Archive | June 2012

Loyal Heights Community Center kiddie bike parade

I felt like a bit of an interloper attending the Loyal Heights Community Center early 4th of July bike parade, but I love a parade and I wanted to get some decorating ideas for the upcoming Wallingford Kiddie Parade.

Since this is “summer” in Seattle, we hit the drizzly wading pool first. There were 30 kids in the cold water at one point, but it turns out most of them were there for a party and soon dried off to beat on a piñata. Here we are with our crew of three Surly Big Dummies, one Madsen bucket bikes, and one mountain bike/iBert/Burley Piccolo trailer bike.

Six of us (two families) braved the drizzle to hit Loyal Heights and we entered the community center to find a crit in progress–kids on bikes were zooming around the perimeter of the gymnasium in fast circles. We were able to make our way to the middle to the decorating tables and the racing kids were encouraged to stop their mayhem and we all eventually migrated outside for the parade. Despite the lengthy safety instructions, one little guy (in the middle of the photo below) snuck into the mix sans helmet.

The parade was very safe, too–kids were divided by bike type and released one-by-one to ride slow laps around the park. It was fun and cute, but everyone seemed to lose interest after their first lap and went in search of bounce house or popsicles.

I got my first look at a Gyrowheel. This little guy learned to ride his bike in two days. The Gyrowheel is only still on the bike because they don’t have a regular replacement wheel. I didn’t get a photo of it, but the family also had a cool rack atop their trailer for transporting the little bike.

See the Riding Reporter for more pictures of the fun event.

Today’s miles: 11
June cumulative: 367.6 miles

Spoke & Food 2012

The boys and I had a great time at Spoke & Food tonight. Leading up to the event, I’d been deciding between dining in Wallingford or Green Lake so we could enjoy a downhill ride back home, but we ended up opting for Pied Piper Ale House in Ravenna to meet Garett, the organizer.

From Spoke & Food:

The commitment is easy. All you need to do is to bike to and from one of our participating host restaurants on the evening of our event. Invite your friends or family to meet you, bring your neighbors, pack up your kids or go at it alone.

Each of our participating host restaurants have agreed to donate 20% of all of their patron revenues from the evening of the event directly to the local non-profit that we select each year. This means 100% of the funds raised via the restaurants will go to helping a local Seattle area non-profit.

This year’s 2012 Spoke & Food event will benefit the FamilyWorks food bank and resource center.

We hit the restaurant early to beat the crowds. This was Garett’s first year with a baby to bring to the event and he invited his entire PEPS baby group along. The rest of them walked over, but still impressive! There was a second group of baby friends there as well, so the place was packed with tiny activists. They were too small to appreciate the toys and play area, but my guys made good use of it.

I was particularly excited to realize I can bike to this part of Ravenna. I came along 65th Street and it wasn’t bad. There’s probably a less busy street to take so I’ll do some more exploring. Nearby businesses The Herbalist, Bagel Oasis, and Vios Cafe at Third Place are now back within my pedaling reach!

Today’s miles: 12.1
June cumulative: 340.8 miles

Families on bikes in the Wallingford Kiddies Parade

Join me for a big, fun family biking group in the parade during the Wallingford Family Festival and Kiddies Parade.

Saturday, July 7th at 11 a.m. (set up is 9:30 to 10:45 a.m.)

  • Kids on kid bikes (with parents riding or walking along separately)
  • Kids on balance bikes (with parents riding or walking along separately)
  • Kids in on-bike kid seats
  • Kids in bike trailers
  • …Am I missing anything?

We’ll meet up on Corliss, just south of 45th. Show up by 10:45 to roll at 11:00. This year, the parade disperses in Wallingford Playfield Park, right where the Family Summer Festival takes place. Fun fun fun! Here’s the full parade route.

RSVP on Facebook if you’re into that.

Email me with any questions: familyridebikes[at]gmail.com

Who brings their kids to an alleycat?!

I don’t know how the other Girls of Summer Alleycat participants spent their mornings–except for one case: unsuccessfully trying to sleep off a hangover–but I spent mine playing supermom. Mr. Family Ride was able to cram both balance bikes into the cargo compartment of our double trailer so I crammed kids and toys into the kid-and-toy compartment, crammed my little Tom Bihn Imago messenger bag with minimal contents (map, phone, pen, bike lock, wallet, keys, rain jacket, extra skirt [I couldn’t decide what to wear]) into my enormous Tom Bihn Super Ego messenger bag with everything else (snacks, extra kid clothing, more snacks, more toys).

We started our morning at University Bookstore for a performance by our favorite local kindiependent rocker Caspar Babypants. I was very nervous about locking up so much stuff in the U-District so I brought two locks–one for my bike and one to thread through the balance bikes and trailer. I’m sure a hundred bikes have been stolen from the University Bookstore racks, but today we were lucky.

Then we had second breakfast at 14 Carrot Cafe on Eastlake to be close to the I-5 Colonnade where the race was to start. While we were brunching, the rain started. Heavy rain. Do not even think about putting a box spring on your bike, especially in this ridiculous weather kind of rain. Here’s the bike rack before the rain hit, with happy bikes and happy dog:

I’ve seen the green banana seat bike on the Burke-Gilman Trail before, by the way. She said my bike was cute–not this boring road bike, of course, the pink Big Dummy.

We stayed until the crayons were drawn down to nubs, but the rain didn’t let up. Even in the torrential downpour, the last .4 miles to to I-5 Colonnade aren’t bad after a lengthy rest…except for that last steep jog up Franklin Pl E/E Howe St. I was met with a river of rain runoff and had to walk. It’s so steep that the trailer canted backwards and there was nothing I could do to get it back down so I shoved the front of my bike towards the park while my back wheel floated off the ground.

We were over an hour early for the 2pm registration time so I said a quick hello to the organizers and volunteers and aimed the boys at a mountain bike trail out of earshot. I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Skills Park is designed for big people, but the littles just love it. Now that I know I can fit boys and balance bikes into the trailer, I’m tempted to haul them there with my mountain bike and tool around a little myself.

The rain gradually let up while the boys emulated salmon swimming upstream on the Tqalu Trail–the place is full of educational posters featuring animals of the Pacific Northwest and drawing parallels between their behaviors and the park’s various mountain biking obstacles.

Mr. Family Ride showed up at 2pm to take over kid duty (you didn’t think they were coming on the race, did you?) and I joined 49 other ladies in the registration crowd. I imagine even more riders would have shown up if the weather had cooperated. We locked our bikes to themselves behind the meeting spot and manifests (checklists) were shoved between our spokes while we listened to the rules.

I formed a team with M.J., which was very fortunate because she knew the whereabouts of all the stops. I’d only heard of two. I think regular alleycats (bicycle messenger races, by the way) involve going from point to point and having one’s manifest checked off. Girls of Summer had a task to perform at each stop and then one fingernail was painted a specific color upon completion. Here’s where we went and what we did:

  • Foster Island – spun around with head on a pole five times, then fished a beer out of Union Bay and chugged it
  • Cowen Park – carried a baby doll and stroller without letting it touch the ground around the park, without utilizing the stairs, and put the baby on one playground feature (I chose the swings)
  • Fremont Peak Park – told a pickup line and ate a piece of chocolate
  • Gas Works Park – had a temporary tattoo put on
  • Bhy Kracke Park – identified/labelled part of our bikes (I got seat stay)
  • And bonus stop revealed at Gas Works: Commodore Park – dressed up like a rock star for a photo

It took us almost three hours to complete the race. Our only real mistake was misinterpreting “under the train bridge” as “the wooden bridge over the train tracks” for the secret stop and I scouted ahead up 33rd Ave West from Commodore and across the slippery wooden bridge, away from the park. It wasn’t too much time lost, but skipping this detour would have made us the first masters (age 35 and up). We arrived at the Boxcar Ale House together and I submitted my manifest first…but hadn’t written my name on it so M.J. got the better place.

Photo courtesy Menstrual Monday

Being in the Boxcar Alehouse was exciting in and of itself. Our lives revolve around trains and the five-year old is counting down the days until he’s 21 and can check the place out. There’s even a model train on suspended tracks inside, but it hasn’t worked in years. Maybe they’ll have it repaired by the time 2028 rolls around.

Organizers Monica, Kristen, and Soyoung gave a recap of the various stops on the race and I learned (or so Kristen said) that the Cowen Park playground stop was dedicated to me. I love these women! I’ve got some great ideas for next year: no strollers–the ladies figure out how to get a baby doll into a ring sling or Ergo (your choice!) and pretend to nurse it while crawling around on the ground looking for five perfect clovers for an imaginary toddler.

The prizes were great. The fastest racer got a Raleigh bike and the rest of us went up and claimed prizes as our names were called, in order of finishing. Most impressive was an enormous cat tree, but I was very happy with my $25 gift card to Recycled Cycles. I need to replace Mr. Family Ride’s U-lock since I’ve claimed it as my own. I think this will cover half a U-lock.

I didn’t want to stay out too late (Mr. Family Ride is still freaked out from when May’s Menstrual Monday ride kept me out until 1 a.m.), but riders had to be present to claim a prize and while painted nails and three beers (the Natural Light from Foster Island, drink ticket for a PBR, and M.J.’s abandoned PBR–not bad for $5 entry fee!) was pretty rewarding, I wanted to stay and get my booty.

Mr. Family Ride made the mistake of texting at 8:15 that the boys were still awake so I decided to make a scenic stop on the way home and bike to the top of kite hill in Gas Works Park. Our temporary tattoo stop was down by the bathrooms so I needed my top o’ the world fix. I wanted to see if I could negotiate my way up the switchbacks on the front of the hill, but there were too many people sharing the path so I took the easier back route up. There will be other opportunities. And there will be other alleycats.

Today’s miles: 29
June cumulative: 306.4 miles

Box spring cargo fiasco

I’ve been on the lookout for a twin box spring and the stars aligned today when a member of a local mom’s groups emailed that she had one for free. Unfortunately my friend with a truck wasn’t available. Also unfortunate was that I saw this as a sign I should pick it up with my bike. But imagine how cool it would be to carry such a massive cargo load!

The four-mile trip over to the box spring was awesome. It was raining as heavily as possible, but I barely noticed for my excitement. I told Mr. Family Ride I had a secret suprise errand to run that would take less than an hour and left the kids with him. I couldn’t exactly ask where our tarp was without revealing the nature of the secret surprise errand so I gathered up a bunch of bungee cords and our car roof-top cargo bag and sped off. As luck would have it, I rode by a neighbor who was carrying two tarps into his garage. I asked if he was putting them away and if so, could I borrow one. Tarp acquired, another sign.

I realized the error of my plan when I got the box spring near the bike. Holy cow, that thing was big! Box springs aren’t heavy, but they aren’t exactly air-filled, either. Now the rain became noticeable. It took me a bit of time to get the box spring on the side of the bike and it turns out bungee cords are not the best tool for the job. I should mention that before heading out, I got some great advice from Matt of Tacoma Bike Ranch:

but he lost me at “Ask for help.” Really great advice, though. I think an Xtracycle WideLoader shelf would help a lot, too, so I’m on the lookout for a used one now. Because there will be more big loads; I need to redeem myself.

I eventually sort of got the box spring loaded:

I biked to the corner (starting from the second house from the corner) and realized I’d made a terrible mistake. Naturally, I couldn’t return to the house and ask for help. Nor could I see if my friends who live five houses up the block were home. Much too embarrassing. So I phoned home and explained the nature of the super secret errand and apologized profusely and said I was stuck. Mr. Family Ride said he and the boys would drive over to help.

I was still feeling a bit stubborn (good sign, right? Still a bit of fight left in the old gal!) so I got back on the bike and continued towards home. Even though I was climbing a slight incline, I started getting used to the load…although it may have been more about the box spring slowly tilting over the FlightDeck to better distribute its weight. I think I could have made it all the way home if it stayed slightly leaning, but it continued to bend over the bike and I started worrying it would snap in two. Plus, the flatter it got, the more room I was taking up. Taking a lane was fine for part of the journey, but I’m not able to stick to tiny streets to get from Ballard to Wallingford (too steep for me) and I wouldn’t have fit in the Greenwood Avenue bike lane or the sidewalk of 46th. So I stopped in front of Whittier Elementary (I made it 8 blocks!) and sent a text message with my location.

The box spring and I stood in the pouring rain, studiously ignoring one another. I was embarrassed and felt that everyone driving by could tell at a glance that I’d foolishly tried to carry the box spring on my big bike and failed. The box spring was just mad at having been in pristine condition a mere twenty minutes earlier and was now soaking wet, smudged with dirt, and sporting two new holes in its underside.

My mood lifted when out of the mist appeared Jennifer of Loop-Frame Love and Ballard Greenways. I feel bad posting this picture when she hasn’t yet reviewed her lovely new city bike (waiting for a sunny day on which to photograph it, I think), but look at her on this bike–she looks like an angel! A velo angel. She kept me company, despite the downpour, despite being late home, while I waited for my four-wheeled rescue.

Unknown to me at this time, Mr. Family Ride realized while stuck in traffic that he had no rope and no way to get the box spring home with the car (at least one of us has his head on straight) so he phoned our old neighbor who has an SUV and she came right over, arriving before my family. What a welcome surprise! We loaded the box spring in her big car, Mr. Family Ride finally showed up with bewildered kids in tow, and we all headed home. Thankfully everything was put away by the time I got home and our neighbor departed so I skulked into the house, profusely apologized again, and let Mr. Family Ride get back to work after much more than the promised secret surprise sixty minutes.

But hey, I’ve got that box spring I wanted so badly. And for free! I wonder how long it will take for it to dry out so we can actually use it…

Today’s miles: 19.3
June cumulative: 277.4 miles

A nice northerly Ballard route: 6th Avenue NW

It pays to ask advice of a Greenways advocate! I like to get Ballard route advice from Jennifer of Ballard Greenways because she knows the best quiet and less steep streets. Today I discovered 6th Avenue NW per her suggestion and I love it! The very short jog to the right at 50th is probably the steepest part. And I biked by The Sneakery at 65th, a place I had imagined unreachable by bike.

Find information about your Seattle neighborhood’s Greenway group here. Join your group or start a group if one doesn’t exist. Seattle Greenways has resources to help you on your way.

Today’s destination was the thrift store, but we found ourselves passing JRA Bike Shop on the way. I knew they had a Yuba Mundo cargo bike there, but I didn’t realize they sell the accessories! I think the Mundo is six inches longer than the Big Dummy so I wasn’t sure if Go-Getter Bags fit my FlightDeck, but we held one up and sure enough, it’d work! The Main Tank sent me a link to this tutorial on making them work better on an Xtracycle FlightDeck. I’m not planning to change my bags, but it’s good to know. JRA sells Soft Spots, too. I’d spring for one of those if we didn’t need the hold/handle in the FlightDeck available for toy sockeye salmon to ride in. Perhaps some day…

While at the shop, I talked with a mom of two little girls who was getting a flat on her mountain bike fixed. We commiserated about how hard it would be to fix a flat with children running rampant. And I sang the praises of cargo bikes and tandem bikes and trailer bikes.

On the way home I discovered Greenwood being repaved. I had no idea! We’re usually south of this part of the Interurban North. Project details here.

Today’s miles: 17.8
June cumulative: 234.9 miles

A better (?) route to Magnolia

The lighter kid and I explored another route to Magnolia this morning, per my friend Julie’s suggestion (with my slight detour to avoid the Emerson hill at the end of the Ship Canal Trail):

It’s hilly and I initially thought it was a lot shorter than my last Magnolia trip, but it turns out it’s a half mile longer. Today’s trip took 37 minutes, but I didn’t time the other one so I really can’t compare the two. Today’s route was much quieter as 33rd is a sleepy valley of a street, but I should suck it up and make (and time!) both routes with both kids on board. Either way, this summer of swim lessons will toughen me up.

On the way back we enjoyed the lovely, though cloudy, view of the boats on a little side trip through Fishermen’s Terminal:

I took a pretty shot of the Saint Janet moored next to the Endurance for my friend Janet. But not so pretty was when the captain rushed out and growled, “You’ll have to pay me for that picture, arrr!” (OK, maybe he didn’t say “arrr”) I think he was joking. He’s gotta be a fun guy: the back of Saint Janet was full of bikes and cases of beer. Safe travels, Saint Janet.

In the afternoon we met up with Biking with Brad and I discovered we’ve got the same squishy saddle!

He’s had his forever, I’m just too self-centered to have noticed (doh!). I also never noticed his Kryptonite lock mount (modeled here with his snazzy boots). I’m not sure mine wouldn’t get dislodged by little feet if I tried that, but it sure fits nicely.

Yesterday I test rode a Yuba Mundo on its last day of a short stint at Ride Bicycles. It’s similar to my Big Dummy in that it’s a one-piece longtail frame (versus Xtracycle extension), but it’s a one-size-fits-all and different material and components. Unloaded, it felt a lot like my bike. I wish I’d had more time and could have talked one of the mechanics onto the deck to see what it really rides like. I really like the Go-Getter Bag, though I also didn’t have time to test how much stuff I could cram into it…I had to get to Critical Lass!

Even with the unfortunate weather–initially warm, but occasional rain and wind–ten lasses and three kids showed up to ride. We rode from Green Lake to Gas Works Park for a windy picnic, including a jaunt up kite hill for bicycle portraits. My kids didn’t come on the ride, but they met me at the park with their balance bikes so I utilized one for my victory shot.

Today’s miles: 16.2
June cumulative: 217.1 miles