Archive | April 2011

30 Days of Biking day 30: Grand finale with Kidical Mass

Holy cow, I cycled 261.3 miles this month…assuming my math was right, which it probably wasn’t. But that figure has got to be close to the real total.

This morning started with a great discovery–I now have two speeds when I bike: normal/slow and eek-I’m-late. I left the house ten minutes later than intended this morning, but picked up my pace and actually passed people on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Real people. On bikes. It was pretty cool. I got to Ballard with time to stop by Dutch Bike Co for a coffee on the way to the Kidical Mass meeting point. I love that I can just wheel the bike in, kids and all, and stand in line for coffee. I used the BioLogic Vacuum Flask I gifted to my husband–I shoved it in the back of my basket and it didn’t drip. I’d still like to affix some some cup holders to the bike for all three of us if I can find room.

Lots of families came out for the Kidical Mass ride: two Madsens, an Xtracycle, a trail-a-bike, a FollowMe Tandem (WANT!), front kid seats, rear kid seats, trailers, and solo-rider kids. There was even another Bianchi Milano, but the fancier variety with internal hub. The owner had a drink cage attached. I should do the same. She also had a Dutch bike lock. I think seeing it on a Milano was just the kick in the butt I need to go get one. Her other mods were: wrap-around handlebars, Bobike Mini on the front, basket in front of the Bobike, and pannier on the back.

We rode to Lake Union Park and I even got to lead the ride for a couple blocks, to show everyone our secret train tracks below Westlake Ave. We snacked and played on the model boat pond and another Bianchi Milano showed up. This one sported an iBert and a trail-a-bike. Talk about a bunch of work horses. I still want an Xtracycle soon, though. The Xtracycle on the ride today had the FollowMe Tandem on the back, an extra kids bike in the FreeLoader bag as well as tons of other stuff.

The other Milano

The other other Milano

Next up we rode to the Fremont Brewing Urban Beer Garden which is awesome! There were toys and tons of space and we were the last to leave the party. I rode up Woodland Park to Bridge and then up Stone so I didn’t have to walk the bike at all. Super end to a perfect day to close out a great month!

Daily distance: 12.9 miles
Cumulative: 261.3 miles

30 Days of Biking day 29: Koninginnedag shopping

Tomorrow is Queen’s Day so we did a quick shopping trip for orange stuff this afternoon. I thought about trying to make it to the Crown Hill Value Village thrift store, but decided I was too lazy so we just went to Sock Monster for new orange socks for me and Kids on 45th for used orange clothing for the littles. One of these days I’ll give Crown Hill a go.

Daily distance: 1.2 miles
Cumulative: 248.4 miles

30 Days of Biking day 28: Family Biking Slideshow

We attended Totcycle’s wonderful Family Biking Slideshow at Miro Tea this evening. I hadn’t planned to go out tonight, plus I wasn’t sure how we were going to squeeze in any biking with my non-biking dad visiting, but as luck would have it, the four-year old took an unexpected nap so a 7pm engagement wasn’t out of the question. The event was a big success, with five families in attendance. I’d also like to point out per Totcycle’s announcement: “Bonus points for bringing your family biking rig to show off afterwards” so bonus points to me! We parked next to Totcycle’s Madsen, but I think that was it for kid-toting bikes.

My dad met us there with his car so I had him drive the heavier kid home and had a nice ride home with just the little one. I wasn’t sure which route to take: longer more gradual Densmore hill or short and steep 4th Ave/2nd Ave. I ended up opting for short and steep since long and gradual isn’t a picnic either.

Daily distance: 8.7 miles
Cumulative: 247.2 miles

30 Days of Biking day 27: Miserable rainy coffee run

Nothing too exciting today. We didn’t make it out on the bike until the late afternoon and the drizzle was going strong. My husband seems to have hidden his rain jacket so I had to wear my own non-waterproof jacket. It held up to the drizzle, but it wasn’t as nice. I contemplated shortening our ride and just hitting the coffee shop/play area a block from home, but the boys made me stick to the plan of hitting the grocery store to replenish our Senseo coffee pods.

On the way home we stopped at the coffee shop because the weather was that miserable; I couldn’t handle the last block home. We dried out and snacked and played on the train table until we were ready to face that last block of drizzle.

Daily distance: 1.2 miles
Cumulative: 238.5 miles

30 Days of Biking day 26: Geeking out on bike racks

I’m having so much fun keeping track of miles biked this month that I decided to sign up for next month’s Group Health Commute Challenge. Yeah, yeah, I don’t have a real job, but the FAQ says unemployed and work-from-home people are eligible. If I happen to take any non-kid-schlepping rides, I won’t count those as part of my commute. I’ve created a team called One Less Minivan (I can’t take credit for the name, it’s from Cafe Mama in Portland). I plan to order some bumper stickers from her for my team…but I have to decide where to stick mine. Probably on the back of my rear seat so I don’t mar my pretty celeste green paint. Lemme know down in the comments if you’d like to join the team.

We headed to the Cascade Bicycle Club office to pick up my team captain packet (long-sleeved green shirt for me, reflective leg bands for all), but first the boys did a bit of balance biking. The little one (21 months old) isn’t very speedy on his Kinderbike Mini yet, but assuming things warm up we’ll do more riding soon. I wish I’d gotten the show on the road sooner so we could have played at Magnuson Park while we were all the way over there, but as it was, we just picked up our stuff and headed back.

We stopped at the Sand Point Metropolitan Market for snacks and I was quite taken by the Madrax bike racks. Met Market just had the bollards variety, but wow, their website is fun. If I ever own a bike shop (which will be called B.I.L.F.: Bikes I’d like to fix), I’m ordering a custom Madrax bike rack of some sort.

Back to today’s ride: I made it home with no walking thanks to leaving the Burke-Gilman Trail a bit early and heading up Brooklyn. On this easterly trip, it only added half a mile to the trip, but coming from the west, like most my trips, Brooklyn would add a mile and a half so I probably won’t bother. It wasn’t the lovliest ride and I stuck to the sidewalks the whole time, but it was great to get a one-day reprieve from walking the bike.

Daily distance: 10.9 miles
Cumulative: 237.3 miles

30 Days of Biking day 25: Proper rain gear

Today was disgustingly rainy and windy, but I purloined my husband’s rain jacket and waterproof gloves and discovered it’s not half bad when properly dressed. However, I’ve decided no matter the attire, I hate the Broad Street tunnel for crossing Aurora. I’ll find a new less-direct route for next time we hit the Seattle Center. In addition to the narrow sidewalk and missing curb ramp, I’m unfairly disillusioned today because I thought a speeding-around-the-corner truck didn’t see me (he totally saw me) and stopped and turned too quickly and dropped the bike. Again! Poor kids. No scratches, but I don’t want to see that embarrassing intersection again. A couple guys were on a smoke break nearby and ran over and helped me lift the bike back up.

I brought my rain covers (Ikea shopping bags), but figured the place was deserted enough that I could lock up to a covered fence instead of the exposed bike racks. And despite being dry under our rain-proof layers, I was in no hurry to face the elements again so we agreed to stay indoors until it stopped raining. Here’s a bike sign we discovered in the Japan section of the Children’s Museum Global Village exhibit:

The only bad part about staying inside so long is that we got to the rock store (formally known as The Frontier Gallery, informally known as “the store with the jackalope in the window”) five minutes after it closed. Darn! Trains are still number one, but rocks are becoming a close second. But the sun was out!

As usual, I had to walk a block on the way home, but I had a brilliant idea that might work next time: I’m going to have the big kid dismount and run alongside the bike as I pedal slowly uphill. He seemed OK with the idea, however declared he was too hungry to do it this time. I can’t really take credit for the idea because after voicing it, I remembered a friend in Queen Anne (super hilly) told me she used to have her toddler get off her Xtracycle as she walked it up hills. Can’t wait to give it a try!

Daily distance: 9.5 miles
Cumulative: 226.4 miles

30 Days of Biking day 24: Easter Sunday Cargo Bike Ride

Thanks to a Seattle Bike Blog reminder, I made it to my first Aaron’s Bicycle Repair Cargo Bike Ride. Cargo bikes are not a prerequisite, but I was deemed a cargo bike anyway, due to the fact that I carry so much stuff. The ride was really fun and I met a lot of great people. Quite different than a Spokespeople ride–there were not a lot of helmets and I only saw one hand signal.

Photo courtesy of Eric Shalit, TUBULOCITY

We rode along Nickerson which I learned used to be a four-lane road of speeding motorists, but is now a speed-limit-abiding two-lane road with bike lane on one side and sharrow on the other. In the past I’ve crossed the Fremont Bridge on the sidewalk, but today we followed the crew over the grated street. Not so fun; we’ll stick to the sidewalk in the future. The sidewalk is plenty loud and bumpy and exciting for the kids.

The ride ended at Gasworks Park–I love any ride that brings me towards home! The picnic was great fun…maybe even more fun than the birthday party we hosted at the same spot last weekend. Fewer train piñatas, but more beer. We hung out for quite a while, but the kids started getting restless so we were the first to bail. As it turns out, we left just before the egg hunt! So that’s three egg hunts we’ve missed in two days. We’ll just have to make up for it next Easter.

See many more phtos (mostly of my monkeys!) at Eric Shalit’s awesome TUBULOCITY.

Oh, and the best part: apparently Aaron’s Bicycle Repair has Legos! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to learn about it. I might take the bus there because it looks uphill from Lincoln Park. My plan is to go on the next nice day and buy a bell…but I have a feeling I’ll leave with plans to buy more stuff. After looking at this photo of a super-family-friendly Xtracycle on TUBULOCITY I think I want my X sooner rather than later.

Daily distance: 17 miles
Cumulative: 217 miles

30 Days of Biking day 23: Why I shouldn’t drive

I got lost driving to Lincoln Park today. Yep, the same Lincoln Park I biked to two days ago and have successfully driven to in the past. We’ve just been heading east so often lately for dentist and snowboarding that I automatically hopped on the 90, despite the GPS pleading with me to take the West Seattle Bridge. My GPS maps are out-of-date so after 30 minutes of being led to various closed onramps when the baby started shouting “Out! Out!” I turned tail and headed home.

Once home we hopped on the bike and headed to the Wallingford Center for the local bunnyfest. We missed The Bubble Man and egg hunt, but got to meet the Easter Bunny, get faces painted, and meet The World’s Most Interesting Balloon Artist. We left with oodles of temporary bunny tattoos, puppy faces, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle wristband balloons. Plus we grabbed a sprinkler at Tweedy & Popp and met friends for brunch without having to re[bike]park. Bummed about missing two egg hunts and the Lincoln Park bouncy slide and more bummed about spending so much of this gorgeous day in the car for no reason.

Daily distance: 1.4 miles
Cumulative: 200 miles

30 Days of Biking day 22: Bunny by bike

A couple exciting things happened on the way to Pike Place Market this morning: we saw that the model boat pond in Lake Union Park is refilled and we met the Easter Bunny.

We were headed down 9th when we saw the Easter Bunny wandering around luring kids into Umpqua Bank for free candy, dog cookies, and professional photos. The baby decided he’s not a fan of the big bunny, but he did enjoy a surreptitious dog cookie in the evening.

I don’t know what I was thinking, but I bought into the hype and tried to park my bike vertically by the Pike Place Market balloon clown. Needless to say, the weight of the rear Bobike seat made it impossible. Fortunately, the clown was busy with some tourists and didn’t notice and laugh at me. I ended up locking up near the fence of elevated bikes. It was useful that I parked flat in the end, because a cool dude on a $30 vintage (read: old Craigslist) Schwinn came by to admire the Bianchi and ask a bunch of questions. I think I talked him into upgrading to a Dutch bike.

The market was a bit of a bust. It was crowded as always and our friends didn’t show up so I figured we’d relocate to REI and see if could find a new messenger bag to salvage the day. I’ve gone back to using my old bag with the broken zipper and torn inner lining because my husband’s old Timbuk2 was simply too huge to use…though not big enough to hold the kid’s balance bike, it turns out. I couldn’t find the perfect bag, but at least we found the bike racks this time and the boys had fun playing in the kiddie climbing tree…and I only had to climb up once to rescue a stuck baby.

The ride home was nice, too. We saw Maximus/Minimus pulling into a garage. I don’t know if its parking sty is a closely guarded secret, but I’m filing this as an exciting secret discovery. I made it up Densmore, but that was with a couple well-timed stops for snack distribution, dandelion picking, and then a long break at the top of the hill at Wallingford Playfield. It was cheating, but it was nice not having to walk the bike at all.

Daily distance: 10.8 miles
Cumulative: 198.6 miles

30 Days of Biking day 21: Lincoln Park is too far away

…especially if you misread the water taxi schedule and miss the turn for the Lincoln Park bike trail.

My original plan was to ride through the locks and along the waterfront to pier 50, but I didn’t want to risk missing the 11:00 water taxi so I cut through downtown. Turns out I had plenty of time because the water taxi ran at 11:30–so I missed the 10:30 by 10 minutes! Grr. That’s twice I’ve misread the water taxi schedule so I’m bound to get it right next time. This was my first time with the bike on the real water taxi. We rode to Alki once before, but that was when a small Argosy ship was standing in on account of a water taxi collision. It’s great for bikes! There were two big bike racks and my bike and the road bike on board both stayed upright for the ten-minute ride.

Skirting around West Seattle was nice and flat and easily navigated…until I heeded the “Private road” sign and turned up 47th Avenue SW instead of connecting to the bike path into Lincoln Park. I had to walk the bike two blocks, but I finally made it–two and a half hours after I started. The map below is the route I should have taken. I won’t call it “the route I’ll take next time” because I’m pretty sure there won’t be a next time. Alki, for sure, but Lincoln Park, probably not.

The kids both fell asleep on the West Seattle side of the long ride home. Rounding the northern tip of West Seattle and seeing the water taxi approach the dock was such a relief after this morning’s snafu. I wheeled the sleeping kids on board and stood next to the bike. Probably not the safest way for kids to ride the water taxi, but yay for naps.

Heading up the waterfront, I couldn’t stomach the thought of an extra hill so I shook my first at Broad Street and took the long route through the locks. The big kid woke up in time to see the Interbay train yard. There was some good stuff going on today: lone train cars being pushed (or shunted in Thomas the Train-ese) down the tracks and a couple wingless 737s a couple cyclists deemed cool enough to stop and photograph. I waited until we were at the top of the hill to take my picture because I just wanted to get it done…so no nice fuselage shot for you.

I was exhausted by the time I reached the bottom of Wallingford so I didn’t attempt scaling Densmore (my current theory is that I only made it up last time because I was starting to get sick and my body wasn’t sending the proper “time to quit” signal) and had to walk an extra block and a half up 40th and 2nd.

Daily distance: 30.5 miles
Cumulative: 187.8 miles