Kidical Mass through Mad Campus recap

I’ve been doing most of my Kidical Mass posting over at Familybike Seattle, but today was sunny and beautiful so I have to do some picture posting here, too. (And full Flickr set is here.)

20 people came out to explore Mad Campus at University of Washington and I discovered there’s nothing better than a long bike rack for a group shot–kids climbed the rack and parents stood behind them. Photo taken with the TimerCam app by my iPhone wedged in my helmet vent, by the way. This is one of my least crooked results.

We gathered at installation number one, Sentinel, which worked fairly well, but in hindsight, hanging out at a non-climbable piece for a good half hour while waiting for everyone to arrive wasn’t ideal. If we’re in a similar situation for a future ride, I’ll choose a spot around the corner with climbable rocks and running-around space.

I wasn’t sure all the kids would want to hit all 12 installations, but they did! Sadly, number three, Lone Stranger was missing (popped? blown away?).

Also a bummer was the DO NOT CLIMB sign at Wave Sine that was new since the Seattle’s Child article that gave me the idea to ride through the event and mentioned climbing the waves.

The Legend of Jerry Roundtree in Red Square was my favorite because the kids could truly interact with it. They all clustered in the pyramid and explored the cool (as in cool to the touch, but also cool as in kewl, of course!) marble pieces.

An interesting thing happened while heading home. We took the two-way protected bike lane that leaves campus on NE 40th Street. Side note: I think this lane is permanent, but it’s also part of a big Burke-Gilman Trail detour for the time being. While we rode down the bike lane, four faster people took the main lane to the right. I really like having options. Of course I’m biased and think bicycle facilities should be built for all ages and abilities so I can comfortably ride them with my slow, heavy bike or let my kids ride on their own bikes, but having a parallel route for people who don’t want to ride on a bikeway attractive to people of my caliber is important, too. I’d also like if all these new protected bike lanes were twice as wide to allow passing, but just having them is such a great start!

For the record, I suspect many faster riders would still avoid double-wide protected bike lanes in favor of taking the lane on a regular street, but having space for parents to ride alongside children or medium-speed people passing slow-speed people would be terrific.

There are lots of people who avoid the Burke-Gilman multiuse trail–some because it’s too slow and full of inexperienced bike riders (those might be the people in the right lane in the photo above) and some because it’s too fast and full of impatient experienced bike riders (hopefully these people would use this protected two-way bike lane, but they might be holding out for protected one-way double-wide bike lanes).

Victoria, BC with family bike

A mere four days after our family bike camping trip, the kids and I were off again. This time much farther away, yet with a lot less pedaling, less gear, and less hills–Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. My father was stopping through Victoria on his way to see his sister on Salt Spring Island (to where I biked solo a year ago and will write about at some point!) and since it’s surprisingly easy to get to Victoria from Seattle, we headed over to see him for a few days. Check out the light load (compared to camping, that is): suitcase of clothing on one side and two soft bags of snacks and various other kid stuff on the other:


I was relieved Bainbridge Island’s Bike for Pie event didn’t coincide with Hempfest this year, but our trip to the ferry on August 14th was subject to the cannabis convention construction. It wasn’t really so bad, but we were routed away from the bike path to the narrower walking path and our forward progress blocked by mis-parked trucks a few times. I knew from signage ahead of time that I’d have to contend with this detour, but I figured setup wouldn’t be so bad that I’d want to forgo the longer, flatter trip to the waterfront. Traversing the area during Hempfest is totally out of the question and our return trip was during clean-up which I figured would be worse than set-up so we took the shorter, steeper trip on our way back home.


The Victoria Clipper isn’t cheap, but it’s extremely convenient. Less than three hours to get to Victoria, and it leaves from easily-accessed Pier 69. Regular bikes are $20 each way, but big bikes, like mine, are double that. Still worth it–Canada with a cargo bike! Our boat ran 20 minutes late so everyone got free coffee and 10% off duty free bulk booze and smokes…and then they made up the 20 minutes at sea anyway.


Regular checked baggage travels in big metal boxes, placed on the boat by crane.


Bikes are wheeled on and covered with a tarp. Forgive the poor quality of the photo, it’s taken through the window because passengers aren’t allowed access to the bottom deck where the bikes travel.


And before you know it, you’re in Victoria! This is the parliament building, very close to the Clipper terminal. As was our hotel. I couldn’t find an amazing stand-alone hotel deal online so I booked Clipper tickets and hotel through the Clipper Vacations website. The Harbour Towers Hotel & Suites worked very well and had a swimming pool, which seems to be a requirement for the kids as of late. And a parking garage with bike rack. Red Tricycle just ran an article about visiting Victoria without a car, Bon Voyage: Your Guide to a Hassle-Free Victoria, BC Getaway. No bikes utilized, but feet and buses got them around the city.


On our first full day we met up with the Growing Up Bike family. Eunice wasn’t on her own Xtracycle, but instead borrowing her friend’s Tom’s Cargo Bikes longjohn. I know this bike! It was Fred King’s bike at last year’s Portland DRT. He’s since upgraded to a Bullitt and his old bike has a new happy family.


As you can see from the above picture, we did a lot of kid swapping over the course of our visit–I think every combination imaginable. And not for the purpose of separating squabbling siblings, as is usually the reason to swap kids with a pal.


Our first destination was the Victoria Bug Zoo. It’s amazing.



The Bug Zoo was within walking distance of our hotel, but it was much quicker to bike there. And afterwards we biked a mile to Cook Street Playground, then along to Big Wheel Burger for dinner (and where Eunice was discovered by a photographer for Momentum Magazine!) and finally for a scenic tour back to the hotel, including Mile 0 and the World’s Tallest Totem Pole.

Our destination the following day also qualified as within walking distance: Fisherman’s Wharf, where we found a playground, many food options, and hungry seals we could feed by hand.


On day three we ventured a bit farther afield, first to meet up with Olena Russell, Mike Russell, and Ruth for coffee at Habit in Chinatown. I love Ruth’s Kona Ute and all its special touches!







After coffee we followed the Russells to the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm. Along the way I realized something that had been nagging at me the previous days–people in cars don’t give much space to people on bikes on the narrow downtown streets. I do a lot of comparing Seattle to Portland and bemoan our lack of bike infrastructure and lack of respect as fellow road users from people in cars, but I felt my space much more encroached upon here. It didn’t feel intentional and threatening, just close.


But soon enough we were in the park with room to fly! Mike called this Victoria’s only protected bike lane, but as you can see from the paint, it’s a separated multi-use trail, which I think isn’t quite as exciting. Separate spots for walkers, bikers, and drivers would be ideal. He also pointed out the roads used to be closed to cars–that would have been ideal-er!


Behold our three bikes lined up–Surly Big Dummy, Workcycles bakfiets, Surly Big Dummy, at the outdoor orchestra. I was quite taken by Mike’s Schwalbe Big Apple tires. I know they provide a cushier ride than my Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, but they don’t boast the same flat-resistance. However, he said he’s been rolling strong for three years on this set. Perhaps once I’ve destroyed my current tires I’ll make a change, but I’m not one to swap away perfectly good tires…especially when they’re the most flat-resistant ones on the market.


Then we found Eunice at the playground and I finally got to see her Xtracycle in person! And, of course, more kid swapping:


The kids had a blast at the playground in Beacon Hill Park, and even more of a blast in the wooded area of Beacon Hill Park, but we returned to Cook Street Park because its zip line can’t be beat.


The next morning we hopped the Clipper back to Seattle. Again, the trip was quick and uneventful, but things had changed at home! I saw markings in the street for a two-way protected bike lane on Pike Street, between Pike Place Market and 2nd Avenue. I wouldn’t have noticed them had we not been avoiding the Hempfest teardown and taken the direct-but-trafficky route home. Thanks Hempfest!


The direct route also carried us by Lake Union Park so we wisely changed into swim suits at the Clipper terminal after clearing customs and were ready to hop into South Lake Union on our way home. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a quick and easy vacation that I was willing to stop for a swim on the way home!


We had an excellent time, though it’s a shame we didn’t get to travel the Galloping Goose Trail or Lochside Trail. Obviously, we’ll have to go back and remedy!

Iron Horse Trail with family bikes 2014

It’s been nearly three years since our Snoqualmie Tunnel ride with Brad and a lot has changed since then. I have a Big Dummy now, too! And all four kids have since traded balance bikes for pedal bikes. Also in the interim, The Path Less Pedaled has come Bikefishing on the Iron Horse Trail and many more people know how cool it is here.

If you want even more photos than those in the post, see my Iron Horse Trail Flickr album.

Most exciting: this was my cargo bike’s FIRST TIME ON A CAR!


Brad says his rack is a Thule van rack, but I don’t see that they make one, so I think it’s a regular little trunk rack like mine. Eek. My bike weighs 76.4 pounds before I take the Yepp seat off (which was stowed inside the van) and Brad’s must be about the same. He removed his Xtracycle rack, bags, and deck, but the BionX motor must add back some of that weight. And his frame is the biggest 22″ to my smallest 16″–more steel, more real. Last year we had three adult bikes back there and it was a tight squeeze. These two fit pretty well and it would have been even easier if one of us didn’t have a big front basket and wide Rolling Jackass centerstand.

Here’s what it looked like with just Brad’s bike on the rack:


Brad picked us up at 8:00 a.m.–two cargo bikes on the back of the van, four kid bikes (and their kids) inside. We stopped for breakfast in Eastgate where we met up with Mark and his daughter. They ride a Counterpoint Opus semi-recumbent tandem. These make great family bikes. Find this bike now as the Bilenky Viewpoint tandem and find a similar setup in the Hase Pino.


After the people fueled up, the cars needed to do so, too, so we drove separately to nearby Issaquah where we were drawn to Bicycle Center of Issaquah when we realized it was almost 10:00 a.m. opening time and we could visit with Kent Peterson. Brad and Kent talked kid mountain bikes while the kids biked around the store and played with Dillon the shop dog.


And eventually we made it to Hyak parking lot and were ready to go!


…but after a bit of fun: we posed Brad’s BionX battery on my frame. He’s pretty much killed his e-assist system so he didn’t have much of an advantage. Sadly, I didn’t get to hear the weird, animal-like noises he says it makes when he asks too much of it.


After a string of clear and sunny days, today was foggy and though Hyak had cleared by the time we arrived, fog belched out of the tunnel towards us. Inside was dark and creepy, like last time, but having dynamo lights meant I could light my own way this time. My kids’ Knog Blinders probably didn’t do much, but they stayed alongside the big bikes and Brad’s kids had bright headlamps and charged on ahead.


I’m not sure if the kids had more fun traversing the tunnel or closing the gate on us after they made it through. Ha ha. Don’t come with us next time if you’re claustrophobic.


We spent a lot of time on the south side of the tunnel. The kids hiked down the ravine and then up and over the tunnel. Where mine fell into a creek. Of. Course.



I climbed up to the tunnel’s lid, but didn’t explore with the kids. I did, however, take my new favorite picture:


These two decided they are best friends who stop for one another as needed, be it to skid to fish-tail-y stops (over and over and over again) or to stop and pick edible (I hope) flowers.


And this guy is riding in his spare pants and my sweater with wet, sockless shoes (saving the dry socks for later). The 30% chance of rain meant I brought his jacket, but that went in the creek, too. Next time I bring spare shoes. Even the biggest bike will not always carry enough in the way of spare clothing or snacks for a day trip with kids. And this big bike was kept to minimal load so I could bag and drag both bikes if need be.


We saw a few other riders in both directions. I forgot to ask Brad what this guy’s story was. I was worried one of the kids would demonstrate a skidding stop right in front of him…but he made it past us unscathed after a five-minute rolling chat.


Then we broke for lunch on the bridge over Hansen Creek.


Mark and his daughter turned back to Hyak at this point. I think it was after 4:00 p.m., so he knew they would miss rush hour traffic by the time they got in the car.


The other six of us continued on in search of “the next bridge”. Brad had left his extra water at home. And then left his replacement extra water in the car (so glad I’m not the only one who forgets important things!), so he filled his camping stove with water from the river and boiled it alongside the trail while the kids frolicked on the hillside. And then: hot chocolate!


As well as some parental frolicking. I did most of my riding with butt on saddle and feet on pedals, but Brad is more, uh, creative.


We continued our search for “the next bridge” for a while, but eventually decided we should turn back. Our original plan was to ride 20 miles downhill to a waiting car, but I’m not sad that didn’t work out because it would have been a shame to miss the uphill climb back–we’re Seattleites after all, we eat hills for breakfast! Of course I was only carrying my five-year old and the grade is 2% so “uphill” might not be the best word for it. As it was, we were probably 10 miles past the tunnel when we declared it was turn-back time.

Brad’s uphill ride started with his five-year old and her bike and my seven-year old and his bike, but that wasn’t enough so I gave him my cargo strap to use as a tow rope for his seven-year old. Behold our photo and video series “What could possibly go wrong?” [Spoiler alert: nothing goes wrong.]





I took my kid bike (but not my kid) back after the videos for better side-to-side “water skier” action and I’m sad I missed filming the first stop because it was hilarious: the tow-ee stopped a second before the tow-er and was dragged into the funniest lurch forward.

It was slow going much of the way–my seven-year old was determined to ride the whole thing for a while and Brad’s BionX display helpfully let us know we were crawling along at 3.5 miles per hour. Brad cheerfully said, “If we take long enough, it will all be a tunnel.” And then he got a flat.

During the changing of the flat he dropped this other gem: “I’ve actually had a number of flats with these tires. I should change them, but I really like the color.”


The speed at which he took the bike apart and changed the flat was impressive, but it still makes me rethink my recent idea to swap my Schwalbe Marathon Pluses for Schwalbe Big Apples when the time comes.

And then we were off again. Our second spate of drizzle started and after riding through it for a bit Brad said, “Oh, yeah, lightning” and I started giggling hysterically. My cheeks still hurt, I laughed for so long. That’s when I realized I was a bit worn out. The tiredness caused by gravel riding really sneaks up on me.

We reached the bottom of the tunnel at 7:12 p.m. I forgot to check what the numbered alcoves start with at the top so I couldn’t gauge how quickly we were getting through. For next time: 40. 40 consecutively marked alcoves. Now you can keep track on your way up, too.


We stopped for dinner on the way home and were finally deposited at our door, kids fast asleep, at 10:04 p.m. What a long and awesome day!

Of course a trip to the Iron Horse Trail need not take this long. The two-car, one-way 20-mile trip from Hyak to Rattlesnake Lake, or even a bit shorter from Hyak to Exit 38, seems great for riders both little and big. And even just riding through the tunnel and back is worth the trip. Having the luxury to both carry and ride alongside the kids thanks to the cargo bike is wonderful, but it would have still been fun carrying both kids the whole way or on separate bikes, being careful not to take them too far before heading back.

Brad regaled me with tales of randonneuring (long-distance unsupported endurance cycling) throughout the day. The stories are great, but actually doing randonneuring sounds a little scary. However, I would like to do a regular-bike ride along the Iron Horse Trail–maybe even with just adults!–someday.

While we were 60 miles from home, having the time of our lives on the car-free Iron Horse Trail, something horrible happened back in Seattle: Sher Kung was killed by a delivery truck driver while biking in the 2nd Avenue bike lane. I hate 2nd Avenue. Everyone does. Bike expert John Pucher gave it a scathing review. I used it for the first time two years ago. Brad and I were both in Cascade Bicycle Club’s first round of the Advocacy Leadership Institute and we usually biked over together, except for this one time when I was on my own and followed Google maps’ instructions to take 2nd Avenue to Pioneer Square. After a couple scary blocks I caught up to an experienced bike commuter and followed him. I learned so much during that ride. I followed him up into driveways to skirt around the backs of cars poking out into the bike lane despite the enticing open space in front of those cars. And we danced to the right (the bike lane is on the left side of one-way 2nd Ave) of cars stuck in the middle of left turns. It was exhilarating! Exhilarating in the sense that I couldn’t believe we’d made it through unscathed. He didn’t know I was behind him so I pulled alongside at my last red light before turning west to thank him for the lesson. He said this night was worse than normal. Now I use 3rd Ave with the buses or 1st Ave with its many red lights. They’re both crappy, too, but not as bad as 2nd. And if my destination is on 2nd I use the right lane instead. But I only know about using the right lane by reading comments on Seattle Bike Blog. A lot of people ignore the left-hand bike lane and ride to the right, but a lot stick to the left lane–why would it be there if we weren’t supposed to use it? This tragedy is extra frustrating because this horrible street is finally getting a protected bike lane in a week. We experienced the practice version on Park(ing) Day last year and of course it’s a world of difference. Just too late for Sher. And others.

If there’s a memorial ride next week, we’ll attend. The only other thing I know of to do as an individual is to donate to the Sher Kung Memorial Fund. And if you bike downtown, join Connect Seattle’s Connect Downtown group. And/or join a different Connect Seattle team. And your nearest Seattle Neighborhood Greenways group. And ride your bike. And talk to others about biking in Seattle. We need better bicycling infrastructure, but we also need more people biking. And if you drive, slow down. 20 is plenty in the city. Even if the speed limit sign has a higher number. And stick your phone in the glove box when you’re driving. And open your car door with your right hand to make it easier to look out the window into the door zone first. And know that I’m shedding a tear (or 100) for Sher with you right now.

Family bike camping 2014 recap

Family bike camping 2014 was a big success! Three families (4 adults, 5 children, 2 Big Dummies, 1 Xtracycle EdgeRunner, 1 Xtracycle FreeRadical) met by the Fremont Bridge to ride to pier 52 for the ferry to Bainbridge Island. This was our 7.6-mile heavy-bike-friendly route. A fourth family (on two regular bikes with double trailer holding two kids and single trailer holding gear) came on the next ferry and joined us for the ride from Winslow to Fay Bainbridge Park.


I packed much lighter than last year and was quite proud of myself. No camp chairs, no full-size pillows (or pillows of any size, for that matter), NO STUFFED ANIMALS. Not to mention I was the only parent of our family this year and got to carry it all myself! I can’t believe I made it happen. I loaded up the right side of my bike the night before–I stuck on the Xtracycle WideLoader and piled on tent (REI Base Camp 4, kinda big), three sleeping bags, and three sleeping pads.


The three bags on the left side of the bike are food, clothing, and kitchen stuff.


But Matt gets the awards for both Cutest Backpacks and Most Symmetrical Packing:


The bike lane to the ferry tool booth worked well again. The lanes were all backed up with cars, but we were able to follow bike icons on the sidewalk to make our way to the front of the line and pay between people in cars. I think we were about 20 minutes early for the 10:35 ferry; people in cars coming through at the same time were assigned to the following ferry.



There were several bicyclists waiting to board. I saw these guys get started from Gas Works Park and was surprised we beat them to the ferry, but they had taken a loop around Magnolia on the way over. The other bicyclists were also day trippers. As were all the motorcyclists in the lane to the right. Fun mix.


Once on the island, we headed straight for the Winslow Wharf Marina by Pegasus Coffee House to have lunch outside while the kids explored. The family on the later ferry caught up and we were soon on our way.

Bainbridge was as lovely as ever.


And as hilly as ever. I love this “husband assist” by the TAKE YOUR TIME heart sign. I hate to badmouth trailers because they’re great: they’re easy to add to any regular bike, they’re great for naps, contain toys and snacks, and keep passengers warm, dry, and shaded. But they’re a pain to lug up hills. I much prefer my cargo weight all up on two wheels when there are uphills involved.


Finally on the last stretch, a 2.7-mile up-and-down along Sunrise Drive, we met with an unexpected DETOUR AHEAD sign less than a mile in. I convinced everyone we counted as local traffic and should keep going straight. So we started down the ensuing hill and thank goodness we met my friend, Victor, coming from the other direction who warned us to turn around. So we took a mile-long detour of unfamiliar hills. I think it was hillier than the original route, but who can tell on Bainbridge?! Here’s our detoured route to the camp site. I’m not sure what I would have done had we biked all the way to the road closure. I think I would have screamed, cried, and set up camp right there by the excavators.


About an hour and a half later (I forgot to time it!) we arrived to Fay Bainbridge Park. The kids immediately hit the beach while I set up camp.


In addition to this being my first time carrying all the stuff, this was also my first time setting up the tent (well, other than practicing in the back yard on Friday). Success! In previous years, we’ve camped on the beach, which I thought was the hike-in area while the regular bike-in area is higher up the hill. We couldn’t locate the camp host upon our arrival and there was plenty of room on the beach (though we ran into a fellow family biker who arrived Friday when it was full and was camping in the high spot). The camp host–a new one this year–drove up soon after and let us know the beach spots are reserved for kayakers following the marine trail and cost $15 instead of $7, but since we were only four tents and had already set up, we could stay if we paid the remainder. Phew.


I made a couple great discoveries in setting up camp. First, my U-lock made a great mallet for pounding in tent stakes. And second, bungee cords as tablecloth holders! Love to have things perform double duty. I wouldn’t necessarily call this toddler-safe, but no eyes were poked out nor fingers squished.


The array of tents (and, heh, box of wine in foreground):


And three of the four camping stoves (with Mount Rainier in the background–terrific view of her!):




Every Saturday in August (8:30-9:15pm) features an owl show with facts about local wildlife and a visit with Orion, a great horned owl. Interesting take aways:

  • Crows are extremely intelligent. They even know the truck of the park ranger and follow him to peck at the trash bags in his trunk when he’s not looking.
  • Coyotes are usually blamed for missing pet cats and small dogs, but it’s usually owls. Owls can carry three times their weight and Orion weights 3-something.


We were the only family planning on riding Bike for Pie so we broke camp earlyish and set off alone at 9:15. We saw a bunch of Bike for Pie riders as we headed for registration and cheered each other on–they may have assumed we were already on the ride with camping gear along. Tons of kids were on the 8-mile family course, some on trailer bikes, but many on their own bikes.

We went to the registration table at Waterfront Park, but ended up skipping the ride because the kids weren’t keen on sitting for an extra 8 miles and I didn’t mind cutting out the extra hills. But since pre-registered we still got pie! I guess I could say I did the two-day course.


And we hung out for a while to talk to Demi about soon-to-be Pronto Cycle Share and meet Naomi of Biking with Child whose bigger kid needed a lift home after riding Bike for Pie, which they made work by his little sister taking his bike and a push start.


Then we caught the 12:25 ferry home. Bikes board first!


Love the view of Downtown Seattle from the ferry.


And 9 miles later we were home. The kid helmets are on the bike because I suggested they walk the last/steepest block. Thank goodness they obliged! I also had them walk the hill out of the campground–that hill is OK with just cargo, but too much with cargo and kids.


Ideas for next year:

  • Camping more than one night! I’ve never camped more than one night since kids. It would have been nice to take a day off from biking and hang at the Fay Bainbridge beach and playground all day.
  • Plan for camping in the proper bike camping area next year–which will also be nice if there’s an extra day to play at the beach.
  • Day trip for Bike for Pie. We rode the ferry with a dad and three kids who headed over early in the morning. I’d have the kids on their own bike, but use the Big Dummy in case a sag wagon is needed…and so I can carry us to the ferry more quickly (I like to think I’m still faster than the children, but I’m probably not).
  • Learn how to make better pillows. My five-year old woke up and said, “My neck hurts!” Camping pillow tips and tricks, anyone?
  • Keep a stash of twigs in the tent overnight because the BioLite Stove wasn’t happy about the damp twigs in the morning.
  • Have the camping trip announced on the Totcycle mailing list to reach more families.

And finally, a few more pictures!

Upcoming: 2014 Family Bike Camping and Bike for Pie

It’s that time of year again! Join us for bike camping at Fay Bainbridge Park, Bike for Pie, or both!

Saturday, August 9th and Sunday, August 10th, 2014
Bainbridge Island, Washington

Coming from Seattle:
Meet by the Fremont Bridge, on the corner outside KeyBank (601 N 34th St, Seattle, WA 98103) at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. It’s a block from PCC Natural Market if you need any last-minute supplies (we’re aiming to head up a tad early to grab marshmallows for s’mores…oh, who am I kidding, for creating sugary fireballs).
Be prepared to pedal at 9:15!! We want to catch the 10:35 ferry so we can beat a bit of the day’s heat–it’s gonna be a hot one.

Here’s our low-traffic route from Fremont to Pier 52 in case you run late. I’m sure you can catch up to us:

Once on Bainbridge Island we usually break for lunch before the long trek to Fay Bainbridge. Some people will hit Pegasus Coffee House, some will stock up on forgotten items at the Town & Country Market, some will picnic outside, and some will push on ahead.

Here is our route from Pegasus to Fay Bainbridge:

Lemme know if you have a flatter suggestion! I think the highway might be slightly less hilly, but definitely busier.

Bike-in camping at Fay Bainbridge Park is $7/person–bring cash! Kids have counted in the past. I think the beach area is technically the hike-in camper area, but that’s where we stay–it’s close to the restrooms and playground.

We’ll time our trip to the campsite to decide when we head out Sunday morning, retracing our steps for the fun Bike for Pie event. I’m doing the 8-mile family-friendly course. I’m planning to have somewhere to stash our camping gear so we can ride unencumbered.

Some helpful links:

Portland Fiets of Parenthood 2014

Two years ago we took Amtrak Cascades to Portland with the old mamabike for Fiets of Parenthood, last year we BoltBused with the Big Dummy, and this year we drove the car with the old mamabike, trailer, and kid bikes. More bikes, less green.


After nearly six years with the old mamabike (Bianchi Milano city bike), I finally invested in a SunLite Adjustable Cross Bar Bicycle Adapter for Rear Car Rack to make the step-through frame fit on the car rack more easily. It’s great! I’ve only put the bike on the car a few times, but it’s worth it to keep it level and secure. I was able to squeeze the 20-inch kid bike on the rack, too, and the single Burley trailer rode shotgun (I was able to break it down even more and shove it in the trunk for the ride home) and the 16-inch kid bike in the trunk.



We set out Friday at 10 so traffic wasn’t bad and were just a little late to join the PDX Cargo Bike Gang at the Eb & Bean artisan frozen yogurt shop.


The bakfiets belongs to Kath of Portlandize and we rode to a park together after marionberry yogurt with sprinkles (that’s what I had, anyway). I discovered since my last visit tons of traffic lights have a tiny blue dot (next to the red light, hopefully you can see it) to indicate one’s bicycle has triggered the light to change. Amazing! The little bike icon at the bottom of the photo below is where one places her wheel to trigger the light and indicator.


Portland is the best in America when it comes to bicycle infrastructure, but I experienced a couple problems. I encountered a salmoning (heading against traffic) skateboarder in the protected bike lane near the Convention Center. He didn’t notice us until the last moment, but was easy enough to dodge. Much worse was a guy that pulled his car over in front of us to park in the protected bike lane to take a picture of this movie marquee–but a couple hours before this picture when it read:


Ah, Portland. I could have squeezed around his car, but figured he’d be quick enough so we stopped and waited so he’d notice us and feel bad and hopefully think twice about obstructing a bike lane in the future. Bringing a bit of the passive-aggressive Seattle style to town.


After Dawson Park, I parted ways from Kath to visit the Islabikes warehouse and crash my friend, Alyssa’s, appointment for her daughter to test ride. Both my kids have Islabikes and we LOVE them. I’ll write about them for real at some point, but in the meantime, read this super-informative Two Wheeling Tots: Islabikes Beinn 20″ Small review.


While we were inside the warehouse I saw the strangest sight out the back door–some sort of vehicle piled with 300 wooden chairs followed by a longjohn holding a couch.


Unsurprisingly, it was Emily Finch ferrying over a bunch of furniture for the Disaster Relief Trials afterparty. I had hoped to see her new Metrofiets this week (replacing her stolen bakfiets), but it’s not quite ready so she was on her Christiania cargo trike and followed by her eldest daughter on a borrowed Bullitt.


We rounded out our big day with a dip in the hotel pool and the Disaster Relief Trials pre-party at Velo Cult. A few people didn’t recognize me since I didn’t have my regular bike along, heh.


Fiets of Parenthood Day

Saturday was action-packed with Fiets of Parenthood and DRT sharing space. This year’s DRT had a competitive Open Class and a new Replenish Class that was to be completed with a child along and was only (only!) 15 miles. My original plan waybackwhen was to try Open Class…but then Replenish Class with both kids sounded easier to make happen…but once I decided to drive with the small bike it became apparent just Fiets of Parenthood would be best. Speedy DRT Replenish Class participants were able to do both DRT and Fiets, but I didn’t think I’d be fast enough for that, and certainly not fast enough for the kids to do Kids Fiets before I did Parent Fiets.

We started with a Kidical Mass ride with the Marleaus, in town from Northern California. Peter won Fiets of Parenthood on his Brompton last year. We met near the Hawthorne Bridge, but rather than take a direct one-mile trip over that bridge, we did a three-mile jaunt via the Steel Bridge which we all deemed more kid friendly.


We headed over early to watch the start of DRT. Here’s Kath taking off with Replenish Class:


And shortly thereafter, the start of Open Class:


Longboard skateboarder (with cargo trailer) Cory Poole showed me his map and said the course looked tough:


Below is a picture of him setting off. Just as he started skating, someone ran up and handed him a GoPro on a stick. He later told me he was asked to record the first leg since he was the only hands-free competitor. Very generous–it can’t have been easy! But my favorite moment of the start was happening in the background: Joyanna, my DRT partner in crime last year finished stowing stuff in her red-and-yellow trailer and then helped her friend get her helmet on so they could have a speedier start. What teamwork!


And cargo dogs! First I saw this shortie (corgi?) in a longjohn:


And later Rando Awesome showed up in a lofty ride. I met him last DRT in a sidecar on a BMX bike, but he’s too awesome for just one bike:


The Fiets of Parenthood course was tough! First up: raised, twisty track with very narrow bridge over hot lava. Most of the kids shuffle-stepped across it, but I had to put a foot down to help drag my trailer back up on the track. Ouch, it burned!


Then slaloming through cones:

Photo courtesy Kelly Williams

Photo courtesy Kelly Williams

Two heavy grocery bags, a ramp just wide enough for my trailer, the dropped toy retrieval, and new this year: FIRE EXTINGUISHING!


Then a new enormous teeter totter (not pictured) and the also-new woop-di-doo, shown here with last year’s winner, Peter Marleau. On one of my two practice runs I got a little off-center and dropped the trailer off the side, but we got it right for showtime.


But this year’s winner was the other Marleau, Kristi!! Behind her is Andy, who made all the course pieces, and Cafe Mama Sarah Gilbert was the hostess-with-the-mostess emcee again.


I didn’t note the kid results, but here are the Parent Fiets times. Two minutes and five seconds of the most fun ever!


And back to DRT stuff…here’s Zak, visiting from Temecula, coming in from the Replenish Class. He has a Metrofiets at home, but he’s borrowing Metrofiets framebuilder Phillip Ross’s for the event:


And the Open Class winning bike was a custom Bike Friday longtail. Or maybe it’s a midtail. It’s similar to the amazing Haul-a-Day midtail, newly available to the public.


The DRT after-party at Islabikes was hopping…despite adequate seating thanks to Emily and daughter. The caliber of the temporary bike parking in the rear parking lot was amazing. I wish I had thought to ask where all the racks came from. Good bike watching, too! I love this Bullitt with a grocery store shopping cart body as its cargo box. Part of “Team Beer” according to a sticker on the frame. Go Team Beer!


And I wish I’d seen this Perennial split frame in motion–just look at it! Is that U-lock even doing anything? I’m so confused by the whole thing. But I like it.


I also got my first in-person look at Michelle’s DIY sunshade on her Xtracycle EdgeRunner


The kids were kept busy riding the test track. It’s normally made of bike boxes, but Islabikes had borrowed a bunch of cones (dirty ones, I think they had been part of a mountain-bike- or off-season cyclocross race) which worked better for multiple bikers at once. And Olive Rootbeer and Dingo rode up on their tall bikes to wow the kids with their clown skills, storytime, and balloon twisting.



The following day I took the Hawthorne Bridge to Clever Cycles and the true meaning of the new bollards sunk in. I thought they were excessive because cars have always waited for me here–maybe even too much…on our first visit a car stopped for me when I was quite far back from the intersection and had to awkwardly wait for close to a minute while I made my way uphill to the crossing. At first I thought maybe this was to prevent weird over-waitings like that, but it’s really to add this passing lane!


By the way, the guy on the longtail that passed me complimented my bike and I resisted the urge to say, “But I have a longtail, too, at home!” and just thanked him. It’s hard not to dis the old mamabike when the new mamabike is such a cargo-carrying queen.


And then the temporary bike lane next to the road construction! In Seattle this would have probably been a BIKES MERGE WITH TRAFFIC sign. I think they might not even make those signs in Portland.


At Clever Cycles I saw a half-a-Hooptie! I’ve been thinking about doing this myself. They said quite a few customers have done this and like it. I want to preserve easy access to my FlightDeck for a kid to hop off and push the walk button at intersections without loop detectors (maybe not an issue in Portland with all those little blue lights) and because I like sitting on my deck and I don’t fit in the full Hooptie. Others roll this setup so they can use the removed rail as a step rather than buy a set of U-tubes.


I believe that was our third visit to Clever Cycles of our four-day stay. This day I had a front-wheel stabilizer put on so it’s not all just using their kid-friendly potty and rendezvousing with friends. We also paid a third visit to Islabikes to get a rear rack for the 20-inch bike. Now to find some little panniers for it. I hear front rack panniers fit well. It seems like a sign I should put a front rack on one of my bikes so we can share bags. More cargo!


The test track cones were already gone, but the bike boxes weren’t back up yet so the kids made do in the parking lot.


This was my first time dragging a trailer around Portland and it worked OK. Parking such a long rig was a bit tricky in certain spots, but everything worked well. My four-year old rode in the Bobike maxi rear seat and my seven-year old in the trailer. The main thing I noticed was how quiet our rides were. The seven-year old couldn’t see all the interesting stuff from the bridges and when he did want to tell me something, we had to play telephone with my incomprehensible four-year old passing along the message. It was pretty fun.

It was nice being able to fit all our bikes in the elevator and hotel room; I have to valet the Big Dummy. I got pretty adept at squishing the bike/trailer into the elevator just so. It was a tight squeeze, but not tight enough that other hotel guests didn’t squish in with us most rides. I guess that’s a sign we don’t look scary.


I still can’t believe I figured out the trailer breakdown and putting-back-together. The kids took a picture of my allen-key-and-wrench technique for disengaging the trailer from the bike. I’d like to get one of those easy pins for it, but I don’t know if we use it often enough to warrant it.


Bye Portland, love ya!!


TBT: Portland Fiets of Parenthood 2013

I should be packing for our trip to Portland for Fiets of Parenthood 2014, but instead I’m looking at pictures from last year’s Fiets of Parenthood because it that’s much more fun. Here’s my Flickr album of all 167 pictures!

Headed for the BoltBus to Portland

We headed down by BoltBus with my Big Dummy and had an action-packed visit: hanging with Kath of Portlandize, biking with Andy to see Olive Rootbeer and Dingo (this was before Olive’s bike was stolen and recovered), playdate-ing with Elisabeth from Seattle, joining part of the group ride to Trek in the Park (the part before it went uphill), and all that before Fiets!

We joined the Kidical Mass ride to Fiets and volunteered to be the caboose. It was a huge group and we hung back with the sweetest little pedaler and his family. He was quite the trouper and refused my offers of a lift until after we had gone up and over the Hawthorne Bridge. The rest of the Mass was gathered, waiting for us on the Waterfront Trail and several other cargo bikers tried to get in on my action. I explained to them I had called dibs, plus I was the caboose who had hung back with him (happily, mind you) the whole time, so I finally got to collect kid and bike. He came up to me a bit later and invited me to his birthday party; his mom said that’s his way of saying thank you.

Three kids on my bike at Fiets of Parenthood 2013

My kids were on the course a lot. I borrowed bikes so they could ride the kiddie event, then they rode with me, and then they rode with Chele to earn her some extra points (extra points for each extra kid). She tipped the bakfiets and they were fine, like “Hurry, hurry, hurry, give us the cargo and get rolling!” Yes, they’re used to being tipped over. Bad for my pride, good for Fiets. Chele wins my Fan Favorite vote, by the way. She rocked that course! Most impressive after her slow and cautious approach in 2012. The only way to excel at the tricky 2013 course was to nearly tip…or have a small wheelbase, like the winning Brompton, to negotiate those tight little turns. Andy’s pictures were much better than mine so I’m borrowing some of them. See all his pix here.

Photo courtesy Andy Schmidt

Photo courtesy Andy Schmidt

Photo courtesy Andy Schmidt

Photo courtesy Andy Schmidt

Photo courtesy Andy Schmidt

Photo courtesy Andy Schmidt

Photo courtesy Andy Schmidt

Photo courtesy Andy Schmidt

I didn’t realize this at the time, but I think I was the fastest mom! Results weren’t broken down by gender so no prize for that.

Fiets of Parenthood 2013 results