Archive | May 2012

Rear cargo hold

I still want to get a cargo net to stow stuff behind the Yepp seat, but I did OK with overflowing cargo today. Packed full with beach toys and snacks, I bungeed Dolphie the dolphin to his new favorite spot on the Yepp PeaPod III’s FlightDeck Adapter. He provided the perfect perch for my five-year old’s helmet we brought for him at preschool pickup time.

But much more exciting was apres-beach, using one of my new Smitten Baby Wet Totes (purchased for $10 a pop on Green Baby Bargains) to transport wet beach wear. I have one swimsuit-sized wet bag from our cloth diapering days, but its handle snap never worked right. The buckled loops on these bags are awesome. I buckled one to the handle at the top of the Yepp seat.

My friend, Leya, had the brilliant idea to use wetbags for the opposite of their intended use: protecting dry things inside when it’s wet outside. I hope I won’t have a chance to try them in this manner soon, but this is Seattle…

Today’s miles: 22.1
May cumulative: 199.2 miles

Chance encounters on the bike train

For a day that started out exceptionally car heavy with two separate runs to the airport (first to return my visiting dad to Los Angeles and second to send Mr. Family Ride to Chicago for a week), the afternoon was bikier than I could have imagined.

I led the preschool bike train (me on the Big Dummy, a mountain bike with iBert baby seat and Weehoo iGo recumbent trailer bike, and a mountain bike with iBert baby seat and Burley Piccolo trailer bike) two miles to South Lake Union Park and kicked off a day of running into cargo bike friend after cargo bike friend.

Our first bike encounter was with Barbara of Eastlake Greenways and her new Kona MinUte (that everyone who test rides wants). She let me try her Yuba Padded Seat Soft Spot on for size. I’m happy to report that it fits on an Xtracycle FlightDeck in front of Yepp Peapod III…unless one’s front passenger insists on having the handle hole uncovered and available for wedging in a stuffed salmon.

When our train of nine people and eight wheels headed home from the park we happened upon Biking with Brad’s Big Dummy–sporting a new BionX electric assist. We found him inside eating ice cream, but I’m not too worried about him going soft considering he’s fresh off a 400K (250 miles!!) with the Seattle Randonneurs.

He joined the bike train (twelve people, ten wheels now) and I realized just three days with the motor has seriously affected him when he asked just half a block up Meridian how I could make my way up without e-assist. He was soon reminded how slow and stubborn I am, but I expect more e-pestering. I worry that balancing drop off times between a kindergarten and a preschool next year may drive me to needing an electric assist, but hopefully I can keep at it with my slow and steady (and most importantly, cheaper than motorized) pace.

The bike train split in two once we reached the Neighborhood Greenway, but not before we stopped for a victory picture having surmounted the hill.

I escorted Brad along the Greenway and we ran into Julie on her Madsen:

It’s not easy to convince myself to ride two extra blocks uphill to reach the Greenway, but I want to be one more bike presence. And if it increases the odds of running into a friend, that’s added incentive. I fully expect to hear an exciting bike-related tale from Brad about his trip back along the Greenway after our impromptu playdate.

Today’s miles: 8.2
May cumulative: 177.1 miles

Seattle’s first Critical Lass ride

Coinciding with CycloFemme, Seattle had its first Critical Lass ride today. It also coincided with Mother’s Day and children were welcome on the ride, but I opted to go solo so I could ride free of barking and other distractions. I was tempted to ride my beach cruiser, but brought the Big Dummy so the ladies could test ride it. That also meant I could bring a bunch of extraneous stuff along: six extra water bottles, emergency snacks, sunscreen, CycloFemme temporary tattoos, zip ties, bungee cords, reflective slap bands. I gave out a few tattoos, but my other supplies weren’t needed. But I was happy to have been prepared…and maybe I was showing off a little bit cargo-wise, too.

We had a great five-mile ride along some of the proposed Ballard Greenways and then south to Jillian’s at South Lake Union.

I think everyone had a great time–I know I did. There were over 20 riders and I didn’t have a chance to talk to everyone, but I met many awesome local ladies and saw a lot of already-friends. I think this will become a monthly event–at least during the fair-weather months. One exciting discover was Natalie’s Exustar shoes. I don’t think I’ll ever go clipless on a mamabike and will probably never replace my old Shimano mountain bike SPDs, but it’s nice to know what’s out there. They make a clipless sandal that looks promising for Mr. Family Ride summer cycling, since he found the Keen ones too narrow.

Today’s miles: 13.2
May cumulative: 169.1 miles

Family Bike Expo at Bike Works Kids Bike Swap

We bypassed the impressive line at the Bike Works Kids Bike Swap to deliver my old mamabike (Bianchi Milano city bike with front Bobike mini and rear Bobike maxi kid seats) to the Family Bike Expo. Morgan had an impressive array of bikes available for test ride including a Big Dummy, a Madsen bucket bike with electric assist, an Xtracycle, a tandem bike with electric assist, and her recumbant multi-passenger trike with electric assist. My bike provided an example of a normal, bus-eligible bike that carries two kids. I worried it wasn’t special enough for the expo when I saw she’d also attached a trailer to it, but then I remembered I’ve [grudgingly] towed a trailer behind it before, too.

I took the tandem out for a test ride. Morgan suggested I hook up the recumbent trailer trike behind it for one kid and stick the other on the stoker seat, but they wanted to ride their balance bikes alongside me. Halfway around, the toddler (not the one I envisioned as my ghost stoker) decided he was too tired to go on so I strapped his balance bike to the rear rack and perched him on the stoker seat. It all seemed stable enough, but he decided he was reenergized and had me put him back on his little bike.

We never checked in and entered the bike swap since these guys are set with balance bikes and a pedal bike each if they ever decide to give pedaling a try, but we had a great time hanging out in the playground, listening to the bands (Smalltime String Band was great!) and watching families cruise by on Family Bike Expo bikes. While I wasn’t able to volunteer at the booth, I was able to talk to several test riders out in the field.

As things wound down at the end of the day, the test rides took a turn for the inane. Here’s Tom of Seattle Bike Blog as ballast in the Madsen:

And Garth with a screwdriver in his mouth adjusting the gearing on the recumbent trike–and also trying to get a wheel off the ground while turning corners with Haulin’ Colin and Sarah in the back seat.

Another exciting bike we encountered was Full Tilt Ice Cream’s brand new Icicle Tricycle (made in Portland, naturally).

Home from the bike swap, we rode to Trader Joe’s and discovered the Neighborhood Greenways bike waiting boxes have been painted green. Looking good!

Today’s miles: 1.9
May cumulative: 155.9 miles

More miles than I bargained for (twice)

I loaded the bike with sand toys, food, and balance bikes, intending to take the boys to nearby Gas Works Park and run them to exhaustion. But the boys had their hearts set on the beach so I lugged the full load the longer distance–getting myself more tired and them less tired–to Golden Gardens.

I forgot my grumpiness at the bigger trip as soon as I noticed another mamabike at the bike rack. It’s similar to my previous setup (though with more gears)–a Jamis (Coda Sport Femme, I think) with front and back Yepp seats. Seeing the canvas bag hanging from the back of the rear seat brought back memories of my former cargo capacity problems. I met the family and we talked bikes and cargo. Her Yepp Maxi doesn’t seem as accommodating of baskets as my Bobike Maxi. I left off the wheel guards to fit a rear rack, but the Yepp is one fused piece. I think I’ve heard of owners altering Yepps to make room. I did tell her one of my tricks of hanging a small canvas bag over the front windscreen in the event she adds a windscreen to her rig. Today they seemed to fit just fine with everyone carrying something and the extra bag at the back. I remember the days of wearing my messenger bag on my back and carrying small grocery loads in my ring sling on the front. Good times, but so happy to have more capacity now.

We saw one other very cute “baby” on a bike:

22.4 cargo bike miles later I dropped the kids at home with a “Good luck getting them to sleep!” (First time for Mr. Family Ride putting them down; it went well!) and rushed off on my road bike for the Menstrual Monday ride. I was running late, but I had to pause and take a shot of the new parking squid. It’s on the east side of the Seattle Center, by the big film strips. I wouldn’t normally park so far from my destination (wading pool, International Fountain, Children’s Museum), but I think I’ll find it hard to resist locking up here next visit.

The ride was insane! I knew ahead of time we’d be riding to Renton, but didn’t appreciate how far away it is. Remember yesterday, when I said I’d never see Beacon Hill astride a bike? Well, we took the same lofty route as the bus! But I’ll probably never do it again.

We followed much of the Chief Sealth Trail, up and down grassy hills. It’s a terrific trail and I’d love to ride it again if there’s a flatter way to reach it. Here’s a cool tidbit from the Chief Sealth Trail FAQ: It was built almost entirely from recycled materials, such as recycled soil and crushed concrete from the Link Light Rail Project in Rainier Valley.

We 11 ladies eventually made it to the Dog & Pony Alehouse for drinks and food. We headed back in a group–except for two who took the “wife taxi” home–using an easier route. In the daylight, the Green River Trail is probably beautiful, but late at night it’s just twists and turns and dodging bunnies. Most exciting was the shortcut through the “Black Forest of DOOM” on some single track which required two dismounts to carry our bikes over small streams.

I eventually got home at 1am and I have to say it was terrific! But I’ll admit I’m hoping for a smaller ride next time.

The Menstrual Monday ride:

Today’s miles: 63.6 miles (41.2 solo on road bike)
May cumulative: 125.5 miles

Long slow ride to Pike Place Market

This morning I set out to see if I could find a more family-friendly route to Pike Place Market. My guys won’t be pedaling separately (or pedaling at all, it seems) any time soon, but I’ve been thinking about kid-friendly routes a lot lately and many of our destinations don’t qualify. Today’s route was twice as long as cutting through South Lake Union, but mostly on separated bike trails: Burke-Gilman Trail to Ship Canal Trail to Elliott Bay Trail (and then Western Ave, but we’ll get to that later). The trails were quite empty, I suspect because everyone had headed down to Seward Park for this year’s first Bicycle Sunday.

We rode out in style today–me in a skirt and the big kid on a new seat pad. The denim skirt worked fine and was heavy enough to stay put, though I noticed it obstructed my view of my chain rings. I’m was going to pretend I have to look down to see which gear I’m in because I carry such vastly differing amounts of weight on my bike and can’t feel which ring my chain is on. But really, I just can’t tell and I like to look down and see if I’m already in my granny. The seat pad is a work in progress: it’s an Ikea Cilla chair pad folded in half and tied down with an inner tube. It’s not waterproof so I don’t want to attach it too permanently, but I’d like to make it a little snugger for use on good-weather days.

I discovered a new bike trail at Fishermen’s Terminal. It travels along the west parking lot and took us a bit out of the way, but I couldn’t help but follow it to the end. I’ll try the dirt path on the left side of the picture next time to connect to 21st Avenue a little sooner since today we ended up on Commodore Way. Both less steep than dealing with the hill of Emerson Place, but I’m partial to the shorter detour.

The waterfront’s a bit of a pain with the shifting construction, but today the Waterfront Trail was operational south to University Street, which was where I wanted to cut left to Western Avenue anyway.

I first rode Western when I followed a pedicab (one of the few non-electric-assisted ones) up from the Aquarium last summer. It’s not too steep, but it’s not a quiet street and the bike lane is strewn with gravel. I didn’t think to check out the state of the sidewalk so I’ll have to come back and see if that makes it qualify as not terrifying to think about kid riders. We stopped to check out a pig sculpture on the way up (and so I could rest a tad).

Passing under Pike Street, it was nice to look up a flight of stairs at the big Pike Place Market sign to appreciate the four-block steady climb that made this route possible.

We hung out at Victor Steinbrueck Park for a bit before braving the madness of the market. The husband of a family biking friend (regular bike + iBert + double trailer) throws fish (that may not be his official job title) so we said hi and talked about his bike route of choice, which involves the Aurora Bridge. I’m not sure I’ll give it a try, but I can certainly appreciate avoiding the downhill then uphill by staying flat.

But there’s more! Our purpose of heading downtown was for the Bus Sightseeing and Steam Plant Tour. The bus trip down to the plant was slow and scenic, on the 60 over Beacon Hill. The view was great, but I thought to myself, “I will never ever ride my bike up here!”

At the plant, we were just hoping to hear the word train mentioned a few times on the tour so imagine our surprise when we came face-to-face with a model stream train outside.

The kids weren’t impressed, but I was taken with the 1910 Otis elevator salvaged from Union Station when it switched from train station to office space.

The tour regrouped at All City Coffee where I realized Georgetown is where the hippest bikes in town come. Numerous fixies rode by outside and we marveled at a golden Dead Baby Bikes trike and this tandem bike converted into a single rider super comfort cruiser. What a great idea!

Today’s miles: 15.6 miles
May cumulative: 61.9 miles

Fewer hills and more hills

I checked out a future Ballard Neighborhood Greenway and took 17th Avenue north from the Burke-Gilman Trail to Loyal Heights Playfield. It’s great, except for a steep (to me) block and a half between 65th and 70th. Next time I’ll jog west to 20th for the steep part and see how that works.

Our friends had a water table out so I had the opportunity to get creative with transporting wet boy clothing home. A bungee cord holding a nylon shopping bag behind the Yepp seat worked great.

We accompanied a family of friends toward home, making a family biking fleet: Big Dummy, Madsen bucket bike, and mountain bike plus Weehoo iGo. We took 75th Street east, which I think might be my street of choice…though it’s hard to tell when being paced up the hill by other bikes. 73rd seems to be the route of choice for many, but it’s crazy steep (to me) right before Greenwood.

We rode to El Chupacabra, forgetting today was Cinco de Mayo. So we didn’t get to have dinner out, but it was nice to have the hill out of the way early in the ride. Or so I thought. Two of us were of the opinion that longer, flatter routes are preferable, while the third adult opted to lead us on the most direct route home. This first involved inching down 65th from Phinney Ridge–a street I’ve taken before, but don’t find pleasant since it’s so steep and so narrow, and I wouldn’t drag a friend down it. Then we crawled up 55th to Tangletown–the same street I took on donut and balloon day and vowed never to take again. It can’t be universal for husbands to think the shortest route is always the best, but it’s nice to know I’m not the only biking mama whose spouse has a skewed view.

Today’s miles: 10.6 miles
May cumulative: 46.3 miles

Bike to Work Breakfast (and video!!!)

I started the day excited at the prospect to eat breakfast without kids for the first time in five years, but I left Cascade Bicycle Club’s Bike to Work Breakfast a changed and inspired person.

This was my first (as well as most folks’) chance to see the video I was part of, Three stories from the road:

I’m still amazed they were able to piece my stammering and sweating into usable footage. All three segments are wonderful; I’m so lucky to have been part of it. Several people came up to talk to me afterwards about biking with kids, so mission accomplished (and ongoing)!

Cascade unveiled a few new programs, including the Advocacy Leadership Institute, which I’m very tempted to apply for, but given how close to hyperventilating I came standing in the crowded ballroom at the end of the video, I’m not sure I’m public advocate material. Still plenty of time to procrastinate about it…

Please see Cascade’s more detailed (and less clammy-handed) take on the event: Today’s 8th annual Bike to Work Breakfast

Today’s miles: 9.2 miles
May cumulative: 35.7 miles

First Thursday

Today was the first time I was early for preschool dropoff, though just by a minute. The impetus: my father, who never learned to ride a bike, is visiting and I wanted to get out the door before he was ready to leave. This was to be my only bike riding today and I would have been sad to miss out–both to bank miles for the Group Health Commute Challenge and Endomondo National Bike Challenge and because I think the skipped exercise (especially on a crappy rainy day) would make for a grumpy mood. I brought the rain cover, hoping the toddler would want to try it, but I ended up just using it to keep our bags from getting wet. But that’s good, too.

The little guy rode home on the FlightDeck and was shielded enough by my body that he said I could go fast down the hill. My neighbor took a picture of us and wow, he looks tiny back there! But he sure does look shielded.

After preschool, we took advantage of First Thursday and visited the Museum of History & Industry for free. It’s wonderful and I can’t believe I’ve never been before. We came by car with my dad, but its Montlake location is accessible by bike. In September the museum will move to South Lake Union Park, one of our favorite parks, where it will be even easier to get to–not to mention easily accessed by solo-riding kids! The boys were particularly taken by the salmon butchering station. Ah, history.

Today’s miles: 4.4 miles
May cumulative: 24.5 miles

Toddler on the FlightDeck

I’m not ready to take the Yepp seat off the back of the Big Dummy, but the two-year old (three in July) is getting some time in his big brother’s seat on the FlightDeck. It started with half-mile trips from the grocery store, but yesterday he wanted to wear his little backpack so he rode on the deck the two miles to preschool pickup. And then again today.

He’s always going to seem tiny in comparison to his big brother so I’ll probably leave him in the baby seat until he hits the weight limit. It will be nice to be able to access the FreeLoader bags more easily, but it’s got to be a universal conundrum to see a younger sibling as a teeny tiny baby no matter his age.

Today’s miles: 5.4 miles
May cumulative: 20.1 miles