30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 28

This morning at 8:50 I was part of a happenstance cluster of three cargo bikes! Me with both kids on the Big Dummy, a dad with one of his two kids (and a street-side dog) on a Yuba Mundo, and a dad with two kids on an Xtracycle EdgeRunner. And two dads with trailers went through the intersection while we were there. I’d say it felt like we were in Portland, but we were clustered on the sidewalk, waiting to cross the street via the crosswalk–one connecting to the Burke-Gilman Trail, one to a bike lane, and one to a used-to-be-a-bike-lane-there (but the construction of the Brooks Headquarters has wiped out bike lanes on both 34th and Stone). Personally, I’d love a bike box facing north up Stone, though I guess it wouldn’t be quite as chummy as squishing onto a tiny patch of concrete.

A girl on foot was also waiting to cross the street and asked if it was Bike Your Kids to School Day. She was walking a couple blocks from her dad’s work to school–I’m guessing she was ten and walking to the nearby elementary school. This was her tenth time walking solo and I have to admit I was more excited about seeing her than all the family bikes!

Later we headed north on Stone (after waiting squished on the other corner, waiting to cross in the crosswalk) and saw new signs at a dangerous crossing. It says STATE LAW above the STOP and I realize they’re extremely new since they’re still upright. But I like them!

And in exciting bike news, I swung by the copy shop to make a bunch of copies of the Bike to School Month calendar and registration form. And once we arrived to our elementary school, we hung posters on the bike racks. I felt a bit silly walking two blocks to school with a pile of Bike to School Month stuff…and then Mel the Crossing Guard biked by on his way to his post and my four-year old shouted “Hi!” but he didn’t recognize us off the bike!

If you’re in Seattle–or if you’re not, but want BTS ideas–check out Cascade Bicycle Club Bike to School Month.

Today’s miles: 9.9 miles
April cumulative: 398.9 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 17

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 27

While the big kid drove to a soccer game with Mr. Family Ride (I had given them a kid-safe route over, but they were worried about rain and timing), the little kid and I hit a preschool potluck in Ballard. We made a scheduled stop at the grocery store and an unscheduled stop to watch this boat juuuuust fit under the Fremont Bridge. It was going very slowly so I think its driver wasn’t sure it would fit, either.

Heading home I meant to take NW 77th St, but ended up on 78th after jogging the wrong way at 8th Ave NW. But what a lucky mistake–we discovered a great Kids Book Exchange/Little Free Library.

Topped with dragons!

Today’s miles: 10 miles
April cumulative: 389 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 17

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 26

10.8 miles today and the kids biked all but 1.2 of those! (That was a quick solo trip to the vet for a doggie prescription. Oh, and I carried the seven-year old the steepest half mile in the middle while his little brother rode off ahead with the rest of the group!)

We started our big day off by negotiating our way along the now-bigger-and-more-confusing Burke-Gilman Trail detour.

I think we missed the first turn-off for the Montlake Bridge, but coming from this direction was probably better for biking kids. When that pedestrian/bike bridge we’re heading towards is finished, things will be great.

Our first stop was the newly redesigned Montlake Playground. It’s huge! And the kids did fine on the route over…though it may have been a bit too uphill for them had we retraced our route on the way home. But we’ll do a test reverse run and think about bringing a Kidical Mass here once the trail detours are done.

I was particularly impressed with this big climbing structure, though I worry it’d be too enticing for kids too small to use it (actually, more worried for their parents who’d try in vain to convince them to play on one of the many smaller play structures).

We hung out at the park for an hour or so and then headed to Montlake Elementary for Silly Hilly (yes, that’s me on the poster), a route finding scavenger hunt extravaganza for Central Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. Here we are lined up with the Blue Team, one of four teams.

This was our route. I kind of cheated choosing Blue Team…I’m leading a Critical Lass ride to Pedaler’s Fair in a week and used this as route testing for that, too.

We documented many potholes and problem intersections (and some good stuff, too), but the best was the required three silly team pictures. First up: “I see Sasquatch!” at the end of the car-free portion of Interlaken Park:

Blue Team silly picture number two: passed out and waiting for the bus at the top of Interlaken Park:

And Blue Team silly picture number three: throwing shakas because we just successfully crossed busy Aloha:

We followed the signs for University Bridge through Interlaken Park on our way home and since I couldn’t remember how busy the route was, I let the kids ride on their own. And it was pretty busy! But they were having a blast riding in the road so we didn’t resort to the sidewalk until Harvard Ave E.

Which turned out to be a good call because as soon as it joined Eastlake, we were met with a taxi in the bike lane.

But just after the taxi we got back in the street so they could cross the University Bridge in the bike lane. It was a little nerve-wracking for me, but they did great. It is very hard to adjust to both kids riding separately when I’m so used to getting to carry them everywhere. It’s a lot easier when one is tired and on the bike and I only have one to focus on.

Of course a big, wide bus drove by us as we were passing this sign in the bike lane. Wouldn’t it be nice if the city had construction signs that attached high up on light poles?

The construction indicated by those bike lane signs was a little confusing, too. I had just convinced the kids I should load them and their bikes onto the cargo bike when we saw a biker take the closed road with the blessing of the construction works who had been gesturing something at us that I couldn’t decipher (I guess it was, “Come on down, the road’s fine!”). So I unloaded the bikes and we took the empty blockaded road that brought us back to familiar territory.

Today worked out OK, but we need more Silly Hillys–and the resulting Neighborhood Greenways from them–so these little guys can really ride all over town.

Today’s miles: 10.8 miles
April cumulative: 379 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 17

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 25

While my seven-year old was at school for the day, the four-year old and I headed down to Union Station–formerly Seattle’s train station and now home to Sound Transit headquarters. The Great Hall at Union Station is open to the public, but I’ve never been before. It’s gorgeous! Go check it out.

We took part in a lunch-hour all-about-bike presentation for Sound Transit employees in preparation for Bike Month (May).

These were the seven stations:

  • Ben: Bike maintenance
  • Henry: Fix your flat
  • Justin: Tools and gear for the road
  • Steve: Clean your chain
  • Sophie: Putting your bike on a bus bike rack
  • Josh: Cascade Bicycle Club classes
  • Madi: Family bike riding

All organized by Rebecca Roush, who also added my little guy to Seattle Bicyclist Portraits (he wasn’t really that eloquent, but Rebecca was able to extrapolate some good stuff from his grunts and nods).

I talked to several prospective family bikers and also took advantage of the other stations…our 16-inch kid bike fit well on the Sound Transit bike rack. I didn’t realize such a little bike would fit.

And after this bike, Steve insisted on cleaning my bike chain when he saw how badly it needed cleaning. Oops.

I carried the kid and bike on the way down, but I told him he could ride part of the way home, once we reach the Parking Squid. There’s a lot of construction along the Waterfront, but the Parking Squid across from the Aquarium marks the OK-for-kids-to-ride spot. Of course we had to take a squid-climbing break first, which was auspicious because The VeloBusDriver biked by and stopped to say hi. I picked up some pointers for biking to Mercer Island. I’ve never been by bike and apparently it’s a nice ride.

On the Elliott Bay Trail we happened upon a guy with an Evolve Electric Longboard. It goes forward, backwards, and has a brake–all controlled by hand-held remote.

Along the Ship Canal Trail we saw fire (fire!) at Fremont Maritime Services. Just a training session, don’t worry, and we stopped to watch because we’ve only happened upon active training once before, years ago.

By this time we were running a bit late for 3:30 school pickup so we rode separately over the Fremont Bridge and then I scooped up kid and bike on the Big Dummy for the big race to school. Running dangerously late twice in one week! We made it just in time again, but Wednesday’s downhill race to school was more exhilarating than this flat-then-two-blocks-steeply-uphill slog.

Today’s miles: 15.5 miles
April cumulative: 368.2 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 1
April cumulative: 17

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 24

I wasn’t sure when I’d get my biking in today–with no preschool and rain all day, I feared it might be an around-the-block, late-night solo ride. But that’s the beauty of 30 Days of Biking–that counts! And it’s kind of nice when the month includes at least one of those. But we took a legitimate ride when we escorted friends home after a playdate…so I could show them my new route to Greenwood! I think they liked it. No, Alyssa’s face doesn’t read “Wow I love this route!”–that’s the look that goes along with hauling a passenger windmilling little legs (for working invisible pedals, naturally) uphill. So cute! But Probably makes things a lot harder for the one with the traditional pedals.

We couldn’t do a drizzly loop without a snack stop so we popped into Makeda Coffee: coffee for me and bagel and play area for the kiddo. Great stickers on their bike rack: Bicycle Benefits, Seattle Bike Blog, G&O Family Cyclery.

And cafe dogs! We’ve never noticed them before, but we must have come on their working day before this. I’m not adding them to the dog tally since we were off the bike. And no, I haven’t written out Dog Tally Rules yet.

Today’s miles: 7.1 miles
April cumulative: 352.7 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 16

#TBT – Cycling while pregnant

Madi cycling while pregnantI was a little too late in submitting my story to make it into the Simply Bike: Cycling While Pregnant series before the blog took a hiatus, but I loved reading all the stories and am currently enjoying the trimester-by-trimester Common Pregnancy Questions on Velo Mom. My “babies” are now 7 and 4.75 (with no more planned) so my cycling while pregnant days are long behind me, but it was such a special stage so I’m happy to belatedly share some thoughts. These are my answers to the questions of the Simply Bike: Cycling While Pregnant series.

Favorite part about cycling:
Noticing so many little things about the city as I pass through—this is even more special with my toddler along for the ride.

Bike you ride:
Bianchi Milano city bike with Bobike mini baby seat.

What three words sum up your cycling experience while being pregnant:
Easier than walking!

How did being pregnant affect your approach to cycling or your daily commute:
I cycle primarily for transportation and am pregnant with my second so my “commute” is ferrying a two-year old around town which is very conducive to short trips that keep us close enough to home for midday nap breaks.

What (if anything) surprised you about cycling while pregnant?
Walking upstairs is much too tiring and I avoid stairs as much as possible, but bicycling is a breeze. I ride slowly on a fairly upright bike to begin with so sportier cyclists may notice more of a difference.

How did your family and friends react to you cycling while pregnant?
It certainly helps that half my family is in the Netherlands where cycling is such a normal part of all stages of life. No one seems especially concerned nor impressed with it.

What (if any) special accommodations did you require to continue cycling throughout your pregnancy?
Nothing! I was happy to discover my belly fits behind the Bobike mini front kid seat even past my guess date. During practice surges (that’s the HypnoBirthing term for Braxton Hicks contractions) I just coast or slow my pedaling.

I hoped the baby wouldn’t make his arrival on time so I could attend one last Kidical Mass ride and he obliged so I was able to keep riding to 40+ weeks.

What would you say to another woman interested in cycling while pregnant? What have you taken away from the experience?
You’ll love it! It’s a wonderful and easy way to feel normal and energetic during pregnancy. It’s too easy to become sedentary when expecting and treat pregnancy as a delicate condition.

In addition to cycling, what other activities helped you stay fit and active during your pregnancy?
I love swimming and loved how buoyant I felt in the water. It was a lot harder to find time to go swimming alone than it was to go biking with my toddler, though, so I’m not able to make it a regular habit. This photo is from 37 weeks pregnant, having just completed a one-mile open water swim. It almost felt like cheating, swimming while so buoyant.

p.s. TBT stands for Throwback Thursday

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 23

Most of our weekday family biking is done without ride buddies. You can tell from day 20 how exciting it is to have company, especially when unexpected. This morning Ellie swung by to borrow some family biking equipment (Burley Piccolo trailer bike, balance bike, kid bike helmet) to display at Adobe’s Green Transportation Fair. That’s a Kona Ute longtail cargo bike with LionTail’s Sparrow System electric assist. I was a bit worried about making her late to work (chronic problem of mine: apologizing for slowing down ride buddies), but we got to ride with Ellie half the way to preschool–woohoo bike buddy #1!

Next I dropped off my second kid and realized Julie of Wheelha.us was heading the same way as me…except she needed to stop by Mighty-O Donuts on the way. Naturally I didn’t mind the extra stop. Bike buddy #2! (And #3 and #4 if I count the kids in the Bullitt.)

We made two discoveries on the way over, one good, one bad. The good: a new Little Free Library at Latona and 51st.

The bad: the speed bumps on NE 56th Street are gone! Maybe they had to go temporarily so the pitted road can be repaved? And maybe they’ll come back as full-street speed bumps rather than the less effective triple humps? Hoping to hear more about this change soon.

I was headed to a coffee shop with wi-fi and Julie was headed to G&O Family Cyclery so I was excited to show her my new favorite route to Greenwood (see day 16, though up Latona). She’d used this route once before, but on the day of a regatta at Green Lake where cars idled in the bike lane and she’s boycotted it ever since. Today was a regular day and I think she liked it!

I popped into G&O when I was done wi-fi-ing next door, but I didn’t get enough bike-shop-hang-out time so I left to fetch my preschooler and headed right back up. I don’t usually hit Greenwood from North Lower Queen Anne, but when I do, I go up Fremont Avenue because any other route is way out of the way. Plus the light at the five-way intersection half-way up is always red, providing a little rest break. It’s not a hill I’d want to climb daily, but it’s OK every once in a while. And today something interesting happened I captured on Instagram:

Frame 1: This fixie guy was waiting at a bus stop at the bottom of Fremont Ave and was apparently inspired to ride up after me+kid pedaled by (1/4)
Frame 2: OMG I think he’s gonna die (2/4)
Frame 3: Oh thank goodness he’s catching the bus, poor guy (3/4)
Frame 4: And finally he catches up! Take care, guy! (4/4)

G&O was preparing for a photoshoot for Momentum Magazine. Julie and I couldn’t stay long enough to play customers in the background, but our friend Maritess should be visible in some of the pictures! But we were there for the prep work–Davey and Tyler wanted to move a bunch of bike boxes off the showroom floor for the shoot and our kids insisted on helping out. They insisted on helping out with Every. Single. Bike. Box. and we were pretty late in leaving to pick up our oldests from elementary school. But hey, bike buddy #2 again! It was an exhilarating race across town and…WE JUST MADE IT! There’s no penalty for being late to pickup and our teacher assured us she’s happy to wait outside with the kids for late parents, but I’ve yet to be late.

Today’s miles: 18.8 miles
April cumulative: 345.6 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 16