Aug 252023
Wheeling Sea to Sound, Day One

What a wonderful first day of Sea to Sound! Yes, we got rained on a bit, but that’s what it takes to have those lush green and mossy forests we rode through. The Olympic Discovery Trail is an absolute treasure.

So is the team of volunteers led by Ian Mackay who make this ride possible. Great organization all around, clear communication, support for people using all kinds of modes to make their way along the route, the all-important snacks, and a super fun photo and bling station so we could deck out our wheels with streamers, license plates, flowers, and whatever else tickled our fancy.

Photo of a smiling white woman standing in front of a backdrop with the logo for Ian's Ride and words "Get outside" repeated on a white background. She's standing behind a bright coral step-through bike that has a blue bag on the front handlebars, ribbon streamers tied front and back, and a back rack with an e-bike battery. She has light hair and is wearing glasses, bright teal and turquoise clothing, a turquoise scarf around her neck, and a headband with pink fluffy pompoms, holding signs that read "We love accessible trails" and "Sea to Sound 2023".
Close-up photo of a "license plate" hung on the back of a bicycle. It spells the name "Barb"  in fat bubble letters with stripes and spots and has a little strip of triangular flag stickers hanging below the name, with bright turquoise stick-on beads adorning the corners and a bright blue plastic dragonfly perched above.
I may just keep the custom license plate I made to hang on Zelda’s rack. Instant name ID for others on the ride who kept calling me by name.
Photo of a paved trail with a number of people lined up waiting to go through the inflatable blue arch ahead. Some people are in wheelchairs and hand cycles, others standing with bicycles. A yellow lab service animal waits patiently. At left, a videographer carries a backpack of gear.
Lined up waiting at the start of the day.

We started the day where we would end the day, parking vehicles at the Spruce Railroad Trestle Trailhead on Lake Crescent. From there, shuttles transported walkers, wheelchair users, and riders of various other wheeled devices to the official starting line at the Camp Creek trailhead. On the shuttle I ended up in a discussion of traffic engineering, those phantom slowdown bubbles that appear in highway traffic, and the new Complete Streets directive for my agency, the Washington State Department of Transportation. Who knew that we’d end up with an electrical engineer, a math teacher, and a transportation policy person all sitting by each other on the way to the fantastic ride we were going to have, discussing whether traffic should be thought of as a liquid, a solid, or a gas?

Photo taken as a selfie of a smiling white woman wearing glasses and a bike helmet. Peach-colored ribbons flap from the back of her helmet. Behind her on the paved trail other people are riding bikes through a lush green forest.

I really don’t think it would be possible to do a more beautiful ride! The Olympic Discovery Trail curves through deep forest with moss blanketing the trees and hillsides. We had a few climbs but that’s why I brought my e-bike. The light rain that fell didn’t dampen our spirits, and my clothing dried as I kept moving.

The ride is organized with an aid station every 5 miles and we rode a total of around 20 miles today. For people who wanted to do a portion of the ride, shuttles were available to let them choose their own adventure. The event is designed to be as accessible as possible for disabled people using a variety of adaptive bikes, trikes, and chairs. This thoughtful and supportive design also drew parents pulling their children in trailers, a group pushing an older man in an “Advenchair” who took turns pedaling alongside or jogging while pushing, and my friend Anna Zivarts of Disability Rights Washington, giving her very small son a shot at his first big ride.

The end of the ride drops down on a newly paved segment of the trail along the edge of Lake Crescent. After the third aid station I think I coasted three or four miles, barely touching the pedals. I could see the water peeking through the trees from high above, coming a little closer around each curve. I was here a few years ago with my husband on a multi-day bike tour but the Spruce Railroad Trestle section of the trail hadn’t yet been completed. So glad I got to ride through the rock tunnels on this trip. I’m updating the list of bike trails in Washington state where I track progress on my goal of riding every (paved, named) trail.

Photo of a bicycle adorned with streamers and a blue bag on the front handlebar parked to the right of a paved trail that curves around to the left. Ahead, the blue waters of a large lake surrounded by green forest and blue-grey mountains. At the edge of the trail closest to the water, large logs line the edge of the trail at the base of a wooden fence.

I brought my e-bike because I haven’t been putting in many bike miles and I knew it would be a lot more fun if I could enjoy the ride rather than struggling. I was absolutely right and I wasn’t the only one. As I got toward the end of the ride I started meeting more and more people walking and riding up the hill that I was coming down because we were fairly close to the trailhead. Almost everyone coming uphill toward me on a bike was on an e-bike and they were all smiling. As was I! What a perfect ride.

Photo of a smiling white woman with blue eyes wearing glasses and a bike helmet. Behind her, the edge of a bridge and a creek winding through gravel banks in a green forest.
Photo of a peach-colored bike with a blue bag on the front, parked at the right of a an arched tunnel cut through a gray-red rock hillside. The hillside slopes down to the right with a few pine trees on it.
One of the tunnels along the Spruce Railroad portion of the trail.
A bicycle parked at the entrance to a large rounded tunnel lined with metal. Large timber framing surrounds the entrance. The tunnel is dark and it isn't possible to see very far into it.
The second longer tunnel with no interior lighting and a sign that tells riders to walk their bicycles. One little problem with that . . . if you’re using an adaptive bike or trike and you can’t walk, you still need to get through the tunnel. We need to move past the idea that people using bicycles and people with disabilities are somehow entirely separate categories. A sign that reads “Walk Your Bike” embeds ableist assumptions.
The moon rose orange due to the wildfire smoke that hung in the air.

Updated to add the Day One video and photo gallery produced by Jesse Major.

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