Ride of Silence

After work, I biked to Seattle’s Gas Works Park to participate in the Ride of Silence, an event to honor those who have been injured or killed while cycling on a public roadway. I arrived to a massive turnout. People kept directing us to the back of the maze, a line that seemed to go on forever. There was no cheese greeting me at the end.

John has some photos from his vantage of the ride. Judging from the numbers shown in his pictures, he got there a lot earlier than I did. I mention this because from the “back of the bus,” it was hard to tell when the event actually started. Eventually people oozed out onto a terribly pocked road leading to the notoriously short-cycled light at Stone Way. When the light turned green, there’d be the flaying inchworm effect as cyclists displayed Brownian motion trying to turn left. Click, move forward fifteen feet, dodge, stop, unclick, wait. After doing this at least a dozen times, and almost getting taken down by a fellow cyclist, I was frustrated. This was not the best way to honor these fellow hobbyists. I biked home the long (43-mile) way, experiencing some of the joys that attract us all to the spandex sport:

  • Sunset! The pinks of the sunset reflecting on the lake were beautiful. (Sunrise isn’t so bad, either. 🙂
  • Gnats! One should not ride along a beautiful river trail with their mouth open gaping at the scenery… especially in the evening, when clouds of gnats swarm at dusk near the water. Although they’re harmless, it’s kind of gross to inhale or swallow some. Having them fly into your eyes isn’t pleasant, either. I kept my sunglasses on until it was pitch-black out.
  • Frogs! As I got closer to my stomping grounds on the Sammamish Plateau, I took a couple of low-traffic side roads. There are some patches of wetlands where the temperature drops 5°F as soon as you enter the pocket of air adjacent to them. It’s (literally) cool. It was very dark out, the road lit by my LED headlight to the front and red blinkie to the back. The frogs were out in full force. I entered a short section where the noise level was comparable to the I-90 bike trail. Only instead of the noise coming from cars, it was coming from thousands croaking frogs. And no, they were not uttering in unison the syllables of a certain cheap, domestic beer.
  • Seattle Drivers For the most part, Seattle-area drivers are remarkably tolerant of cyclists, sometimes extremely nice. Several times the Burke-Gilman trail crosses roads. The cyclists have stop signs, and I stopped, only to have drivers on both sides wave me through.
  • The trail system … The King County trail system rocks. Most of this evening’s 60 miles were on designated routes or paths: I-90 to Lake Washington trail. LW to Burke-Gilman. BG back to Sammamish River. Cut through Marymoor park and blammo, I’m adjacent to the (under construction) East Lake Sammamish trail. Of the group, the Sammamish River Trail is especially good. The trail is wide enough to pass skaters, uninterrupted by car traffic and it’s dotted with bathrooms and water fountains. It’s also goregous.
  • People who look sillier than me! On the Burke-Gilman I saw a unicyclists (very large wheel) and Aaron on his jacked up rig. I wish I had a picture of this, but suffice to say it’s about three feet taller than normal.

I look forward to John’s writeup. Hopefully he had a better experience on the ride proper.

6 thoughts on “Ride of Silence”

  1. Ahhhh. A visiting friend and I saw a large clump of riders and were wondering what was going on.

  2. Click me for my review. Once past the Fremont Fragmentation, the ride was very cool. Sorry I didn’t get to see you. We stayed toward the front and avoided the back of the queue, with good results.

  3. Then again, if I had seen you, we couldn’t have talked anyway, this being the Ride of Silence. A couple of times when we were stopped at lights, folks would ask us what we were doing, and someone from the group would actually yell “Ride of Silence!”. Well, it was before you started yelling!!

  4. At Portland’s Ride of Silence, I personally rode past several people who yelled, “What are you doing? What are you doing? Hey! What are you doing?”

    I understand the seriousness of the event, but perhaps next year people should consider taping signs to their back or something. The ride was mostly quiet (except the horribly annoying older couple on the tandem, who rode next to me chatting about their plans for the weekend), interrupted by the loud motorcycle cops who escorted us, honking cars, and people who unknowingly clapped or yelled.

    Also, I never cease to be amazed by the fact that all these cycling activists can’t ride their bikes worth a crap. It was exhausting while it was going on, trying my patience at every turn, but when it was over I felt relieved and glad to have participated.

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