Archive | September 2011

Lots of locks

I had a glimpse of our multi-bike future today when I had to use two locks to secure my bike, two balance bikes, and the trailer. I’ve lugged the trailer of balance bikes around quite a bit lately, but never somewhere I wouldn’t be close enough to the locked bike that I was worried about the trailer. This was also the first time the balance bikes stayed in the trailer at a first stop. I’m sure the Wallingford Wurst Festival isn’t a hotbed of crime, but it attracts a lot of people and I wouldn’t be within sight of my bike most of the time.

I got a couple impressed looks and comments on my way to the festival and felt the need to point out that the trailer didn’t contain kids number three and four, but simply tiny bikes. Not to belittle my accomplishment, but five people on/behind one bike is more of a feat than one person moving two people and three bikes.

All bounce housed out, I slowly unlocked my very secure bike and we headed to a bike-themed birthday party in the empty Green Lake wading pool. Little girl bikes are so cute! Here’s the birthday girl’s balance bike with her brand new basket and tassels.

Today’s miles: 5.6 miles
September cumulative: 101.2 miles
Days missed: 5

South Ship Canal Trail

We stopped to check out some new Tibetan prayer flags by our secret train tracks (along the access road by Westlake, under the Aurora Bridge) and explored the area on foot for the first time–it’s usually enough just to bike by and say “Secret train tracks!” In addition to the prayer flags, we found lots of blackberries and a toy dinosaur garden.

Feeling adventurous, we stayed down on the access road to connect west with the South Ship Canal Trail. We can see it from the Burke-Gilman Trail on the north side of the ship canal and I’ve been meaning to check it out. It’s great! Currently it can easily be accessed by a ramp from 3rd Ave North and heads a mile west, I think 12th Avenue West, although Google Maps only shows it extending to 11th. The street up to Nickerson was kind of steep so I wasn’t motivated to explore all the way up to the street sign. So it’s not extremely useful for us right now, but when they complete it by the end of the year, it’ll be great! I like avoiding the Ballard Bridge and taking the scenic route through the locks, but it’s time consuming and includes the Missing Link.

Parts of the path are pretty–we checked out West Ewing Mini Park and cruised down a ramp to the water for a unfamiliar view of the Burke-Gilman. But most of it is pretty industrial. Of course, that’s exciting for little boys.

Once our exploring was done, we headed back over the Fremont Bridge to check out the PARK(ing) Day spot at Hub and Bespoke where I pedaled us some bike-blender watermelon slushies. Next year I’d like to check out the downtown PARK(ing) spots to see what they’re like, since they’re so many of them close together, but I have a feeling they won’t be as fancy as Hub and Bespoke’s was.

Today’s miles: 11.9 miles
September cumulative: 95.6 miles
Days missed: 5

Safer roadways press conference

There have been several bike crash fatalites in Seattle recently. Tom of Seattle Bike Blog wrote a stirring piece We have reached a turning point in Seattle bicycle safety which alerted me to the Cascade Bicycle Club press conference today. It was less than a mile from home so I dragged myself out of my sick bed and biked over with the kids. There was a great turnout, though things ran late waiting on two City Council members who got stuck in traffic on the way over. But at least that allowed us to make the obligatory “they shoulda biked!” jokes.

M.J. Kelly’s (Cascade Bicycle Club Director of Communications) speech was particularly moving. There were news cameras there, but I don’t see the whole thing televised. Here’s an interview with her from today on KOMO News. Cascade posted a recap of the press conference with rules of conduct for motorists, bikes, and pedestrians while we wait for a much-needed better infrastructure.

Today’s extra couple miles were from a post-nap grocery trip. No biggie, but this was our second shopping trip with eggs and our first with no eggs broken! Of course the broken egg last time wasn’t from transit, but from “Mama, can I just hold one? Now can I hold two?” incident that involved an accidental egg drop. Thank goodness he forgot that I told him although I was going to carry the eggs on our first shopping experience, he could hold them on the way home the second time. There’s plenty of time to risk more egg casualties.

Today’s miles: 3.7 miles
September cumulative: 83.7 miles
Days missed: 5

Too sick to ride

Third time wasn’t the charm–I’ve failed my third pass at 30 Days of Biking. The past three days should have been spent in San Diego, riding Alternabike’s Gazelle Cabby cargo bike, but instead I’ve been sleeping off a kidney infection. Perhaps I could have dragged myself out for quick solo pedals without doing any additional damage, but I figured I could also stay in bed and demonstrate that things don’t always go according to plan. I do have to pay tribute to my car because I was very happy to be driven to the doctor Friday morning. It was also extremely helpful for broken-shouldered Mr. Familyride to drive the kids to the beach so I could recuperate in a quiet house. So thanks, car. I know I don’t see the inside of you often, but I’m happy you’re still in my life.

I’m not race-ready yet, but I was (barely) up for the school run this morning, with both kids in tow this time. The front kid and I had a nice little adventure on the way back home. We got to wait for the drawbridge and chatted with another bike rider who recognized my bike by the “one less minivan” bumper sticker. Then we stopped halfway up Stone to watch the huge Stoneway Village construction site. Morning is prime construction-watching time! We keep hitting it after 5pm when there’s little going on.

We hit the grocery store on the way home to utilize our extra cargo space. Note the guard dog in the above photo. If he was going to be there the duration of our shopping trip, I could have left my bike unlocked. Little guy was cute, but extremely barky.

I carefully perched our spare helmet on the rear seat grocery bag–a sign that I’m obviously not quite back to normal yet. Hopefully tomorrow is a more energetic day and I manage both drop off and pickup (today I was conveniently stuck home with a napping toddler so Mr. Familyride handled pickup).

Today’s miles: 4.7 miles
September cumulative: 80.0 miles

First school run

First day of preschool for the four-year old! It was actually a bigger first for the two-year old since today was my once-every-three-weeks working day at preschool…so rather than the four-year old experiencing his first stint away from Mr. Familyride or me, the little guy had his first babysitter experience. Both kids did fine, but I was exhausted from my five hours of work.

I was worried the bike would be squirrely with just the rear kid, but it handled just fine there and back. That’s the good news. The bad news is that even minus the 25 pounds of front passenger, I had to walk the steep block home. Preschool is tiring!

Today’s miles: 4.4 miles
September cumulative: 75.3 miles

Fremont in the future

We haven’t had the most exciting couple of days, but it’s 30 Days of Biking, which means 30 days (OK, just 29 now since I’m combining two) days of blogging about biking so you get to hear about them.

Yesterday I had to make up for skipping Bumbershoot and take the kids to “Space Needle Swimming Pool” (DuPen Fountain) for some wading action. We hung out for a while and then biked under the monorail tracks to Westlake Center to look for bento boxes at Daiso and ride the escalator. And just to complete our touristy experience, we next headed to Pike Place Market and wandered around and ate blackberries.

I’m sure I’ll kick myself in a month for this complaint, but it was too hot today! I was tired and my easiest two gears had disappeared again and I somehow thought riding up Fremont Avenue would be easier than slogging up Stone. Not so. But it’s a pretty street with lots of trees so I think I might give it a try again on a cooler day with just the little one along. The big kid is starting preschool tomorrow (woo hoo!) so I should plan on scaling some big hills in my 12 one-kid hours a week.

This morning was spent in the car doing breakfast out, thrift store, and groceries. All places we can (barely) bike to, but I was feeling hot and tired still. But this afternoon was bikey with a trip to the local farmers market. I had originally told the boys we’d hook up the trailer and bring their balance bikes to the park, but I just couldn’t stomach the thought of more bike walking so soon.

We saw some awesome bike accessories on the bike rack at Meridian Park. First up, was a knit bike basket sweater. I’m calling it a sweater and not a liner on account of the cute mismatched buttons. I saw the owner riding away later, but was too shy to flag her down and ask about it. Next time.

And these handlebar flowers are pretty sweet. The boys sometimes have plastic flowers on their balance bikes, but these look fairly realistic as well as sturdy.

Best, though, was finding the lantern fish van in the Uptown Espresso parking lot. I think it was probably part of Art Walk and not part of farmers market. One of these days I hope to see it after dark when it’s all lit up.

Yesterday’s miles: 12.1 miles
Today’s miles: 1.3 miles
September cumulative: 70.9 miles

Val Kleitz Memorial Bike Ride

For the first time since Cranksgiving, we made the trek to Capitol Hill for the Val Kleitz Memorial Bike Ride, put on by Aaron’s Bicycle Repair. We met Val on the Easter cargo bike ride where he took this awesome picture (a.k.a panda shot) of himself riding alongside us. He was cargo bike royalty, mechanic extraordinaire, and I just love his Bike-Hugger-declared Best Shop Prank–make sure you read all the comments, too.

We met up at 20/20 Cycle which has a toy area! The kids were kept busy inside playing so I was allowed some time to check out all the people and bikes convening out front. I was very interested to see Car Free Days Anne’s tandem bike. I’d been wondering how kids fit on the back of tandems–it’s simply the addition of a kid-back. Precision Tandems has some amazing pictures them in use. I’m not sure that’s in our future, but it seems like a wonderful way to keep bigger kids nearby as well as get to travel at adult speed.

Aaron’s was the only Bakfiets I noticed, but there were several other cargo bikes, a half dozen Xtracycles, a Yuba Mundo, Stella the dog in a basket, and two radio-equipped bikes.

I hope someone took a headcount and recorded the route. I think there were at least 50 people along and this is roughly the route we took from Capitol Hill to Ravenna Park:

I can’t believe I rode my bike to/through Volunteer Park! We biked around the water tower a bunch of times while waiting for everyone to regroup.

I had planned to just do the ride and skip the picnic so we could go back to Bumbershoot one last time, but it was just too fun (OK, and maybe I was just a little too tired as well). We met Kent Peterson of Kent’s Bike Blog and Laura and Russ of The Path Less Pedaled, and saw a lot of familiar faces: Eric of Tubulocity, Anne and Tim of Car Free Days, Seattle Bike Blog‘s Tom, and Biking with Brad. And we made a lot of new adult, kid, and dog friends.

Today’s miles: 14.7 miles
September cumulative: 57.5 miles

ALIVE film at Bumbershoot

Today we started at the 1 Reel Film Festival for the tail end of the Films4Families Animation Showcase during which my son asked “When will we see the bike movie?” over and over until the ALIVE (A Low Impact Vehicle Exploration) shorts started. First up was the Rejuiced Bikes flick which profiled all the exciting bikes at the aLIVe booth. We learned that our beloved water bike is named H2O Flow and the recycling bike we rode yesterday is the Trashy Trike. And one of the bikes did the STP. The Undriving short was great, too, but I would have liked one more profile of a bike-riding undriver. There was a glimpse of the second undriver’s (primarily a bus rider) e-bike, but that was it.

Though there wasn’t a big line when we arrived today, I wanted to try the backside bike parking and entrance anyway. I couldn’t find the bike corral so I locked up to a bus stop and hoped for the best. Once through the gates I realized the idea was to bring the bike in and use the regular racks just inside so I reparked when I had a chance a couple hours later. Now that I’m looking at the map I can see that the bike parking icon is inside the festival boundary. I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow. It’s nice to have access to the bike without having to leave and re-enter in case I want to leave extra stuff in the baskets, but the location isn’t quite as convenient.

I stopped to grab a picture of the The Bicycle Doctor mobile bicycle repair, parked on Dexter near John, on the way home. I saw a quick post about it on TUBULOCITY, but this was my first sighting. He was parked there on our way in, too, so I’m not sure this was a long housecall or just a parking spot.

Usually I like an excuse to ride alone and not have to talk nonstop about trains, seaplanes, and puppies, but this evening I felt lonely. Not at first–several hilarious Bumbershoot-goers asked for rides as they were going in and I was riding out. Even though I spent the entire ride reminding myself “The kids aren’t with you–you don’t have to wave at the Ride the Ducks tours” I still waved at the last one I saw. Then I nearly had to walk up the steep block by home so I’m obviously suffering some odd side effects from being tired and dehydrated. Hopefully I can try the ride home solo again tomorrow after sufficient water intake.

Today’s miles: 10.8 miles
September cumulative: 42.8 miles

aLIVe at Bumbershoot

Best thing at Bumbershoot day one: the aLIVe H2O bike (and the rest of the fleet) visiting from Portland. Not only do its good looks draw gawking kids and adults over from near and far, it doesn’t just sit passively when parked–it collects rain water into its three tanks.

The water bike couldn’t accommodate two littles so we took our test ride on the recycle bike, with the kids sitting in the recycling bay. It only takes two pedalers so I rode pedicab-style while Nat and a ten-year old ferried us around. I kept catching the kid shirking his pedaling duty, but he didn’t want to stop and give me a turn. Not complaining, it’s nice to let someone else do the work, but I wasn’t sure how long my recyclites would last back there and I wanted a go, too.

There’s a collection of short films called ALIVE (A Low Impact Vehicle Exploration) tomorrow I’m hoping we can check out. In the meantime, here’s my video of the funny fleet. Apologies for the musical accompaniment (two-year old clanging stick on metal fence).

Otherwise, Bumbershoot doesn’t seem as bikey this year. The special treatment last year was nice, with the free bag check at the bike corral (although this year there is free bag check for everyone at the State Farm booth) and passes to a Very Important Biker booth with free bike-blender-made smoothies. This year things started out on a low note when I discovered the bike corral was a swampy mess. The map shows a second bike parking area on Mercer steet so I’ll give that a try tomorrow. Plus, the Mercer Street entrance should be much faster. And hopefully its exit will have a ramp for the stroller.

Parking swamp 11:20am

Parking swamp 7:00pm

The kids were also intrigued by the Medic One bikes by the first aid station. I’ve never seen them before, but the paramedic said they’re also used at sporting events.

I was impressed by how much stuff they hold…though I will point out that the stickers the paramedic gave us came from the ambulance, not the bike. I can appreciate trying to keep the load light. Speaking of a light load, the only thing we missed today was a picnic blanket. I didn’t end up using the Ergo, but I’m glad I had it along and will bring it tomorrow, too. The kids mostly walked, but I used the little stroller to carry our bag of snacks and kid swim stuff so happy to have had it along. Yes: swim stuff. Most of our Bumbershoot was spent in the Youngershoot Kids’ Zone playing with the Children’s Museum Legos and swimming in DuPen Fountain. Kids don’t seem to appreciate the fact that they can do that stuff any old day and should let their mom hang out and watch music at Bumbershoot.

Today’s miles: 10.1 miles
September cumulative: 32.0 miles

Deja zoo

OK, we didn’t actually go to the zoo today, but we did ride up to Phinney Ridge twice. It’s a climb to get there, but I like it because it’s all downhill to come back home. We met a friend at the new Phinney Market and Pub which could only be awesomer if it had a bike rack directly in front of it…but the one next door does the trick. Then we popped over to the playground a block away that we love, but have only been to twice because it’s not often we come to Phinney without spending all our time at the zoo.

We swung by Trader Joe’s on our way home, where I usually feel like I’m infiltrating a club for hipster bikes when I take a parking spot on the rail of kewlness out front. We had hoped to see Geoff, friend of Seattle Bike Blog‘s Tom, working today to talk to him about his hand-built bamboo bike. Not because we’re especially into hand-built bikes (although they are very cool), but because the boys love bamboo. Gnawing on it, that is. He wasn’t there this time, but soon he’ll be subjected to two small pandas shouting “Um um, bamboo! Um um, bamboo!” at him.

After an hour’s rest at home (not enough!), we headed back uphill to the Phinney Farmers Market for the highlight of our day: MoZo. They’re so cute! We listened to their “folk-pop and blues meets rock ‘n roll” while eating our Half Pint ice cream and it took me a while to notice their bikes behind them. They bike everywhere! They live in Ballard, but play all over the place. Hopefully they’ll play another daytime gig within my range soon.

And then just one final stop at Hagrid’s Chair outside Not a Number Cards & Gifts. They have them for sale now, for anyone in need of an enormous beach chair with six cup holders. I could possibly fold one up and bungee it to the bike, but we’ll stick with a picnic blanket for our outdoor seating needs.

Today’s miles: 12.9 miles
September cumulative: 21.9 miles