Rainy days and cycling
Gear up for November's Ride in the Rain

If this November proves to be like most in Seattle, it’d be best to gear up for the weather with your galoshes and Gore-Tex. But at least for now, the UW’s 16th annual “Ride in the Rain” bike challenge, from Nov. 1-30 is beginning with plenty of sunshine and cool temperatures.

A month of challenges and rewards

It’s just the kind of weather that veteran bicyclist and Facilities employee Jeff Angeley savors on his daily commute from Ballard along the Burke-Gilman Trail.

“I’ve been riding my bike for 18 years now and for me it’s a huge quality of life thing — a way to get the blood flowing to the brain in the morning and working out the stress of the day on the way home so I show up as engaged as possible for my wife and kids,” Angeley says.

He’s been captain of his Ride in the Rain team for about 10 years, and enjoys the comradery and friendly competition. Teams can have up to 10 members and the month-long challenge is sprinkled with special events, classes, giveaways and chances to win special prizes. Riders say these kinds of incentives are especially motivating during the typically windy and rainy weather.

More than 6,000 people cycle to the UW every day, and for many, the Burke-Gilman Trail is the highlight of their commute. But the trail was formally the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway, and instead of bringing bicyclists to campus, it brought coal for the Power Plant.

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Left photo, taken by Morton Wood near Matthews Beach Park in 1970. The now Burke-Gilman Trail was formally used to transport coal to the UW Central Power Plant via the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway. Named for attorneys and railroad builders Thomas Burke and Daniel Gilman, today it moves self-powered commuters. Photo at right by Nancy Gardner.

From rails to trails

Merrill Hille, UW professor emerita of biology and a founding member of the Burke-Gilman Trail Park Committee recalls organizing a city-wide hike-in to help gain support for converting the “rails to trails” in 1970.

Hille says, “Around that time, biking and hiking were becoming a fad in Seattle. The hike-in required us to walk six miles on the ties of the railroad tracks, which was quite a feat. But eventually we gained the support of local organizations like the League of Women Voters as well as politicians like Governor Dan Evans.”

While most undergraduates are too young to remember the trail as simply “rails,” senior Lisa Jensen appreciates its convenience. Jensen, who works in the ASUW Bike Shop and plays for the UW Women’s Soccer team, says that commuting via the Burke-Gilman Trail gets her to classes faster than walking or taking the bus would.

“I typically take longer rides about once a month, beginning in the Montlake area, follow the Lake Washington Loop and eventually wind up in Renton, and it helps keep me in shape,” Jensen says.

Expansive views, expanding bike storage

Ballard resident and UW Computer Consultant Suzi Henriot similarly finds her daily trips on the trail quicker and more scenic and says the biggest change she’s seen over the past 20 years is its popularity soar.


“I’ve noticed an increase in trail traffic, everything from e-bikes, pedestrians, e-skateboards and regular, old bicycles,” she says. “But the best part of my commute is when I reach Fremont. I love riding along the waterway under the Fremont Bridge. Sometimes in the morning, I’ll see great blue heron along the shore right next to the trail.”

Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself or others — or just get to campus more quickly —it’s not too late to sign up for this year’s Ride in the Rain.

And with three new bike houses just opened, parking your bike on campus is getting easier all the time. For a map of campus bike racks, lockers and houses, click here.