Chris Pountney rolled through Seattle Sunday on Day 486 (!) of a worldwide bicycle adventure that has so far taken him to three continents. As he was traveling through, he happened upon a Bike Works volunteer party held during Bicycle Sunday on Lake Washington Boulevard. Bike Works Volunteer Coordinator and super-friendly dude Davey Oil saw Chris pull up with his massively-loaded bike and yelled, “Hey, bike traveling guy, you want some watermelon?” So Chris came over and we chatted for a bit.
He started his journey in England and has been documenting his travels on his blog, which is a very inspiring read.
Unfortunately, he got some bad advice about Seattle and decided to pass through instead of staying for a while. But then again, maybe if he did that we would not have met! Here’s an excerpt from his Seattle entry:
I decided not to stick around too long in Seattle. My original plan was to spend today exploring the city and stay another night or two but from what I’d heard there wasn’t much to explore, so I decided to just bike on through and see what I could see on the way.
Seattle was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting not much but skyscrapers, an opinion formed primarily from the title sequence of the Tv show ‘Frasier’ and one which was proven very wrong. Seattle is a very green city, with good cycling routes and lots of green spaces. Of course there is a busy downtown and a lot of cars and concrete as with any city, but there is also a nice atmosphere and it was much, much nicer than I was expecting.
He had just come from Vancouver, BC and was headed to camp near Mount Rainier. Basically everything he owns is packed on his bike, which looks a whole lot different today than it did when he started (back when it was brand new).
Anyway, enjoy the rest of your travels, Chris! I’m now inspired to finally ride out to Mount Rainier. Funny how it takes someone cycling the world to remind you of the adventures just outside your own city.
Seattle is a very green city, with good cycling routes and lots of green spaces…there is also a nice atmosphere and it was much, much nicer than I was expecting.
Hopefully he won’t crack the comments section of the Seattle Times, run into JJ and crew. That would be a cold bath.
Most readers here probably already know about it, but in case not the website Tom references (a href=”http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/”>Crazy Guy On A Bike) is a vast compendium of fascinating travel journals well worth visiting if you’re willing to run the risk of a time-suck. Beyond the biking aspect, there’s something pleasingly anachronistic about travel in a style that encourages such writing. Speedier transport doesn’t seem as conducive to reflection; journals at CGOB remind me of diaries kept by travelers back in the 19th century.
This is a good time to remind ourselves that Seattle is ranked 4th in biking friendliness in the US compared to other cities it’s size. While I know there needs to be a lot of improvements, I’d hate to be in another city. And I totally agree with you Doug regarding speedier transport and travel. This country seems to have lost it’s way. Many view travel as a nuisance to get from one place to another while skipping out on perhaps the greatest part of travelling — the actual travelling itself. For me, it’s not the end result but rather the journey.
You’ve never ridden out to Rainier!? Yowza! You’ve got to do it!
A great trip (that doesn’t really have the best views of the actual mountain) is riding through the Carbon River entrance. It’s close (~50 miles after taking the Sounder to Puyallup) and you end up camping in backcountry surrounded by old growth rain forest at the closed Isput Creek campground. The road is closed to cars at the gate and is mostly ridable even on a loaded touring bike. Other notable attractions include little mining towns and the old Fairfax Bridge spanning the Carbon river gorge. The river is amazing, you can listen to it roll boulders downstream all night long. It’s really something else to ride from downtown Seattle to an ancient forest that probably hasn’t changed much at all in 10,000 years.
It doesn’t have the gobsmacking views or the thrilling lungbuster climbs of places like Sunrise, but it DOES have solitude and lonely beauty. And hardly any cars at all.
I might add this is a great entrance into the park regardless of biking or driving. Both the Carbon and Mowich entrances are beautiful.
I am actually jealous of Seattle and there forward thinking public transit. I live in one of the most bike friendly cities in Socal, (long beach), but the rest of Southern California is a transit disaster. A train commute here takes two 1/2 hours vs. 1hr in a car. Hopefully Seattle can re-think their All-ages helmet law.
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If you want to read a good book about globetrotting by bike, check out The Lost Cyclist, a story about cyclist Frank Lenz’s journey, pre-1900. This guy has it easy – traffic and concrete? Lenz makes this guy looks like a complainer.
I just returned from a 5000-mile ride from Seattle to St John’s, Newfoundland. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Compared to what Chris is doing, it was just a jaunt across town.