Cyclocross for mom and kids again

A year after our first foray into cyclocross, we’re back at it: MFG Woodland Park GP! Having the Big Dummy made this time easier–no car involved to transport kid bikes. The maracas are their “cowbells”, by the way.

Even so, I ended up making two trips to bring the kid bikes in the end. The three-year old has been a bit shy about racing and was adamant I not bring his bike along, insisting he wouldn’t change his mind and he definitely wouldn’t want to ride around just for fun between races. Guess what: he changed his mind. I don’t have a cyclocross bike (yet? yet!), but I think I could have hauled both kid bikes and my cyclocross bike there.

I didn’t have to race on the Big Dummy–FOCUS bikes provided demo bikes, just bring pedals.

Three weeks ago I raced in the MFG Magnuson Park GP and arrived by mountain bike (to race with in case I couldn’t score a demo bike) with empty trailer (so I could bring the little kid home early to host a preschool potluck which Mr. Family Ride, big kid, and car arrived and stayed later). At the time I was struck by how many people said, “What a great idea!” to my trailer. A lot of racers drive to cyclocross events and spend a lot of time looking for parking and some have to bike a bit of a ways in from their parking spots. I think there was a run on Craigslist trailers after my example. But mtb + trailer day was nothing compared to arriving with the cargo bike. We were met with cheers upon arrival–twice, on account of our second arrival after fetching the balance bike.

There were other cargo- and family bikes there, too. I spotted a cycletruck while I raced. Probably not the best practice to slow down and look over one’s shoulder to check out bikes in the middle of the race, but oh well. And the Big Dummy with custom kid setup I first saw at Fremont Solstice (better picture of custom kid stuff at the bottom of this post) was there:

And a Kona MinUte with one kid on the back, and a tandem with kidback for the little stoker. But best of all was Alyssa’s Xtracycled Breezer. I didn’t even notice it at first. We were watching the race five feet from this gorgeous rig and our two five-year olds befriended one another over their common age and common interest in sharks. Kismet. [Alyssa, contact me! Facebook won’t let me friend or message you.]

Here’s their sweet homegrown kid seating with hinge for bigger deck or separated kids:

She brought her “couch” in her first run to the races (she had to go home to fetch kid bikes, too). I LOVE BIG CARGO LIKE THIS!

And showed me her preferred method for towing her 20-inch kiddie bike, strap behind the wheel, with bungee for extra support:

The races were great. The grown up racing is really hard! But it’s really fun. I think I would like it more if I practiced beforehand. But in my book, the FREE!!! kiddie race is where it’s at. Every cyclocross race has one, I think. This is it for the MFG season and nearby races, but the Seattle Cyclocross Series has two more races. Things didn’t go quite according to plan for us today, though. Right before race start, the three-year old needed to hit the bathroom. A very kind woman let us cut in front of her when she heard me ask him, “Do you think you can hold it a couple minutes?” but even so, we was in there long enough that we missed the bulk of the race. He tends to freeze and drop his bike if someone makes eye contact with him at the start so it wasn’t too big a deal. And a friend got the five-year old started so he was able to do his first cyclocross race on pedals! Two laps! These are much smaller laps than we big folks do, by the way.

Don’t feel bad for him, the little dude got to do a lot of riding around. Also, he’s not pouting in the photo above–I think he’s remedying a runny nose (eww). But it’s still my favorite picture of the day. Proof balance bike was used and nice shot of some of the booths. It’s quite the party there with stuff to sample and stuff to buy–of both the food and bicycle variety (including caffeinated gummies from Clif–brilliant!):

I saw a couple women wearing insulated skirts that zip up the sides. I talked to one woman who said it’s not specifically for biking, but she’s able to ride her bike with the sides unzipped a much as possible. Hers is a Skhoop and she got it at REI. She told me about the cross-country skiing version that’s “like a mullet” which would be useful to wear backwards on a bike in the rain. Or I could just buy some rain pants that fit. Or do more cyclocross so I shrink down and fit in my current rain pants.

I feel I haven’t adequately described the scene…my limited exposure to it, anyway. Cyclocross (watching, riding, and bringing the kids) is AWESOME. Everyone there seemed to be in a good mood, and not only because of the guy passing out cups of beer to racers (yes, during the race). We stood near a downhill corner for a while and saw A LOT of crashes, but I only noticed a few people at the medical booth with impressive scrapes. Fun! I’ll admit I felt like a bit of an outsider, not being affiliated with one of the teams, but I saw friends there, was invited to leave gear and hang out in team tents, and made new friends. I’m determined to do some practicing before racing again and hopefully complete all the laps…though I’ve been assured it’s just fine to run out of time and end up a lap down. Today was extra special because Tyler Farrar, local boy gone big, was racing. I saw him ride by and saw the picture of him my friend took with her phone, but did not get the opportunity to tell him he was in the presence of his biggest fan.

One damper on the day to report: heading home along sharrowed N 45th Street, the handlebars of the balance bike in my left FreeLoader bag bumped against an enormous truck. The driver stopped his truck and started honking and angrily gesturing at me. I stopped, too, but a bit in front of him by now. I’m not sure what he wanted, but he really didn’t want to pull up next to me. He kept honking and waving his arms around while I smiled and gestured at him to move up next to me. Finally he pulled up alongside me so he could say I was too wide for the road (he was right! I hadn’t packed things in well–the balance bike was hanging out to the side, on the outside of two bags of gear when I should have tucked it under them). While I couldn’t go into the whole “I agree I shouldn’t be sharing the road with you; I should have safe, protected areas to ride” thing, so instead I tried to tell him that I didn’t see a scratch on his truck, but would he like to pull over so we could look at it together? But he just wanted to yell about “you people.” He finally pulled away, only to stop next to my friend, Kevin, who had stopped several car lengths up to wait for me. More yelling! I rode up tried again to offer to look for a scratch with him to give him something to focus on other than yelling, but of course that went nowhere. Blech. The kids were unphased, thank goodness, but I’m still bothered by the whole thing. It’s ironic that we were two blocks away from the Neighborhood Greenway, but if I go downhill Stone to get to the start of the Greenway, I can’t make it up the first hill of the Greenway. 45th Street is a slight incline at this point and while I would happily take the lane and wait in the line of cars on flat and downhill sections, I’m just too slow at this part of the road and I can easily imagine how a horn-happy older man in an oversized truck would react to a bike crawling along at a few miles an hour in front of him. So I don’t know what the immediate answer is. I’m planning to attend the last of the three Seattle Bicycle Master Plan Update Public Meetings on Tuesday and I hope to see promises of changes that will happen soon, but that won’t help me tomorrow and next week. However, I do know I’ll take care to pack up the bike more carefully. So hey, I have learned something.

3 thoughts on “Cyclocross for mom and kids again

    • I neglected to point out a separate and more positive motorist interaction I had earlier, so I’ll do so now…

      When we were returning home for the balance bike, I was waiting to turn left from Stone onto 45th and the guy behind me got out of his car to show me the little painted “T” loop detector for bikes. Of course my first thought was, “WHAT IS HAPPENING?! WHY IS THIS GUY GETTING OUT OF HIS CAR?” but I got over to when I realized he wasn’t planning to yell at me (for what? I dunno, just my first reaction).

      I told him I know about loop detectors and love ’em! He said I should scoot back so my wheel is on the T, but I pointed out that there’s more metal in the cranks, and while I know that’s not a problem with this heavy bike, I have a habit of lining it up under my cranks on all bikes. Then I mentioned I had arrived just a little too late in the light cycle, so that’s why he may have thought I hadn’t triggered the light.

      Thank you, no, thank you. Have a nice day. :)

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