Mar 19 2011

Ride Report – Mercer Island Loop

It was a perfect morning for riding – clear sunny sky, crisp morning air, and friends to enjoy it with. Who would have thought it was the day BEFORE Spring? One would swear it was already here.

We made it to the Mercer Island Park and Ride at 8:40 am and found our fearless ride leader, Richard, waiting for us with a big smile on his face. As the other cyclists entered the Park and Ride and started pulling their gear and bikes out of their cars, it was apparent that this was one of the first rides of the season. Tires needed inflating, seats needed adjustment, key riding equipment had been forgotten – things were just a little out of sync. But Richard was prepared with the answers: bike pump, spare gloves, tools, and that winning smile.

After a quick review of the ride and a prayer of thanksgiving, we were off – ten riders including two tandems. On the way out we saw Doug Pang pulling into the Park and Ride. That made eleven! A good showing for one of our first rides of the season.

We rode clockwise across the north end of the island and headed down East Mercer Way – one of my favorite stretches of road. The curves make for some interesting riding as you change gears and choose your lines in and out of the curves to maximize your momentum. And all the while enjoying glimpses through the trees of the sunlight on the East Channel.

Cruising around the south end of the island at an easy 10 to 12 mph we could see out beyond Renton to Mount Rainier. What a beautiful day! Making our way up West Mercer Way we started lagging a little behind. But the great thing about tandems is that you’re never alone. And I have a great stoker!

Finally we got to the hill leading to the Mercer Island lid. As we began our ascent I noticed something in the road. “Hey, that looks like a bike chain!” I thought as I rode by. As the thought bubble dissipated I could hear someone call out, “Hey, Victor, is that your chain?” Sure enough, Victor was coasting to a stop. Can’t go far up a hill without your chain.

This was so déjà vu. Didn’t this happen to Victor on the Sammamish River Trail one or two seasons ago? Yeah, I think it did. And it took five of us to figure out how to fix a bike chain. The trick is not to push the chain pin all the way out. Well, by the time I finished thinking all of this we’re a third of the way up the hill and people riding tandems know that you don’t stop on a hill. So we continued up to the top to regroup and figure out how to help Victor.

Victor’s chain broke about 10:15 am, but you want to know what time it really was? It was time for Victor to get a new bike. Have fun shopping, Victor! And, Josh, make sure your dad gets a really, really good chain for your new, used bike.

By the time we got to the top of the hill, Richard was already back at the Park and Ride fetching his car so that Victor could drive back to the starting point. When Richard returned, he led the rest of us on the short ride back. Thanks, Richard, for being such a great ride leader! And thanks everyone for a really fun 13.5-miler!


  1. Victor Chinn

    woohoo!! my yearly chain failures are hopefully coming to an end. The domestic finance manager (aka wife and who is quite generously supportive) has approved getting a new bike !! I won’t buy it unless they throw in a free extra chain or two though. Looking for carbon fiber of course … any recommendations?

  2. blueneck

    If you’re dreaming: Trek Madone, Cervelo R5ca, Pinarello Dogma 60.1, Colnago C59 Italia, BMC team machine SLR01
    If you’re a little more down to earth: Cannondale Synapse 3, Scott CR1 Elite, Cervelo RS, many others.
    A friend of mine has a Scott carbon bike – he’s ridden the STP (one day), RAMROD, RSVP, High Pass Challenge, bike to work month, and a couple of other long distance rides – all on that bike; all in one year.

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