Friday, May 16, 2014

Tacoma and Graham (2014-05-10)

It's a lot of fun connecting known corridors in unexpected areas.

Throughout the ride, I was dealing with the pegs of those beefy pedals of mine causing some serious pain in the soles of my feet. See the epilogue for details.

More after the break…

Part 1: To Tacoma

I started at the usual time of 05:00 and headed south through downtown and SoDo, taking East Marginal Way much further than before, all the way until S 115th St. The transition from Seattle to Tukwila was pretty easy to notice, since the bike lanes end right around there when going south.

From there, I followed the eastern edge of the Duwamish River similar to an earlier ride. Rather than crossing I-5 at S 129th St, however, I kept following the river along this little one-lane road.

I've seen the trestle section below every time I've taken a bus on I-5 in the area and have wondered about its safety for quite some time.

To get back to the other side of the river and the Green River Trail, I crossed at 56th Ave S, which involved going around a barricade.

After getting to the trail, I stopped off at Fort Dent Park to fix a minor issue with my riding clothes. I also got some tea while there.

I transitioned to the Interurban Trail as soon as possible, taking it straight down the valley to Algona. Rather than dealing with the nasty pavement in Pacific, I cut over to the W Valley Highway…which still had the detour from earlier in place.

After the detour, I stuck to the highway until Sumner.

After passing through the area along Sumner/Puyallup/Edgewood area, I left Valley Avenue E for the familiar Freeman Road E to get to Fife, passed through Fife itself, then went through the Port of Tacoma. I chose that route because I knew the port wouldn't be too busy on a weekend.

This took me along an old viaduct that had its shoulder lanes and sidewalks closed for reasons beyond my knowledge, then across a bridge with polish-smooth gratings that scared me stiff while I rode across it.

I then crossed the 11th Street Bridge, which had been recently renovated. Notably, it now has bike lanes!

My family went to Tacoma often when I was a child (and still does, though without me), so this bridge has always occupied part of my mind.

I made my way through Tacoma, then stopped at a familiar Tully's for water.

From there, I headed south to exit downtown. Tacoma is a bit odd in my mind, because I'm used to the main thoroughfares being north-south, and I-5 is east-west here, so it felt like I was somehow going west.

And another bridge with its shoulder lanes closed.

Part 2: Parkland/Graham/South Hill

I exited Tacoma via Parkland, following a bike lane for much of the way.

While there someone in a muscle car blared there horn at me as I rode along the shoulder of the road. It seems like this happens at least once each time I visit the Tacoma area.

Around 152nd St E, I was kicked over to SR-7 and the strip malls I remember from when I did the STP.

Rather than going along SR-507 again, however, I kept on SR-7 for a while. The pegs in my pedals were really killing my feet at this point, but I kept pushing forward.

I was clearly heading into the middle of nowhere at this point, and traffic became less and less. I left SR-7 at Rocky Ridge to start heading east, which included a rather steep hill.

This eventually brought me to SR-161, which I took in the opposite direction on an earlier ride.

Just south of Graham, I stopped to eat on the side of the road. The property owner was washing down a bulldozer or tractor (I can't remember at this point) and nodded when I told him the stop was a food break.

From there, I continued north, through the familiar area of strip malls, parking lots, and Frontier Park. I left SR-161 in South Hill, instead taking a slightly more easterly route.

I ended up going through large areas of new housing subdivisions for quite a while.

I did eventually make it to an area of older houses with trees still present in the area.

I left the ridge with a very steep downhill run just east of Puyallup, then headed for Sumner. Worried about missing my typical coffee stuff in the area, I made a slight deviation south from my route before making a left on Valley Avenue (not to be confused with Valley Avenue E). I hit the same Starbucks as always north of where I made the devatian, so I could've just followed the route.

Part 3: Return Home

Similar to a number of past rides, I took the E Valley Highway north from Sumner. While riding along it, I saw one of the new Talgo sets being used on Amtrak Cascades.

I left it for the White River Trail once I skirted the eastern edge of Pacific.

I left it in favor of taking city streets to get to the Interurban Trail.

Once on the trail, I had to put my phone into "airplane mode" before heading north along the trail.

A couple of other cyclists caught up up to me and we chatted a bit. One of them said I looked ready to "travel the world" because I was carrying so much. They were surprised that I wasn't using clipless pedals, and I told them I was going to switch soon.

I ended up with a couple of cyclists on Rainier Avenue between Renton and Rainier, and they seemed to consider having the brightest light to be more important than having a no limit to running time paired with good brightness.

It was pretty routine all the way to Seward Park, so nothing to note there. My feet weren't hurting as much somehow, but I don't think that was a good thing.

I took the usual route all the way up to the Arboretum, but left it at Boyer Ave E to detour around the construction surrounding the University District. Feeling worn out mentally, I stuck to the Burke-Gilman Trail all the way to Gas Works Park, only switching to Northlake Way after it.

And then I was home.

Epilogue: Going Clipless

A while back, I ended up breaking a pair of pedals due to a number of factors, one of which was my pedaling style. I switched to some crazy mountain bike pedals with these huge partially-removable pegs. This was fine for a while, but as I corrected my pedaling style, they only hurt more and more.

As it turns out, the pain started to reduce as my feet formed calluses at the problem pegs. Even so, I don't think that's for the best.

I've been putting off clipless pedals out of fear for a while, but decided to just go and take the plunge.

It wasn't easy, but I gradually grew accustomed to it.

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