This post was going to be a recap of today’s Buy Nothing Day Cargo Bike Ride, but instead it’s a love letter to Seattle and her awesome bike riders. Say what you will about the Seattle Freeze, but there are some remarkably nice folks here, many of them on bikes.
I started out with the group from Pike Place Market, but my bike was making a rubbing sound so I stopped briefly to tug on my kickstand and try to get it back into place. No luck so I stopped on the sidewalk and let the group get away from me while I gave it a more proper tugging. A nice pedestrian offered to hold the bike while I manhandled the kickstand and diagnosed it as my needing to find someone with an allen key to loosen it a bit. I rode another block and saw John, who hadn’t set out to take part in the Cargo Bike Ride, but saw Aaron and stopped to say hi right before we set off for Oxbow Park. He’d apparently changed his mind about riding around alone and was looking for our group. I asked if he had an allen wrench and he kindly removed my kickstand for me. Unfortunately that didn’t stop the rubbing so I stopped yet again and tugged at my rear fender and that stopped the sound.
John, friendly Seattle cyclist
I admitted to John that while I’ve been to Oxbow a few times, it’s always been by bus from downtown so he took the reins and at my urging, set a nice quick (for me) pace down there. I can move fairly quickly as long as I’m on flat ground and I was in my hardest two gears most of the time. The only hill we had was the 1st Ave South bridge over the train tracks. We figured Aaron had led the group along the waterfront since we didn’t see them and given our pace, I wasn’t surprised when we beat them to the park. That gave me time to find a tree for the boys–the irony of Oxbow Park is that while the boots housed the gas station bathroom in the Hat n’ Boots days, there’s no restroom in the park now–and John reattached my kickstand.
The gang arrived soon enough and fetched a picnic table with the huge trailer behind Aaron’s bakfiets. He’d used the trailer to haul three huge logs and an axe to the picnic. I was still impressed with myself for hauling a growler of beer, chips, and guacamole. Small bike, small load. Big bike, big load.
The sun was starting to get low in the sky at 4:30 so we packed up shop and planned to follow a couple Xtracycles through Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill and then find our way home. But I saw that first hill heading east on Lucile under the freeway and decided to go it alone back the way we came. I was heading up 1st in SODO trying to decide if I wanted to deal with hills and find my way up through Westlake, find the new ship canal trail, or just take the flat and long trip along the waterfront and through the locks. I heard a bike behind me and kept expecting him to pass. Instead, it seemed like he was riding protectively, swinging out to the side as cars passed around us. I glanced back a couple times and saw a glimpse of green, but didn’t turn my head enough to get a good look at the guy. Finally I took a proper look back and lo and behold, it was David and Stella. Stella is the luckiest dog in the Puget Sound and rides everywhere in David’s front basket. Another Seattle Freeze misunderstanding narrowly avoided: I’m not rude, just nearsighted. So we rode together along the waterfront and David offered to lead us down to the new ship canal trail, but we opted to follow him through the locks instead. Stella had her warm blanket to nestle under, but my puppies were underdressed so we stopped at the locks to layer up while David and Stella pushed on north.
Heading up Market we ran into Cascade Bicycle Ambassador Brian Bothomley, another one of Seattle’s most awesome bike riders who is officially recognized for being such. I often see him at the Ballard Farmers Market on Sundays where he can answer any biking question you may have.
Finally nearing home, I cruised along the Burke-Gilman Trail and reflected on how terrific Seattle is. Mind you, this post probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day had it rained today, as expected. But today was sunny and not too cold (until the sun set) and somehow magical. Despite my occasional complaining that no city is bikey enough without miles upon miles of separated bike lanes like in the Netherlands, Seattle is the bikiest place I’ve lived. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to easily bike many places in my various cities–Santa Barbara, Albany (CA), San Diego, and Las Vegas (the four weeks of the year it’s not too hot or too cold)–but Seattle is set up well enough that I can get most places, not only nearby places, with the bike. Love ya, Emerald City!