Archive | August 2011


Worth it to bike uphill to Crown Hill for free aquarium passes? Heck yeah! And the money I saved was a bit more than we dropped along the way at Top Ten Toys to replace the wooden puppy lost in Discovery Park the other day. I was chagrined to realize that the free passes were a block deeper into Crown Hill than the dreaded Soundview Park I just said I wouldn’t bike to again.

The aquarium was great, but the cool red octopus bike rack was blocked off by construction. The guy at the ticket desk hadn’t noticed the fencing (so new today?) and checked into it. Turns out it’s tunnel-related and the strength of the seawall is being tested chunk by chunk. The octopus should be back in business next week if not sooner. But in the meantime, I had a great excuse to lock up to a pole right by the entrance; the octopus is kind of far away.

After the aquarium we paid a visit to Pike Place Market and took the elevator at Lenora to save a bit of hill climbing. It’s a nice elevator, but we still had to climb one steep block of Lenora so I’ll look for an alternate route next time. I’ve taken the elevator by pier 66 before and seem to recall that one was easy enough for getting to higher ground.

19.3 miles today. I pointed out to Mr. Familyride that I was less aerodynamic than normal due to toting the stroller along. He laughed and said there was nothing aerodynamic about me to begin with and it was more about the added weight of the stroller. Oh well. My carbon fiber side-entry water bottle holder still makes me feel fast and light every time I look at it.

Drawbridge etiquette

While waiting for a sailboat to go through the Fremont Bridge, a slow biker hopped the line of patiently waiting bikes. I’ve always assumed this was a FIFO situation–first bike in, first bike out…except for spandex-clad roadies in a hurry, who are welcome to zoom ahead. Needless to say, I was appalled at her behavior and passed her twice–once when we all passed her on the bridge, and a second time when we caught up after our detour along the access road to bike by our secret train tracks below Westlake. Perhaps I’m overreacting, but I’m slow myself and try to stay out of the way so everyone can get where they need to get and not be annoyed at the mamafiets they encountered on the ride.

The Seattle Center was big fun today and I discovered the High Rail Bicycle at the Pacific Science Center. It’s 15 feet in the air above a net, water, and the skeletons of previous passengers. Supposedly the bike can’t fall off the one-inch rail, but it doesn’t feel all that stable. The little circular handlebars didn’t help, nor did the operator encouraging me try riding hands free (I did, for like a second–eek!). It’s only open in the summer, and only on nice-weather days, so we were lucky to have access today. And no flip flops allowed–I had to borrow my friend teeny little shoes. And yeah, I totally want to try it again!

Discovery Park

Today’s first: up up up to Discovery Park! I met up with Biking with Brad at the locks and followed his Xtracycle up the steepest route possible to the park. I’d previously been on the wooden bridge between 33rd Ave W and 32nd Ave W once, but in the other direction when I missed my turn and got more hill than I counted on. In the northerly direction, this is the route one ends up on following the “Ballard via Locks” bike signs, by the way. If I come back on my own, I might try my usual Fort St Bridge crossing and climb up W Government Way.

One of the moms at Brad’s kids’ nature school recognized me from the poster for Moving Planet [September 24 at South Lake Union Park, RSVP on Facebook] and I talked baby bike seats with another mom. But Brad stole the show because he took shifts of six kids at a time for spins on his Xtracycle while we waited for our blackberry paint craft projects to dry.

But Discovery Park wasn’t all fun and games. The bumpy paths caused a couple things to bounce out of my baskets: the little kid’s berry-picking basket and the big kid’s wooden puppy that comes along everywhere lately–doh! Note to self: lash down all cargo in future.

Who knew that yesterday’s Helix Bridge adventure would serve as a dry run for today. After everyone had their turn on the X and the paintings were all dry, we followed Brad and kids home for lunch. They supposedly live in Lower Queen Anne, but it was plenty uphill for me. Apparently “lower” is to bottom as “flattest” is to flat, as I tiredly discovered on San Juan Island last summer.

As we were getting to leave Mid Queen Anne, a friend texted me to say she was in my neighborhood of Wallingford and wanted to meet up. It felt odd to reply, “Sure! We’ll be home in an hour if you’re still there” when by car we were only 10 minutes away. I need to get over the feeling of having to apologize for being different and biking everywhere.

Big Sunday

We left the house at 9:30 this morning and didn’t return until 7:15. In those nearly 10 hours we biked 25.4 miles…though we hadn’t set out with such a big day in mind. I blame the high mileage on the quality of kindie rock we Seattle-dwellers have become accustomed to hearing. The highlight of our day was supposed to be a free kiddie concert at Waterfront Park, but the first guy was pretty sucky and the second act covered three Disney princess songs before we just couldn’t take it anymore.

We took our time getting to the concert, starting with utilizing the bike as a stroller and walking a few blocks to a cafe with Mr. Familyride, who is recuperating from a broken shoulder and off the bike for a bit. In Ballard we stopped in at Dutch Bike Co. where Fritz diagnosed my slipping gear problem as “little feet.” Apparently my front passenger has been knocking the cable out of the eyelet. I tried to leave without fruit, but my passengers hollered at me until we went back for apple and banana. Nevermind we were a block away from the Ballard Farmers Market, which was our next stop, for honey sticks.

We chatted with some cyclists while walking through the locks. They were heading home from a big ride, but acted politely impressed at our Wallingford-Waterfront foray. Otherwise we crossed through fairly quickly, with just a quick peek at the fish ladder from above, because it was getting close to showtime. OK, one last stop because there’s a great blackberry bush on the Fort Street Bridge.

The day had started out incredibly foggy–we couldn’t even see the huge fishing boats close to the bike path. Fortunately, The Little Mermaid medley chased the fog (and us) away and it started feeling like spray park weather. Since our day felt suddenly very open, having planned to spend couple hours at Waterfront Park, we did a bit of exploring on the way back and discovered the elevator at the Helix Bridge. We admired the train tracks from above for a bit and then headed back down and onward to seashell park via the locks.

The front kid uncharacteristically fell asleep on the way there. No complaints here–the little guy rarely naps these days. He’s only two and certainly needs a nap, but in classic younger sibling behavior, he doesn’t want to miss a thing his big brother is up to. It worked out well, though. He snoozed on my arm and we wheeled him down into the dim fish ladder room where we watched salmon swim upstream for a while.

Seashell park was a bust. I’m not sure what the problem was, but apparently the water doesn’t spray out of the shells the right direction. So we decided we’d head over to South Lake Union Park for its properly-angled sprayers, but first we stopped for to-go sandwiches because all the unexpected biking was taking a toll on me. I’m not sure if bonk is the proper term for a recreational bike rider to use or if it’s reserved for real cyclists, but I bonked. So I hid in the shade at SLUP with my sandwich and juice while the monkeys went wild in the spray park. I blame the crap music earlier in the day for this, too. I don’t know why, but it’s all their fault.

I eventually recuperated from “bonked” to “exhausted” and we headed home. We took the easy way up Stone because I didn’t trust myself to take the steep route which requires dismounting to walk half a block. I thought I might abandon the bike if that happened. While huffing and puffing up Stone I saw a dad with trailer bombing down the other direction…riding with no hands…taking his helmet off his head and adjusting it down in his lap. What?!? I know a trailer is a different beast than an attached kid seat, but come on!

Other than the alarming no-hands dad on the way home, it was a great day. I tend to avoid the touristy spots on weekends so today was a bit out of the norm. We got a lot more comments about the bike seats and the one less minivan sticker than normal–all positive. Rock on, Seattle.

Phinney from the west

I played tour guide this morning and showed a Phinney-Ridge-dwelling friend my lowlands route to Golden Gardens beach. She takes the crazy steep windy direct route normally, but has only gone with her husband pulling the trailer. I’ve decided to include more glamour shots of Seattle (or wherever) in posts because the same bike and kids has got to be getting boring…but I decided this after taking all of today’s pictures so here’s beach and kids:

Loading up the bikes I met a woman who recognized my bike from seeing it at Whittier Elementary (weekly half hour class for us, real school for her kids) and from the blog. [Hi, Karen!] She has a tandem trail-a-bike, but an older, non-folding version. I didn’t realize they can fold up, but I’ve always thought they were cool. And there are some great accessories on the website: a baby seat and back rest. Great options for getting small kids onto a normal bike.

I hadn’t planned to brave any extra hills today, but I was lured to the Phinney Farmers Market with four words: Half Pint ice cream. My friend led the way–not the crazy steep windy direct route, but her plenty steep route through Ballard. The ride wasn’t too bad at first, but the last block of 73rd before Phinney was a killer. My friend belatedly realized she usually takes a different street for that last block. The ride was harder for her on city bike with double trailer (and bigger kids). I normally only tow my double trailer with my road bike and fancy clicked-in shoes and it’s still a struggle uphill. However, I was very jealous of the double nap her kids took in the double trailer. We hung out at her house to escape the heat and wait for farmers market to start. The boys were excited to see their papa’s beach cruiser, which is currently taking up room in my friend’s garage after playing steed to her visiting brother.


We dropped our houseguest off at the airport this morning (by car) and then biked over to Matthews Beach. I learned a valuable lesson along the way. I saw a poster for the Orange Bike Parade and wanted to take a picture and tweet it, but while I was digging around in my bag, not finding my iPhone (left it at home, turns out), the bike (and kids) tipped over. This has happened before a couple times and it’s heavy to pick up. The other times people have run over and helped me, but I had a brainstorm that if it happened again, I should remove the kids before righting the bike and save my back. Worked like a charm! And I only had to take the 35-pound rear kid out.

NOTE: I’m a huge klutz. The millions of mothers who bike with kids in the Netherlands don’t drop their bikes and you won’t, either. Today’s fall was about being stopped on the slopey gravelly shoulder of the bike path and being an idiot. Here’s the poster I went through all the trouble to take a picture of:

3rd Annual Orange Bike Parade
Sunday, October 2nd, 2012
Seward Park, Seattle
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Registration $15 individual | $45 family

We had a great time last year and plan to attend again. However, I haven’t been on the lookout for orange pants, plus I sacrificed one of my orange socks to Totcycle for the 9 to 5 overnight scavenger hunt. Time to orange up! There will be t-shirts, decorating, and face painting at the event so it’s not imperative to show up ready to roll.

Another fun ride is happening the same day: the Tour de Flannel. We also did this ride last year and loved it (though we didn’t go all the way to Woodinville like the read riders).

Back to today: the beach was big fun and I’d like to point out that the bloody nose was a result of a head-on brothers collision in the playground and not from the bike mishap.

Vancouver: next time by bike

Vancouver is awesome! The kids and I drove up two days ago to explore, retrieve a friend from the Vancouver airport yesterday, and drive back down to Seattle today. A feel a little silly doing a post that involves no biking on my part, but I wasn’t able to find a shop that rents cargo bikes (based on one phone call to Rain City Bikes). However, yesterday we drove by Yes Cycle Bicycle Rentals and I saw they had bikes with iBert front baby seats or rear kid seats. Too late for this visit, but I phoned them in the evening and asked if one could rent a bike with both front and rear seats. The guy on the phone said he thought it’d be hard to handle (even after I mentioned this is my setup at home), but I think we left it at, yes, I could rent a two-kid bike. Hopefully my next visit up will be by train with my bike along, but if not, I’ll be visiting Yes Cycle.

Sunday we drove directly to Granville Island and luckily found a parking spot. Bicycle is definitely the way to visit the place. We saw bikes everywhere, many of them rentals and lots of their riders obviously inexperienced, which makes me think it’s an easy-to-reach destination. We spent most of our time at the wonderful spray park and playground, but the Kids Market and Public Market were big draws, too. I saw lots of bikes with trailers, but the cutest thing I saw was a bachelorette party on bike. The bride-to-be wore a shiny white sash and a veil flowed out from under her helmet.

We headed to the Sylvia Hotel in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day across the street on English Bay. Paradise! The bay is lined by an inner walking path and an outer bike path and again, there were bikes everywhere. Bike rental shops everywhere, too.

Monday was monsoon day which drove us indoors to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park, right next to our hotel. It was too rainy for me to see any bike paths, but I know they’re there.

I see a Canadian bike adventure in our future. Bike to King Street Amtrak Station (though 7:40am departure doesn’t sound too pleasant–but better than 6:50pm departure with 10:50pm arrival) and easy bike over to the Sylvia Hotel. Another option is to stay at a hotel along the SkyTrain, but I really liked the West End/English Bay area. Canada, we’ll be back!

Yellers and readers

I love the comments we get while out and about on the bike. This morning on our way to Ballard we got a “That’d make a nice picture!” and a “Cool!” but the best was the peeing guy in the bushes along the Fremont Cut who shouted “Hey!” to his wobbly buddy who was barley holding up the peeing guy’s bike while pointing at me with his non-aiming hand. I took it for a truncated “Hey! Look at that sweet bike! Did you see it? I’ll describe it to you when I’m done over here. And hey, don’t drop my bike…which is much lighter than her bike, by the way.”

On the way to the beach we stopped in at Dutch Bike Co. for a banana, an apple, and a bonus rear hub adjusting. My gears behaved for a day after my friend adjusted them, but went back to refusing me the two easiest gears. Upon leaving the shop we met a neighbor of Tocycle’s, who recognized my bike from pictures and opened with “I read your blog.” Too cool! She’s got a rear seat, but agrees with me that the handling with just a rear kid is squirrely. I told her I think a Bakfiets in Ballard is coming up for sale soon so hopefully next time I see her she’ll be sitting pretty on a cargo bike.

Heading home from the beach we had a cool wouldn’t-have-happened-in-the-car moment when we saw our favorite ship, the Virginia V, fueling up on the other side of the Aurora bridge. She doesn’t usually leave her moorage at South Lake Union Park so this was very exciting–even more exciting than the excited peeing dude this morning. We spent the rest of the ride home guessing what she was planning to do with her full fuel tank. I think we decided upon bringing a load of puppies and monkeys to the ferry terminal where they would cross the street to board a train.

Bike + bus + beach

Today we took our first bike-on-bus trip with full beach gear. I did better with choosing a bus stop this time. I’m not sure I’ve figured out the best way to choose a route/stop, but the Metro Transit site seems pretty useless so I’ve been relying on Google maps transit directions. I usually find a route that involves a transfer and bike to the second bus. This time I was smart enough to examine the route of the second bus and choose the stop closest to the bike path, rather than the stop closest to home. I don’t completely trust Google maps since last time it directed me to a stop and time that the unexpected express bus skipped over.

The bus was late so we were late for our chiropractor appointment, but things seemed busy enough that it didn’t matter. It probably wasn’t wise to not leave any wiggle room between the scheduled bus arrival and our appointment, but I like the stop and route we chose so I scheduled our next visit for 30 minutes later and we’ll keep everything the same. There was a pregnant woman on a bike with toddler in trailer at the chiro today. She didn’t cheat and take the bus over. Hard core.

Now for the fun part–we took the short trip to Matthews Beach. Side note: this is such a nice beach! The Lake Washington water isn’t too cold to swim in and there’s a real locker room with warm-water showers. The playground was redone in the past year and is really nice. It’d be nicer if it was closer to the beach, the way things are set up at Golden Gardens, but it’s still great. We stayed and played at the beach and playground all day long.

A great part about staying out so long is getting to ride home during commute time and see so many people out on the Burke-Gilman. This evening we saw three Xtracycles. We also saw a guy on a folding bike with plastic bags hanging from each end of his handlebars. He looked jealous of my baskets and big load of stuff. I would have offered to carry his little bags for him, but he was going the other direction. Near campus we saw a twenty-ish kid pedaling with just one foot. We caught up to him at a red light and asked what was going on. My big kid likes to occasionally push his balance bike with just one foot to be silly, but I figured this wasn’t just for fun. He said something was stripped and he’d just put the pedals on in his garage without checking. They had toe clips so I can’t imagine what the problem was, but he wasn’t cackling the way my guy does when he one-foot balance bikes so I think he wasn’t doing the funny-monkey-one-footed-crazy-race.

Tour de skateparks

We started our day at seashell park (Ballard Commons Park) to play in the spray park and watch the skateboarders–after a stop by Dutch Bike Co for apple, banana, and coffee, as has become our Ballard habit lately.

The boys weren’t really feeling the spray park so when Brad texted that he and his Xtracycle full of kids and kid bikes were down at the Seattle Center, we migrated south. Along the way we got to wait for the Fremont drawbridge (always fun on the bike, pain in the butt in the car) and then retrieved the wheel I knocked off green plastic truck two weeks ago.

The Seattle Center was a much better time–the boys hopped right into the DuPen Fountain and splashed around. Brad and his kids took my bike for a little spin while his Xtracycle looked on and chuckled. Then I discovered how great it is to have a handy friend–I warned Brad he wouldn’t be able to shift into the two highest gears if he needed them, but he took a look and said it was actually my easiest two gears not working. Dude, I need those easy gears! No wonder the hills have been feeling harder lately. He asked what kind of tools I had on me (ha!) and then MacGyvered something together from his tool kit and Legos and adjusted my rear hub. And tightened my breaks.

After Brad and kids took off for lunch, we watched the skateboarders at Sea Sk8 for a bit before heading to a pre-preschool playdate nearby.

I should have taken the short and steep route home now that I’ve got my easy gears back, but we took the easy way up Stone and it only seemed fitting to stop at the Lower Woodland Park skatepark, where we sat and ate a snack while watching the skaters and scooterers. There was one kid on a bike inside the skatepark, but I think he was just watching his friends and not riding. I hadn’t noticed this, but bikes aren’t allowed in Seattle skateparks. Muuqi just wrote a piece about this on Life(Cycles). At least Lower Woodland Park has dirt jumps right next to the skatepark that we’ve enjoyed in the past and hosted a few BMX riders today.