lines. It’s just shy of an 18% grade, and virtually no traffic. It hurts like a slap on the forehead.

We took the “Moe” route, starting at the terminus of Black Nugget instead of sneaking through the Fred Meyer/Home Depot/Krispy Kreme shopping metroplex (officially “82nd avenue”) and picking up mid-stream. There were a couple of couples out walking and, as the timing happened, it was impossible to get onto the sidewalk without jumping a curb (uphill) or cutting off the peds. So we rode the road.

The added sense of imminent peril, coupled with the ambience as cars whined up the steep hill increased the urgency to pedal (pant) ing (gasp) fast. it’s the fastest I’ve ever gone up the hill. Doug and I then went our separate directions. Despite the added distance (0.3 miles), it was my quickest and funnest ride home so far.

I rode my normal route on Tuesday — scary tunnel and “Larry” climb, feeling a bit worn from Monday. Today, I had a nasty headache, possibly from the new carpet at work, and took it easy doing the same. Even without working seriously hard, I still am comfortable doing those climbs.

4 thoughts on “Fun Commuting Home”

  1. The nonsense of you taking “the entire lane as if I were a car”! The lane is reserved for true patriots and their WMD funding SUVs!


    Be careful out there. I would hate to read an entry about you being creamed by a caramel latte frappecino swilling microserf on their way (late) to extreme yoga.

  2. I’m not crazy about the Scary Tunnel either but I only use on weekends when going around Lk. Washington (or the north half). How would you rate going through the TCoH and up Newport Way vs. going up the hill north of I-90 and through the Tunnel?

  3. It’s been a couple of years since I tried the hill north of I-90, but I remember it being far more treacherous, which is why I was elated when Claire showed me the connector.

  4. Jim,

    Newport way is a great ride. I ride up it often for training, but it’s most enjoyable when you ride it down – you get about 2 miles of constant downhill. Much nicer than the trail on the other side.

    I’m also not a big fan of the tunnel. The annoying part is that you get I-90 traffic noise while you’re inside of it, and you therefore can’t tell when somebody is coming up behind you.

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