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It was like riding in the shower, part 2

March 11, 2007

Shower headIt was even warmer today. Therefore, it would be even rainier.

But it wasn’t the rain I was worried about, it was the wind. Twenty-five to 35 mph, say the forecasts. And we’re supposed to ride to Federal Way?

What makes riding, uh, interesting under these conditions is going south through downtown Seattle on 5th Avenue. The high-rise buildings make nice wind barriers, but passing through the intersections you can get blown into another lane if you’re not careful. Wet pavement introduces the possibility of dumping the bike, so I go 28 mph in 3rd gear, so as not to get a torque surge if I twist the throttle too hard.

Thankfully, traffic is light on Airport Way, and the wind has actually died down. Today’s activity is a ride with the Cretins, a vintage motorcycle club we do a lot of joint events with. We’re meeting up at All-City Coffee, which is just around the corner from Big People Scooters.

As the scheduled departure time approaches, consensus has emerged: it’s too wet and too windy to ride all the way to Federal Way (for those of you not from the Seattle area, Federal Way is a city, not a street). Gator of the Cretins will lead a ride to Three Tree Point in Burien, and back.

Massimo and El Dorko opt out, so the only scooters in the group are the PX, and Jim from Portland’s CPI GTR. I take a place in the back, because I have the slowest bike in the group by far.

The temperature has risen considerably, though the rain persists. As we head north on East Marginal Way, I realize I forgot to fill up the PX’s gas tank on the way to Georgetown. But I also forgot my rain pants.

Oh, good. Gator signals a right turn into the Chevron station at 1st Avenue S. I fill ‘er up, and manage to spill the last little bit. Great.

The pavement between the entrance to the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Delridge Way is the absolutely worst in Seattle, so the group’s speed is manageable. Once on Delridge, however, I need to flog the PX mercilessly to keep up.

I realize this is the first time in quite a while I’ve been on Delridge during daylight hours. I used to travel this way regularly and often in my adult slot car racing days, and now that the sun is out I can see how the place has changed. Lots and lots of new townhouses in various shades of beige and ochre, new stores… holy cow, is that a Home Depot?

The rain comes down as hard as ever as we cross Roxbury, and the combination of raindrops on the front and fog on the back of my faceshield means it’s gotta be open if I’m to see where we’re going. While this usually feels like being pummeled with bb’s or needles, it’s now so warm the effect is like standing in the shower with the nozzle pointed straight at your face.

Once you hang the right off Ambaum at SW 152nd, you experience twists and elevation changes on the way down to Three Tree Point that are a whole lot of fun… when it’s not pouring. Still, I can keep the group in sight.

We take a break in front of a park, and even get a passer-by to take a group picture. Gator says we’ll just head back the way we came.

It’s a bit easier doing the twisties this way because we’re going uphill; there is greater security in acceleration than in braking. Back on Ambaum, headed for Roxbury, the group is pulling away just a bit, but I know where they’re going.

However, instead of going back down Delridge, they go right at Roxbury. I get stuck at a red light as they crest the hill. I’m wondering if they’re thinking about going via the 1st Avenue S Bridge, which would be really tough to do on the PX in the dry.

I decide to take Delridge down to Spokane Street, then East Marginal Way to home. My clothes are wet, and I needed to go home before heading for the barbecue that’s startin’ at four, as Will Smith rapped in his Fresh Prince days.

When I got back, all the guys apologized profusely, thinking they’d ditched me. No worries, I explained what I’d done.

But I appreciate the thought. Favicon

One Comment
  1. March 12, 2007 5:33 pm

    It’s been a while since I spent any time in Seattle, but I remember a lot of the areas and streets that you mentioned.

    Back in the ’80’s I played rock-n-roll three nights a week in Seattle while working a full time day job in Port Angeles. So most of my big-city driving was at night.

    Have fun,

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