Dear Stephanie and Bruce: One of my fitness goals this summer is to ride my bike weekly for fun; however, I don’t feel comfortable riding on the road. Can you recommend a few paved trails to try and also provide some tips for making the rides enjoyable? Renee, age 44
Dear Renee: Cycling is a great summertime fitness activity that provides the freedom of escaping the confines of indoors, the thrill of coasting down hills and the comfort of a soothing breeze from piercing the air.
Washingtonians are fortunate to live in a bicycle friendly state. In fact Washington has been recognized as the most bicycle-friendly state for the past six years, according to the American League of Bicyclists (www.bikeleague.org/content/ranking).
Both King and Pierce counties host several paved trail systems that are appropriate for families, new cyclists and experienced riders. Here are four trails to consider:
The Interurban trail is 15 miles from Pacific to Tukwila and intersects with the Green River trail. It is flat, frequently wide and follows the BNSF railway. Points of interest include the ground view of the Auburn Boeing plant, the aroma of frying potato chips at the Tim’s Cascade Chips plant and several designated wetlands. The Auburn YMCA is adjacent to the trail and offers a safe place to park. This link will provide more information: www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/trails/regionaltrailssystem/interurban.aspx.
The Green River Trail is about 20 miles from Kent to south Seattle. It is flat, wide and follows the Green River. Points of interest include the Seattle Sounders soccer training facility at Fort Dent, several wild bunnies and one angry goat. This link will provide more information: www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/trails/regionaltrailssystem/greenriver.aspx.
The Cedar River is about 17 miles from Maple Valley to Renton. It is mostly flat, wide and follows the Cedar River and the former path of the coal trains that traveled from Black Diamond to Renton. Points of interest include the Maplewood Golf Course, errant golf balls from the driving range and scenic views of the Cedar River. This link will provide more information: www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/trails/regionaltrailssystem/cedarriver.aspx.
The Foothills Trail is about 15 miles from Puyallup to South Prairie and commonly known as the Orting Trail. It is flat, wide and follows parts of the Carbon River. Points of interest include a large Christmas tree farm, a bakery in Orting and fresh cougar paw prints on the river bed and sand bar. This link will provide more information: www.traillink.com/trail/foothills-trail.aspx.
These tips will make the ride more enjoyable: ride to the right; pass on the left; provide an audible warning as you pass others on the trail; use directional hand signals, especially if you are riding in a group (http://beta.active.com/cycling/articles/8-cycling-hand-signals-for-your-next-group-ride); take water; always wave and smile.
Happy cycling and contact us if you would like a specific training plan.
Best wishes for your continued success.
Stephanie Norton-Bredl is the health and wellbeing director at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bruce deJong is a group exercise instructor at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at email@example.com.