Archive | September 2013

Five on a bike

I’m stealing their thunder by breaking the news, but if you read Julie’s Biking During Pregnancy post and did the math, you’ll have surmised there’s a new family member! I’m eagerly awaiting a biking-with-baby post. Our biking with baby started at 2.5 months in a infant carseat in the trailer, but the Wheelha.uses probably have something more creative planned.

But this post is about all the bigger kids, as I took my two and two of the young Wheelha.usians out for the day. I eased into things with just one spare kid for four on a bike (and a spare bike on the bike).

Four (including me) on a bike

They look a little crabby because I just tipped over.

It’s a shame to live so close to Seattle’s stellar Burke-Gilman Trail (two blocks in my case, half a block in the family’s case) yet not be able to easily access it. I can travel one busy block off the most direct route and get to a new crosswalk (which took parents at our elementary school years of campaigning to get and at which cars rarely stop for nine-year olds trying to cross to school, let alone me on the big bike). From the house, I traveled one block along busy Pacific to get to a narrow curb cut to get up on the sidewalk–which is where I turned a little too slowly and tightly for having a trailing bike, and tipped. And then I still had to ride two sidewalk blocks parallel to the BGT before being able to access it.

But really, they had fun! Look at those happy faces:

Fun four on a bike

They’re also relieved that our bike shop errand (putting the fenders back on the road bike) was over. Not that they didn’t have a great time playing with the shop dog and bins of used parts (seat tubes make excellent horns). And we browsed the used sporting good store next door because I’m not only about errands…just mostly about errands.

Then I traded my bike for Julie’s Madsen bucket bike so I could grab another kid for even more fun! (And more errands!)

Five (including me) on a bike

This was my first time carrying so many kids and also my first time riding with e-assist. I wasn’t sure how to read the display and didn’t want to run down the battery so I only used it a bit at the beginning of our excursion, but it was fun! Of course having four kids hidden behind me in the covered bucket got a bit wild. At one point through the giggles I heard “Now all of our helmets are on wrong!” Sheesh.

That was even before we stopped to load up on sugary doughnuts. Doughnuts!


But then they had to endure library book return (sans visit inside the library) and my chiropractor appointment (but they have a train table). There was a bit of storage space in the bucket even with four passengers, but it wasn’t so easy to get to, so I utilized the frame-mounted front rack. I think they sometimes use a basket on the rack, but today I borrowed a bungee to hold my shopping bag (to keep my messenger bag dry because it was raining) on.

Returning library books from the frame-mounted front rack

And finally playground, french fries, and play cafe.

French fries!

They’re just lucky I didn’t also drag them grocery shopping as that was initially on the itinerary. The kids may be more relieved than the parents that relaxing school starts back up tomorrow.

On the up and up (Capitol Hill and Queen Anne hill)

This was supposed to be my “I found great routes up two big Seattle hills!” post, but I’ll save that for a future post (because I chickened out on the first hill and got lost on the second hill). So instead it’s just another “blah blah blah hill hill hill” post.

Our first hilltop stop was 20/20 Cycle for the Posse’s on Broadway Cargo Bike Picnic Ride and next year I’ll go through Interlaken and arrive from the north, but this year I stuck to my old, familiar route:

…plus I didn’t see a great waypoint for the kids to stretch their legs and me to drink more coffee using the new route (though this is Seattle so I’m sure there’s coffee and greenspace to be found if I look again) and I wanted to stop by The Calf & Kid to pick up Briar Rose Creamery truffles for the potluck.

Here we are at Melrose Market, home of The Calf & Kid. Even though my long bike doesn’t fit in our fancy bike corrals, I got it wedged in backwards. Interesting that everyone else parked nose in, whereas at R+E in the U-District, people back their bikes in.

Melrose Market bike corral

Point “C” on the above map is a stop at Tougo Coffee was for me to rest at the top of the hill while the kids played in the play area. Nothing beats a cafe with a kid area! But soon enough we made it to 20/20 Cycle, which conveniently also has a little play area.

20/20 Cycle

The ride consisted of 20 adults and 8 kids–or so that’s what I count in front of Black Sun Doughnut:

2013 Labor Day Cargo Bike Ride

Prior to that stop in Volunteer Park was the obligatory swarming of Dick’s on Broadway:

Dick's on Broadway

and winding up this lovely path by a Henry mural:

Winding up to Volunteer Park

We had a fun off-road section leaving Volunteer Park:

Gravel in Volunteer Park

There was also an off-road section into our stop at Ravenna Park, but I was working too hard not to tip over so there are no smiley pictures of that. It helped to climb that last hill next to Davey Oil as he offered some encouraging words (which I think may have been “How are you not tipping over?”) I have a lot of practice riding extremely slow in gravel, though it’s usually on flat gravel while following zig-zagging kids and not up a painfully steep hill. But we made it! After which I had to lay down in the grass for a bit.

Now, I feel like I shouldn’t pick favorites, but look at this awesome family! Traditional Santana tandem on the right and Hase Pino Allaround on the left. I thought it was just another Bilenky Viewpoint “unique tandem” at first (there are quite a few of those around Seattle!).

Two-tandem family

The bikes were cool and the whole family was nice, but I was mainly taken by the Santana stoker. He had so many creative seating positions! One of them even involved pedaling…though with just one foot. So cute. But at the same time, I really hope I get some pedaling help by the time we move up to a tandem.

Best kid!

Now along to hill two!

Our preschool often has gatherings at the playground six blocks away. Six blocks up Seattle’s best hill, that is. I’ve tried the direct route before and it was awful. I don’t think I even made it up one of the four uphill blocks. I’ve been meaning to try a supposed gradual route up–from a friend who rides a regular bike with no extra stuff (such as 100 pounds of kids) on it. It’s a little convoluted so I meant to try it alone (and on my light road bike) first, but naturally, I never got around to that. Also naturally, I fell off the route without realizing it–it’s awfully twisty and turny! But look at this lovely view from West Armour Street and 5th Avenue West (which is way higher than I should have gotten at any point):

The view from Queen Anne

The playground is just two blocks down that hill and a little to the right, but I continued two more blocks uphill to West Raye Street, same street as the park. I should have continued up even more, but instead I took the steep downhill, stopped to cross busy 3rd Avenue West, and then got stuck at the base of the park. The kids kindly got off to walk through the park and I could ride the rest of the way in.

A couple people cheered us on near the highest point and I really wanted to snarl, “Obviously we’re lost!” but I managed a smile. Soon (though not too soon, I need to recover a bit) I’ll give it a try and see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

Avoiding the Missing Link

Today we crossed the ship canal and back in order to avoid the Missing Link. Actually, that wasn’t my original intention–we’d originally planned to visit Alki Beach in West Seattle, but changed the plan for Golden Gardens Beach instead. But we still wanted to see the superyacht parked at Pier 91 so we went out of our way…and then more out of our way to hit a bakery by the Olympic Sculpture Park and watch the trains for a bit. I should have realized Sunday is the wrong day to check out superyacht because it was dwarfed by the cruise ships. We’ll go again on a different day. And hopefully it’ll have a helicopter or two on the landing pads to complete the look.


We biked 15.6 miles instead of 6.7, but looking at the map, a more direct detour only adds one mile. There is the matter of having to walk through the Locks and it’s not quite as flat a route, but it’s scenic, includes the bike counter, and avoids the Missing Link.

Avoiding the Missing Link route

I haven’t previously gone out of my way to avoid the Missing Link, but I can’t imagine my kids riding solo along it. And like most people, I hate the Missing Link. Every few trips through, I see a bicyclist felled by the train tracks. It’s awful and upsetting. Even on non-crash-witnessing days I think of all the injured people and tear up. Maybe I should consider intentionally avoiding that stretch, eh?

But back to the good stuff!

Heading back north from superyacht I realized Sprocketts Recycled Bicycles is really close to the trail! I thought it was deep in Magnolia, but it’s just a couple buildings down from where the bike route emerges from the train yard. We’d been meaning to stop in and see if there’s a dog, as implied by the logo.

Sprocketts Recycled Bicycles

There is indeed a shop dog! Her name is Mama and she’s the sweetest dog in the world.

Mama at Sprocketts

The bikes are pretty sweet, too. I especially liked the Brooklyn Cruisers–pretty city bikes with internally-geared hubs. The Brooklyn Cruisers are new, as are many of the bikes, but the shop also has a great selection of used bikes.

And then, beach! There were a ton of people out. I’m sure those visiting by car had a bear of a time finding parking.

Beach! Golden Gardens

We took our regular route on the way home and saw evidence of upcoming changes to the Missing Link! (I also saw a guy pedaling in between the train tracks, but he stayed upright…though I didn’t stop to watch his exit at the curve.) The dotted lines mark something totally new: advisory bike lanes. I’m curious what the spray painted icon will become–it looks different than the regular short-hand sharrow.

Advisory bike lanes coming to the Missing Link

And there are a lot of speed humps coming!

Speed humps coming to the Missing Link

This is really going to be something!