Archive | November 2011

Parking at the Paramount

Adequate bike parking is great, but inadequate bike parking can be an invitation to park right out front. The Paramount Theatre’s website doesn’t mention bike parking, but I didn’t have high hopes as we headed downtown for the Yo Gabba Gabba show. A twitter query about parking yielded a few “I locked up to a chain-link fence”s and The VeloBusDriver’s great suggestion to use the bike rack across the street in the Convention Place Station.

That was my plan, but we were running a little late and usually taking the bike means I don’t have to walk a block at two-year-old-leg speed. So instead I locked up to a trash can by the box office. The bulk of the foot traffic was around the corner at the entrance and there was ample room on the curb side of the bin that the pokey bike parts were shielded from kids walking by on the sidewalk. Win-win.

The bus station looks like a nice spot for future Paramount parking, but I don’t know if the rack is covered. That was the only problem with my trash can spot. The drizzle stopped by the time we arrived so I didn’t think to cover our seats and they were wet by the time we got out. I imagine I’ll forget all my rain lore every fall, but this year I’ll get very used to dealing with the rain again soon enough.

Another bonus of the front row Joe parking spot was that I got to talk family bikes with a couple moms waiting for the second show. However, had we not spent so long layering up in the lobby to prepare for the wet ride home, we would have been outside in time for Biz Markie to walk by us. Darn! As it is was, we merely saw him through the door as we were shoving our feet into boots and hands into gloves.

What makes a cargo bike?

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like a cargo bike poseur. Wikipedia defines cargo bikes as “human powered vehicles designed and constructed specifically for transporting large loads.” There are quite a few people riding around on true cargo bikes in Seattle. My Milano wasn’t built for hauling, but after taking a lengthy ride on my road bike last night I feel secure in my identity as an after-market cargo bike.

This morning half my cargo and I went looking for the plush fish I lost last night. It’s the same color as the plentiful fallen leaves so we didn’t have much luck. We even took Broad Street under Aurora to leave no stone unturned. It’s not so bad hopping the curb with just one passenger, but I’m glad to go back to my longer, wimpier route in future.

We explored the waterfront on our way back north, including the Elliott Bay Public Fishing Pier, conveniently ignorning the NO BIKES OR SKATES ALLOWED ON THIS PIER sign since there were no fish or fisherpeople to alarm.

We couldn’t visit Ballard without a stop at Dutch Bike Co for a snack, but we eventually made it to the ballot box in front of the Ballard library.

And I finally got back to heavy hauling with a stop at Trader Joes where we overdid things–one kid held a bag of veggie chips and the other a bushel of bananas. So I say I am a cargo bike…just not a very efficient one.

Menstrual Monday ladies ride

I was able to sneak out for a bit tonight and attended my first Menstrual Monday ride:

Menstrual Monday is the first Monday of every month rain or shine. Ladies of all bike types and skill levels welcome! Meet up at Seattle Center Fountain at 6:30. Depart at 7pm.

This evening’s ride was harvest themed with a bonfire, pie, and cider at the end.

I finally installed my BikeGlow Safety Light to combat the dark. I snagged it for 50% off from Mamasource a couple months ago, and have seen the deal come up once more since then. The idea is to wrap it around the frame, but yesterday I noticed a bike at the Ballard farmers market with it strung in a line and it looked pretty cool. The black thing on my seat post is the two-AA battery pack. It makes a whining sound when the light is on (solid, slow blink, or fast blink), but I couldn’t hear it once I was riding.

This is what the light looked like in the dark:

The ride was great! I thought it was fast and hard, but one rider was on a beach cruiser so it must have been mellower than I realized. The route seemed very similar to the last cargo bike ride, but it was SO DARK it was hard to tell. It was nice to ride on paths without cars, but that also meant paths without lights.

I knew I’d have to leave early, but luckily the ride ended up near home so I didn’t have to leave too early. I was worried the ride would head for West Seattle and I’d have to leave before reaching the end and find my way home all alone. But we rode to a part of Ravenna Park I’m familiar with and I even had time to ride with the group to Boulevard Grocery for snacks and beer before the bonfire.

The only bad part of the evening was losing Nothing the Salmon (formerly known as Sammy the Salmon), our new 99-cent yellow perch stuffed animal from two days ago. The boys wanted him to come along on the ride since they couldn’t. Turns out, water bottle cages aren’t good for storing stuffed animals. I noticed his absence across the street from the Seattle Center, but didn’t want to retrace my steps and look for him in the dark. He’s wearing two reflective ankle bands so maybe I can track him down tomorrow.

Earlier in the day we biked to the Arboretum with Brad and the Yes on Prop 1-mobile. We communed with nature for quite a while, but eventually got too cold and wet and took refuge in Montlake Bicycle Shop. There are a lot of bikes there! The kids had a blast careening through the aisle on the shop’s balance bikes while Brad checked out a tandem bike and I browsed accessories. I bought a reflective ankle band (not one of the ones lost with the fish) and now it’s my only one left.

After preschool pickup we raced to Dutch Bike Co to buy a basket (yes, another new basket) I fell in love with yesterday and deliver it to Seattle Powder Coat just in time to get painted with my new bike frame. Phew. Accessorizing is hard work.

Lots of riding today and tonight. My seat is sore.

New quick-release basket

Not family-biking-related, but while the rest of the family was jumping in fall leaves at the Arboretum, I rode my beach cruiser to Ballard for a hair appointment and an impulse bike basket purchase. I had stopped in at Dutch Bike Co for a coffee and found myself browsing the baskets. There was only one white one, the Wald quick-release basket. I was smitten.

The Wald basket is a lot nicer than the rusty and bent basket previously on the cruiser–removed three-and-a-half years ago when we tried to attach the baby seat and never put back on. I’m not sure how often I’ll remove the basket from the bike, but it’s a nice feature. And it looks more attractive without the legs attaching it to the hub. It’s a little wobbly over bumps, so not the best basket for rugged riding, but beach cruisers shouldn’t have to deal with bumps. David faux-secured the basket with a removable zip tie (I had no idea they came in removable!) so I could give the illusion of being theft-proof. I just love leaving DBC with a zip tie to show for my visit!

It was nice to put my messenger bag in the basket, but the party only lasted a few blocks because I stopped at Fred Meyer and filled the basket with fruit and coffee. This was the first time the beach cruiser had transported anything other than beer. She’s growing up.

Thrifting by bike

We took our first bike trip to the Crown Hill Value Village today. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to make the 4.5-mile trip; I’ve biked slightly farther on a couple occasions. Even more exciting than the thrift store was happening upon JRA Bike Shop. A friend told me yesterday that they have a few longtails–Xtracycle, Yuba Mundo, and Sun Atlas Cargo–but I discovered they also have a Christiania. Nice fleet! They’re also very nice and quickly provided a paper towel for the toddler’s snotty nose and offered us donuts.

Value Village was a big success. We got a kiddie skateboard for $3, our first bag of real Legos, and a plush fish we think is a salmon for 99 cents. And long pants for me, which was the main purpose of the trip. I keep assuming all this biking will help me fit in my old clothes, but it’s not doing the trick so now I’ve got four pairs of cheap bigger pants. Sigh.

While I was loading up the bike, two people asked if it was motorized. I love when that happens, although sometimes I think it’s because the internal hub looks like a motor and not because the questioners are impressed with my hill climbing.

When we overshop at the grocery store, the kids have to hold bulky items in their laps. I thought that might be the case today, but I was able to cram everything in the baskets. This left room for the kids to holds snacks (and Sammy the Salmon) on their laps and I discovered what a great snack holder a toddler makes. The front kid held a bowl of cashews and we didn’t lose a one: uphill, downhill, over bumps. Secured directly to the bike, all the cashews would have quickly bounced out.

Bike vs. car vs. feet

We met some friends at Cascade Playground this morning and braved the cold for a while before agreeing to meet at the REI play area four blocks away. The walker with one kid in stroller left slightly before me with two kids on the bike and the driver with one kid in the car. The walker arrived first, then me, and last the driver. If the distance was slightly greater, I think I would have won. Also, I was the only one who thought it was a race.

At the bike rack I noticed that the bike parked next to me still had its rear light on. I felt uncomfortable at the thought of touching someone else’s bike, but also obligated to save the light’s battery. I looked around nervously and quickly turned it off while the kids shouted “Mama! What are you doing?”/”Mama! Uh arr oooooey?” and reached hungrily at other parked bikes. Is that cool or should I have just left the light on? I have a feeling the answer to this question might be different in standoffish Seattle than in other cities.

I was approached at the play area by an REI employee who asked if my two-year old wore a size 2T and did he want to be an REI fit model. I asked what it entailed and she said we’d go to the headquarters in Kent (18 miles south of Seattle) where he’d play around in clothing to make sure it fit as it should. At the mention of Kent I knew I wasn’t interested and explained that we bike everywhere so it wasn’t feasible. Then she said, “Oh, did I mention it pays? $120.” I’m embarrassed to admit I immediately changed my tune: “Oh, well we have a car! We just don’t use it often. Sign him up!” So on our way out–which was two hours later than I’d planned to leave since I was too wimpy to ride home in the unexpected drizzle–we stopped by the third-party talent scouts for measuring. Apparently his modelling career is not a done deal, but the measurers seemed pleased with his numbers and whispered to each other, “Ooh, I think he’ll be great” so we’re just waiting for the call now. $120 could buy a lot of bike lights. Or part of one really bright one.

Dog food by bike

Today was the first day I purchased dog food by bike. Not too impressive since the 14.5-pound bag borrowed the seat of the 35-pound kid who was at preschool, but a first nonetheless. I’ve probably been slightly out of balance with cargo before, but I think if I’d had both kids with me and put the bag of food in one of my baskets, it would have been a bit awkward. Now I’m curious to see, so I’ll have to try that next time.

It’s been fun keeping track of mileage and days missed (October: 212.4 miles with 7 skipped days), but I think I’ll stop the tally for now. I should try to find a tool to keep track of things online and perhaps get a cyclometer. Some day.