Archive | May 2011

New hub and other stuff

There are so many exciting new gismos on the Bianchi! The pox-free four-year old and I took the bus (so pleasant with only one kid in tow!) to Dutch Bike Co to retrieve the bike. It was drizzling when we left the house, but gorgeous by the time we reached the shop. I wheeled us down to the viewing platform at Fremont Canal Park for some photos of our new bits. Note: ADA accessible viewing platform means ramps, but not necessarily generous turning room so we probably won’t try this again.

Most exciting/expensive is the Shimano 8-speed internal hub. It doesn’t make for a very exciting picture, but here it is:

And here is the new shifter that goes with it. It’s oriented differently from the old one (twist up for easier instead of down) so that will take some getting used to. I’ve had a bit of practice with that, though, as the Dutch cargo bikes I’ve rented in the past are the same. I also finally got a bike bell, which I found by Googling “cute bike bell.”

It didn’t seem wise to only give one kid access to a bell, so I got two. The front bell is a bunny and the rear bell is a kitty. The kitty is attached to the front of the rear rack for now, but I might try to find a different place for it.

Next up is the Brica snack pod to hold snacks and drink for the rear kid. It’s designed to go on a stroller or car seat and works fine on the Bobike maxi. It makes it harder to put bulky stuff in the basket under it, but it’s easy enough to momentarily remove if I really want to cram large items under it.

For my own water (or more likely, a small cylindrical container filled with trains and rocks) I got an Orbea lateral-entry water bottle cage. It’s carbon fiber which I find hilarious on my bike. You can also see the zip ties holding my new cable in place. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I would have been disappointed if Fritz “King of Zip Ties” Rice hadn’t utilized any. They’re not the first zip ties he’s put on my bike, by the way.

I don’t think the cage will hold a full-sized water bottle, but at least it holds a 12 ounce Thermos FUNtainer (7.38 inches high):

I had hoped to stop by the library and grocery store before heading home to really load up and test the new gear range…but I forgot to bring my bike lock. So I can’t comment yet on how much easier things are. I’m also quite out of shape from being cooped up for the last few weeks so I might not appreciate how awesome the new hub is until I’m back in fighting form. Once home, I discovered my final delivery of exciting stuff had arrived: my new Betty Basket Liners! I’m having some fit issues so they’re not ready to roll quite yet, but expect a full report on them, too, soon.

Daily distance: 4.9 miles
Bike Month cumulative: 76.9 miles

In the shop

Not a lot of biking lately. We’ve been stuck home the last two weeks with chicken pox. The older kid is just about over it, but the little one hasn’t caught it yet so our quarantine extends for up to four more weeks.

Last week, I was able to get out alone to swing by the F5 Bike to Work Day Street Party. Sadly, I arrived too late to say hi to my Kidical Mass friends, but I got my free water bottle and stopped by Dutch Bike Co to check on the status of my on-order internal-gear hub. It’s in! However, the official purpose of my trip out was to pick up calamine lotion and groceries so I logged the 8.8 miles as a Team One Less Minivan Group Health Commute Challenge trip. And, wow, I was able to fit a lot of groceries on the bike with no kids! Plus I ran into my friend Julie with her husband and two kids (both at the after party and at the grocery store) so we had an unofficial Kidical Mass ride home together. Her 14-month old is in an iBert front seat and the 4-and-a-half year old is on a trail-a-bike.

Since today’s trip was to drop off the bike to have the new hub installed, it doesn’t seem appropriate to count the miles. The internal hub also has eight gears, but they’ll have a bigger range so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to make it up the steep hills between the bike trail and home. And yes, that’s a six-pack of Hoegaarden in the front baby seat.

Daily distance: 3.8 [ineligible] miles
Bike Month cumulative: 72 miles

Around Lake Union with Spokespeople

Let me start by saying, the Spokespeople are no wimps! I thought I would learn a better (flatter) route around Lake Union this afternoon, but we took the same route I discovered on Monday, complete with half-block walk up Hamlin. At least this time I knew to build up enough momentum to make it over the crest at the top of Yale Terrace at Roanoke.

The ride was fun and everyone was super nice. It was family-friendly, save for the possible prostitute we biked by on Eastlake. But the biggest hit was the banana bike–or Velomobile–on the ride. It cornered surprisingly well for its size, but the rider had to stop and renegotiate tight turns a couple times. It even had little turn signals on the front. We rode behind it so the kids could keep an eye on it. That was a good plan for the first bit, but eventually they got hungry for bananas and mad when I couldn’t deliver.

Daily distance: 8.2 miles
Bike Month cumulative: 58.4 miles

Foray to Aaron’s Bicycle Repair

We took our second trip over the University Bridge this morning, this time to traverse downtown and catch the water taxi. I stayed up on Eastlake so it wasn’t as scenic, but we didn’t get stuck walking up any unexpected hills…though Google Maps convinced me to take Eastlake all the way to Stewart and the last couple Eastlake blocks were more hill than I care for. We left home at 8:08 so we saw a lot of bike commuters out–I almost felt like a real commuter. We weren’t dressed as adequately as the real commuters, though. It was dry when we left the house, but rained most of the day. Here’s our exciting first leg:

The third time was indeed the charm and we arrived right on time for the West Seattle water taxi. Then we caught the free shuttle to avoid biking (er, walking) uphill. It was easier loading the bike this time. Maybe the DART shuttle is lower than a full-sized Metro bus, or maybe it’s just less intimidating since it’s so little. It probably also helped that Mr. Familyride came down to the garage with me and showed me the best way to lift my beast up.

We were too early to hit the bike shop so we took the shuttle to West Seattle Junction and hung out at the super-kid-friendly Sugar Rush Baking Co. There we met up with my good friend 2wheels6feet for our first group ride, or as I like to call it 4wheels12feet. We cruised downhill to Aaron’s Bicycle Repair where the kids set to the Lego table and played with the shop cats (Presta and Schrader), 2f6w had her front basket installed, and I ogled the Xtracycles and accessories.

I rode home along the coast and saw the water taxi pulling away as we neared Seacrest Park. I knew my luck couldn’t hold, but it worked out OK because the boys were hungry so we waited in Alki Crab & Fish Co.

The rain picked up as we arrived to Seattle so I wasn’t looking forward to the long trip through Ballard, but even less wanted to deal with the steep hills for the direct route. As we biked along the waterfront, I noticed a guy on a bike get on the elevator by the pier 66 cruise ship terminal. He wasn’t cheating; he took the sky bridge west to catch a boat, but we headed into the parking structure and out onto Elliott Ave for a nice gradual climb to Western until we got to Pike Street and then came home via Westlake. So a little out of the way and congested enough that we had to stick to the sidewalks much of the way, but worth it!

Daily distance: 19.6 miles
Bike Month cumulative: 49 miles

Deep Greenwood

We biked to school today. We were ready early so we stopped by Makeda Coffee on the way, which is quite bikey, I realized today. Half the paintings on display (and for sale) are of bikes and everyone else in the cafe was talking about bikes.

Whittier Elementary is really on the Bike to School Month bandwagon. The bike racks were overflowing like crazy. I just parked my bike in front of the building since we were only there for 30 minutes.

After class we biked to a friend’s house in Greenwood. Not the lower Greenwood I used to ride through on my forty-blocks-out-of-the-way flat-enough Green-Lake-to-Phinney rotue, but deep into Greenwood: 4th and Holman territory. On the way home I promised to swing by the old house so we swung around Green Lake for some good extra mileage. I was happy for the detour because otherwise I would have headed straight south to the Burke Gilman Trail for our return trip and have to deal with walking a block. And lately it has been walking a whole block. It used to be just half a block. Seems I need to toughen back up a bit.

We took a second trip in the late afternoon to Wallingford Playfield. It was my first time riding on 43rd west-bound. It’s steep! I need to get better at paying attention how hilly things are when I’m travelling in the easy direction.

Daily distance: 11.5 miles
Bike Month cumulative: 29.4 miles

Whittier Heights

I went against my rule and attempted to reach a neighborhood with Heights in its name. This was a test run for tomorrow’s class at Whittier Elementary, which is our only weekly commitment these days and the last thing we’ve been regularly using the car for. It was a 37-minute ride (for a 30-minute class) and it wasn’t too bad. The first third of the ride was the hard part, but it was our normal zoo route so that’s nothing new.

Today’s test ride was followed by breakfast at the Original Pancake House–which has no bike rack and is also best visited by car because then one can bring along decent coffee most easily–and a romp at Salmon Bay Park. But the best part of today’s ride means that I now know I can reach my favorite thrift store by bike!

On the way home I took the heavy kid out of his seat so he could run up the steep block while I pedalled up alongside him. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and he couldn’t keep up with my super slow pace. He insisted on walking the rest of the way up (he wanted to walk all the way home, but I was able to convince him to just walk the one block) so we walked together. He got distracted by dandelions a couple times, but we only took a little bit more time than usual. And fortunately the front kid was content to stay in his seat. If he had insisted on getting out, too, we never would have made it home.

Tomorrow we’ll have the car if we need it, but I’m hoping to have us up and ready for a real commute to class.

Daily distance: 10.4 miles
Bike Month cumulative: 17.9 miles

Impromptu Lake Union Loop

Happy Bike Month!

I couldn’t bring myself to go out in the drizzle this morning, but we finally made it out in the afternoon and it wasn’t that bad. Grey days are just harder when they succeed rare glorious days. My original plan was to ride a couple miles across the University Bridge and back, just to see what it’s like. Turns out it’s a great way south and I don’t know why I haven’t tried it before now. Full disclosure: I crossed on the sidewalk because I didn’t notice the bike lane before I was on the wrong side of the cement divider, but it looks perfectly spacious.

Baby Rijder wanted to bring a puppy along so we had him ride inside his jacket–just how I started my family riding, with our chihuahua tucked in my sweater on the way to UCSB classes. It was a nice little stroll down memory lane. The chihuahua is close to a million years old and incontinent now so he doesn’t do much biking these days. Plastic puppy behaved himself well.

Back to the present day: I made the mistake of turning down Allison to leave Eastlake and ride along the water on Fairview. It was very scenic, but we hit a dead end and Hamlin was too steep for me to bike up. Next time we’ll stay up on Eastlake a few extra blocks. Once we were on continuous Fairview things got much better. We saw a bunch of very small parks and lots of interesting boats and sea planes…and experienced a weird wet cat odor near the NOAA building. I was sad to see the Lake Union BluWater Bistro is closed (fire last year). We’ve never been, but it’s right next to a play structure/sand pit and seemed like a perfect sunny lunch spot. Hopefully they’ll reopen.

Rounding the bottom of Lake Union we were very excited to see the Virginia V is back in her usual moorage. She’d been undergoing some maintenance work for a while and we’ve missed her. I think we’ll take our normal route over the Fremont Bridge when we come to see her again, though.

Heading up Westlake Avenue we stuck to the sidewalk for a change of pace and we found more secret train tracks. I can’t believe I’ve been riding along Westlake for so long and never noticed them. I learned something else, too: no matter how much a passenger insists, one should never bike along train tracks. They’re much bumpier than they look. We left things with a promise to come back with the balance bike.

I chose to head home via Stone and stopped at RoRo along the way. YUM! The only thing that could make RoRo better is if it was halfway up the hill and not only a quarter of the way. But it was nice to break up the climb. We stopped a second time to watch the Stoneway Village construction site. The boys were mesmerized by the huge crane carrying a portapotty high in the air over the site. Good stuff.

Almost home, on 45th Street a frazzled mom pushing two kids in a double stroller took one look at me and said, “Holy shit, mom!” I wish I had slowed down to hear what she called after me because I’m sure it was something awesome.

Daily distance: 7.5 miles
May cumulative: 7.5 miles