My Cargo Bike is a Glorified Bike Rack

My kids are nine (almost 10!) and seven and prefer to ride their own bikes most of the time these days. They weight about 65 and 55 pounds so they’re still totable, but I’ll admit I’m happy not to be toting them. However, I still always bring my Big Dummy just in case. It’s great having a bike that can carry both kids and their bikes. A year ago they were often tired and requested rides and I was quick to oblige because I’d hate to have them get grumpy about biking for transportation. And it seems to have paid off! They’re still happy to bike everywhere and only turn into passengers in case of injury. My nine-year old usually walks up the last uphill block home from the trail and is happy to push his bike…but I’d feel obligated to carry him up if he ever thought to ask. The last hill is always the worst hill, right?

Yesterday we rode 11 miles after school to go to chiropractor…and to happy hour sushi afterwards because it always helps to add a tasty incentive to an all-uphill trip. As we we were biking there I thought about how my poor bike is just a glorified bike rack these days. Here it is at the chiropractor:

But! Bike parking is very important. Three bikes is a lot to park even with a bike rack, but there’s no rack near the chiropractor so my 80-pound cargo bike with super sturdy Rolling Jackass centerstand isn’t going to tip over or get carried away so it’s a great bike rack.

And today I was lucky (?) and my bike got a job after all! As I was thinking about the whole bike-as-bike-rack thing, my seven-year old crashed. It was a pretty exciting crash–he was riding ahead of me up the 39th Ave NE greenway because speed humps are for bunny hopping at high speed. We caught up to the recycling truck and as I hollered, “Slow down! The truck is going to stop suddenly!” the truck stopped suddenly and my little guy slammed on his brakes and skidded out on the damp road. He didn’t come close to hitting the back of the truck, but he was flat on the ground and done riding for the moment. I knew this because he marched over to my bike and climbed onto the deck as I assured the recycling truck driver that he was fine and no, there was no need to call 911. So I got to carry him the last mile and a half uphill to the chiropractor.

We still ride our tandem + trailer bike sometimes, but at the moment it seems to be more of a bike camping rig than an around town rig. The last time we took it out was for a less-than-one-mile trip to the grocery store, but on that day the nine-year old wanted to ride his own bike while the seven-year old wanted to ride the tandem with me so of course that all went horribly wrong and we’ll never take mismatched bikes again. I think we’d probably ride it a lot more if I didn’t need to carry it (it’s 57 pounds) up the flight of basement stairs to get it outside.

But back to today’s trip, I want to mention that it worked so well on separate bikes thanks to some great bike infrastruture. We live two blocks from the Burke-Gilman Trail–though we can’t head directly to the trail due to two busy street crossings and a too-steep (downhill) block. So we ride one block in a bike lane, jog a block on the sidewalk to the left to get to a crossing with stop signs (though one of two lanes in one direction doesn’t have a stop sign so I’d never let the kids cross there alone :/ ), and then one last block to the trail–but also on the sidewalk again because it’s too steep (downhill again) for the kids to be in the street lest they lose control. And then we wait (10 cars this time) for someone to stop and let us cross to the trail.

After three miles of trail we turn onto the 39th Avenue NE neighborhood greenway. That’s a lovely two-mile ride with a couple busy streets to cross, but totally safe for the kids to ride ahead of me between intersections. My seven-year old is starting to ride ahead through smaller intersections with my encouragement, but he tends to prefer to wait for me…or in some cases ride over the bike counter sensors seven times while he waits for me to catch up.

We have to ride six blocks of sidewalk at the end which is a bit of a bummer after having so much great street and multi-use trail riding beforehand, but it’s pretty amazing that we can get all the way to Wedgwood on separate bikes! This particular sidewalk has lot of narrow spots and driveways obstructed by fences and hedges so we are very slow and cautious. We’re all well aware that the sidewalk can be more dangerous to bike on that the street.

Heading home we stopped for happy hour at Blue C Sushi in U-Village. Parking lots are awfully dangerous to bike in, too, but we come here periodically so the kids are good at sticking near me and listening to me chatter about cars backing out of parking spots. My time-lapse video makes it look much scarier than it is.

U-Village got rid of my favorite bike rack near the tiny play ground, but it has lots of staples all around. And we even ran into friends!

Heading out of the shopping center on the west side has us on the sidewalk for one busy-street block and then for one quiet block because it’s too steep for us to be in the street. But then we’re back on the Burke-Gilman Trail! Perhaps someday they’ll add better bike routes into and out of the shopping center on both sides. It’s great having a place like this a tad less than two miles from home. We usually only visit for sushi, but today we also popped into the Amazon Books physical store to look at my book–woo hoo! And buy a copy of Lost Seattle (in English) since the kids are enjoying the Spanish translation at school.

U-Village also has ice cream, cupcakes, several Starbuckses, groceries, clothing stores, events, etc etc.

Westbound on the Burke-Gilman Trail is better than eastbound because the kids can ride the “velodrome” through UW–the little banked curb between the bike and ped sections. The Burke-Gilman Trail is mostly multi-use with just one big section, but these divided areas are nice.

Heading home from the Burke-Gilman Trail is a bit of an adventure. It’s a shame we live two blocks (as the crow flies, not as the bike bikes) from such a gem, yet we have to deal with uncontrolled intersections and/or sidewalk riding to get to and from it. It’s too steep to return home the way we came so we leave the trail at “the crazy intersection of NE 40th/NE 40th/NE 40th/NE 40th/7th Ave NE/Burke-Gilman Trail (oh, Seattle, your street grid can be so silly)” in the crosswalks and it’s a bit scary. Then we ride a few blocks of the sidewalk of 40th because it’s too busy for the kids to be in the street and stay on the sidewalk of 4th as we bike by school. That’s both because there’s no curb cut to get to the street, but also because we get spread out on such a steep street. My seven-year old either waits on the sidewalk at the top of the hill or carefully rides the rest of the way home on the sidewalk. I wouldn’t mind him in the street, but he prefers the sidewalk when he’s ahead of me here. Then I wait for my nine-year old to walk up behind me and the two of us ride home in the street.

Kidical Mass April Fools’ Day Ride

Saturday, April 1, 2017
Noon
Fremont Dinosaur Topiary
(N Northlake Way & Burke-Gilman Trail & N Canal St, Seattle, WA 98103)
Facebook event
3.8-mile route
(route on Ride with GPS)

Remember the Google self-driving bike last year? That was cool!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t real (yet), but what I’m going to tell you next totally is:

We’ve partnered with Mighty-o donuts to sow their next crop of doughnuts. This season they’ll be planting along the ship canal where conditions are perfect for spring-time doughnut farming.

We’ll meet at the Fremont Dinosaur Topiary for seed sowing and hanging out for a bit before we head to the Ballard Mighty-o donuts for ripe doughnuts (from last season’s crop that grew in Discovery Park). One mini doughnut provided for each participant courtesy of the SKMAA (Seattle Kidical Mass Agritourism Association), but feel free to buy your own full-sized goodies…and if you have a Bicycle Benefits sticker on your helmet (available at Mighty-o if you don’t have one yet and want one) it’s buy one doughnut get one free!

Don’t be disappointed that nothing silly will have happened yet considering it’s April Fools’ Day–Mighty-o Ballard recently launched the Friends of Mighty-O Parklet boat. What’s sillier than a boat parked on the street? We’ll all crowd into the little boat for a group photo before feasting on doughnuts. Time to brush up on your pirate jokes (here’s our recent fave: “What has four eyes, four hands, and four legs?” “Four pirates.”)

After Mighty-o we’ll head over to spacious and kid-friendly Populuxe Brewing. The food truck is Peasant Food Manifesto and starts at 3pm. That’s a little too exciting for my own kids, so I might pop down a few blocks to Giddy Up Burgers & Greens.

30 Days of Biking
No joke here, 30 Days of Biking kicks off April 1st and it’s a wonderful event!

30 Days of Biking is a pledge to ride your bike every day in April and share your adventures online: #30daysofbiking.

There’s no minimum distance–down the block and around your basement count just like a 20-mile commute or a 350-mile charity ride. If you miss a day, no worries–just keep riding and don’t give up! It’s all for giggles, or as serious as you want it to be. What matters is that we’re all in this together.

Pledge to ride here and kick off the month in style!

About Kidical Mass
Seattle Kidical Mass rides are presented by Familybike Seattle. Familybike Seattle is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that decreases barriers to bicycling for families of all income levels. We believe that biking as a family increases our individual, family, and societal quality of life, while at the same time moving toward sustainable lifestyles and communities.

Kidical Mass is a fun, safe, easy-going, and law-abiding family bike ride for kids of all ages. It started circa 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, and has since spread to other bikey burgs, like Seattle! Our group rides include a nice mix of experienced cyclists, and folks just getting started. We hope to educate bike-curious parents about ways to bicycle with children, help kids learn to ride safely in the city, and increase the visibility of family biking on Seattle streets. Kids are traffic too! All manner of bikes and high-occupancy velos are welcome.

Dalles Mountain 60 with Pixie

Pixie and I just stumbled our way through the amazing and muddy experience called the Dalles Mountain 60.

Photo by Aaron K

Details from VeloDirt:

It’s ridden the 2nd Saturday in March, 10:00 a.m. roll-out from Holsteins Coffee in The Dalles.

This is the classic ride that started it all. By today’s standards it’s on the tame side, but that’s why this is a perfect introduction into the wide world of dirt & gravel riding. Take your road bike and learn how to pick a line through loose gravel. Just keep an eye on the weather, as winds in the gorge can make this a suffer fest and the beautiful climb up Dalles Mountain bakes in the sun (a great thing come winter time). Warning: access to the top of the Maryhill Loops is private property… The alternate is to drop down US-97, West/left on WA-14 ~1 mile, then right at the road for Stonehenge.

Details:
60 miles, ~30% dirt
GPS Route
Start/End: The Dalles
Services: The Dalles, Biggs
Tires: Optimal = 28-32c

I was really slow–here’s my Strava: 57.1 miles, 3,970 feet elevation, elapsed time 8:58:46, moving time 6:00:58. I knew going in that most people would ride cyclocross and road bikes and treat this like a race (or “sufferfest”); I’m pretty sure Pixie was the only dog along, I may have had the only bike with a kickstand, and my bike was loaded too heavy for me to lift…but it was great!

Pictures! See all my photos in my Flickr album: Dalles Mountain 60 – March 11, 2017 – 172 photos, 2 videos for the full experience. Ride recap (and a lot of overthinking about future gear) below…

We arrived at Holstein’s Coffee Co five minutes late and most of the 100 riders had already departed. This was fine by me because I probably would have felt a bit intimidated seeing all the Portland people on fancy fast bikes in more “serious” bike clothing. I’m curious how the fast people did temperature-wise. I was never too cold. And I had panniers to stow all my layers in during my spells of overheating. So there’s something to be said for a heavy bike and storage. One friend went out with only one of his two pairs of gloves and had to stop for a long time in Biggs Junction to thaw out.

The first gravel started about six miles in and started as a nice gradual climb, but soon got steeper and steeper (but maybe I was just tireder and should have eaten by then) and went on forever. I saw quite a few people riding back the other way and initially thought they were gluttons for punishment and wanted to ride up a second time, but in retrospect I think they were heading back either for timing reasons or frozen reasons. I recognized a friend from Portland heading down and she said she was following after a hypothermic friend rather than wait for an ambulance with him at the top of the hill. Eek.

I let Pixie run alongside me a couple times so she wouldn’t get bored. Also, even though she only weighs nine pounds, having an empty basket is nicer for hill climbing. Having a cheerful little dog pull you up the hills is nice, too.

I bumped into a couple friends from Seattle on my slow way up. This is Bock whom I’ve only ever seen on a fat bike:

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him in long sleeves, come to think of it. He was contemplating turning back at this point because he wasn’t sure about wanting to do all the road riding at the end in the dark. That gave me pause. I really wanted to do the whole thing, but I was worried about my two friends in the rental car being done hours before me and having to wait. I figured they could find me another ride with all that time if it was a problem (we were driving 20 miles from The Dalles to Hood River for night two).

I had figured I’d ride the entire thing alone and had the Ride with GPS route saved on my phone and an external battery pack because my phone tends to conk out in the cold (I also have a The Plug but I never use it because I have to turn off my light and go 10 mph). However, I ran into four friends who had stopped to eat at the top of the first peak! Aaron with the yellow fenders is from Portland and we have a bunch of friends in common though we’d never met before. Wang, Mohawk Mike, and Mark I know from Seattle. They’re all quite a bit faster than me, but waited up for me (or stopped for snacks) repeatedly so I wasn’t alone after all. While it would have been fine riding alone, it was awesome riding with friends.

The highlight of the ride is the Maryhill Loops, a smooth loopy downhill run. Those poor fast riders had to ride them in drizzle and fog, but the sun snuck out from behind the clouds just as we arrived! Behold my three Seattle compatriots as three small specks:

And after that we saw Stonehenge. Yes, there’s a Stonehenge in Washington!

And shortly after that we crossed back into Oregon and stopped at the gas station in Biggs Junction, figuring it’d be quicker than McDonalds (and thank goodness, I haven’t been to a McDonalds even since before watching Super Size Me). I bought a sandwich despite having lots of snacks left and filled my water bottles with water from the soda dispenser. And peed. I was curious how pee breaks would work. Pixie was fine on the side of the road, but I was happy I didn’t have to go until reaching Biggs Junction.

I sent a message to my travel buddies to let them know how far back I was and planted the seed that if they were impatient and wanted to scoop me up from the road, I wouldn’t feel cheated since I’d already done the first big hill and the loops.

Soon after Biggs we found more dirt! Not gravel this time, but toothpaste-like sandy mud on Old Moody Road. I’m not sure I would have fared better had this been the first hill of the day, but given the long day in the saddle it was tough! I walked all the uphill parts. But it was beautiful! And I thought a lot about bike weight and packing while trudging along. I also checked for messages from the car crew when I had a signal. The passenger found a ride ahead of us and the driver was happy to wait. I have to admit once I suggested the possibility of a ride it started sounding enticing, but I’m glad I got to do the whole thing. Also, he got to meet a lot of people as they arrived to Holsteins after him/before me so that’s fun!

The full moon rose just as we got to the end of the gravel and followed us along Fifteen Mile Road. It was beautiful, but also a bit disconcerting as it masqueraded as a headlight during the occasional glance over a shoulder to see if there was a car back.

Speaking of cars, there were very few all day. We biked past a construction site on Old Moody and I saw trucks head out downhill after we had passed it, but our timing was such that we didn’t have to share the road with them (and two slow-moving trucks coming towards us wouldn’t have been a big deal). A few miles into the day, someone yelled at me to “Get on the sidewalk!” as I biked over the bridge all alone (I doubt anyone opted to ride on the debris-strewn sidewalk), but there were no other incidents and it was a lovely low-car-traffic route as a whole.

Shortly after moonrise I had to put Pixie in her backpack because she finally got fed up not being at the front of our pack (she’s a born pack leader, of course) and she was able to sit calmly in the backpack whereas the front basket just made her whiny. And this meant I hadn’t brought the backpack along in vain! That was with about 10 miles left.

So speaking of bringing stuff in vain, let’s look at all my crap…

Snacks

  • Chocolate peanut butter cups
  • Emergency bourbon
  • S’mores flavored Pop Tarts
  • Sriracha bacon jerky
  • [Trail mix (I left this behind)]
  • Three little chocolate bars
  • Teriyaki turkey jerky
  • Salmon jerky
  • Cheese bites
  • 10 mandarin oranges

I had a lot of leftover food…but I like to share and I don’t like to worry about not having enough food. Plus I bought that sandwich at the 35-mile stop. In addition to that photographed above, I also had two little peanut butter tubs and a hot chocolate packet taken from the hotel’s Free Continental Breakfast I figured I could pass along to someone bonking on the side of the road. I guess I could have made do with half the peanut butter cups, only the salmon jerky, one chocolate bar, and two oranges (and the purchased sandwich).

Other gear

  • Flat fixing kit (pump, two tubes, two tire levers, patch kit)
  • Multitool
  • Knog Milkman bike lock
  • Fish knife, zip ties, nail clippers (in case I had to remove my basket for the car rack)
  • Wallet
  • All my keys
  • Two water bottles
  • Two peanut butter tubs, hot chocolate packet (mentioned above)
  • ECOXGEAR EcoPebble Waterproof Speaker
  • Garmin
  • Lifeproof iPhone mount
  • All of Pixie’s food in plastic bag, lidded plastic dish for serving water/food
  • Long-sleeved merino wool bike jersey
  • Lightweight long-sleeved merino wool shirt
  • Four John’s Irish Straps (that I only used for the car bike rack)
  • RAVPower external battery/iPhone cord
  • Sunglasses
  • Safety pizza
  • Bandaids
  • More bandaids
  • Gum
  • Four quarters
  • Advil
  • DayQuil (I have a cold, but didn’t take any)
  • Two USB cubes
  • Power cord for Garmin/external battery/speaker
  • Five HotSnapZ reuseable heat pack

I didn’t need most of this stuff with me. Here’s what I used:

  • Both water bottles
  • Money
  • A very small amount of Pixie food that she ate out of my hand, not the container
  • Speaker
  • Garmin
  • iPhone mount
  • External battery
  • Sunglasses
  • Safety Pizza
  • Two Advils
  • One heat pack (for Pixie)

Of course I’d still bring the multitool and flat-fixing stuff. But I guess I could leave all that other stuff behind.

Bags

  • Pixie’s Atomic Cycle Werks liner and BYOBB (Bring Your Own Basket Bag)
  • Two small Swift Industries panniers
  • Timbuk2 Muttmover backpack
  • cargo net to hold Muttmover to rear rack

Obviously no Pixie would mean I’d have all my basket space for a sensible amount of snacks and minimal gear. Perhaps that would go in the BYOBB (many poeple use these for non-dog stuff, but mine has a special doggie head hole…but with a flap so I can close it for non-dog purposes). I think I’d still want a cargo net strapped to my rear rack because it would be convenient for quickly shoving clothing layers into. The handlebar mittens look big, but they’d go nicely onto the rear rack for too-hot periods. It’s tempting to try to “look the part” without fluffy handlebars were I to travel lighter, but it’s really nice to have warm and dry hands!

Clothing/#kitgrid

  • Bern helmet
  • Knit cap
  • Showers Pass Rogue Hoodie water resistant jacket
  • Portland Pogie handlebar mittens
  • Tank top
  • Ibex zip-up merino wool sweater
  • Defeet wool DuraGloves
  • Ibex El Fito 3/4 length wool bike tights
  • Rainlegs rain chaps
  • Hi-vis Defeet socks
  • SIDI bike shoes

I think I did OK on clothing. I have a thinner (but too large) rain jacket, but I need to re-waterproof it before I bring it on a ride like this. I need to re-waterproof my rain chaps, too, come to think of it.

Stuff I left in the car

  • Atomic Cycle Werks hip pouch
  • IKEA shopping bag
  • Abus bike lock
  • Back Alley Bike Repair MEOW cap
  • Jandd shark handlebar bag (I would have attached this to my basket for easy snacking, but I loaned it to a friend)
  • Swimsuit (never used…Pixie couldn’t come down to the hot tub)
  • Vans
  • Friday and Sunday clothing, pajamas
  • Endura shoe covers I decided were overkill
  • [And toiletry kit, but I forgot that at the hotel in The Dalles]

It was nice having somewhere to stow this stuff! Other than the bike lock it wasn’t heavy, but it was bulky. If I do this again, I’ll want to be able to stow stuff again.

So that’s that! Any gear suggestions, both for traveling with dog and without are welcome.

Kidical Mass video shoot 2.0 to G&O Family Cyclery 2.0

Update: Date is now TBD, but it’ll be soon and it’ll be on a Sunday. More soon!

Did you hear? G&O Family Cyclery’s new, permanent shop is open! It’s easy to find as it’s just two doors north of the temporary, post-Greenwood-explosion location (which was just across the street and a block north of the original location) and Kidical Mass is going to partake in a pedaling parade to party with our pals. We’ll start at the park in Green Lake and ride to the shop in Greenwood:

Date TBD
10:00 a.m.
Green Lake Community Center
(7201 E Green Lake Dr N, Seattle, WA 98115)
Facebook event page

Details:
10:00 a.m. Gather at the Green Lake Shade Plaza (arch east of the community center)
10:30 a.m. Off we go!
11:30 a.m./noon-ish Arrive to G&O Family Cyclery 8558 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

Our 3.6-mile route will have a great mix of bikeways: over a mile of Green Lake Trail, a teensy bit of sidewalk to get uphill through the tunnel under Aurora, bike lanes, regular quiet streets, and neighborhood greenway quiet street. All bikes welcome! But the mile up Fremont Avenue is a slightly uphill slog so be warned and we’ll take rest breaks as needed.

Also, this is take two of the G&O commercial video shoot so there will be a video release form to sign in addition to the regular ride waiver.

Once at G&O Family Cyclery, we’ll take some time to congratulate our friends and check out the shop, and then head a few doors down to kid-friendly Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery/Munch Cafe for those who want lunch.

For those who want to ride back with the group, we’ll coordinate timing on that and roughly follow the same route back (but note, Green Lake Trail is counterclockwise only).

G&O Family Cyclery Greenwood Blast Anniversary Party
Hey! Big fun event at G&O nine days before our ride:

March 9, 7pm until around 10pm.
Reduced Price Vegan Hot Dogs from Cycle Dogs!
Other Snacks!
Music!
Celebration!

About Kidical Mass
Seattle Kidical Mass rides are presented by Familybike Seattle. Familybike Seattle is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that decreases barriers to bicycling for families of all income levels. We believe that biking as a family increases our individual, family, and societal quality of life, while at the same time moving toward sustainable lifestyles and communities.

Kidical Mass is a fun, safe, easy-going, and law-abiding family bike ride for kids of all ages. It started circa 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, and has since spread to other bikey burgs, like Seattle! Our group rides include a nice mix of experienced cyclists, and folks just getting started. We hope to educate bike-curious parents about ways to bicycle with children, help kids learn to ride safely in the city, and increase the visibility of family biking on Seattle streets. Kids are traffic too! All manner of bikes and high-occupancy velos are welcome.

Biking to Walk the Battery

We had several little tastes of sort-of open street events today and it was great! Per the Open Streets Project: “Open streets initiatives temporarily close streets to automobile traffic, so that people may use them for walking, bicycling, dancing, playing, and socializing.” Here in Seattle we have Summer Parkways and if you can, get to Portland for one of their amazing Sunday Parkways. Or, of course, hit the original and bestest open street: Ciclovía in Bogotá. Anyhow, today was nothing like any of those, but getting a little dose of closed-to-cars streets is always a treat.

We had a nice 5.5-mile ride to the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel, but you’ll notice a jog as we encountered the Fremont Sunday Market (I always forget about avoiding that block on Sundays!) for our first open-but-not-open-to-pedaled-bikes street event. I really like the new flexipost-protected bike lanes between the Burke-Gilman Trail and Fremont Bridge, but they’re closed for the market on Sundays.

But before that we had a nice bit of Burke-Gilman Trail, and after that Ship Canal Trail and Westlake Bikeway–all wonderful spots for kids riding their own bikes. My two kids were on their own bikes and my friend Amy was on her Xtracycle EdgeRunner, carrying her kid and towing his single-speed bike, hoping to let him ride a bit on the way back.

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We took Dexter between the end of the Westlake Bikway and Bell Street Park (or as I like to call it, Bell Street Park for Cars, because no one heeds the arrow signs and turns off after a block). I don’t like taking Dexter Avenue on weekdays because the the paint-buffered bike lanes make them the perfect width for idling Uber private taxis. Weekends are better, though there are still several construction spots where the bike lane disappears. HOWEVER, today was the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k (“Not a Race, It’s an Experience‎”) so most of the blocks of Dexter we biked were closed to cars! It was glorious. Plus we were going against jogger traffic so we could smile at the racers.

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We weren’t allowed to bring our bikes to the event we were attending, but walking Walk the Battery was still awesome! It was put on by Aaron Asis & Project Belltown, details here:

Walk the Battery is part of the b’End Tunnel public art initiative intended to celebrate the Battery Street Tunnel, in its final years of service. This event, entitled Walk the Battery, will temporarily allow the general public to share a one-of-a-kind walking experience through this ‘auto-only’ public passage–at the threshold of a new downtown waterfront.

“Walk the Battery is opportunity for the public to physically access a unique piece of Seattle’s infrastructural history – past, present and future. We hope this walking event inspires new conversation about the history, legacy and fate of the Battery Street Tunnel”

I couldn’t tell from emailed communications how the walk would work–I was worried we’d walk through the tunnel one way and then have to circle back on sidewalks of busy streets, not ending up near where we parked the bikes. But I was wrong and we just walked back and forth through the tunnel and it was short enough and exciting enough that the kids didn’t complain of tired legs once. (We don’t do a lot of walking and my seven-year old barely made it the first mile when we did part of the Womxn’s March on Seattle.)

The out-and-back meant we ran into all our friends and the kids had double the chances to find treasures. The best score was a Thai coin dug out of some hard-packed junk at the north end of the tunnel. There are also several sharp metal bits and pieces lovingly stowed in my bike’s cargo bags, but I was allowed to throw away the squished and very dirty lipstick tube that was presented to me as my special treasure.

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I hope other kids (and adults) had as much fun, yet also managed to stay cleaner. My guys rubbed against the sides of the tunnel and given that it’s normally home to car traffic, it’s dirty.

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Heading home we had a couple car-free blocks of Bell Street. This was particularly great because Bell Street is one way and there isn’t a comparable street in our towards-home direction. I have high hopes the One City Center plan will fix that someday, but today we took the Bell Street sidewalks to Dexter.

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The Hot Chocolate 15k/5k street closure was over and the north-bound Dexter bike lane is riddled with big road seams and a long closure so we did a bit of side street zig zagging (route home here). We found some cool streets this way, but they were pretty potholey and my seven-year old wiped out in one of them. Thank goodness for cargo bikes! I collected him and his bike onto my Surly Big Dummy and carried him until he felt up to riding again–close to home before the big hill, phew.

p.s. it was very cold today and I can’t wait for winter to be over! The kids were all troupers, but we all experienced frozen extremities. Thankfully there was barely any drizzle and the wind (one of the Bell Street street-closure barriers blew into an SUV in the middle of an intersection!) didn’t last long–or at least was only down in Belltown.

Summer week in Portland

We spent a super-fun August week in Portland on an e-assisted Douze cargo bike front loading bakfiets style kid hauler provided by Clever Cycles. They have a lot of family/cargo bikes in their rental fleet, but I wanted “The one Elle had and liked so much!

Photo by Cory Poole

Photo by Cory Poole

All the pictures: Portland, OR – August 18-24, 2016: 223 photos.

Thursday, August 18 – 8.2 miles

One nice thing about bringing a bike to Portland is that we have wheels to get to and from the train- or bus stations. We generally take the bus once a month to visit the orthodontist 20 miles away, but we bring bikes so we don’t have to walk a mile or add a second bus transfer. So we’re not the best walkers…especially with luggage. This trip went as expected: walked across the street to catch the bus (easy peasy), then walked a few blocks to the train station where we had the obligatory discussion and investigation for stairs and elevators locations. One kid currently won’t use elevators and I wasn’t about to lug the big wheelie bag down a long flight of stairs so we worked out a plan together (of course interrupted by a helpful stranger letting us know the location of the elevator and my explaining that we were just accommodating the non-elevatoring kid, but thanks!) and split up. Always a fun little adventure and something I always forget is going to crop up. In Portland we had to walk a bunch of blocks from the train station to the bus stop and just missed the bus…but it’s a high-frequency line (does Seattle have that??) so we only had to wait 10 minutes. However, those 10 minutes involved a very curious bee and lots of screaming. And it was really hot. And then we walked two blocks from the bus stop to Clever Cycles and we all survived!

The kids ran straight for the Lego table while I test rode the bike with Leonard, perpetual employee of the month. He’s a stuffed dog my kids have loved since meeting him five years ago during our very first visit to Clever Cycles and if he ever disappears, my firstborn probably stole him. Pic from our first visit to Clever Cycles:

Nihola test ride

Then I test rode with the kids and they complained that the small box was cramped. It was, but I love riding a bakfiets when in a flatter-than-Seattle city so there was no chance of me swapping for a different bike. p.s. Douze makes three sizes so don’t worry if you’re in the market! And anyway, adding the luggage after they said they were cramped made them appreciate what room they had. Like most things in life, it’s all relative. I grabbed a Yuba Cargo Strap (psst…there’s a hidden cargo strap theme for the week) from Clever Cycles to attach the bag and we were totally fine for the half-mile ride to our Airbnb.

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We ate dinner in and since it was only 7pm, we headed back out so I could show the kids Tilikum Crossing: Bridge of the People, the largest car-free bridge in the United States. I’ve been down to Portland a few times without the kids recently and have crossed the bridge countless times, but this was their first time. Super fun!

Crossing Tilikum Crossing

And then we joined the Thursday Night Ride for the first half hour. I saw a bunch of people I know and was surprised to see a few Seattleites! Turns out there were a bunch of people in town for the International Open Streets Summit. There are always a lot of amazing bike things to see in Portland, but I think the most amazing sight tonight was the guy with the parrot and Pomeranian on his bike.

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Friday, August 19 – 10.6 miles

We attempted to start our day with second breakfast at Slappy Cakes (griddles built into all the tables–so dangerous, the kids love it!), but the wait was too long so we hit the playground in Laurelhurst Park to kill enough time until Bricks & Minifigs opened. But first, speaking of killing things, the e-assist went out! At the bottom of a hill! Less than 24 hours with the thing and I was smitten so I sucked it up and begged the kids to walk uphill for one block as I pedaled up and we went about our day with plans to return to Clever Cycles in the afternoon. Portland is fairly flat, but any incline is noticeable with an unassisted cargo bike (I can appreciate any and all hills on my Big Dummy, for instance), so I was relieved we were uphill from everything else once we got up that block.

Let me tell you about Bricks & Minifigs: bins of used Lego bricks sold by volume! Tons of individual pieces ($3 seal yay! $9 pig I will never stop calling “The $9 pig, ugh”)! Current sets! Retired sets! Party rooms! Apparently they’re building one in Seattle!

Inside Bricks & Minifigs

Oh, and Fred saw me post on Facebook that we were here so he came by to say hi. So easy to pop around the corner from work when you’ve got your bike at your disposal.

Outside Bricks & Minifigs

After lunch at slightly lower elevation, we hit Clever Cycles while the kids played with more Legos and I swapped the e-RAD mid drive Douze for one with a BionX. Pretty similar, though I thought the e-RAD felt more powerful. But the BionX has a boost button for picking up speed from a stop, which is great for getting going through an intersection since the e-assist doesn’t kick in until you’ve started moving. Extra helpful with a heavy cargo bike.

Then we visited Books with Pictures for comic books and to visit owner Katie Proctor, who is wonderful for a lot of reasons, but I find most notable for the awesome wooden boxes on her Yuba Mundo longtail cargo bike for holding an infant carseat. The store is new, this was my second visit and the kids’ first. Apparently the block was an auto body shop before so there’s no curb, just a block-long driveway. Which means no bike racks yet, until the curb goes in. But this is Portland so I bet that will happen soon. And the building is pretty and modern with AIR CONDITIONING which was really nice on this hot day. Katie arranged the front display with books all set in cold or watery places. How fun!

Inside Books with Pictures

Dinner was at McMenamins Barley Mill Pub with kid menu and bike corral (I guess most Portland restaurants have bike corrals next to them now so it might not even be worth mentioning) via a spin around Ladd Circle because there are two cute dog sharrows.

Ladd Circle dog sharrow

Saturday, August 20 – 16.7 miles

We started our day with a visit to New Seasons Market which is sort of like Seattle’s PCC Natural Market, but with much better bike parking and this one by our AirBnb had a dog corral!

New Seasons Market dog corral

Then we visited Rivelo so I could get a couple John’s Irish Straps because they’re the best small cargo straps and I keep giving mine away because they’re too cool not to share.

And then the main event: Kidical Mass!

Portland Kidical Mass

It was extremely hot out so our group was small: we three on our Douze, Ginger with her visiting sister and one of her two kids on her Circe Helios tandem bike (from Clever Cycles) with Burley Piccolo trailer bike, and Cory and daughter on their longboards.

Ginger leads Kidical Mass

We had a wonderful ride and ended at a water park, thank goodness!

Kidical Mass water park finale

After parting ways with friends we paid a visit to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center train museum. This used to be our main reason for visiting Portland, but it’s been years since we were all about trains. It’s conveniently across the street from Rivelo so we still often end up near it, even if we don’t go in. The old engines are all inside and there are potties, drinking fountains, tables and chairs for snacking at, and couches by the train tables and fans so it was a great escape from the heat.

ORHC

We meandered home via the grocery store and a few murals. This sort of bike makes it particularly easy to stop and check out mural after mural without the kids getting impatient.

"What's my dream? To work at Burgerville just long enough to learn the recipe for the secret sauce."

“What’s my dream? To work at Burgerville just long enough to learn the recipe for the secret sauce.”

Sunday, August 21 – 9.4 miles

Sunday was the Southeast Sunday Parkways open streets event and IT WAS AMAZING. There were so many bikes (and our two skateboarding friends) out and wonderful activities at all the parks. The kids did rock climbing, bunny petting, and bounce houses, we stopped in at a house party, I tried a BIKETOWN bike share bike.

Bunny petting

BIKETOWN test ride

We biked most of course, starting at Laurelhurst Park and making our way clockwise around to Colonel Summers Park. It was everything an open streets event should be, and a lot bigger than Seattle Summer Parkways and Seattle Bicycle Sundays. Not only was it longer, better attended, and packed with more activities, there were no cars! The Seattle events are more sort-of-open streets events with too few volunteers and inattentive police officers keeping some of the cars out. A friend told me that Portland originally had a similar system, but now uses construction traffic controllers who love getting waves and thank yous at Summer Parkways versus less grateful feedback from people in cars during their usual gigs. It’s really worth a trip down, and we’ll try to visit again for one next summer.

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As we rested at Colonel Summers Park, getting a last bounce house bounce session in and watching everything get packed up, I watched another group of families quickly pack up to hit the road so they could be home before the cars were allowed back. It was a good reminder that not everyone feels comfortable biking on roads shared with cars and how important these events are.

We did a little more sharing car areas on our way home and visited the Burgerville drive through since bikes are allowed!

Biking through Burgerville

Monday, August 22 – 22.1 miles

We started our day at Slappy Cakes–no wait on a Monday!

Slappycakes

Then we visited OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) which is always fun, and nice for hiding from the heat, it turns out.

After OMSI we headed back across the Willamette for an appointment at the Islabikes Fitting Studio so my seven-year old could try out the Pro Series. He’s in between sizes so he zoomed around on the smallish 20-inch model with flat bars, but didn’t want to try the too-big 24-inch since he doesn’t like drop bars. We’ll stick with the regular series, but the Pro Series is super cool for more serious riders than us.

Test riding Islabikes pro series

That wasn’t quite enough kid biking, though, so we checked out the Lumberyard Bike Park. My seven-year old LOVED it and quickly made friends with a regular and they disappeared for an hour while I stuck to the warm up track (me on foot) with my more cautious nine-year old. It’s mostly indoor, but there’s an outdoor section the little kids explored and when we couldn’t locate them at the end of our hour, I discovered there’s a basement area, too. I don’t think I ever want to try it, but the kids had a blast.

Lumberyard indoor bike park

Tuesday, August 23 – 21.2 miles

First up was another bike shop visit–Metropolis Cycles–and another cargo strap purchase–Surly Junk Strap this time. But we were really there because the kids decided I needed a bell and Metropolis was on the way to Dawson Park which was on the way to lunch with friends at Hopworks BikeBar. BikeBar is awesome for kids and adults alike. Lots of outdoor seating, as well as a little play kitchen. And there’s a stationary bike out front for powering the restaurant…though kids aren’t supposed to pedal it (shh!).

Pedal powering BikeBar

Then I took the kids up Rocky Butte to see the awesome view. I’d been up once without them when I was visiting town for the Urban Cycling book signing party at Clever Cycles. I was on my Straggler with a borrowed kid that time.

Rocky Butte

We hadn’t been up Rocky Butte long before the kid who isn’t currently willing to pee on trees needed to visit a restroom so I examined the map on my phone and we rushed down to nearby Glenhaven Park. Had I not been on the awesome e-assist bike I would have whined a little, but I figured we could easily bike back uphill after the potty visit. As it was, we ended up hanging at the playground for a long time and went straight from there to ice cream with friends.

I’m sad to see The Maple Parlor is closed because it was terrific! I particularly liked that you pay up front and then pile on the heavy toppings–no weighing involved. It’s right on Hawthorne, providing good people watching and Dingo of Olive & Dingo: Portland’s Favorite Clowns cruised by on his tallbike.

Hi Dingo!

I took advantage of having a box bike for our last stop of the day and left the kids idling outside while I picked up to-go sushi.

Sushi to go

Wednesday, August 24 – 0.7 miles

I crammed kids and luggage onto the bike for breakfast at nearby Tiny’s Coffee before returning the bike to Clever Cycles. Kath was a dear and carried my suitcase on her bakfiets while Kelley walked with us. This was just a few blocks to the bus stop, mind you, but you’ll remember we’re not accomplished walkers so it was plenty. It was great to have company.

Kath to the rescue

Walking with Kelley

In closing

What a trip! HUGE THANKS to Clever Cycles for the use of the Douze. We were able to cover 90 miles over the week and go everywhere and do everything! I’m eagerly waiting for winter to be over so we can plan another visit. Obvs, Portland is visitable in the winter and we do that, too, but I want another visit like this one.

Shaka from the train back home

Seattle Kidical MASSIVE 2017

Save the date for global cuteness: Kidical MASSIVE is Saturday, September 16, 2017

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It’s the third annual Kidical Massive ride!! Join us as THOUSANDS of families around the country go for a bike ride together. We’ll be showing that “Kids are Traffic Too” and that cities that plan for family biking are more livable, sustainable, profitable, and FUN!

Details (and theme!) are TBD, but we’ve already got a Facebook event set up if you want to RSVP.

Two years ago we had over 200 participants on our ride as we kicked off Ballard Summer Parkways. Read the recap here.

Last year we attended the Unveiling Party at Cascade Bicycle Club and enjoyed FREE CAKE AND ICE CREAM. Read the recap here.

About Kidical Mass
Seattle Kidical Mass rides are presented by Familybike Seattle. Familybike Seattle is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that decreases barriers to bicycling for families of all income levels. We believe that biking as a family increases our individual, family, and societal quality of life, while at the same time moving toward sustainable lifestyles and communities.

Kidical Mass is a fun, safe, easy-going, and law-abiding family bike ride for kids of all ages. It started circa 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, and has since spread to other bikey burgs, like Seattle! Our monthly group rides include a nice mix of experienced cyclists, and folks just getting started. We hope to educate bike-curious parents about ways to bicycle with children, help kids learn to ride safely in the city, and increase the visibility of family biking on Seattle streets. Kids are traffic too! All manner of bikes and high-occupancy velos are welcome.