As a distance cyclist, I’m going to let you in on a little secret gleaned from personal experience and every globe-trotting adventure cycling travelogue I’ve read on Amazon, because I’ve read them all — more than once.
When it comes to must-have foods and fluids for cycling, it’s not a power bar, nutrition gel, caffeine, fruit or even the wonder food we call bacon. Sports physiologists will mention most of these items — proteins, carbohydrates and “good” fats — but they’re nothing compared to the one item that must be in your handlebar bag.
Good old Bosco. That’s right. Chocolate milk.
I can’t tell you why it works, but it does. It’s delicious, it builds up your endurance during riding, and it’s the perfect recovery drink to get your muscles back to normal after a ride.’
If you’re in Arlington or Marysville, and this spring is the season you and your family take up bicycling for better health and fitness, just know that there has never been a better time to get into riding.
Both cities are bisected by designated paved riding trails with panoramic views, and both communities have made incredible strides in the last decade creating more trail connectivity, installing bike lanes, wide-paved shoulders, and separate cycling and pedestrian trails that run parallel to existing roadways.
In Marysville’s case you can actually find a couple of routes that will safely take you the 7.5 miles from Lakewood in the north to Soper Hill Road to the south without entering regular vehicle traffic. But you don’t need to worry about street riding when there are so many fantastic paved trails in the area.
Here are few worth exploring:
My favorite route for getting fit and preparing for long rides is Centennial Trail. I can’t say enough good about the county’s crown jewel of cycling. The 29-mile paved trail between Snohomish and Nakashima Farm north of Bryant provides an amazing ride any time of year. More than once, I have stopped to watch deer block my path on the trail, to enjoy the moment.
There are plenty of parking areas along the trail so that you can just do a segment of it, too. Heading north, the art walk pieces along the path in downtown Arlington, and the visitors center are welcome sights after a couple of miles riding along 67th past neighborhoods and commercial areas. Parking is available downtown, too, with the added benefit of offering plenty of eateries and shops nearby.
If you’re looking for a shorter ride, climb on the Bayview Trail in Marysville’s eastside foothills. The 1.6-mile roundtrip route is perfect for families. Beautiful views of Port Gardner Bay and the Olympic mountains await. The trail extends from 64th Street NE north to 75th Street. Parking is available in the 64th lot, or on street along the route. Future plans call for creating access between Bayview and Centennial Trail.
Qwuloolt Estuary Interpretive Trail
Later this year, the city will open the Qwuloolt Estuary Interpretive Trail south of downtown Marysville, a project intended to complement the Tulalip Tribes’ estuary restoration project, which restores salmon habitat to its original confines.
The 1.9-mile paved trail starts in Ebey Waterfront Park, then follows the contours of Ebey Slough, providing an up-close view of the estuary that teams with shoreline flora and fauna. The trail will connect with an existing trail near Marysville’s wastewater treatment plant for a distance, then continue into the estuary. Parking is available at Ebey Waterfront Park.
Both Arlington and Marysville have made significant strides in providing non-motorized infrastructure, and creating connectivity throughout the cities. Marysville has relied more on adding new bike lanes, and incorporating enough paved width into new projects to at least provide enough area for pedestrians and cyclists. That’s especially true closer to schools.
Where Marysville has added miles of bike lanes, Arlington has been incorporating more paved trails that include a buffer, or protective buffer, between roads and pedestrian facilities. Arlington has about 10 miles of trails and walkways, with future plans for paved trails that tie into Centennial Trail, and provide better access around the Smokey Point Transfer Station on Smokey Point Boulevard north of 172nd, among other locations.
The bottom line is, if cycling becomes your mode of transportation to getting healthier and fit, our communities are moving in the right direction to help you get there.
Reporter Doug Buell also writes a blog mainly focused on cycling, travel and the outdoors (www.the48thparallel.com).
Health benefits of cycling
1. Good for the heart, improved cardiovascular fitness.
2. Good for toning and building your muscles, especially in the lower half of the body – your calves, thighs and rear end.
3. Good for your waistline; You can burn a lot of calories, especially going faster than a leisurely pace.
4. Good for your lifespan, even when adjusted for risks of injury.
5. Good for coordination. Moving both feet around in circles while steering with both your hands and your body’s own weight helps coordination.
6. Good for mental health. It’s a proven stress releaser.
7. Good for your immune system.