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

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