Archive | September 2011

30 Days of Biking fail…but win

It took failing 30 Days of Biking to truly appreciate how much it’s changed my life. I completed the last two rounds (September 2010 and April 2011) successfully, but nine days into this month I fell prey to a kidney infection and basically slept for five days straight. I probably could have staggered out of bed for a ten-second driveway ride each of those days, and probably would have done so for the previous rounds in which I participated. I’m strangely not upset about having failed this time and I think it’s because those two successful rounds have played the biggest part in turning me into an everyday bike rider. It’s great to realize how many places I didn’t think were bikeable even six months ago are now regular destinations.

I wanted to do something big today to commemorate the end of the month, but our day started out on a very low note when my very first bike passenger, Lyle, The Greatest Chihuahua of All Time, bid farewell to this world after 18 years of being the very best pet, friend, and sometimes-accessory a gal could have. So my first trip was a car drive to the vet. Then the kids and I biked to nearby Green Lake playground (and on the way we circled the traffic circle cow a couple times, naturally) and then onward to the U-Village shopping center to pick up a copy of The Tenth Good Thing About Barney.

I had forgotten about the filming detour so we took a side trip by the UW husky statue while trying to find our way back to the Burke-Gilman Trail. The detour-sign holders weren’t very helpful and most people carried their bikes up a flight of stairs. We found a pedestrian bridge with ramp just past the doggie statue. On the way home I ran into a friend with trailer who was practically in tears over having been turned back at two points trying to get through the closure. Thank goodness it was the last day of filming. I’m boycotting the movie over the mayhem it’s caused.

And that’s the end of round four (round three for me) of 30 Days of Biking. We had some great experiences this month–we took part in some memorable events: the Val Kleitz Memorial Bike Ride, the safer roadways press conference, Moving Planet, and the Safe Streets Social ride; we discovered the South Ship Canal Trail and Snoqualmie Tunnel; and we survived the first rain of the season and transporting a very big box.

I’m looking forward to round five in April. Maybe I won’t even feel compelled to fill the month with a bunch of firsts and just ride ride ride. I do hope to encourage some friends to join me for the fun.

Yesterday’s miles: 4.6 miles
Today’s miles: 8.9 miles
September cumulative: 212.0 miles
Days missed: 6

First frozen pizza purchase

We took the car out this morning. I’m so sad that our weekly class moved from Whittier Elementary to Olympic Hills. I feel like I just figured out how to make it to Whittier by bike. Next Wednesday is Walk to School Day which originally further bummed me out, but now I’m thinking it’ll encourage me to bus and bike next week. I don’t think the terrain map does justice to how much beyond my abilities the new (green pushpin) school is.

Home from our car trip, we hopped on the bike and rode to Green Lake to meet a friend and once again stopped by the paper mache cow. This was the four-year old’s first visit to the cow. He wasn’t as scared of it as he looks.

My baskets were full of sand toys, but we stopped by the grocery store on the way home. I’ve never bought frozen pizza by bike since the Ryan van Duzer grocery shoppin’ on a bicycle video tricked me into thinking it’s a big deal. It’s not. I was hoping one of the boys would want to hold the pizzas, but they both feigned shivers until I said I’d hold them. Per The VeloBusDriver’s very helpful tip a while back to carry eggs in my messenger bag (or backpack in his case), I shoved the two pizza boxes in my little Tom Bihn Imago.

Not only did they stay put, they were quite invigorating! I think I might have to make a point of riding around with an ice pack in my bag from now on. I might start wearing a cycling jersey just so I can line the little back pockets with Mr. Bump ice packs.

Today’s miles: 4.5 miles
September cumulative: 203.1 miles
Days missed: 6

Big box delivery

I thought things were exciting this morning when I used the vacant rear seat to carry a ten-pound box of laundry detergent. But that was nothing compared to the huge box I later brought to the post office. Note my lonely car parked in the driveway. Taking it wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting.

I couldn’t figure out a good way to secure the box to the bike so I capped it with one of my waterproof IKEA bags, bungeed to itself underneath the seat. It looked less impressive hidden under the bag, but it stayed in place the mile to the post office.

We couldn’t resist swinging by the big cow again. That cow is going to make us late for preschool pickup one of these days!

Today’s miles: 14.4 miles
September cumulative: 198.6 miles
Days missed: 6

First rain of the season

I was pretty excited to take our first rainy ride of the season. I’m sure the feeling won’t last–I’ll always be a weather-wimpy Southern Californian. The boys wore rain suits and boots, but I forgot gloves for all of us. They seemed OK, but I was uncomfortable riding with wet hands. The front kid’s Newt Suit is awesome, but doesn’t have pockets. The rear kid sports MEC Rain Bib Pants under Lands’ End (via thrift store–woo hoo) rain jacket so he had pockets–and he’s the fussy-about-pockets one. I have some MEC rain pants for myself, but was too lazy to put them on and ended up with very wet pants cuffs. Room for improvement. I’d also like a new rain jacket as I’m using a hand-me-down babywearing jacket, which is waterproof and wonderful, but I worry that very heavy rain will seep through the head hole in the back since it’s held closed by three snaps rather than a zipper.

I was rather proud of my two-IKEA-bag seat-covering system last spring, but after dropping off the four-year old at preschool this morning, I realized it’d be nice to have a third bag so I can leave his seat snugly covered the four hours he’s not using it. As it was, with reparking and recovering twice (coffee shop then playgroup) during the four hour break, both kid seat pads got soaked. Dutch Bike Co has some cute shower-cappy seat covers I’ll look into for my seat.

Route-wise, I decided a while ago I wouldn’t take my usual steep decent to the Burke-Gilman Trail come rainy season. Perhaps I’d feel differently if I had disc brakes, but I think it’s more about needing to let more time pass since my skidding-out-on-the-ice incident last winter.

I had a nice bike-beats-car situation this afternoon. The playgroup Little R and I attended this morning was at the house of a preschool buddy and we left at roughly the same time to pick up the big siblings, me on my bike and my friend in her car. I felt like I was running a bit late so I tossed the bike in a bush, without locking it or turning off the lights and got to the parent lineup at 1:02. Fortunately Monday is music class day which often runs late so I wasn’t late after all. My car-driving friend arrived a few minutes later, having missed a light I was able to take via crosswalk. And then the final mom arrived several minutes after that–she had to circle the block to find parking. Go bikes! However, had I been in my car, I would have been running several minutes ahead because I wouldn’t have stopped to take pictures of the life-size paper mache cow (on the traffic circle at Woodlawn and Kenwood if you want to check it out before it dissolves). So totally worth it. I never would have been able to hop the curb to get to the cow with both kids on the bike, by the way.

We made a late afternoon grocery-shopping trip once the rain had stopped. I made a very interesting discovery–Seattle rain brings out the ugly bikes. The railing outside the U-District Trader Joes is usually a veritable fashion show of hipster bikes, but today was all be-fendered B team. I shouldn’t mock them–I think I’ll put fenders on my mountain bike and hook it up to the double trailer when it gets snowy (lightly snowy, that is) out.

Today’s miles: 12.5 miles
September cumulative: 184.2 miles
Days missed: 6

Moving Planet / Safe Streets Social

Moving Planet: A Day Move Beyond Fossil Fuels was a blast yesterday! People biked (and walked/bused/drove) in from all over the city to celebrate at South Lake Union Park. The boys and I traded bike helmets for pirate hats (for them) and nautical scarf (for me) and were volunteer skippers at the model boat pond, helping set up kids up with Pirate Pond Boats. The boats were lots of fun, but we didn’t get a chance to explore the festival. Before things got too busy on the pond, I met Kelli of Yoga for Bikers who was setting up to conduct a yoga class using bikes as yoga props. One of these days I hope to go on one of her YoCycle rides.

It wasn’t lonely at the pond, though. Friends stopped by to sail boats and say hi and we made a new friend in Jennifer, the Seattle component of Loop-Frame Love–she recognized my bike from online pictures! :)

Once our shift at the pond ended, I brought my bike over to the Family Bike Expo so people could test ride it. Morgan had a lot of cool bikes on display, including my friend’s Madsen that got taken for spins by nearly everyone at the park–I wasn’t sure my bike would be enticing enough. But after a while it got three or four test riders…including a tall guy, which is always funny to watch. His wife tried it out, too, before they took off on their bike train. And it really was a bike train: mom riding solo, oldest kid riding solo, dad pulling trail-a-bike and bike trailer. They like having the trailer behind the trail-a-bike because it keeps it stable. I have yet to try a trail-a-bike, but apparently they flop around a bit.

As Moving Planet wound down, bikers gathered for the Safe Streets Social: A slow bike ride to honor the fallen and support each other. A lot of people came out for it. We got to meet The VeloBusDriver which was very exciting, but the boys were too shy to ask him any of their million bus-related questions. It wasn’t a very long ride since the three ghost bikes are startlingly close to one another, but we went slow (well, my normal pace) and it really was a social event. I chatted with Anne-Marije Rook, The Riding Reporter a lot (all off the record, I think) and had a great time with Del Rey, whom I met back on the Easter Cargo Bike Ride. This is her Bicycle Blues video, which I learned of when a fan recognized her:

Very fitting theme for today’s ride (more info here). She mentioned she might do a European ukulele tour on a Brompton folding bike. What a life!

I can’t get the “embed video” to cooperate, but here is the local Fox coverage of the ride.

No riding today. I’m really screwing up this round’s 30 Days of Biking. I’m not as sick as I was the first five missed days, but I’m sick that sleeping all day while the boys and broken-shoulder Mr. Family Ride drove to the beach sounded like a great plan. I’m pretty wimpy when I’m sick and this lingering cough is making me slow and whiny. Wah.

Yesterday’s miles: 8.7 miles
Today’s miles: 0 miles
September cumulative: 171.7 miles
Days missed: 6

Shopping in helmets

I always take my helmet off when I visit the grocery store–even for one-item trips–but the kids don’t mind leaving their Little Nuttys on and it certainly speeds things up. However, in addition to the “Cool helmets, guys!” we get some funny looks so I wonder if some fellow shoppers think they’re wearing the helmets for the shopping cart ride. I’m tempted to notify them, “We came by bike!” but I just smile and imagine I’m thought of as the crazy lady that puts her kids in helmets to go grocery shopping.

The grocery store was only a small part of our fun day. In the not-so-fun department, I opted to return some library books to the Fremont branch and rather than go around the block, I scaled one block of Troll Avenue. Big mistake–way too steep for two weeks into the cough-that-wouldn’t-go-away. Fortunately our next stop was Space Needle Swimming Pool (aka DuPen Fountain) where I recuperated in the shade while the boys splashed around. And then we moved to the Children’s Museum where they splashed around at the water table while I further recuperated on the squishy toddler play floor.

I had originally planned to head home and hook up the trailer to haul our expired carseat to the CoolMom carseat recycling event at the Phinney Farmers Market, but I couldn’t stand the thought of more hills. But I really like the idea of biking our old carseat to recycle it so it’ll happen one of these days.

Today’s miles: 11.0 miles
September cumulative: 163.0 miles
Days missed: 5

New tire, new kickstand

Got the bike back from the shop yesterday so we were able to celebrate World Carfree Day by bike today. The bike is all tuned up and has a couple minor changes. The back tire is now a stylish solid black. Hearing my whining about the color change, Mr. Familyride suggested I order a redwall to replace it and save the black one as a spare. It sounds a bit extravagant, so I’m going to stop whining and see if the black tire grows on me. I also got a replacement double kickstand (Pletscher, again). The old one bent a while back rendering it mostly useless. I’ll try to take it easier on the new one.

Apparently when I dropped my bike off, it wasn’t only moments away from exploding, it also had a dry chain. Shame on me. Hoping to remedy that, I think I’ll attend one of the Seattle Public Library upcoming Bike Maintenance classes, part of a series of Urban Self-Reliance workshops. They’re also offering several Introduction to Bike Commuting classes.

Yesterday’s miles: 3.9 miles
Today’s miles: 8.4 miles
September cumulative: 152.0 miles
Days missed: 5

Bike delivery gal

I’ve always thought it’d be cool to have a bike-based business (selling what, I don’t know: ice cream in the summer, socks in the winter?) and I got a little taste of that today. As one of the million Seattle parents selling Chinook coupon books, I’m trying to stand out from the crowd by offering bike delivery. I emailed my ad to the 1800-strong local moms group and got one bite. Not the best odds, but more books than I thought I’d sell.

Almost as exciting as the Chinook Book sale was today’s marvelous weather. I really didn’t think we’d see the sun again until next July so we enjoyed a bonus beach day after preschool. We even saw a dog riding in a bike basket along Shilshole in Ballard which only happens on the most summery of days.

As we were getting ready to leave the beach I admired the lights on a guy’s electric bike. Turns out they’re just for electric bikes, but we had a nice conversation about bikes and he asked if my loaded-down bike had a motor, which always makes me feel superhuman. I think this wasn’t your everyday electric bike, but more of a hybrid bike-only/electric-only vehicle. He mentioned he’d recently had the bike part worked on by Dutch Bike Co, which just so happened to be our next stop.

I’d scheduled a tune-up at DBC for tomorrow and was originally going to drop the bike off midday Wednesday, but it seemed even better to dump it off on the way home from the beach. I’m so spoiled getting to bike everywhere; walking half a mile to catch the bus took forever. But it’s a good thing I dropped the bike off when I did. A few days ago I noticed a thwacking noise every revolution of the back tire and it turns out that was due to the excessively worn tire bubbling out. Fritz said I was lucky it hadn’t blown out. I assumed he meant getting a regular old flat, but he elaborated by making a big explosion gesture and saying “Flames and death!” Fortunately the boys were busy with their dollar bananas in the cafe area and didn’t hear the scary news. I’m a little sad my cute redwall tire will be replaced with a whitewall, but that’s better than being bikeless while waiting for a redwall to arrive.

Today’s miles: 17.1 miles
September cumulative: 139.7 miles
Days missed: 5

Snoqualmie Tunnel ride

Yay for adventurous friends! I thought I was adventurous dragging the two-year old on five back-to-back bike errands while the four-year old was in preschool, but when I got Biking with Brad‘s text message inviting us along on a ride through the Snoqualmie Tunnel, I realized just how mundane my “adventure” was.

My bike joined Brad’s Xtracycle (with all removable parts removed) and Claire’s very interesting-looking Easy Boarding Biria (assisted with a ingenious top tube adapter…which I read about three months ago on Ding Ding Let’s Ride and was stoked to see in person. I think I need one of these!) on the back of the van. Six bike locks are holding everything mostly stable. We had to add a seventh bike lock halfway there when my bike threatened to jump ship.

All four kids brought balance bikes, too, which they rode on either side of the tunnel.

The tunnel itself was exhilarating–by which I mean, terrifying the the first time through and not so bad the way back. One of my morning errands was to pick up new batteries for my Knog Beetle light, but after the tunnel I’ve decided I need more power. Brad and Claire’s dynamo lights and their kids’ flashlights provided ample light for all of us, though.

The tunnel is 2.3 miles long of hard-packed gravel and I think it slopes down on either edge. On the far side of the tunnel we spent a lot of time throwing rocks over the cliff, which it turns out is just as much fun as spending lots of time throwing rocks into water. Then we biked an additional mile down the trail to see an old train avalanche structure. My four-year old squeezed onto the back of the Xtracycle so I only had 25 pounds of kids for the slight downhill mile. I think it actually made me a little less sturdy for the patch of loose gravel, but everyone stayed upright.

We met 20-year old, bike-touring Christian coming up the trail on a Montague folding bike who rode back to the parking lot with us. The gravel trek up from North Bend had taken longer than he’d estimated, but I was still incredibly impressed and he seemed to have endless energy to finish. I noticed a poster for the Bus-Up 90 John Wayne Pioneer Trail Shuttle in the parking lot which is probably more my kind of long ride up here.

Today’s miles: 12.8 miles
September cumulative: 122.6 miles
Days missed: 5

Solo road bike ride

I took my road bike to my haircut this afternoon…all by myself! I haven’t taken it out without the double trailer in quite a while. I felt so fast. I felt so anonymous. I still waved at a Ride the Ducks tour bus/boat at a red light, but otherwise I could have been any old bike rider. I’d considered bringing regular shoes along, but figured this is Seattle and even a hip hair salon doesn’t bat an eye at old ugly SPDs. Naturally, the first words out of my hair dresser’s mouth were “Do you always wear bike shoes?” Oops.

I squeezed in a couple quick bikey errands on the way home. First up I stopped by Second Ascent to get the boys some water bottles in hopes they’ll stop stealing mine. I was hoping to get Rabobank and Astana, but there wasn’t a big selection. Then I stopped by Dutch Bike Co. to pump up my tires…which I really should have done before leaving home, but I was running late. Even though I didn’t bend a rim on the way over, there’s a lesson to be learned here.

At DBC, Travis gave me a print copy of Momentum Magazine, the What Women Want issue, that has a picture of me on page 35.

In retrospect I should have taken the mamafiets because I met everyone at Wallingford Pizza House for dinner where I rode home in the drizzle and waited a half hour for everyone else to walk home at two-year-old pace.

Today’s miles: 8.6 miles
September cumulative: 109.8 miles
Days missed: 5