Archive | July 2011

Houseguest with bike

A friend drove up from Oregon and brought her road bike along per my suggestion. Yesterday we took her on a tour of our favorite spots of late, starting with the Seattle Center. I think this wouldn’t be a favorite spot of mine if not for having the bike along, since it’s so big with so many spots of interest. We started out at the International Fountain, but it was a bit crowded so we zoomed over to the DuPen Fountain for a quick dip. The whole place was a bit crowded for comfort (I had checked for big events, but the website failed to mention Hispanic Seafair Festival, which was huge) so we grabbed food at the Center House and then returned to the DuPen for swimming and eating.

The boys got free wooden Seafair hydroplane boats and balloons. I’ve avoided balloons in the past, apologizing “We’re on the bike and can’t possibly transport it home.” But they got their tiny paws on yesterday’s balloons before I could intercept them. The little guy liberated his balloon within three minutes and the big guy didn’t want his tied to his wrist so we compromised by tying it to his helmet. I worked quite well! I left it long while we were walking around, but shortened the string before we rode off to our next destination.

Next up was South Lake Union Park where the big people chilled at the shady table while the little people frolicked in the spray park. We also ran up and down the grassy hills and floated the wooden hydroplanes in the model boat pond. We took the short and steep route home and naturally my seriously-have-never-met-anyone-in-better-shape friend had no trouble and kindly offered to trade bikes with me, but I waved her off and walked the worst half block. I should have thought to weigh her down with a trailer full of bricks to level the playing field.

After yesterday’s gorgeous day, today was cold and rainy. I wasn’t too cold, given my sixty pounds of bonus weight and baby fairing, but my poor friend was cold even in her sweater. Today we biked to Ballard for blunch (their term, not mine) at The High-Life which we decided upon yesterday, thinking we’d be able to dine al fresco–ha ha. But it was nice and warm inside, away from the drizzle. Then we took our bikes to Second Ascent New and Used Outdoor Gear so my friend could look into affordable rack and panniers to do some bicycle touring. Turns out her sweet little road bike is too cute and delicate to do any heavy hauling. My bike tried not to look smug as the mechanic broke the bad news.

We may have left Second Ascent empty handed, but my friend cleaned up at the farmers market. She had expected to carry a bunch of produce home in her new panniers, but I had room in my baskets. This time I had to walk a block and a half on the way home–not due to the groceries, but because all that time in the sun yesterday wiped me out. We took a nap as soon as my friend left for her big drive home.

It was a blast hosting a friend using just bikes. It’s a shame it’s not the norm for me, but I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we bike with a visiting buddy.

The World’s Smallest Stage Race

This month’s Izilla Toys family picnic featured le Tour d’Izilla, The World’s Smallest Stage Race. The course was an oval track on the Wallingford Center patio, with Tour de France winners’ names written on chalk along the route. Naturally, the boys’ favorite was Maurice Garin, winner of the 1903 Tour who was disqualified in 1904 for catching a train (trains!) to avoid a difficult or boring stage. Jude from Izilla rotated heats (stages) of real bikes, balance bikes, scooters, big wheels, or combinations of vehicles depending on the available entrants. It was all very official-looking with huge banners, race numbers, and ribbons for everyone at the end of a stage.

We didn’t last until the end of the party so I’m not sure how it ended. Maybe there was a final heat with big prizes, but I think it was just stage after stage and ribbon after ribbon–and we came home with waaaaay too many ribbons. Even the little guy who never made it all the way around the course got a bunch of ribbons just for trying.

They had a tiny clown bike that I took for a practice spin around the course. It was hard! I had to set a foot down a couple times to keep from toppling over.

Our morning started with a ride to the doctor in her new office (even closer than before and now with covered bike parking!). Then we swung by the Troll. Until recently I didn’t realize it was possible for one to bike by the troll–one toting 60 pounds (weighed my passengers today) of extra weight, that is. Due to construction on 34th, we’ve been experimenting with various routes lately. Heading three blocks up 36th today was much harder than starting on 35th and scaling one steep block of Troll Ave last week.

I gotta say one of the coolest parts of today heading home from our big day at the Seattle Center and South Lake Union Park was while riding back through the South Lake Union parking lots and encountering a family of Dutch people: “Pas op voor de fiets!” I was tempted to stop and say “Dag” but we still had to squeeze in a visit to the exciting construction site on Stone Way and stop at Molly Moon for pre-race ice cream treats. My 60 pounds of passenger aren’t keen to talk to strangers to begin with and especially not when they know they’ve got construction and ice cream on the horizon.

One less minivan

My bike is now sporting an awesome one less minivan bumper sticker. Order one, or a mamabikeorama one (or both!) from Sarah Gilbert, an awesome biking mama in Portland.

I took my newly stickered bike to the U-Village shopping center today and prominently parked it by the play structure while we played outdoors and in (Kids Club has a train table) and did a bit of shopping. Then we headed to and parked by the world’s busiest Starbucks (OK, maybe it’s just the world’s second busiest Starbucks). A few families noticed the kid seats and then the sticker as we rode by and I only overheard favorable comments.

In the afternoon we headed to a playdate at the preschool-to-be of the four-year old. School run is another excellent “one less minivan” kind of trip. Another mom with two kids biked over a third will bike in the future, but bused today. I’ll have to give them OLM bumper stickers, too (I ordered a bunch to share the love).

I was happy to finally be rid of the trailer after lugging around balance bikes to Bike Mania on Friday and party supplies to the park on Sunday, but I weighed myself down just fine without it when I stopped at the Fremont PCC to buy a ten-pound box of laundry detergent. It seemed convenient to stop so close to school, but I hadn’t considered the fact that I was at the bottom of the mile-long hill back home. But thoughts of soon ferrying just one kid around for four hours a day three days a week helped buoy me up the hill.

Birthday party by bike

April’s 4th birthday party by bike and car was great, but today’s 2nd birthday party was all bike and all awesome. It certainly helped doing an afternoon party so we didn’t bring as much food, most notably no coffee urn/cups/additives. We each dragged a trailer stuffed with plenty of stuff:

  • Every sand toy we own
  • Bubbles for everyone
  • Balloon animal kit
  • Face paint kit
  • Puppy-ear craft project
  • Lots of snacks
  • Plates and napkins
  • Ice chest full of water

What we didn’t have room for were the balance bikes. The boys snuck them out of the garage while we were loading up the trailers and got very upset when we had to stow them and go. I thought bringing them would be antisocial (because two-year olds are so social) and would have insisted on leaving them home even if there was room (I think).

My husband wedged the cooler into the single Burley trailer behind him and thought it weighed 100 pounds (I think he was exaggerating) and had to stop a few times to readjust it. I contemplated having the kids carry the cupcakes, but my awesome vegan baker neighbor, Vegan Cakes by JennyMac, brought them down to the park.

On the way home we accidentally turned up 4th instead of Latona like two days ago. Bike Mania day I only had one kid on the bike and made it up Latona. Today I had both kids and had to walk the entire block up 4th. I’m not going to miss lugging this trailer around now that Bike Mania and the puppy party are over!

Bikemania 2011

We had a great time at Bikemania this year. Last year, both kids fell asleep in the double trailer on the way there and slept through much of the fun stuff. This year the little guy took a nice long nap at home before we headed over (tired him out at Wallingford Playfield where we ran into friends with a Madsen cargo bike). I attached the double trailer to my city bike so I could drag the two balance bikes to the event. We arrived nice and early and got to the bounce house before a big line formed. We watched the first round of BMX tricks, but then didn’t make it past the bike-decorating station to check out any of the carnival games.

The boys warmed up for the bike parade by riding their decorated bikes up and down the hill by the sidewalk. The little guy only wanted to run up and downhill with his bike. And then without the bike. And that’s when he tripped and bloodied his lip. At least he won’t hold the bike responsible. He didn’t want to take part in the parade after that, but the four-year old was eager to ride. He thought it was another criterium and zoomed around and around as fast as he could and flopped down exhausted after four laps. The parade was pushed back from 7 to 7:30 so some kids ended up going home, but there were still lots of little riders. It seemed to go on forever. I eventually loaded up the kids to go home and it was still going so we took a lap around the course for one last hurrah. A Cascade photographer took a lot of shots of the event, which I hope they’ll post soon.

They were just about to start the Cyclefest portion of the evening as we left–projecting the queen stage of the Tour de France on a big outdoor screen. We’re two stages behind in our TV watching (as always) so we had to hit the road quickly, before hearing any spoilers.

Artificial and real rain

Kind of funny: three bikey families drove their cars to Dragon Park in Lynnwood for a kiddie bike playdate. One real bike, four balance bikes, and one plasma car comprised the play peloton. I had hoped they’d ride along the paths, but they decided the spray park was more fun. I joked that this was good practice for when it rains…and then it rained. The adults cowered in a picnic shelter while the kids rode around on the wet paths and grass.

Here’s a final look at the Kinderbike Mini’s original bell. One of the little guy’s many tumbles destroyed it. Good timing, too. His older brother decided he wanted the bigger bell so now I just have to find a new smaller bell and everyone will be happy.

The four-year old tried a pedal bike for the first time. His one and only question was, “Where do I click in my shoes?” I’m not sure where that came from–he rides with me on the city bike 95% of the time. The first ride didn’t go so well. No big crash, but he didn’t pedal enough for me to let go and see if he could stay upright.

Beach bungee

Thank goodness for bungee cords. Beach day is so much more fun with buckets and that annoyingly large green truck.

There were a few other family bikes at the beach, the most exciting a Kona Ute with one rear toddler seat. The dad called it his “Fred Meyer Mobile” because he can fit four grocery bags on it. I oohed and aahed, but I felt a little sorry for his rag tag assortment of baskets: smallish wicker basket on the front, milk crate on the back, and a large metal basket on each side–hanging down such that they didn’t look capable of safely carrying grocery bags. But hey, I’d love to have that bike so I shouldn’t talk! And he probably knew a thing or two about bungee cords, too.

The day wasn’t picture perfect, but it was the nicest day we’ve had in a while so we stayed at the beach all day long. We stopped for dinner at The Loft so we could eat outdoors. And I always love a place where I can eat and keep an eye on my bike at the same time. Here’s a glimpse of my view on the ride home: sandy legs and King of the Mountain toes, in honor of the Tour de France. All three of us are sporting them.

After dinner the boys wanted to stop by Dutch Bike Co…again–we stopped in this morning for to-go coffee for me and dollar bananas for the boys. You’d think the place has a Lego table or on-site dog. They didn’t want anything once we got in the door, but I checked to see if they have DBC water bottles (they don’t). The boys have been fighting over my free Nuun bottle so I should probably carry a couple extras around. My current stash of water bottles is freebies advertising various brands so I might buy them new ones of my choosing.

Kiddie criterium

Today’s bad weather couldn’t keep us away from the Recycled Cycles Brad Lewis Memorial Criterium. We arrived a little early for the kiddie race and saw some of the juniors. It made my husband nostalgic and me scared. The juniors raced for 35 minutes, but our kiddie heat was two laps for real bikes, one lap for balance bikes, and “Why don’t you have him start 20 yards back and just ride up to the start/finish line” for the really little guys.

I didn’t get to see the whole course–our little guy started with the rest of the field, but then someone made eye contact with him so he got shy and froze and dropped his bike. I talked him back up, but then it happened again. So he bided his time riding up and down a driveway slope while the other racers did their thing.

The top few finishers got medals or special ribbons and everyone else got little yellow ribbons printed with AWESOME. I was a bit embarrassed about dressing the kids in full rain gear; the real racers didn’t wear rain suits, nor did most of the other kids. But the crab fishing boat comment by the announcer is my favorite park of the video.

My husband transported both balance bikes in the single trailer so I only had to carry kids. And on the way home he led me up Latona, one block east of my usual half ride/half walk block and I made it up! Nice, too, that it’s one way the proper direction so I can ride in the street and not sidewalk. He thinks it’s less steep than 2nd, but I think I’ve tried it before and didn’t make it so I’ll have to try again without my domestique.

Walking the balance bike

I did some fine tuning of our Seattle Center route this morning. Westlake/Broad and Westlake/Mercer are very car-heavy intersections so I stick to the sidewalk and I’ve determined these are the only options–to avoid the ill-placed curb ramp in the first case and the aggressive right turners in the second.

I’m trying to work more balance biking into our days. We’ve been “riding” four blocks to the nearby elementary school where the boys practice their skills. Unfortunately, they’re not content to just run around the open area and insist on going up and down curbs and hills. I’ve drawn the line at them tugging their little bikes up the play structure steps to ride down the slides.

They also spend a lot of time walking their bikes. I’m telling myself they got the idea from my having to walk my bike through the Ballard locks and not because they want to emulate my having to push the bike up a half block most days.

Transporting eggs

New biking milestone today: grocery shopping including eggs. Based on a tip from VeloBusDriver who carries his eggs in his backpack, I stowed my carton in my small messenger back and wore it rather than stick it in the rear basket. I had meant to bring a large wet bag (waterproof bag we cloth diaperers can’t live without), but forgot and just hoped for the best.

The first real problem was laying claim to the eggs. After a bit of discussion: “I want to carry the eggs!” “I’m going to carry the eggs.” “Me!” “No, me.” “Me!!” “Listen, this is our first time biking eggs so Mama will carry them this time. Maybe next time you will carry the eggs. Besides, you’ve already got your big dirty stick you’ve been carrying everywhere for three days now.” I carried the eggs.

The second problem was when we got home: “Let me just hold one egg.” OK, I got out an egg for him to hold for a moment. Then the baby needed to hold an egg, too. OK, great photo opp. Then the big kid needed to hold two eggs. I turned away for a sec and heard a *crunch*. Apparently two eggs is too many. So all twelve eggs made it home and eleven of twelve eggs made it into the house. We’ll see if we can do better next time.