Seattle Kidical Mass bike camping 2013

12 families, consisting of 19 adults and 19 kids on 19 bikes conquered the hills of Bainbridge Island for our second annual Seattle Kidical Mass bike camping trip!

Kidical Massers at camp

The group ride to the ferry met at Ballard Commons Park and headed 7.4 miles (map) through the locks. The kids and I skipped the fun group ride so we could check out the Amtrak traveling Exhibit Train, here Saturday only. En route, we were mistaken for a Seafair Torchlight Parade float as we biked down 4th Avenue…which is the parade route, but this was ten hours before parade time. Obviously, a sign I had overpacked.

My overpacked "float"

I was sad to miss riding in with our friends, but the Exhibit Train was awesome, even if we only spent five minutes rushing through it.

Amtrak Exhibit Train detour

It was fun wheeling my cargo bike through the Amtrak station. Long bikes aren’t allowed on Amtrak (unless they’re boxed and weigh less than 50 pounds). Many of us hope that rule will change someday, but in the meantime I use the old mamabike for train trips and this is the closest the Big Dummy has been to a train:

Cargo bike *near* train

…but back to the camping trip!

I love the bike lane for entering the ferry terminal. Cars came from the left to share this toll booth, but it was easy to navigate our way through. We were directed to lane 37 for bikes only. Cars lined up to our left and motorcycles to our right. Several families arrived early and were able to board before cars and the group ride arrived later, with just a few minutes to spare and were stuck on behind the cars. We don’t take the ferry often so I don’t know if it always works this way, but it was amazing how accommodating to bikes they were.

Bainbridge ferry bike entrance

Lane 37

Riding onto the ferry

This year’s 7.4-mile hilly route from Pegasus Coffee House to Fay Bainbridge Park was slightly different than last year’s…and slightly better!

Rather than follow the BIKE ROUTE sign and turn left on Falk, we continued straight through DO NOT ENTER (for cars) sign for a noticeably less steep hill. Yahoo!

New, better route

At Fay Bainbridge, the kids immediately hit the beach to create a sea life museum

Fay Bainbridge Park beach

while some of the big people set up camp.

Fay Bainbridge park bike campers

And camp was right next to the beach:

Tents by the water

There’s a different hike/bike-in camp area up the hill, but the camp host said we could camp in either area. Someone said our beach area might officially be the kayak-in camp area. We didn’t share space with any kayakers, but there was a quiet couple (who I worried may feel their quiet weekend away disrupted by so many children, but they dinged their bells merrily at us the following day as we crossed paths in Winslow) and a mellow bachelorette party. Camping down here also put us right by the playground.

Playground at Fay Bainbridge Park

New at the campground this year was an automated pay station so campers need not have cash on hand. The camp host instructed us to pay $5 per bike rather than $5 per person, resulting in free kids.

We played, dined, and hung out at the campfire. One of my favorite parts of the evening was charging Julian of Totcycle’s iPhone with our snazzy new BioLite CampStove.

BioLite CampStove

I learned a neat trick from Julian in the morning. I asked if our route back to Winslow was less hilly than last year’s and he said, “It’s not bad after that first hill” and then conveniently put some distance between us while riding out so he couldn’t hear me cursing him. Heh. Or maybe it was just my imagination. But he does look a little shadowy and sneaky on the ferry home. In his defense, the hill out of Fay Bainbridge Park is definitely the worst. I had to stop halfway off to eject a passenger and walk the remainder.

Arriving back to Seattle

Several of us arrived to the ferry home after the initial bike boarding. This time, they stopped the cars after having just filled the bottom level and let us ride up the sides to join our friends at the front of the boat. Again, very accommodating! If only the ferries went everywhere. Mr. Family Ride really would have liked it to deliver it directly to our front door at this point–he took some of my overpacking into the trailer and later discovered the extra stuff had pushed one trailer tire against the body of the trailer. I should have been more sympathetic, but I’m used to extra drag. I also shouldn’t have reminded him I rode Chilly Hilly with my rear brake rubbing this year. Not motivating talk.

Heading home from bike camping

Everyone seemed to have a terrific time and I heard several “Let’s do this again!”s. Just like last year, I was impressed by the eagerness to return to the punishing hills. Now I’m curious if the cheerleaders of last year have made it back to Fay on their own. As for new challenges, several local family bikers have expressed interest in exploring the Iron Horse Trail, but I’m a little leery of carrying even a lighter camping load through gravel…not to mention how to get to the gravel. We biked through the Snoqualmie tunnel a couple years ago and it’s…gravelly. And not all hard-packed gravel.

But I do want a chance to try packing less. I’m not ready to give up my full-sized pillow just yet, but I think I could be convinced to leave the four camp chairs at home. I don’t think the family was exaggerating when they said their kids wore swim suits for the ride and only brought along a pair of sweatpants each for when it cooled down at night. Now that is packing light! I think I brought six changes of clothing per kid. Plus swimwear. Plus jammies. And way too many stuffed animals. We’ve already discussed NO TOYS for next time.

Too many toys

More photos of the trip on Flickr.

11 thoughts on “Seattle Kidical Mass bike camping 2013

  1. Looks like a great time! We did that route about a month ago on our way to Poulsbo for a wedding. We stopped at Fay Bainbridge, but couldn’t really enjoy the stop due to the heat (it was one of those 91F days). The route is a fantastic one, and our experiences with the ferry have been similar.

  2. I am totally working my way up to this trip next year! I promise to pack light and effectively. I promise to do hill drills to ready myself. It looks like it was a fantastic trip! Have fun unpacking and doing laundry ;)

  3. This is awesome! I would love to do something similar with our Kidical Mass group here. Thanks for writing about this and inspiring all of us reading this in other parts of the world. And yes, let’s get Amtrack to allow big bikes on board!

  4. Pingback: july’s “books and bikes” ride combines reading with fitness » Simply Bike

  5. Pingback: July’s Books and Bikes ride combines reading with fitness | Ames Kidical Mass

  6. Pingback: This weekend! Baltimore Family Bike Party Camping Trip to Robert E. Lee Park | Baltimore Family Bike Party

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