I just moved to a new apartment in Tacoma last weekend, and have been unpacking boxes quite busily for the past few days. Today I took a break because the weather was gorgeous – sunny, mostly clear, but chilly (about 40 degrees F). I was determined to try riding my bicycle for the first time since last May.
My first snag: the rear tire was quite squishy. It wasn’t flat, but it definitely needed some air. I suspected that this might be the case, and I was prepared. Although I didn’t have a pump myself (long story; my last one was attached to a bike that was stolen), I knew that the nearest gas station was three and a half blocks away.
Now, if I had wanted to do things the easy way, I would have just crammed my bicycle into my little Nissan (it has been done), and driven those three and a half blocks in the car. But noooo. It was a beautiful day, and I was determined to get some real exercise. So I grabbed my coat, gloves, and helmet and headed out to begin my quest.
My second snag: this was Tacoma. It was not Phoenix, where everything is flat excepting the mildest of inclines. There is a tall rock that juts up by my last apartment called “A” Mountain. Let’s just say that “A” Mountain could fit easily inside the hill on which my new apartment rests. Oh, and the nearest gas station is in the uphill direction.
Being the genius I am, I decided not to ride up the steep side of the hill, on a road with no bike lanes or sidewalks. I chose the slightly-less-steep side, with bike lanes. That didn’t change the fact that halfway up the hill I was huffing and puffing, trying to make progress on a bike with a squishy tire with legs that haven’t been seriously worked out in half a year.
I ended up walking the bike the last two blocks.
Thankfully, some luck was in my favor. The gas station had a working air pump that accepted quarters, and soon my bike tires were full and I was a little rested. Time for the fun part of the adventure!
A Google map of my brief adventure. The bottom left marker is my apartment (roughly). The bottom right marker is the gas station at the top of the hill. The upper marker is the beach access by Titlow Park. At the top of the map you can see 16, which crosses the Tacoma Narrows Bridge just above the crop.
Now that I was at the top of this hill, it was all downhill from here. I started coasting as soon as I crossed the street after the gas station, and then I didn’t stop. I flew back down the three and a half blocks to my apartment, but I didn’t stop there. I kept going downhill – and in about three more blocks I had gone as far as I could, having reached Puget Sound. (For reference, my apartment is south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge: I can see it from my balcony.)
I coasted right down into a pretty little place called Titlow Lagoon, where there are a few walking/biking paths that extend all the way around the lagoon. Here I encountered my first Seattle wildlife: ducks, seagulls, crows, and a gorgeous heron who eyed me suspiciously. In the park, I also encountered Seattle not-so-wildlife: a collie, a Shih-Tzu, two other small dogs, two Labradors (yellow and black), and a poodle. These were accompanied by their owners, naturally.
After my tour of Titlow Park and its lagoon, I crossed the railroad tracks to see how close I could get to the actual Sound. The answer: all the way. There’s a small public beach south of Titlow Park, though it looks a bit rocky. I didn’t go down onto the beach myself because I had my bike (plus I was ready to head back at this point). There’s a neat little cafe and a tavern right there by the park that I noted for future reference.
Finally, the trip home. Uphill again. This time I made it about halfway back before I had to start walking my bike again. I should note that while my apartment is in the middle of a large hill, it is also on top of a small hill of its own. I don’t know if I could ride up that thing even if I were in the best of shape. I might explore to find an alternate route next time.
Anyway, I eventually made it back (yay!) and slogged myself up to my new third-floor apartment. One Tacoma adventure down, hopefully many more to come!