Bike Month check-in (and snacks, snacks, snacks)

Whew, Bike Month is so busy! I’m way behind logging miles, blogging about biking, and organizing future bike events. Instead of doing any of that, just a quick check-in about today’s bike stuff to feel like I’m accomplishing something.

I barely left the house today, yet it was still such a bike-filled day. I hosted a Family Biking Seminar run by Morgan Scherer of Familybike Seattle, so that brought three new bike friends and two current bike friends right to me.

But before the seminar, I had to get snacks (note: if you want to host a seminar–which you should! email Morgan: morgan@familybike.org–it is not a requirement that you provide snacks) so I made a quick trip to the grocery store. On the way back I had the pleasure of running into the Move Seattle levy walking tour. I’d meant to get my housecleaning and snack shopping done yesterday so I could join the beginning of the walk, but I spent all day riding bikes so it was great to still have the oppportunity to wave to Andres Salomon of Northeast Seattle Greenways, pull over and chat quickly with first Bob Edmiston of Madison Park Greenways and then Cathy Tuttle, Executive Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and ding my bell at City Councilmember Mike O’Brien. I saw them on a quiet side street, which of course was nice, but I’m sure my big bike full of groceries would have had more of an impact (not literally, though) if we had to share the sidewalk as I pedaled safely across the freeway between me and the grocery store.

As Morgan and I were outside cleaning up bikes after the seminar, Henry of LionTail Cycles and Maya happened to bike by. I lured them in with the promise of leftover snacks. Naturally, it worked! Snacks are important.

My family biking friends, Suzi and Diane, just made a video called “Family Biking: Stories, Challenges, and Tips” as part of Cascade Bicycle Club’s Advocacy Leadership Institute (I graduated from the first round of ALI–it’s awesome and you should sign up if you’re in Seattle) and a friend teased me about mentioning snacks so often. I intend to keep a close eye on his snack intake on future group rides.

And just one last little snack plug! Yesterday I participated in Streets + Beets, Alleycat Acre’s annual fundraising bike ride. A couple miles into the ride, I met Megan of the road spoke and we pedaled the whole thing (plus an extra bit to see the gorgeous Maury Island Marine Park overlook) together. She’s just starting out on an amazing journey, but I didn’t realize until getting home and checking out her website that she appreciates the importance of snacks, too! Her first post mentions “snacks, snacks, snacks” as one (well, three) of the necessities of life.

Hey, you look a little hungry. I’ve got a raspberry fig bar in my messenger bag–do you need it?

Come to a Family Biking Seminar!

Hey, I’m hosting a family biking seminar in two Sundays! Email Morgan now to sign up, we need at least five participants or we’ll reschedule with more notice :)

Sunday, 5/17/15, 1pm-3:30pm
Fee: Sliding scale, $5-35
Wallingford, Seattle home location
Pre-register by emailing Morgan Scherer, morgan@familybike.org

Here are the details from Familybike Seattle:

Are you interested in biking more with your family, but not sure how to get started? Or have you been doing it awhile, and want an infusion of excitement and information? Are you tired of the line of cars during preschool/school drop-off? Do you have questions about safety, equipment, practicality, or whether you can “do it”? This highly participatory 2 1/2 hour seminar is for you!

Bring your questions, concerns and curiosity for a lively session of information and discussion. Learn: What are the biggest hazards, and how to avoid them. What equipment is out there and what are the pluses and minuses of each. What to do about hills and rain. What resources are available to support you on your journey, and more!

Taught by veteran family-biker Morgan Scherer in an in-home setting, this session is relaxed and supportive of all questions, levels of fitness, and goals. Get the information and support you need to make the best transportation decisions for your family. For the last half hour we will be outside looking at different family biking setups, and trying them out. Bring your helmet if you have one (there will also be helmets available to borrow).

Pictures from the last seminar here:

Presentation and Q&A

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Family bike expo

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Test riding

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Bring the kids! I’ll keep them busy with fun activities while you learn from Morgan

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Spring Break 2015 Recap

Spring Break week was awesome! We’re all exhausted, sunburned, and happy to be back home. What better indicators of a successful vacation?

Following is a quick-ish recap of the week, with miles and bikes tallied for 30 Days of Biking at the bottom. See all the pictures in the Flickr album–warning, mostly kids (the human kind) and kids (the goat kind), but also lots of bikes.

Saturday, April 11
The only biking the first day of Spring Break was a trip with the kids on the bike to the grocery store to stock-up on snacks for our camping trip. Despite Alyssa carrying lots of our gear to the campground in her van, we still had quite a bit of stuff to bring with. I loaded the bike Saturday night since we had to hit the road at 6am. Clockwise from upper right: rollie bag of raingear, two backpacks of kid clothing, Ikea bag of snacks, the sleeping pad I couldn’t find the day before, and blue bag of my clothing.

Sunday, April 12
Kids and messenger backpack added to bike and we were out the door, just 20 minutes behind schedule. The Victoria Clipper was great and uneventful. It’s not cheap, but it’s amazingly convenient!

Once in Victoria, much of the 22-kilometer ride to Goldstream Provincial Park Campground was along the Galloping Goose Trail. The highlight of the ride was probably getting to watch a guy training his dog to ride a skateboard. It was only the dog’s second attempt and we thought he did a pretty good job, considering.

Our route took us along the south side of Langford Lake on the Ed Nixon Trail which was all gravel and on a Sunday, filled with dog walkers and joggers–and one guy on a cyclocross bike. Two spots were a bit too steep and as I lost momentum, my overloaded bike tipped to the side. The kids opted to walk after the second toppling and while there were no steep spots after that, it certainly was a lot easier to ride minus 90 pounds of weight. I’ll soon post a more detailed post about the routing to the campground.

It was a long trip, more slightly uphill than down-, but soon enough we arrived to the park, met the camp host, and found the playground where we hung out for a mere 30 minutes before our friends arrived by van via two ferries and a bit of driving. And with them came our bikes, tent, and sleeping bags! My mountain bike ended up being merely my “campsite bike” but it was still fun to tool around on a sub-75-pound bike as much as possible.

Monday, April 13
On Monday I hung with the kids at the campground for four hours while Alyssa and Dave biked into Victoria to shop for supplies at Canadian Tire (I’d never heard of this place before, sounds awesome!) and MEC (I like to call MEC “The Canadian REI”). The kids and I filled our time with a lot of bike riding, ball playing, slug finding, and picture drawing. It was fairly cold and drizzly so we ate lunch in the large heated bathroom and hung out in the van before it felt too small and Thunderdome-like.

That evening, Dave discovered the trick of using his bike floor pump as a bellows for the campfire. Brilliant! And the kids loved patiently waiting in line to take turns. They plan to always camp with a floor pump now.

Tuesday, April 14
We rode back into Victoria, this time along the north side of Langford Lake for more busy roads, but passable gravel to meet up with Eunice of Growing up Bike on her Xtracycle FreeRadical and Amanda on her Xtracycle EdgeRunner. We had arranged to meet at the Switch Bridge, where the Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails meet. We were a bit early and checked out Recyclistas Community Bike Shop right there and fell in love with the place.

We biked to the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary to check out the various creatures indoors and the walk the trail and feed ducks outdoors.

After we biked more and lunched together, the kids and I braved the shopping mall by the Switch Bridge and I entered a Wal-Mart for the third time ever for the essentials: s’mores supplies, potato chips, tortilla chips, gummy bears, drawing paper, scented markers, and 10 minutes of free wifi. The American Dream…courtesy of our friendly neighbor to the north.

Shortly after we arrived back to the campground, we were joined by our third family of family bikers, Brad and two kids, who also came by van with normal-sized bikes while cargo bike stayed at home in Seattle. This brought our numbers up to four adults, six kids, 12.5 bikes (the half bike is a Burley Piccolo trailer bike).

We were low on a couple staples so I borrowed Alyssa’s Surly Cross Check to ride up the hill out of the park to the grocery and liquor stores. She just swapped her drop bars for Surly Open Bars (same as I have on the Big Dummy) so it felt like a sprightly Big Dummy. Adults got beer and kids got Kinder Surprise (illegal in the US, A-OK in Canada!) and order was restored. And I got to add another bike to my monthly bike tally.

Wednesday, April 15
Wednesday saw we 10 campers on 9.5 bikes for a short ride to one of the trailheads.

Then the kids and I rode bikes around the bigger, closed-for-the-off-season, campground loop. I got to do a bit of a loop alone with my newly eight-year old during which we took a pleasant snack break and discussed slugs, salmon, and bears.

Later we hitched a ride in one of the vans (I’m a bit disappointed to not have kept the trip car-free, but it was nice to be a passenger!) into Langford to play at a playground, have birthday sushi dinner, and pick up a birthday cake.

Thursday, April 16
Thursday marked four days of sleeping in a tent. This was a record because previously I’d only camped one night at a time since having kids. Woo hoo! But we ditched the tent for the last night in favor of a hotel in Victoria.

All this went home in one of the vans. Now I understand supported bike touring!

Our light load consisted of a big bag of snacks and our three backpacks containing our remaining clean clothes.

We met up with Brad and kids at Recyclistas where I bought stickers for the kids–5 stickers for $5!–and they looked in vain for the big shy fish in the fish tank. We biked to Beacon Hill Park where we hung at the petting zoo long enough to see the goat stampede. It was amazing!

We got caught up in horse-drawn-carriage traffic on the way out, but that’s probaby par for the course in Victoria.

Brad and his kids headed home, Alyssa, Dave, and their kids headed farther north to camp one more night, and my kids and I hit the hotel swimming pool.

Friday, April 17

Friday was more proper eighth birthday celebrating. We started the day meeting up with local family bikers at a coffee shop and then all got a tour of the Victoria Police Department, courtesy of Community Mike (he has a Surly Big Dummy, too, which you can see half-way down my post from last summer, Victoria, BC with family bike).

He even arranged for his coworker to come by with his motorcycle, though we had to wait while he ticketed someone across the street on his way in. The kids found this awesome, of course.

And then an RCMP motorcycle officer happened to drive by and let the kids sit on his motorcycle, too! Very fun, though I’m worried the kids now prefer motorcycles to bicycles.

Once we learned everything there was to learn about policework, we rode bikes to Cook Street Park, where the zipline was sadly in for repair, but the kids still had a blast. This is Eunice on her Xtracycle FreeRadical, Amanda on her Xtracycle EdgeRunner, and Kristy on her Bullitt.

Amanda’s husband arrived a while later on his Xtracycle FreeRadical making five cargo bikes total!

We caught the Clipper home at 6pm and I enclosed the kids in the full Hooptie for the first time (oh, half-a-Hooptie blog post coming at some point soon), figuring they’d fall asleep on the way home.

We got home at 10:30 and they slept a bit on the way, but an accidental sleep headbutt led to some punching and crying so we’ll have to figure out sleeping positions if we expect to be out so late again.

Saturday, April 18
It was nice to come home on a Friday night and have what felt like a bonus weekend of Spring Break staycation. This meant we got to attend a friend’s fifth birthday party at the Olympic Sculpture Park beach and since they couldn’t carry all the party supplies on their mamachari, I got to help haul stuff, which is my favorite thing ever. We also carried what was left of the party back to our friend’s house and I was able to retrieve my road bike. I’d been lending it to a visiting Detroiter, but since I left town a day earlier than she, I arranged for her to drop it off with my friend. It seemed to all work seemlessly.

I hadn’t carried a big bike with both kids since swapping the Yepp Maxi seat for half-a-Hooptie and things are a little different now. My five-year old was very mad (as you can tell from the picture) about having his space invaded, so I’ll have to figure out a better system next time. I’ll probably have my eight-year old sit sidesaddle.

Sunday, April 19

And on the last gorgeous day of Spring Break, we hit our favorite beach, Golden Gardens. The kids rode their own bikes and just when I started thinking, “Wow, maybe I don’t need to bring the cargo bike because they can ride the whole way!” my five-year old stated he couldn’t manage any more pedaling and had to hitch a ride for the last little bit.

The beach was awesome and the bike rack was full. As was the parking lot, but I don’t find that as worth noting. Someone burned part of the jumping log which is a shame, but it still works fine.

Heading home we had about 20 swaps between “I want to ride on the mamabike!” and “I want to ride my own bike!” by the five-year old, but thankfully he wanted to hit the last hills home. And my eight-year old had learned about zig-zagging up a hill on the camping trip so he made it up more quickly than usual. The five-year old on his 16-inch single-speed bike is a much better hill climber than the eight-year old on his 20-inch seven-speed bike. And as you can tell from the vantage point of my picture, I am the slowest hill climber of the family.

30 Days of Biking stats

Miles biked Saturday, April 11: 1.6
Bikes biked Saturday, April 11: 1

Miles biked Sunday, April 12: 22.9
Bikes biked Sunday, April 12: 1

Miles biked Monday, April 13: 1
Bikes biked Monday, April 13: 1

Miles biked Tuesday, April 14: 29.9
Bikes biked Tuesday, April 14: 2

Miles biked Wednesday, April 15: 1
Bikes biked Wednesday, April 15: 1

Miles biked Thursday, April 16: 16.7
Bikes biked Thursday, April 16: 1

Miles biked Friday, April 17: 9.3
Bikes biked Friday, April 17: 1

Miles biked Saturday, April 18: 13.2
Bikes biked Saturday, April 18: 1

Miles biked Sunday, April 19: 13.8
Bikes biked Sunday, April 19: 1

Miles biked cumulative: 284.2
Bikes biked cumulative: 6

Navigator kit

The theme for Thursday was navigation. I love leading group rides, leading individual friends around, and sharing route advice. But I also love getting swept along in a group ride and not have to pay attention to the details of the route. Thursday I did a bunch of riding alone and then got to hang in the middle of a group ride…which means I have no idea what route we took and am just estimating the mileage. But so fun!

I’ve also still got mountain biking on my mind so while cutting through the I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Park on the way to meet friends for lunch, I did some very bad mountain biking with the Straggler. Down a steep gravel trail was OK, as was back up, but the Limestone Loop was much too hard and I tipped over trying to navigate my way across a narrow wooden raised trail at the edge of the park.

I saw something kind of funny while heading back home. The Fremont Bridge Painting Project often has a BIKES DISMOUNT sign up, usually just during prime commute hours when one of the two walkways is closed. Most people dismount and walk their bikes, but this unicyclist found a loop hole! So very very sneaky.

Later in the day, I headed to Swift Industries showroom retail hours to pick up my navigator kit. I can’t wait for the Swift Campout, coming Solstice weekend (June 20-21). I’ll be leading a group of family bikers to Fay Bainbridge Park, just like last year, though along a flatter route I recently navigated :) And we’ll go again in mid-August for those who can’t make it in June.

Heading back from Swift I got to watch Bearcat push one of the State Route 520 pontoons through the Fremont Bridge. It was a blast to watch, even knowing I was running late for the start of my group ride. It’s so much easier to wait patiently at an open draw bridge on a bike than in a car!

The group ride was fun and headed south to Jefferson Park so it’s a shame I didn’t pay attention to the route. I don’t get down that way very often. I think the best part was getting to see the other pretty Straggler built by Back Alley Bike Repair. It’s the 650b version–neat to see our different tire sizes. My bike was awesome for one-day bike camping, but this one is a real-deal touring bike and will get to explore the Oregon Trail this summer. I didn’t notice before looking at my picture that we have the same Swift Industries water bottle, too.

Friday was supposed to be an exciting biking day, too, with plans to use the Big Dummy to tote my mountain bike and the kids’ two bikes to our Spring Break co-vacationers’ house to be carried to the campsite in their van while we bike over on the mamabike. But instead, she drove over to pick them (and our camping gear) up so my 30 Days of Biking ride was just a few feet down the driveway on my mountain bike to stick it in the van. Still counts.

30 Days of Biking stats

Miles biked Thursday: 31.1
Bikes biked Thursday: 1

Miles biked Friday: .001
Bikes biked Friday: 1

Miles biked cumulative: 174.8
Bikes biked cumulative: 5

Bike delivery day

I love getting to haul anything with my cargo bike, but especially other bikes! A visiting Detroitian (Detroiter? Detroitster?) was put in touch with me by 30 Days of Biking director, Patrick Stephenson. She asked if I knew how she could borrow a bike and once I determined we were about the same height, I made plans to bring her one of mine.

I haven’t done a lot of bag-and-dragging of adult bikes since swapping Yepp seat for Hooptie and so far it feels like the bikes aren’t in there as snugly. But I had added a toe strap from down tube to the back of the Hooptie and the bike hung on just fine, even down a very steep and bumpy brick block.

Check out the beautiful weather today! Here’s the view to the west while walking my bike over the Fremont Bridge. (Usually one can bike across the Fremont Bridge, but the Fremont Bridge Painting Project has people on bikes dismount depending on what they’re doing, though usually just during prime commute hours.)

I had planned to swap Big Dummy for Little Strugger for a lunchtime ride with friends, but once I found out one of them was attempting to drag a bike to the shop, I decided to keep the cargo bike out in case I could help. Turns out my bike wasn’t needed–the ailing Batavus hauled the backup bike just fine!

Though my FlightDeck made a great bench for my friends while we hung out at Dutch Bike Co. The Little Struggler sure can’t do that.

And hey, check out the new batch of Bikecaps at Dutch Bike Co. I was disappointed by the selection of just camo and skulls back when I needed one for the Little Struggler and convinced them to expand their offerings. I’ve got dibs on the forest scene–just kidding, go get it!

We lunched on amazing sandwiches from Other Coast Cafe with DBC manager Devin and learned the story of this gorgeous Soma. It’s a three-speed direct-drive, so a fixie (more or less) with an internally-geared hub. The woman who ordered it five years ago developed knee problems and couldn’t ride it so it’s on sale. If you’re close to my height (5’5″) and it sounds enticing, go check it out! I’ve never been on a fixed-gear bike before and found it fun, but would need to do a bit more practicing on it before doing more than spinning circles around the shop.

I thought that was it for biking today, but the kids and I biked 1.2 miles together after school. We fell prey to the age-old free goldfish from kindergarten classroom ploy and had to get supplies. I’ve never had the kids ride their own bikes across the freeway, but they did fine sticking to the sidewalk (which is what I do when I’m on the slow family bike with them on board anyway) for the four busy blocks of 45th Avenue.

They insisted on riding one in front and one in back of me on the way home to be my lead and follow cars, protecting the oversized load that was the fish tank. Too cute. Yet also an example of just how much cars cars cars infiltrate our play.

30 Days of Biking stats

Miles biked: 19.4
Bikes biked: 2

Miles biked cumulative: 143.7
Bikes biked cumulative: 5

Three-bike day

Three jobs for three different bikes today!

It appears we might get to do some mountain biking over Spring Break so late last night I dug out my neglected mountain bike to clean the chain and air up the tires. I haven’t done any mountain biking since before the kids came along; nowadays, my mountain bike (ten-year old GT i-drive 2.0) comes out once a year when there’s excessive snow on the ground. Initially, I used it to tow the kids in the double trailer, like during Snowmageddon, but the trailer was stolen so we rode separate bikes in the snow last year.

Using it as a mountain bike today was really fun! I pedaled to Woodland Park, which I’m familiar with from the annual MFG Woodland Park GP cyclocross race. I tooled around enough to determine the bike was in working order, but heading home, I got distracted by the pump track. Holy cow, that place is fun! I went through a dozen times, starting on the smallest bumps, but I graduated to some of the middle bumps the last few runs. And the banked circular portion at the end is great! Mind you, I’m no mountain biker and usually go incredibly slow until my hands cramp from clinging to the brakes so tightly–and then I speed up since I have no choice…and I’ll admit it gets more fun at that point. I can’t wait to come back with the kids!

I almost brought my big messenger bag to grab groceries on the way home from mountain biking, but decided going in normal clothes on normal bike was better so I swapped mountain bike for Little Strugger (Surly Straggler). This is the first I’ve put a pannier on the newly-welded rear rack and it seems to fit fine. I opted to take the Straggler instead of the Big Dummy since I had a short shopping list and I’d rather haul 33 pounds of bike than 75 pounds of bike when possible.

And then the third bike of the day was the Big Dummy to bag and drag the kids’ bikes to school pickup. I’m afraid we may have hit a bit of an impasse. We had planned to go to the She Bikes Cascade launch party, which was on Capitol Hill, four busy and hilly miles away, and a destination to which I’ve always carried the kids as passengers. But my five-year old has been eager to ride everywhere lately so I met them with bikes with the understanding I’d get to carry them when I felt it was too busy.

Things didn’t seem to be working in my favor for getting us all the way to Capitol Hill today. The kids usually want to leave school immediately, but today of all days, they stayed to play with friends and then with each other and I didn’t want to tear them away. They don’t see one another during the school day so it was nice to see them connecting in the playground, where they’re used to having their own, separate routines. With the day disappearing, we made it as far as Waterway 15, the closest “beach” access. The kids did bike tricks as they careened towards the ship canal while I tried to keep my cool.

This dragging-the-feet trick is called “My Mufflers are Broken”

I don’t know what this is called, but it was pretty exciting:

And this is their first and favorite trick, “Super Trick!” standard version on the left, modified on the right:

And brand new today: “Evil Foot Fenders”

The only one they skipped was “My Tall Bike” which only the five-year old can do: standing on the top tube.

I still can’t believe none of us crashed today.

Miles biked: 8.2
Bikes biked: 3

Miles biked cumulative: 124.3
Bikes biked cumulative: 4

Bikes on bikes

Oh hey, I may not have mentioned I’m attempting to blog every day of #30daysofbiking. Probably because I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep it up–the blogging, not the biking, that is. And what a wonderful thing to have arrived at the point where it’s harder to type about the biking than to do the actual biking.

Anyhow, the theme of the day was “bikes on bike”. I toted two bikes today:

Normally I “bag and drag” bikes (here’s my Hauling two (and three!) bikes post with many “bag and drag” pictures), but these bikes haven’t been ridden in 20 years so I didn’t want to drag their flat rear tires around. The Hooptie is helping hold them in place, but it’s mostly the middle Xtracycle FreeLoader bag buckle connected from left bag to right bag over the FlightDeck holding them in place. But for good measure, I added a bungee to join their front tires and strap them down to the deck, a bungee through the backs of their frames to the deck, and a Yuba cargo strap around frames and Hooptie in the middle.

I hauled them a bit out of the way, past where I started yesterday with the bike speaker, looking for the little JBL faceplate I lost en route. I was prepared to retrace my steps all the way to Olympic Sculpture Park, but I found it a mere five blocks from Velotron’s garage!

After depositing the bikes at the shop, I took advantage of the ease in making extra stops when travelling by bike. First up, I grabbed lunch to go in Fremont and sat on my favorite bench by the ship canal to watch tug boats motor by.

Then on the 3700 block of Meridian, I stopped to watch the demolition of this house:

Yes, biking isn’t the only way to accomplish these things, but it’s just so much easier. A father, three kids, and a dog were sitting across the street watching, too, but no one watched from their car. This house had a ton of bikes on the side of it back in the day, and even at one point an S.U. Velo on the porch (now defunct locally-sold cargo bike) so it’s always been on my radar.

Good bye, sweet house!

Miles biked: 13.3
Bikes biked: 1

Miles biked cumulative: 116.1
Bikes biked cumulative: 3