Archive | April 2012

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I snapped this picture as we set out today because I was worried it might be the last we saw of Chinook Salmon. Fortunately, he came to his senses after a block of riding behind the bike and happily rode in the front basket.

And his rear perch gave me a great idea of where to put our final Pedaler’s Fair poster:

While hanging our second-to-last poster at Stone and 45th, we ran into Victor on his Xtracycle. He’s just replaced his Xtracycle kit and WideLoaders and was using it to carry two heavy potting soil bags. I mentioned I want the narrower Xtracycle RunningBoards at some point and he pointed out he’s been saved from being doored a couple times by them. It pays to be wide.

Our destination today was Phinney Market Pub & Eatery for lunch and the double-decker train table. I was touched that the five-year old set up the BIKE ROUTE sign because last night he declared that he wants “everything to be cars and trains only!” He meant decor, not actual transportation, so I’ve got a decade before I really need to worry.

The weather was nicer than I’d expected so we went across the street to Woodland Park where I discovered a bakfiets! We parked next to it, creating a cargo bike parking area. Later I saw two more family bikes–a road bike with trailer and road bike with rear kid seat–but they didn’t have kickstands and therefore couldn’t join us on the grass. Both bikes leaned against trees at the periphery.

I thought we were done for the day, but the kids weren’t quite playgrounded out, so we stopped at Wallingford Playfield on our way home.

This allowed me to see the temporary markings for the Greenway at 43rd, crossing Wallingford Avenue.

Today’s miles: 4.4 miles
April cumulative: 203.1 miles

Late night taco run

Very boring biking day today. One of the kids puked throughout the night so we bagged our plans for the day. I had hoped to take them out for a bit of fresh air at some point, but we never made it out the door. I finally took the beach cruiser out for the two-block (each way) ride to Rancho Bravo. I realize I should put a drink holder back on this bike. I also realize I shouldn’t refer to 9pm as “late night.”

Here’s hoping the other kid doesn’t start puking tonight!

Today’s miles: 0.4 miles
April cumulative: 198.7 miles

Hanging posters for Pedaler’s Fair

There’s a very cool fair in Seattle this weekend:

Pedaler’s Fair
Saturday April 21 and Sunday April 22, 2012
11am – 5pm
The Building: 1415 NW 49th Street, Seattle, WA

And there’s a Kidical Mass ride heading over on Saturday: meet at the Gas Works Park (2101 N Northlake Way, Seattle, WA) play barn at 11am and ride at 11:15ish.

Everything sounds great, but I’m particularly looking forward to getting a $5 bicycle portrait by Russ Roca of Path Less Pedaled.

The kids and I rode over to The Building today to meet up with Jesse of A Rebalanced Life and collect some flyers and posters for distributing and hanging. I have to admit that I thought we’d find an abandoned building with Ryan of Go Means Go hanging out, cutting up flyers, but it’s the Swift Industries headquarters. I liked the plethora of cool bikes. One had a Sweet Heart Sprocket. Want! The kids were most intrigued by the dogs, Odin and Loki.

Heading back to the Burke-Gilman Trail, we spied the Bicycle Doctor van and admired the stickers blanketing the back. The kids liked the WHO RESCUED WHO? dog paw sticker best.

Our first poster-hanging stop was Theo Chocolate where we put a poster outside and some flyers inside. I also bought a $5 Bicycle Benefits sticker which will net me tons of savings around town (and other towns). I didn’t buy the Single Malt Scotch Ganache in my photo, but wow it sounds good!

Heading home I got to use the new sharrows at 43rd and Stone Way. I didn’t think I’d ever need them since I ride the bike lane on the right side of Stone all the way up, but half-way up the hill today the two-year old said he needed a bathroom so we quickly crossed over to Big Tree Bikes. Bike stores are often very convenient for mid-bike-ride potty breaks–they usually let you bring your bike in so you don’t have to lock up and this one even has a very clean bathroom (not what I expected, I have to admit). And then we rode a couple blocks up the sidewalk to the bike-and-ped-friendly crossing.

I wanted to staple posters along 45th to let my fellow Wallingfordians know about the fun event, but all the phone poles are metal! We even struck out at Molly Moon’s Ice Cream who wouldn’t take flyers because they are paperless. I can appreciate that, but it feels like we didn’t earn the sorbet we consumed. We put one up outside Mosaic Coffee House and will go back out with tape and alert the masses tomorrow.

Today’s miles: 7.7 miles
April cumulative: 198.3 miles

Fun with a film crew

A film crew came to the house to interview us for part of a video to be shown at the Cascade Bicycle Club Bike to Work Breakfast next month. I have no idea how they’ll do it, but they seem to think they can edit together useful stuff around my stumbling, sweating (interviews are scary!), and a loud two-year old. I will say that while I love my Cascade Cyclist of the Month December 2011 interview and feel it paints an accurate picture, I focused more on what the bike does for our family and the community and not so much how it feeds into my laziness and cheapness.

The biking part was fun. It was grey and cold and we didn’t hit any especially scenic spots (such as South Lake Union Park, the Elliott Bay Trail, or the Ship Canal), but we filmed on the Burke-Gilman Trail and a lot of the Dexter separated bike lane. I thought it was most exciting chasing the van up the hill (don’t worry, only one bike overtook us and they were able to move into the car lane and stay out of the way). They also put a GoPro camera on my handlebars aimed at me, on my helmet aimed at the kids, and on the stoker bars aimed at the kids.

We took a couple laps around the Seattle Center’s International Fountain where, despite the cold temperature, teenagers ran around in the spray. Two even slunk up to the camera, trying to get discovered.

Our final destination was Easy Street Records to pick up the new Caspar Babypants album. It’s preschool Spring Break so our day wasn’t as bike-to-schoolish as it could have been, but I think our segment will still appeal to potential riders with school-going kids.

Today’s miles: 9.9 miles
April cumulative: 190.6 miles

New neighborhood sharrows

Our big weekend left me worn out so today’s ride for 30 Days of Biking was a short one–just to the doctor for the newly five-year old’s annual checkup. I love that the building has a bike rack right by the door, but even a normal-sized bike would block the walkway from one of the two small parking lots if inserted straight in a slot so I parked sideways at one end.

On our way home we saw four new sharrows where 43rd crosses Stone Way, part of the new Neighborhood Greenways network. Yippee!

Today’s miles: 2.5 miles
April cumulative: 180.7 miles

Birthday boy bike errands

Today’s bike excursions were several stops to get us ready for our big kid’s 5th birthday party with his preschool class. Thank goodness I did the bulk of the shopping last night because everything took a bit longer than expected today. We started off with a downhill trip to PCC Natural Market to pick up allergen-free chips I can’t find anywhere else. Then back uphill (and steeper than necessary since I chose the wrong route–extra points for that!) to Mighty-O Donuts for some mini donuts. Two boxes of a dozen minis each fit perfectly in my Linus Delano basket.

Then we went to QFC for balloons. After two pages and patiently waiting (OK, maybe not so patiently) ten minutes, the floral/balloon person showed up and spent five minutes tinkering with the helium tanks before declaring them both empty. Grr. Two strikes against QFC. Last year I brought in two train balloons (ordered from TrainParty.com–awesome site!) and the lackadaisical balloon guy tied the ribbons so loosely that one escaped the moment we walked outside. It turns out Bartell Drugs right next door has balloons, too, so the day was saved.

The birthday boy suggested we tied the balloons to his handlebars and that sounded like a good idea to me. I attached them with three slipknots, alternating sides. It looked good and started out OK, but then the two-year old decided he really didn’t like balloons blowing in his face. In retrospect I should have secured them behind the bike without a lot of loose ribbon, but rather than risk loosing the lot of them by reattaching en route, I held them down by my hip and rode home one-handed…possible since it was all flat and downhill.

We dropped off our supplies and helped Mr. Family Ride set things up for ten minutes before heading back out to Cafe Allegro for a travel coffee kit. That fit nicely in the front basket, too.

I thought I’d have to take one last ride later in the day when we realized Bettie the dog had snuck out during the cupcake-induced-sugar-revolt-mass-exodus of preschoolers. I put on long-sleeved bike jersey over my shirt, figuring I’d scout around on bike and then wear her home. I’ve never biked with Bettie (poor Bettie!), but Lyle traveled all over UCSB and Isla Vista this way. My plan was thwarted when she showed up just as I dug my beach cruiser out of the pile of bikes. I tucked her under my jersey and was going to take her for a spin just for fun, but then I heard the screams of brothers fighting over balloons coming from inside the house and rushed in to help restore peace.

Today’s miles: 7.4 miles
April cumulative: 178.2 miles

Balance biking at the Quad

We finally made it over to see The Quad’s famous cherry blossoms. It’s been a bit windy so we missed the peak blossominess by a few days, but it was still beautiful. A friend went last week and mentioned it was a good site for kid bikes so I brought the balance bikes along and we did some picnicking and some riding.

There were lots of people around, including four wedding parties being photographed, but still plenty of room for balance biking. And there are strips of small rocks alongside the buildings for those with rock enthusiasts.

We rode our three bikes separately to the edge of The Quad at the end of our visit (still a rare occurrence, riding separately, so lots of fun for me) where the boys discovered a flight of very shallow stairs they could ride their little bikes down. And it offers a nice view to give an idea of the size of the whole area.

We’ll be back for picnics in the summer, but I’d like to visit campus on a weekday during the school year because I want to see where people ride their bikes. I couldn’t tell if I should share the narrow roads or stick to the sidewalks.

I didn’t have much spare space on the bike, but we swung by Trader Joes for a few items that fit in the front basket. I wasn’t too excited about the Trader Joes stickers on my Brooks saddle. I actually said, “Mama’s bike seat is too fancy for stickers. Let’s take them off.” Fortunately, they didn’t leave any sticky gunk behind.

I didn’t plan for an additional stop, but Trader Joes had pulled pork at their sample station which left me needing a Scratch Deli food truck fix. In a stroke of brilliance, I shoved our water bottles into the FreeLoaders and put the sandwiches into the bottle cages. The cup of potato salad fit in my basket’s cup holder. I believe my frame has a fourth set of braze-ons. I should probably attach a cage to that set, too.

I left the kids home with Mr. Family Ride for a few hours in the afternoon and rode to Ballard for a hair cut. I took the Big Dummy, intending to go by Fred Meyer for a bunch of stuff on the way home, but when I called to check in, he sounded a bit overwhelmed. Not surprising, considering his back’s not much better yet. I was hoping the kids would want to come back out with me, but with early wakeups and no naps these days, our evenings end pretty early. In another stroke of genious (two in one day!), I headed out solo once everyone was asleep. This is only my second time shopping solo in five years. It’s so quiet! I was tempted to practice shopping with one of the hard-to-maneuver kiddie car carts (if you’ve also wondered when you have to show up to find a vacant one, it’s 9pm on a Saturday night), but I came to my senses and shopped like a normal kid-free person.

Today’s miles: 18 miles
April cumulative: 170.8 miles

Bus rack, balance bikes, and baseball

Our day started out pretty exciting: while momentarily parked by New Secret Train Tracks (not to be confused with secret train tracks), I met another Surly Big Dummy rider. He lives on Bainbridge Island so, naturally, I had to ask if he’s riding Bike for Pie this summer (he is!). He was en route to Recycled Cycles to try on clipless bike shoes. I’m too klutzy for them on the family bike myself, but I love ’em on my road and mountain bikes. I almost swung by Recycled Cycles on my way home six hours later to investigate and see if they’d share his shopping results with me…but I thought that’d be weird. Yo, Adrian, did you get new shoes and pedals??

Our next stop was Union Station to check out the new bus bike rack. The bike slots are longer and wider, but I didn’t ask if I could put the Big Dummy on it–mostly because I don’t think I can lift it, since I can barely lift the Milano. I’ve heard long tails fit existing bus bike racks, but aren’t allowed. Perhaps these new bigger racks will be different.

I borrowed the demo bike and gave it a try. It’s nice. The new racks have no release button on the front wheel clamp so it’s easier to use. And the slots for the inner two bikes both have the front wheel closer to the curb so they’re safer for loading. I asked the SDOT rep and the bus driver if they happened to know any light rail stationshad ramp access, hoping I could get the long bike down there since it doesn’t fit in an elevator. Not only is there no non-elevator/non-stair access, oversized bikes aren’t allowed on the light rail train (so said the SDOT worker and bus driver…I can’t find this info online). Grr, I was hoping to take a trip down to Bike Works and check out a nearby taco truck in a school bus I just read about. Looks like we’ll do our multi-modal trek with the old mamabike again.

I had the balance bikes along today in hopes we’d make it up to UW for the cherry blossoms, but we stopped for a long kiddie ride at Occidental Park instead. So rather than chase falling cherry blossoms, the kids zoomed around after pigeons.

I didn’t want to deal with locking up all three bikes to take the kids somewhere for a bathroom break so we paid a visit to Back Alley Bike Repair where they kindly let me roll my laden rig inside and use their facilities. We timed it perfectly–Biking for Baseball was visiting the Bicycle Alliance of Washington across the hall. They’re riding all over the country taking in baseball games and coaching kids. They’ve only just started their big tour, but I predict they’ll stay as friendly and energetic the whole way. And they gave us some great stickers–meet up with them if you can!

Heading home along the Elliott Bay Trail, I stopped when I saw a trio of cyclists taking pictures of one another to offer snapping a shot of all three together. They were visiting from New York and had rented bikes from Seattle Cycling Tours for a two hour jaunt through the locks and back via the Ship Canal Trail. Mind you, I didn’t get all this information in the one encounter. I ran into them checking their map a couple times and tried to force advice and directions on them. They were running short on time and may not have done the whole circuit, but at least they got to see a very cool visiting Norfolk Southern engine at the train yard (well, we thought it was very cool, at least). And that wasn’t all the train excitement: the blue train engine had moved from its usual spot. I thought it was just for show, but it must move those frozen fish box cars around. And some guys (not the real Pothole Rangers, but heroes in their own right, I’m sure) were patching holes along some train track nearby. A far cry from cherry blossoms, but big fun for the kiddos.

Today’s miles: 15.7 miles
April cumulative: 152.8 miles

Little night ride

Up until today, the hardest part of this round of 30 Days of Biking has been keeping up with the daily blogging. That’s a good thing! Proof positive that the previous rounds have changed me into a true everyday biker. But today’s ride was a just-get-it-done half mile around the neighborhood late at night.

Today was my once-every-three-week working day at our coop preschool and in order to get home in time to transport a broken Mr. Family Ride to the chiropractor (very messed up back since Monday–probably only partially caused by my dragging him out on his bike on Sunday) was to take the car. We’ve only taken the car on Wednesdays to go directly from preschool to our Lake City class so naturally I got a bit lost on my way.

We forgot sockeye salmon behind at school (the last day before Spring Break!) so I thought that’d be our daily bike ride, but by the time we all got home from the chiropractor, it was late and the kids were tired and hungry so we dropped Mr. Family Ride at home and drove to school again. But at least the second time driving home from preschool was easier.

Today’s miles: 0.5 miles
April cumulative: 137.1 miles

Kaffeeklatsch’s kool bike rack

Normally today would be car day, but since the four-year old didn’t go to preschool, we had plenty of time to make it to our afternoon class in Lake City. I don’t know how to get there by bike–I’m not sure there’s a route that’s not too steep and not too trafficky for me. We loaded up the old, small-enough-for-the-bus mamabike and discovered a cool bike lane on the way to the bus stop:

The lower of the two NE 40th streets, starting at 7th Ave NE, just east of the freeway is one way (westbound) for cars with the half the street dedicated to bikes going both directions. How great would it be if more streets were set up like this?

After class, we biked a mile to Kaffeeklatsch, whose custom bike rack was facing removal a week ago. I read the good news this morning on the Save the Kaffeeklatsch Bike Rack Facebook page–the rack is moving to the street. The owner said it will happen sometime next week. I can’t get over the speed at which things are unfolding. Go SDOT.

We checked out the bike rack once last year, but this was our first time inside Kaffeeklatsch. It’s got a wonderful kid area and delicious pastries and coffee. We stayed for quite a while, waiting to see if the rain would stop. It didn’t.

We took the bus back towards home and stopped by Trader Joes to grab a few things. It’s not nearly as fun shopping with the old mamabike. The kids had to help carry a couple things that wouldn’t fit in the baskets. Outside TJs I discovered I wasn’t the only Seattleite who didn’t think 30% chance of rain would turn out to be all-day-long rain: five of the seven bikes parked outside didn’t have fenders.

Once the kids were sleeping, I took a three-block solo ride to the Rancho Bravo taco truck. I think my beach cruiser is probably the best bike for this job, but I missed the Big Dummy. Oh, and the rain had finally stopped by this point.

By the way, I am all bus-ed out. It’s great to be able to access far places without the car, but it is a lot more work riding the bus with two kids than riding the bike with them.

Today’s miles: 4.3 miles
April cumulative: 136.6 miles