Lake Washington Loop

Two friends and I cycled around the Lake Washington Loop this Memorial Day Sunday.  We started at Gasworks park, headed north on the Burke-Gilman, east towards lake Samammish, south through Bellevue and Renton, then finally north back to Seattle.  Along the way we stopped at Marymoor park to check out the RC flying field and the velodrome, which was unfortunately closed for maintenance.  The whole ride was about 60 miles and took 4.5 hours, not including stopping.  Including stopping the ride took about 6 hours, because we spent a lot of time at Marymoor and stopped for a smoothy in downtown Bellevue.  There’s only one really big hill at about mile 25, but I would say that a large majority of the ride is flat.  We only spent a small amount of time on high-traffic roads, the rest being spent either on trails or low-use roads.  It was an awesome ride, and I would totally recommend it.

I’m thinking about stepping it up next weekend if the weather is nice, so stay tuned for more Seattle cycling!

Friends Worth Fighting For

One of these guys had chemotherapy for his cancer and lost his hair.  All the rest are his friends.

Seeing this picture on Facebook made me so happy that I decided to share it.  It turns out that one of these guys is my best friend, and this photo reminds me how grateful I am to have great friends and family.

“A friend is someone who is there for you when he’d rather be anywhere else.” – Len Wein

San Juan Island Cycle

Last weekend my roommate, Matt, and I cycled around San Juan island.  I thought I would describe our trip for those of you who might be interested.  It was a ton of fun, and I would recommend it everyone.

Drive from Seattle to Anacortes
The trip started with Matt and me leaving Seattle at 6:00am.  We arrived in Anacortes at around 7:30am, just in time for the 7:45am ferry.  Look here for a complete ferry schedule.  The drive was quick and easy.

Ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
The ferry ride cost us around $14 each — $10 per person and $4 per bike.  It was very empty and very pleasant.  The ferry weaved through the San Juan islands and stopped at Orcas Island before arriving at Friday Harbor.  The ride was about 90 minutes and probably would have been around an hour without the Orcas Island stop.

Cycle around the Island
We started and ended our loop in Friday Harbor.  The route we took is mapped here.  Google says it’s 25 miles, but I have no way of confirming that.  The roads were constantly changing pitch, giving us short amounts of time on downhills and long amounts of time on uphills.  The island is generally flat, so each hill was relatively moderate but still challenging.  The whole ride took us about three hours, including at least 45 minutes of site seeing, relaxation, and photography.  The scenery was totally diverse — we traveled along cliff-side roads, through thick forests, beside farms (including Alpaca farms!), and across small prairies.  It was tons of fun!

About half way around the island was a national park and campsite.  If I were to do this ride again, I would pack a sleeping back and tarp and spend the night at this campsite.  The site is right on the water with a view of Victoria Island, and it was relatively deserted when we stopped to rest.

We ate awesome fish and beef burgers at The Hungry Clam restaurant after our ride in Friday Harbor’s quant downtown.  We also took a short stroll around the town, which consisted mostly of souvenir and tourist shops.

Ferry to Anacortes, Drive to Seattle
The trip back to Seattle was more or less the same as the trip up.  However, this time our ferry had come from Canada.  This meant that we had to go through customs on our way off the boat, which took all of two or three minutes.  We didn’t have our passports, and the border patrol officer was content with that.

All in all the trip was awesome, and I’m totally glad I did it.  It’s a relatively easy ride, but the scenery and isolation make it worthwhile. I wish I would have camped one night at the national park, but I suppose it was nice to pack light. Actually, come to think of it, it would be pretty challenging to bike around the island twice in a row. Maybe I’ll do that next :).

Seattle Weather

The sun has broken through the never-ending cloud cover here in Seattle, and it’s about time. We’ve been without a spring this year — I can count between two and four days of sunshine since February. Fortunately for me I’ve been attending class and coding Ruby most of the day, only spending time outside on my cycle commute. Foreigners think of Seattle as some strange rain ecosystem, where no one goes outside September through June. At least this is what my family and I thought when I was deciding where to go to school. When I travel to other parts of the world and mention that I go to school in Seattle, the typical response is, “Oh yeah, it rains up there a lot, huh?” From foreigner to foreigner, I thought I would describe Seattle’s weather for the four years I’ve been here.

Freshman Year: 2004-2005
This was a super mild winter. There was a huge drought in the northwest, making for dry, clear, insanely cold days. I would say that we got only a handful of rain days that year, with an average temperature in the low 40s. It wasn’t so bad; I skateboarded a lot. However, the snowboarding was awful. I recall that fall and spring were both pretty typical. Typical meaning mostly overcast and misty with spots of sun and warmth.

Sophomore Year: 2005-2006
This one was a doozy. We had a record-tying 33 days of rain in a row, and most of those days were filled with moderate to heavy rainfall. It was miserable, but awesome at the same time. I had the best snowboarding winter of my life this year. Again, I don’t really recall that fall and spring, but I think they were both typical.

Shi Shi Beach backpack trip.

Another Shi Shi shot.

Junior Year: 2006-2007
This one was a doozy as well. We had a record-breaking seven (I think?) inches of rain in a single day, and it almost happened twice. We also had a ridiculous fall, which consisted of rain, cold, and early snowfall. I think we had a total of six or seven snow days this year. Spring, however, was really nice. The sunshine came early and stayed for a while. I remember having two full weeks of warm sun. Insane!

Three Fingers hike.

Snow in Seattle.

Hike up Rainer, snowboard down.

Senior Year: 2007-2008
First let me talk about the summer of 2008. I spent this summer in Seattle working at Redfin, and I’ve never been more disappointed with the weather. Everyone agrees that the weather sucks in Seattle during the winter, but summers are apparently beautiful, warm, and clear. Let me just tell you that the summer of 2008 was a complete let down. I think there was a total of 2 weeks of sun and warmth, and the rest was filled with drizzles, clouds, mist, fog, and general misery.

The bad summer blended right in to a bad fall and an even worse winter. We had probably around seven or eight snow days and plenty of freezing weather and precipitation. I remember getting on my cycle at 8:00am en route for work and thinking I was going to freeze to death. The snow-covered mountains were insane, and I got a ton of awesome snowboard days in. So what about the spring? We didn’t have a spring. With snow in late April, sub 50 degree temperatures, and plenty of rain and wind, winter spilled right over all of spring. I’m hoping that today’s patch of sun will be the start of a trend, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t

Alpaca farm on San Juan Island.

Is the weather in Seattle bad? Absolutely. Is the weather in Seattle bad even during the summer? In my experience, yes, but everyone says summer is great. I generally don’t mind bad weather, because it means better snowboarding. However, commuting to work and school either by foot or cycle sucks in the rain, and each consecutive day of miserable commutes adds to more and more frustration. The bad weather has definitely limited me by keeping me inside more often than I’d like to be. I wasn’t able to surf or skateboard that much this summer, and my winter commutes were sometimes canceled because of snow and ice. However, being inside more often has its perks. I’ve cranked out a ton of personal projects, and I’ve achieved a good academic status. The weather is not one of the things I will miss about Seattle, but there is plenty else to miss.