I enjoy mountain biking for the escapism it provides: Disappear into woods, race down single-track paths, lean through turns, crank uphill, all to the audio of an adjacent rushing stream. In one session, I can commune with nature, jack up my adrenaline and check off my daily exercise obligation.
So I never expected to find myself straddling a mountain bike beneath a roaring interstate overpass in Seattle, a city with enviable proximity to miles of legitimate bike trails.
But here – beneath 12 lanes of Interstate 5, at Exit 168A – a Seattle area cycling club has turned a former hangout for vagrants and junkies into an urban mountain bike park, complete with short trails, jumps, drops, teeter-totters and other so-called “features” designed to satisfy a range of biking abilities.
The I-5 Colonnade is what mountain bikers call a “skills park,” which means that you’re never more than a few feet away from a balance-beam-like log formation or a foot-wide ladder bridge or a “staircase” with 18-inch steps – all features that mountain bikers use to hone balance, jumping and control maneuvers.