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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Supermoon!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Love the view of Downtown Seattle from the ferry.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

TRANSFORMERS
SEX TAPE

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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And shortly thereafter, the start of Open Class:

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

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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!

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

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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:

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bye Portland, love ya!!

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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

Bike Month Street Party and Bicycle Fashion

Yesterday afternoon was one of my favorite events of Bike Month, Cascade Bicycle Club’s Ballard Bike Street Party. We headed over after school, the kids riding their own bikes through the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail. I’m not sure I’ll make that common practice without an extra adult, but things were calm enough at 4pm-ish this particular Thursday.

Our first stop was the kids’ bike rodeo, but the kids spent so much time at the adjacent bike decorating station (stickers, streamers, paper salmon, crayons!) that they didn’t get onto the course before the teeter totter broke…not catastrophically, just a crack in the plywood.

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My four-year old was smitten with the Ride & Glide Professional BMX Stunt Team, but I couldn’t watch without cringing at each trick. (But no crashes! And just one nearly-didn’t-land-in-the-right-spot flip).

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Here are Aldan and Juliette of bicycle clothing and accessory shop Hub and Bespoke outfitted as bike style authorities and issuing citations to appear in the annual street party fashion show. Yes, I got one! I should hope so since I was in a Seattle Channel TV spot about Hub and Bespoke and fashion. Har har, obviously neither Juliette nor I knew it would be about fashion when she asked/I agreed to come down during the filming…but the funny thing is, biking so often has much improved my manner of dress.

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I don’t have a picture of my outfit from yesterday, but below is me on the cover of today’s Seattle’s Child magazine in my bike-friendly “uniform”: short-sleeved shirt, knee-length (give or take a few inches) skirt over leggings, flats. All from the Crown Hill Value Village thift store, now that I’m revealing all my secrets. HOWEVER, all my foul-weather over layers are from Hub and Bespoke: my Rainlegs rain chaps (that work fine with knee-length skirts with the middle buckles left fastened in front of rather than around my legs), merino wool ibex Striped Coppi Cap for cold days, and Clear Coated Rain Spats, though unless it’s really cold and raining hard I just let my shoes get rained on. As for the top, I’m currently sporting a too-big rain jacket I got for Mr. Family Ride, but I have eyes on either (ooh, or both?!) the Hub and Bespoke Women’s Riding Coat or Iva Jean Rain Cape (also sold at Hub and Bespoke). [The Seattle's Child article about the local family biking scene is terrific--read it!]

Seattle's Child June 2014

That photo was fittingly taken on Bike to Work Day, by the way. And in case you’re wondering why all the skirts? Well, I didn’t realize until getting the Big Dummy two years ago that all bikes don’t have chain guards. The old mamabike bike had one, as did the beach cruiser I used for commuting before that. I only wore shorts with my road bike and mountain bike so I didn’t notice the greasy chain. I doubt my middle school, high school, and college commuter bikes had chain guards, but I don’t recall getting pant legs dirty by or caught in a chain back then. So skirts over leggings are ideal.

But enough about fashion, back to the street party! At 5:45 we joined the kids’ bike parade down most of Ballard Avenue:

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While I have to admit I didn’t see half the booths, other things there the kids and I loved were RainWise, Swift Industries, Pedalheads bike camps, The Hoot Hoots (my favorite local band, their second fave, after Caspar Babypants), Ian from Bicycle Benefits (who is running Bicycle Sundae, AN ICE-CREAM-THEMED ALLEYCAT with Seattle Bike Blog on Sunday), and the Woodland Park Zoo Cheetah Metah! He got one mile per hour faster once he lost the helmet.

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Just before heading out we saw a guy cruise up on this enormous Coker Monster Cruiser with 36-inch wheels!

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Every bike a cargobike

After two gloriously sunny weeks, today was horribly rainy. We started out the day with me on cargobike and kids on their own bikes to head to school early with snacks and stickers for a Bike to School Month Welcome Station. Sadly, we didn’t get many visitors on account of the weather (though many kids walked instead of biked–not everyone takes to cars in the rain) and having moved our party away from the pre-arranged main bike rack to under an overhang in the other playground.

As for our midday plans, I was initially excited to finally try out my flat-as-possible route up Queen Anne (though with only the little kid on board it’s not a true test of the route), but I didn’t want to make my preschooler sit still in the rain for so long so we took separate regular-sized bikes for a multi-modal adventure–three miles/30 minutes to the bus and a six-minute drive up the big hill.

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It was 10:40 by the time we crossed the Fremont Bridge and despite recent record bike counts, we were only numbers 1008 and 1009 today.

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This was our first time putting a 16-inch bike on a King County Metro bus, though we tested the Sound Transit rack when we participated in a Sound Transit lunchtime bike panel last month, so I was pretty sure it would fit. There must be a finite number of bus bike rack types in the world, but they all seem different here. We have yet to ride Community Transit, but we really want to take the double-decker bus, so maybe this summer we’ll discover if that one’s accommodating of little bikes, too.

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I thought we’d ride down the hill (the sidewalk of 3rd Avenue), but the boss requested we bus back down so we reversed our route. I’m not much for figuring out bus routing on the fly (I still can’t believe I got us home after the bus with the broken rack in Issaquah last month), but this was pretty simple.

So we headed back down and made two little on-the-way stops on our short trek home. First up was Recycled Cycles to address my sinking saddle and have the Bobike mini bracket removed from my stem while we were already there. My preschooler is really into fat bikes so we were both mesmerized by this little chopper bike out front. It’s too big for him, but it’s definitely kid sized. It’s only $65–go check it out if you’re in the area!

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Stop two was Fremont Brewing to eat a complimentary apple and let them know we’d be bringing a horde of people in for the June 1st Kidical Mass ride.

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We hit the road again and after a few blocks he decided he was much too tired to go any farther, even for the flat part. He’s lucky–I would have taken my road bike, but I don’t know how to disconnect the trailer (I lost the two tools for the job Mr. Family Ride stuck in my little saddle bag and Mr. Family Ride is out of town, unable to locate similar tools for me…or more realistically, just do the removing for me). I know, I know, woe is me with three family bikes.

The kid suggested I drop a wheel in the empty basket and drag his bike. I tried this because, ya know, he’s the boss, but it didn’t seem like it would work. Instead I went with my own instincts and plopped it upside down along the back of the seat. I keep all my bungee cords in my cargobike bags (and strewn around the carport) so I held the bike in place with my teensy Knog Milkman better-than-nothing lock. It just barely fit around the bottom of the seat and totally did the trick. A couple bungee cords would have been much better, though.

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Just add kid and we were ready to roll! He looks nervous because I was trying to convince him to hold onto the tree–I didn’t mention why, but it was because I was pretty sure the bike would tip over, but I really wanted a picture. He wasn’t into handling the mossy tree. Snails, mud, and guinea pig poo are OK, apparently, but mossy trees are not.

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Bike to School Day 2014

Bike to School Day was Wednesday and I celebrated by leading my first bike train and writing about it for the League of American Bicyclists. I hope I adequately conveyed how exhilarating yet chaotic the event turned out. I had a blast…and have many ideas for how to make things go more smoothly next year.

The kids did a ton of biking which isn’t usual for a weekday–normally Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are preschool days and I carry the kids two miles to preschool where I drop one off and then race right back to our neighborhood to drop the other one off at our elementary school. Thursdays and Fridays we walk or take separate bikes to bring the first grader to school, but it’s only two blocks from home. I wasn’t sure they’d want to ride their own bikes a mile uphill for our pre-bike-train doughnut stop, but we left early enough and they were game! And we may have even gotten there faster than me carrying all the kids, bikes, and stuff.

And that meant I could put our Mighty-O Donuts on my FlightDeck. Sweeter passengers than normal, har har.

Here’s an urban traffic jam we hit on the way to the bike train meetup park. I didn’t want to take to the sidewalk to skirt around the garbage truck because the kids already have a thing for snaking back and forth from street to sidewalk via driveways and I’m trying to convince them to stick to the streets with me where we’re safer.

I think the gorgeous weather had a lot to do with the huge number of participants, but these are Seattleites after all so they probably would have come regardless.

Here’s our horde of 91, ready for a 0.8-mile ride to school:

My preschooler was eager to keep pedaling so he biked the 2.5 miles to preschool and then back later in the day. I only had to vary our route a little bit to add more time on the Burke-Gilman Trail and avoid the door zone bike lane on 34th between Stone Way and Fremont.

He suggested a detour up Gas Works Park Kite Hill on our way home. It’s one of my favorite spots, too. I’m able to bike up the back side, but the switchbacks on the front are too tight for me to negotiate…him, too, it turns out–he insisted on going up the front to race me to the top. “It’s not a race!” I called, like I holler at least 100 time a day.

Happy Bike to School Day, Happy Bike to School Month, and IT’S NOT A RACE!