Archive | October 2013

Another very bikey birthday party

It’s that time of year again! Our sweet friend who threw the most terrific very bikey birthday party upon turning five last year followed it up with a just-as-terrific event for age six this year.

Beginning of the birthday party

It was amazing to see what a difference a year made. Last year the kids were cargo, but this year four little kids biked six miles from Gas Works Park to Magnuson Park. We stopped momentarily to watch the hired goats chow down on the blackberry brambles near the freeway and took a longer rest break (during which the kids ran and biked around!) two thirds of the way there.

Goat break

The ride was primarily along the Burke-Gilman Trail which made for a very comfortable (and flat) ride, and the kids did great keeping to the right and stopping safely at numerous intersections. I lost my six-year old to the front of the pack for most of the ride and hung back with my slower four-year old. I tried my hand at giving him a boost while riding alongside and we pretty much got the hang of it, though I don’t think I could do it on a real hill. But on small inclines it was enough to keep him happy and pedaling the whole way.

Birthday party in motion

Then we utilized the NE 65th St cycle track to reach the park. I stood atop the barrier to snap pictures as the party whizzed by.

Birthday party on the cycle track

New this year was a bike ramp and teeter totter! Like last year, more families met us at the park, most with kid bikes in tow. The kids zoomed around amphitheater both before and after sushi, cake, and bike decorating.

Birthday party bike rodeo

And finally the birthday-boy-led parade through the park!

Birthday party bike parade through the park

We rode all around–past rugby games,

Parade-adjacent rubgy

dog park, uphill, and down. Some ups and downs were steep and gravelly enough that the kids walked. My kids had a couple wipe outs in the gravel so for most of the parade I had one or the other kid and his bike on the Big Dummy. Maybe next year we’ll each ride the whole thing, but today it was nice to be versatile.

Parading up a gravelly hill

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Too sick to ride

I woke up Sunday with a pulled muscle in my back, in too much pain to play cyclocross or do much of anything. It’s a recurring thing from an old car crash and I’ve never put much thought into the crash, but as I think more about cars versus bikes these days (not in terms of War on Cars, but in terms of selecting to use one over the other on a day-by-day basis), I’m starting to cast off the veil of our car culture. It’s not just me: see Apathy by Tiny Helmets Big Bikes. I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t even blame the car crash for my neck problems at first. Shortly after the crash, we moved offices and the risers for my monitor got misplaced so I blamed staring at a screen five inches too low for my sudden neck pain. It couldn’t possibly be the car crash in which my seat belt didn’t lock and I flew full speed into the air bag–with enough force to bloody my nose, fatten my lip, and swell my eyes shut for 24 hours (though the eye thing was probably more from irritation at the powder the air bag was packed in–awful stuff!). Funnily enough, my friend who was dropping me off at the subway station after a post-work function struck a brand-new street calming island he didn’t notice.

So my neck acts up every so often, though usually not to the degree it did yesterday. By this morning I was mostly mobile so we hopped on the bike. In any regular scenario, if I’m too sick to bike, I’m also too sick to drive. Today it was easier to swivel in my saddle to look over my shoulder than it would have been to wrench my neck to the side to check my car’s huge blind spots. Old me probably wouldn’t have chosen the bike, but becoming a parent creates a new level of resilience. Or maybe it’s a new level of resignedness. Either way, my motto (as of today) is: if you’re well enough to take a panda shot, you’re well enough to ride a bike.

First panda of the day

I’ve never bothered to check the bus schedule to school, but it looks like if I timed things carefully, I could manage school dropoff by bus.

And thank goodness we biked because I would have missed some cool stuff! I saw a brand-new-to-me white Bullitt cargo bike with wooden box, Linnette on her Boda Boda cargo bike, and a couple other friends as well.

After 4.5 kidmiles on the 75-pound bike with 85 pounds of kids, I swapped to the 20-pound road bike to ride 12 regular miles and visit the chiropractor. Full disclosure: after this road bike panda, I dropped the iPhone in the street, but that doesn’t disqualify me.

Second panda of the day

And errands wait for no one, so I snuck in a few of those after the neck repair. First up, I had to swing by Counterbalance Bicycles and thank them for having tuned up my brakes two weeks ago. Of all days, today was the day I nearly got squished by a license-plate-less delivery van en route to the chiropractor. The guy behind me who also nearly got squished said “Nice braking!” to me. It is the closest call I have ever experienced…though had I been on the mamabike, I’d probably have assumed the guy would force the right of way and not have entered the intersection. As I replied to nice-braking guy, “You can’t be too defensive!” Though obviously, that’s exactly what I wasn’t in this case.

Then bank and grocery store. I won’t say I’m completely recuperated, but I was certainly well enough to lift my 20-pound bike to park like Opal…though not until I tracked her down inside to ask a couple questions:
“Does it only work with a fixie”
“Is the U-lock helping hold it in place?”

Parking like a hipster

I swapped back to the Big Dummy for preschool pickup at 1 p.m. and had the pleasure of seeing a new-to-me bakfiets on the Fremont Bridge! Naturally I sped up to catch her and ask as many questions as I could before it got creepy.

Baby on bakfiets!

One-kid, uphill panda:

Third panda of the day

For 3:30 first grader pickup, I walked while the four-year old biked, but we were all back on bikes for soccer practice a couple hours later. Despite the lingering neck pain, I offered to carry both kids and their bikes those first four uphill blocks. Imagine my relief when they both insisted on riding the whole way. Of course the little guy can’t manage the hills, so I got to carry him and his bike. Panda!

Fourth panda of the day

But soon enough we were riding in a little pack of separate bikes. It’s getting to feel much more natural to ride like this–I’ll write about the transition soon.

Riding with the kids, separately

We stopped at Dick’s Drive-In on the way home because nothing hones a kid’s riding skills like making his way through a Dick’s parking lot. Side note: I’m so glad it’s the end of soccer season so our weekly post-practice french fry tradition can come to an end (for now, at least). But thank goodness for our tradition today, because a woman approached me to talk about bikes. Turns out she just moved here from Belgium and has a Batavus she carries her daughter on. She already seemed pretty tapped in, knowing of G & O Family Cyclery, Hub and Bespoke, and Kidical Mass. She didn’t have her bike with her today, but I have a feeling I’ll see it soon!

The things I would have missed today had I been too sick to ride!

PDX DRT

In honor of the last of the year’s Disaster Relief Trials [bikes saving the world after mock disasters–yeehaw!] wrapping up last weekend in Eugene, I’ve finally gotten around to sharing pictures and words of my experience in Portland some three months ago. Like everything awesome and bike-related, DRT was founded in Portland, with the first–and only 2012 DRT–occurring last Pedalpalooza. This year there were a bunch of them: first was Seattle, then Portland, Boulder (which turned into actual disaster relief when it coincided with the floods), Victoria, and Eugene.

I helped organize the Seattle DRT, which had the convenient side effect of making me ineligible to participate in the hard part of riding the event. Actually, I’m sure I could have participated in the Seattle event had I wanted to–ours wasn’t a race, but rather an expo event as part of the Bicycle Urbanism Symposium with a marked route so my having chosen that route didn’t give me any advantage–but it was fun to camp out at the water crossing with the kids (plus, where would I have put the kids?!) and photograph the event.

Watching Seattle DRT

I wasn’t planning to take part in the Portland DRT, but when organizer Mike Cobb said competitor Mark Ginsberg, a bicyclist attorney would sponsor me in order to get more women on the course, how could I say no? So I registered and sent in my rider profile and bio and I few weeks later, the kids and I had our first cargo-bike-on-Bolt-Bus experience!

Our first DRT-related event was the Joe Bike Grand Opening/5-Year Anniversary/DRT Kickoff Party Friday night. I followed Katie and Dave of A Most Civilized Conveyance over. This would soon be a familiar sight for me, by the way–Katie’s back as she led me over Portland bridges.

Riding over the Hawthorne Bridge with Dave and Katie

There were so many cargo bikes at the party! But the most amazing thing was watching DRT competitor Cory Poole arrive on skateboard with his daughter in/on on the cargo trailer he towed and managed with a hand-held brake.

DRT bikes at Joe Bike

I was a nervous wreck the morning of the event. It’s not often I can participate in events without the children in tow and on those rare occasions I generally have them with me until the last possible moment…like for last year’s Girls of Summer Alleycat. But Mr. Family Ride flew in late at night the eve of the big day and played at the hotel pool with the kids so I could fly solo. Arriving alone and on time made for a lot of time with nothing to distract me!

I was antsy, under-caffeinated, and under-water-bottled–the day was shaping up to be hot and I only had one water bottle–so I asked around for nearby coffee and bike shops. I thought I was unprepared, but when Sterling heard I was hitting a bike shop, he gave me some cash to pick him up a new tire. A purpose! So off I went to Water Avenue Coffee and River City Bicycles for two more water bottles and a fancy new 20-inch tire for Sterling. He was in the e-assist class so I was not at all tempted to sabotage him. Mr. Family Ride and I had just watched a show about the last 100 Tours de France and I was intrigued by the footage of long-ago riders wearing spare tires crisscrossed on their backs. Would a 20-inch tire fit over my head? It did! Wearing a tire sash made for a much better entrance than shoving it in my cargo bag.

To the rescue!

The Bullitt seemed to be the bike of choice–though there were other cargo bikes, bikes plus trailers, and of course, Cory’s skateboard. That’s Austin Horse on the left, movie stunt double and eventual DRT winner. Big time!

Bullitts at DRT

Austin and the rest of the Open Class took off first and then we Citizen Class riders hit the road. Our goody bags contained important stuff like after-party drink coupons and a DRT-logoed stainless steel Kleen Canteen pint cup as well as many local bike maps, Yuba cargo straps, and a laminated checkpoint map with clip for attaching it to our handlebars. Here’s a bit of a peek at Katie’s map as we made our way over the St. Johns Bridge.

Peeking at Katie's map on the St. Johns Bridge

Beautiful bridge, by the way:

St. Johns Bridge

This was after a long flat ride alongside train tracks during which we exchanged waves with train conductors (the kids have trained us well), the first checkpoint at which we had to uninflate and reinflate a tire, and a big climb to the start of the bridge. I thought Portland was supposed to be flat!

Heading to Checkpoint 1

And we traveled so far, to “North of North Portland”, for our second checkpoint to fetch a long, empty box.

Slow ride through No No Po

Katie calculated we rode 36.6 miles. The shortest route for Citizen Class should have been about 30 miles, but we made a bonus stop at Checkpoint 4. It wasn’t on our manifests, but it wasn’t listed as “Open Class Only” on our laminated maps so we played it safe. Checkpoint 4 was the fun offroad section and mybagisbigger took this excellent photo of me there so I’m happy for our extra stop:

Photo courtesy mybagisbigger

Photo courtesy mybagisbigger

Also contributing to the extra mileage was riding too far along the Columbia River for Checkpoint 5. We weren’t the only ones to do so. This guy is shouting, “I’ve only got my babysitter until 2pm!”

Riding too far along the Columbia River

With the help of some of our friendly competitors shouting “Turn back! We’ve gone all the way to the end and THERE’S NOTHING THERE!” we found our way. Ooh, maybe this was part of the disaster scenario, but the participant consensus was that the laminated map had the wrong street address. No biggie, I’m used to being lost and we eventually made it there and that guy got a backup babysitter lined up. All good!

Checkpoint 5 had FEMA volunteers providing helmet stickers for emergency information and empty buckets to fill with water from the river. Open Class filled their two buckets full while we filled them 3/4 of the way. I only have one Xtracycle WideLoader so I loaded both my buckets on one side at first and did a practice lap after shouting, “No one watch! I’ll probably tip over!”

Two buckets of water take one

It didn’t feel too tippy, but I decided to better distribute things and moved one bucket to my FlightDeck, fairly well secured to the stoker bars with cargo net and bungee cord. I feel I had a bit of an advantage at this point–a couple weeks prior my younger son fell asleep in his Yepp seat for the first time without his straitjacket (my snowboard jacket wrapped around him backwards to keep him warm) on and he flopped around like crazy. I haven’t appreciated how still he sits on a regular basis! The sensation was very similar to the 3/4-filled bucket of water riding behind me.

Two buckets of water take two

At this point, Katie and I joined forces with Joyanna, riding a regular bike plus trailer. Her setup was great for the buckets. Fortunately she didn’t make the extra stop at Checkpoint 4 because it wouldn’t have been very fun offroad.

Riding with Joyanna and her trailer

Katie was an awesome leader. I felt guilty just tagging along while she did all the navigating and pace setting. Heck, Katie has even done the navigating and pace setting for me in Seattle! Finally Katie showed signs of slowing so we took a much-needed water break on the side of the road–next to a blackberry bush as luck would have it. Somehow the story morphed into a folk tale of we three passing a bunch of other competitors, stopping to go blackberry picking, and then passing those same people again. Ha! I laugh because we were about ready to keel over.

Blackberry stop

But soon enough we were passing those people and picking up our three eggs (to represent fragile medical vials). The checkpoint staffers offered us water, which I sorely needed, but not until I checked, “Is there a time penalty if I accept some?” I didn’t realize I was so competitive!

Then we headed into Downtown Portland where we received specific routing advice to get to the finish line. We were instructed to ride along the waterfront, which I can only assume was to mimic navigating a zombie apocalypse.

And back at OMSI we discovered the six-inch-deep water feature and meter-tall barrier. Katie, Joyanna, and I unloaded our water buckets and eggs and helped each other bike by bike over the barrier. Then we growled at one another and sprinted for the finish line. We turned in our eggs–they all survived!–and emptied our water buckets into the Clever Cycles Dutchtub.

My DRT manifest

Ours certainly wasn’t the only teamwork of the day. The team from Joe Bike opted to take it slow and rode as a group, helping with bike repairs all along the course–fellow DRT participants and random stranded bikers alike. It was great to see them merrily ride across the finish line in a big pack shortly after us.

Naturally, it was the feats of the family bikers that had the biggest impact on me. The lovely and amazing Emily Finch was one of the event organizers and I caught her making a quick run home to drop off a bunch of stuff, including her husband’s Christiania, after which she’d ride back on her daughter’s 20-inch Gazelle to fetch her own bakfiets. I wish I had seen that! I can coast downhill to school on my son’s little bike, but I couldn’t imagine actually going anywhere real on it.

Emily Finch, DRT organizer

But I didn’t catch up with Emily again until the after party at Velocult. This is my other favorite picture of the day, from dontbecreepy’s Flickr. We’re arguing. Emily is claiming I’m awesome for having carried a box spring on my bike and I’m reminding her that I *didn’t* carry a box spring on my bike. However, I appreciate my friends’ selective memories on this.

Photo courtesy dontbecreepy

Photo courtesy dontbecreepy

I was so excited to see an Emily Finch slide show live in person! But there were technical problems…which I think might also be part of the live slide show experience. But I saw it later and it’s awesome. And I’m in it!

And a couple other fun family bikers–Andy and Chele–had just that afternoon returned from a family bike tour and since Andy’s Big Dummy was out of commission, having lent pieces to a tandem bike for the trip, he carried the whole family in Chele’s bakfiets. Quite impressive!

Full family bakfiets

Is it wrong to lump doggie bikers in with family bikers? I don’t think so. I’d seen pictures of Rando the pug before, but this was the first to see him in his “Pugeot” sidecar.

Rando!

It was the best. Each and every part of it. As I told a few of the car drivers who pulled up alongside to ask what we were up to, “We’re saving the world!”

Biking to the mall

I don’t get to the mall often. The last time we went was almost three years ago, on the bus. Unable to find yellow kid pants at the thrift store, I broke down and ordered new. I’m a sucker for the “in-store pickup” option so that’s what drew me to the mall. When having things mailed, I use regular post, but reading “Has the Rise of Online Shopping Made Traffic Worse?” makes me feel in the minority. I probably encounter ten delivery trucks parked in bike lanes per week, by the way. Often very close to available parking spots.

I had the luxury of biking over solo on my road bike so I didn’t mind that I hadn’t bothered looking into a friendly route. From Green Lake, it was just a straight shot up 5th:

It was very quiet at midmorning, both on the street and in the mall. A delivery driver in the parking lot gave me a “We’ve never seen a bike here before!” look, but someone had thought about bikes because I found a bike rack at the entrance I needed on the southeast side of the building.

Bike rack at Northgate Mall

I didn’t have time to take pictures along the way, but the hills provided for some nice scenic city views. Instead, here’s inside the mall. Uh oh, aren’t empty mannequins a no-no? Right after I snapped the picture, the whole display was whisked away. Thank goodness.

Empty mannequins at the mall

Heading back from the mall I decided I really didn’t like the first few blocks south on 5th Avenue NE. It was still a quiet time of day, but I felt very exposed on the four-lane road with no shoulder or bike markings. I know it’s just paint, but I would have felt safer with bike lane or sharrows. And this was traveling uphill at fast-bike-running-late speed, not slow-bike-with-kids speed.

So I came home and asked for advice on the Seattle Family Biking Facebook group. But rather than leave the knowledge buried there, where I’ll have trouble searching for it when I need it, I’m going to share it here. I’d also love any additional advice!

Here’s family-bike-friendly route advice #1:

“To avoid the hill from the South, take Wallingford Ave N from Greenlake then right on 92nd. Left on 1st though it is really narrow in that stretch. I ride on the sidewalk on 1st from Northgate to 102nd? when coming from the North, but don’t think there is sidewalk any further South.”

Family-bike-friendly route advice #2:

“Try taking 8th NE once you cross the freeway. Nice residential street.”

And family-bike-friendly route advice #3, from Ballard, which looks nice and I’m happy to go this much out of the way out of the way for a nice route:

“From my house, it’s Interurban trail to 125th, cross Aurora at the light, 125th to Haller Lake. There’s a nice, circular road around the lake, then south on first ave north. At Northgate elementary, turn left and take the overpass over the freeway. There’s a bike lane that splits off down the hill into the neighbourhood. From there you just need to cross Northgate way.”

First visit to G & O Family Cyclery

Look who’s open: G & O Family Cyclery: “A Family and Cargo Bike Shop For Seattle!”

G & O Family Cyclery is open!

I am not the only Davey Oil fan who is super excited about this! I have just one complaint: the lighting in the shop is not great for iPhone pictures so everything’s a bit blurry. This was a soft opening, by the way, so things are still being unpacked and assembled. We went in at 12:30 and I bet things looked much different by 6pm. I can’t wait to see the progress when I swing by tomorrow for a second look.

G & O Family Cyclery

G & O Family Cyclery

G & O Family Cyclery

I love this wall full of treasures!

G & O Family Cyclery wall of treasures

The place is amazing. Also amazing is that their opening was put on hold just less than a month after an unfortunate fire. I came by yesterday mid-morning to deliver our old train table and the place was empty. That was pretty fun :) This is the train table I worried wouldn’t fit in the trunk of my car when I retrieved it from its former family four years ago. It was no problem with the bike. I could have even fit my other kid had he not been in school.

Train table on the bike

Train table on the bike

Train table on the bike

Train table on the bike

My Yuba cargo straps were perfect for holding it on the bike. They were in my Portland DRT (which I aim to finally write about soon!) goody bag and they are so easy to use.

The train table is a gift, but the tracks and trains are just loaners (so if you have spares, check in with Davey and he’ll probably want them! …but I get to help with the track layout) except for one very special tanker car I found in our collection. This one stays at G & O for sure.

G & O train table car!

We left G & O with a Brompton! Well, an empty Brompton box to be exact. I’ve got plans to turn it into a train costume. My days of dressing the kids in bicycle infrastructure costumes for Halloween are sadly over.

[Empty] Brompton [box] on the bike

Someday I’ll buy a real Brompton from G & O. I’m looking forward to test riding one soon. And then test riding my Big Dummy with a Brompton in each pocket.

If you’re in the area, pop in and check out G & O!!
8417 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA

Fun with boxes in G & O Family Cyclery

Kid schlepping with the wrong bike

This started two weeks ago when, after ferrying the kids to school via cargobike, I swapped it out for my road bike for a six-mile ride to Wedgwood to see the chiropractor. I figured since I was only another two miles to the thrift store I may as well take a quick peek for items to make that yellow dinosaur-spider hybrid costume (which has since changed twice and counting) before swapping back to the mamabike.

It was a no go on the costume stuff, but I ended up finding a bunch of other stuff…yet not leaving myself enough time for the ten-mile ride home! In the old days (before someone stole our trailer last month, that is) I would have towed the empty trailer during morning dropoff and left it locked up at preschool, but as it was, I showed up one seat short.

The wrong bike

Preschool is only two miles from home so I figured it’d be a manageable walk. Plus I scored some shoes at the thrift store so I wouldn’t have to walk in my cleats. My four-year old was only too happy to perch on my saddle and cling to my back.

Wrong bike panda shot

We walked half a block when it occurred to me one or two of the buses that stop by school run through our neighborhood. And just as I was thinking this a bus pulled up so I asked from the sidewalk, “Hey! Do you run along 40th?” and sure enough, it did! So we ended up walking one block, busing 12 minutes, and walking one more block. Too easy! Not to mention it was incredibly easy to lift that little bike up on the bike rack! My road bike probably weighs 20 pounds, but I’m used to busing with the Bianchi Milano plus kid seats which is around 50 pounds. And there was the one time I transported Mr. Family Ride’s beach cruiser when I really should have hauled it by cargo bike. But the cargo bike was only 10 days old and I didn’t know any better. And hey, that was my first time schlepping kids with the wrong bike.

Anyhow, the kid had so much fun riding on the wrong bike that I did it intentionally today. This time I was on my cyclocross bike, practicing cyclocrossy stuff with a friend in a park. I ended up having enough time to head home and swap bikes, but decided it’d be more fun to show up on the wrong bike so I used my extra time to figure out that “easy” route up Queen Anne at which I failed last month.

Scenic, easy? Queen Anne ascent

I paid closer attention to the twisty turny route (so easy when alone, so hard when with two passengers) and didn’t miss any turns this time. I only went as far as McGraw, though, as Biking with Brad told me I’d have gained all my elevation by then. No time to stop for scenic view pictures this time, but here’s a quick snap of the cross bike at David Rodgers Park, the destination of our last visit up Queen Anne.

Top of the hill

I should really try the route on the cargobike to see if it’s doable, but on the cross bike with half-inflated tires, it felt pretty not-flat. This route came from a friend who rides a regular bike and uses it as a scenic ride up the hill and refers to it as “as flat as possible.” A couple days ago I met a bike mechanic who lives on Queen Anne and mentioned ways one can zig zag up to avoid the worst hills, but again: regular bike. Plus he used to be a bike messenger and firmly believes in having his kids pedal their own bikes so I wouldn’t call him ideal route-referrer. Today’s route was all uphill for the first half and then flattened out nicely. Not in the sense of “Keep riding up that hill and it’ll eventually flatten out.” I hate when people say that–it won’t “flatten out”! But in this case once I got the climbing out of the way, I found a lot of flat terrain.

As predicted, the kid was ecstatic that I showed up with the wrong bike. He wanted to repeat the bus action of last time, but it was such a nice day I convinced him we should walk to Solsticio for a smoothie.

Kid on my cross bike

Solsticio doesn’t have a view of the water, but it does have a great view of the Burke-Gilman Trail. First we saw Kent Peterson whiz by, visiting town from Issaquah, and then Mr. Family Ride biked by on his way to lunch. I texted him to stop by on his way home and walk a bit with us. Apparently 0.7 miles was the little guy’s limit for sitting on the cross bike’s saddle so I moved him to the handlebars for the remainder of the walk.

Kid on my cross bike

Mr. Family Ride stuck with us for a few blocks but then saddled up and rushed back to work. And then he called me to see if I wanted him to come fetch us with the car so we wouldn’t have to walk up the hill at the end. What?! I’ll admit I bike because I’m lazy and don’t like walking, but I like to save my car rescues for bike breakdowns or frozen kids far from home, like last Cranksgiving. Not to mention my younger son has developed an aversion to getting in the car because it creates too much pollution.

Dealing with the rain

I don’t mind riding in the rain–so long as I’m heading for a long stop at an indoor location where I can dry out while my bike is parked in a covered location. However, last weekend, we rode 30 minutes to Ballard both Saturday and Sunday to hang out outside for the day. Saturday was the Ballard Bikes to School Kick-Off Event for which 40 kids braved the weather for bike rodeo, helmet fits, snacks, bike repairs, and more.

Ballard Bikes to School Kick-Off Event

Then Sunday I ran a Family Bike Expo booth all day at the Sustainable Ballard Festival. Again, an impressive number of people braved the crappy weather.

But our regular rainy rides these days are for rushed school dropoffs and I’m finding the kid rainsuit and rain pants we used last year aren’t the most convenient of solutions.

When my trailer was stolen a few weeks ago, the thief also got my old snowboard jacket I used to wrap around my four-year old in the Yepp seat. Now we’re using my husband’s old snowboard jacket which isn’t quite as water resistant as mine, but it’s bigger so it covers his legs even better (Side note: I didn’t even know there was a difference between water resistant and waterproof before moving to Seattle). Coming home on Saturday the kids felt the rain coming in through their helmet vents and I discovered their jacket hoods partially fit over their helmets. Somewhat helpful, but when I got home, I ordered them waterproof Helmetcovers. If you don’t need waterproof, there are some cute designs.

Hoods halfway on helmets

The snowboard jacket keeps my little one’s legs dry so I don’t need to deal with his rain pants, but the front kid doesn’t stay quite as dry. The last two days I’ve tied my water resistant jacket around his waist to make a rain apron. It works well! But his jacket is also only water resistant so he’s got quite a damp jacket by the time we get to school. I think a kid-sized poncho–something long enough to cover his legs, but short enough so I don’t worry about it tangling in my chain–would be ideal.

Makeshift rain apron

As for our stuff, my first grader’s backpack fits perfectly inside a festive Ikea insulated picnic bag:

Picnic bag as backpack pack

And our smaller stuff goes in 99-cent Trader Joe’s shopping bags:

Reusable shopping bag as purse holder

I still need to work on my gear as well. I like my Rainlegs for single rides, but they’re not great for 20-minute ride to preschool + walking around preschool for a few minutes + 20-minute ride to elementary school. But their comfort versus rain paints makes them good enough. Of course they were no help when I slipped going down the wet steps this morning and landed sitting down. If that happens often I’ll have to rethink rain pants. I’ve been using my husband’s rain jacket that needs a hit of Nikwax to get it waterproof again. I’d like a rain jacket of my own some day. My friend loves her Seattle-designed Hub and Bespoke Women’s Riding Coat and there’s also the Seattle Iva Jean Rain Cape. Not that it has to be local–I see a lot of Showers Pass Portland Jackets out and about. And another friend has us ogling fancy Danish rain jackets.

I’m having footwear problems, too. I had some cheap rain boots, but they weren’t very comfortable so I got rid of them. But my leather boots have been wet since Saturday…though I keep putting them back on. However, I ordered a MaxxDry Boot|Shoe|Glove Dryer. I can’t wait for it to arrive!

Do you have a favorite piece of gear for rainy days? Or dream product?

Glove addendum
I forgot to mention gloves! Possibly because I lost one of my gloves on Sunday :/
The rear kid is good in non-waterproof mittens under his straitjacket.
The front kid has Bar Mitts on his stoker bars that have made a huge difference for him. Sometimes he wears gloves under them, too.
I haven’t figured out a good glove solution for myself. I tend to ride around with three pairs of gloves because they either soak through from the rain or get sweaty on the inside (I’m assuming my gloves–now glove–that say WATERPROOF on the outside are getting wet on the inside from sweat?) so I wear one set for the preschool run, another set for the elementary school run, and a third set if I’m going somewhere else afterwards. Not very efficient. I hadn’t considered Bar Mitts for myself, but maybe that would work best.

Bike seats addendum
I also neglected the rig! I had a great system with the old mamabike–small Ikea bag for the front seat and large Ikea bag for the rear seat and my saddle. And those two bags held our stuff while riding.

I have a Bike Cap from Dutch Bike Co for my seat, but no system for the kids at the moment. If they were in rain pants, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it’s not so nice to head back out to a wet bike in regular pants. And since the straitjacket jacket and apron jacket are just water resistant, they’re not adequate to leave over the seats while we’re away. The Ikea bags don’t fit as well on this bike (and I think one may have disappeared in the stolen trailer) so I’m still working on this, too.