Another year, another Cranksgiving! We’ve participated three out of four times now–the first, third, and this fourth one (the second coincided with a Kidical Mass ride). Last year the kids wore their Halloween costumes (Seattle Neighborhood Greenways), but today our bike wore the costume: salmon! I figured it made most sense to have it swim backwards/upstream and please know this is not a statement about Seattle’s bicycle infrastructure (or lack thereof), the kids are just really into salmon.
There were so many people this year–126 according to Cranksgiving sponsor Seattle Bike Blog: 126 Cranksgiving riders haul 1,443 lbs of food to Rainier Valley Food Bank. Sadly the big salmon blocked me from climbing onto my FlightDeck to snap a picture from on high, but you get the idea:
There were no spoke cards left when we arrived, but I was able to lay hands on a manifest right before they ran out. Neal’s wearing the festive Twin Six Yule Tide T in the top picture if you’re curious.
I reeeeeeally wanted to finish on time this year after having been so late to the finish last year, but with the 1:30 cut off that only gave time for one stop if my team of illegally large size was going to stay together and take the Lake Washington Loop south. In previous years I’ve caught the light rail train as I don’t know a way down to Columbia City from downtown otherwise, but this year I thought it’d be a nice change to actually ride the whole thing. I like to pick and choose my method of cheating :) Previous years’ cheating has only involved using the train (which might not be against the written rules, but it certainly feels like cheating); this year I amassed a team much larger than three–we were 18 including kids (though four members bailed for naps), some teammates hit a grocery store not on the list, and I even showed up with pre-bought groceries when I heard a friend lament that the food bank never had spices.
We started at the closest stop, the University District Farmers Market (my first visit to their new location–it’s great!) and some of us hung out there while others hit a couple other stops and returned for the big ride south. I think each of us ran into someone we knew and I got a chance to check out some of the other participants. Love this banana costume!
And check out this cool front rack. He meant to find a big back of rice, but the DIY platform worked OK for produce, too.
Knowing we couldn’t possibly make the 1:30 cut-off time, we eventually headed towards Ark Lodge Cinemas via the well-marked Lake Washington Loop. I’m a sucker for a well-marked route!
Group shot before dropping down through Lakeview Park.
The above overlook is also where Andres declared he had spare pannier space and offered to help anyone with cargo. This was followed by the obligatory offer from each of us to take on more cargo. Needless to say, everyone kept their stuff.
Something the kids and I learned winding down Lake Washington Boulevard: lone riders don’t care for an “Allez! Allez!” as they grind uphill in the opposite direction, but groups of college cyclists love it.
The view was magnificent, clear enough to see Mt. Rainier. My Mt. Rainier pictures didn’t do it justice so here’s a pretty building instead.
But riding along Lake Washington Boulevard wasn’t so nice. There were a lot of impatient drivers and we saw a couple near misses as drivers nearly swerved into oncoming traffic rather than wait a couple seconds before passing us. I’m going to steer clear of the area outside of Bicycle Sunday when it’s mostly closed to cars.
The tail end of our ride was along Rainier Avenue. I take to the sidewalk here, as did everyone I saw (though most riders arrived before us so I don’t know if everyone is scared of the street here). For more on Rainier Ave, read Davey Oil’s Why I’m Riding on Rainier Avenue series.
Unfortunately I missed the whole party at Ark Lodge Cinema. I heard muffled announcements and cheering while escorting kids to the potty and while I ferried our food to the Rainier Valley Food Bank there was a raffle:
The kids weren’t torn up about missing the festivities, but they didn’t understand why we biked through two playgrounds without stopping so we hit the Rainier Community Center play structure as soon as we finished dropping off the food.
We took a slightly different route on the way home, with less busy lake-side riding (one mile instead of four), a pleasant little climb up through Coleman Park, and the I-90 Bike Tunnel–so much fun for the kids to yowl echoey train sounds through.
The next two miles seemed very uphill, but I’m not a good gauge of appreciating a new route over the hill I know.
22.8 miles later we were home with another Cranksgiving in the bag.
For those curious of our team’s family bike makeup:
- Cetma Largo
- FollowMe Tandem coupled to regular bike
- Surly Big Dummy (2)
- Yuba Boda Boda
- Yuba Mundo