Archive | April 2014

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 30

Welcome to the last day of 30 Days of Biking! Here we are all loaded up for the morning school run…well, after the seven-year old sat down, the four-year old unhid himself, and I retrieved my helmet from the neighbor’s porch (I use it as a tripod for these TimerCam photos, iPhone wedged in a vent).

It was a weird morning. I thought the warm sun would make everyone happy and calm, but I saw a lot of odd behavior. This woman in the minivan drove two blocks partially in the bike lane. I thought she was preparing to turn right onto Troll Avenue (not that that makes this OK), but she kept going straight. I was more peeved than normal because I almost got doored right there yesterday. My first near-dooring, by the way–silly me for not realizing the driver of the wide truck, just pulled in and still a foot from the curb with motor running was done parking and about to open his door. I usually ride clear of the door zone, on the left edge of the bike lane when our bike lanes are painted partially in the door zone (*I say usually because when I’m going slow enough uphill that I can see into each and every car it’s not such a big deal–I can slow my crawling speed to a stop if I see a door opening). I’m hoping I scared him enough that he’ll look from now on. A gal can dream. I didn’t have either kid on board so I’m not nearly as shaken up by it as I’d otherwise be. Anyhow, I was peeved and slowed next to her minivan to look in the window and see if I could figure out what was going on. She didn’t even notice me or feel my *mom stare*. Sigh.

Then this in the bike box. But it gets worse! At the red light a woman on a bike charged in front of me and started making a left turn into that cross walk (that light was no longer green, by the way) when our light turned green and the car started moving forcing her to stop her weird maneuver and nearly tip over onto me. She collected herself and darted in front of the straight/right turn lane to get to the sidewalk. At least she made me forget about the minivan.

No more weird incidents on the way to preschool. And one of our little classmates had arrived by trail-a-bike! Two families occasionally bike commute and it just makes my day.

Then on the way to our elementary school dropoff, the guy in the red shirt said, “I commend your choice of mode of transportation” as he passed us. Aw.

With the kids away at school and time to myself, I headed over to Hub and Bespoke to be part of a TV shoot for Seattle Channel about being fashionable while biking. Ha ha, I know, me?! I didn’t realize that was the subject, obviously. Thank goodness I had changed out of those flip flops from the top picture. They said I did fine. (I’ll believe that when I see it!)

It’s always tempting to do something epic for #30daysofbiking and I hadn’t done anything above and beyond yet so I tried to ghostride my seven-year old’s bike from my old mamabike as I readied us for a dentist appointment. It didn’t work. But laying it on top of the Bobike Maxi rear kid seat worked fine for the three-block ride to school.

So I locked up the kid bike at elementary school, grabbed the preschooler, came back for big kid and his bike, and we all rode to the bus stop. Our dentist is 20 miles away in Issaquah and sometimes I drive, but usually we bike and bus because although it’s time consuming, it’s much more fun. I didn’t have the option to drive today since our car is at airport long-term parking while Mr. Family Ride is away for the week, but I looked into Lyft to see if getting a ride was reasonable. I figured that would be just the epic sort of thing to close the month with–actual practice at being car-free. But it looked pretty pricey for a 20-mile trip and I’d still need to find car seats to borrow (and install, and uninstall, and install, and uninstall again). But hey, look: Uber is start a family-friendly service in New York.

So we took a bus downtown and walked our bikes one steep downhill block to the 554’s stop. It was all going great until the bus wouldn’t let us board because the bike rack was broken. Doh! But no worries as we had a 20-minute cushion.

So we hung out and snacked and watched most of the bicyclists on 2nd Avenue take the right lane, though a couple braved the 2nd Avenue Bike Lane of Death. And then one minute before our bus was due, both kids declared they needed the restroom *now*. So we saw the bus come and go as we went in search of a potty. The first Starbucks was bathroom-less, but the second Starbucks delivered…but now it was only six minutes until the next-next bus. Which we made, amazingly.

Then we biked 1.5 miles from the Transit Center to the dentist. Up until this point, it would have been easier to travel without the bikes with the first bus stop a block from home and the transfer just a block away (not to mention the broken bike rack). But not having to transfer to a third bus (I can’t even imagine!) and riding the Issaquah trail system (and a bit of the Issaquah sidewalk because I didn’t want to put a kid on the bike lane of busy Gilman Avenue was awesome.

The bikes came in handy after our dentist appointments (which we were 30 minutes late for which meant my cleaning got put on hold…I guess that’s nothing to complain about!) for riding a mile to dinner, with a pit stop at Bicycle Center of Issaquah to see Dillon the dog.

And then it was a two-block ride to the bus stop…where the same broke-bike-rack bus arrived! It didn’t even occur to me that the lame bus would still be out driving around. Big bummer because I had scheduled us to connect to the last express bus that took us close to home and I’ve never done any bus planning on the fly–it’s so much easier on the computer than my iPhone. When both kids fit on the old mamabike we biked to and from downtown so there was no transferring, but I didn’t want my seven-year old biking downtown, especially now that we were in rush hour. This probably wasn’t the quickest way, but we got off at the north-most stop of the next 554 and grabbed our slow local bus a block away.

And those extra 20 minutes at the Issaquah bus stop and the eagle statue with the sharp talons and beak did not result in any bloody fingers this time. Lose-win, I guess.

So I guess the last day turned out to be pretty epic after all. And looking back at the whole month: while I rode in our car back from dinner on the 15th, I didn’t drive all month. So that’s something new for 30 Days of Biking!

Love ya, 30DoB! Let’s do this again next year.

Today’s miles: 16.4 miles
April cumulative: 425.7 miles

Bikes ridden: 2
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 1
April cumulative: 18

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 29

Scenes from a trip to Trader Joe’s this afternoon:

Motor scooter and friendly dog on the new bike staples…but no bikes. However, there are usually a lot of bikes there.

Saw a couple bike calf tattoos. The one on the left is brand new, ready for Bike Month! I don’t know about the one on the right–I took that shot on the sly.

Only three grocery bags so not too impressive a loaded-bike picture. It reached 73 degrees by this point and was simply too hot for shoes, I was told.

Today’s miles: 10.4 miles
April cumulative: 409.3 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 17

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 28

This morning at 8:50 I was part of a happenstance cluster of three cargo bikes! Me with both kids on the Big Dummy, a dad with one of his two kids (and a street-side dog) on a Yuba Mundo, and a dad with two kids on an Xtracycle EdgeRunner. And two dads with trailers went through the intersection while we were there. I’d say it felt like we were in Portland, but we were clustered on the sidewalk, waiting to cross the street via the crosswalk–one connecting to the Burke-Gilman Trail, one to a bike lane, and one to a used-to-be-a-bike-lane-there (but the construction of the Brooks Headquarters has wiped out bike lanes on both 34th and Stone). Personally, I’d love a bike box facing north up Stone, though I guess it wouldn’t be quite as chummy as squishing onto a tiny patch of concrete.

A girl on foot was also waiting to cross the street and asked if it was Bike Your Kids to School Day. She was walking a couple blocks from her dad’s work to school–I’m guessing she was ten and walking to the nearby elementary school. This was her tenth time walking solo and I have to admit I was more excited about seeing her than all the family bikes!

Later we headed north on Stone (after waiting squished on the other corner, waiting to cross in the crosswalk) and saw new signs at a dangerous crossing. It says STATE LAW above the STOP and I realize they’re extremely new since they’re still upright. But I like them!

And in exciting bike news, I swung by the copy shop to make a bunch of copies of the Bike to School Month calendar and registration form. And once we arrived to our elementary school, we hung posters on the bike racks. I felt a bit silly walking two blocks to school with a pile of Bike to School Month stuff…and then Mel the Crossing Guard biked by on his way to his post and my four-year old shouted “Hi!” but he didn’t recognize us off the bike!

If you’re in Seattle–or if you’re not, but want BTS ideas–check out Cascade Bicycle Club Bike to School Month.

Today’s miles: 9.9 miles
April cumulative: 398.9 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 17

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 27

While the big kid drove to a soccer game with Mr. Family Ride (I had given them a kid-safe route over, but they were worried about rain and timing), the little kid and I hit a preschool potluck in Ballard. We made a scheduled stop at the grocery store and an unscheduled stop to watch this boat juuuuust fit under the Fremont Bridge. It was going very slowly so I think its driver wasn’t sure it would fit, either.

Heading home I meant to take NW 77th St, but ended up on 78th after jogging the wrong way at 8th Ave NW. But what a lucky mistake–we discovered a great Kids Book Exchange/Little Free Library.

Topped with dragons!

Today’s miles: 10 miles
April cumulative: 389 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 17

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 26

10.8 miles today and the kids biked all but 1.2 of those! (That was a quick solo trip to the vet for a doggie prescription. Oh, and I carried the seven-year old the steepest half mile in the middle while his little brother rode off ahead with the rest of the group!)

We started our big day off by negotiating our way along the now-bigger-and-more-confusing Burke-Gilman Trail detour.

I think we missed the first turn-off for the Montlake Bridge, but coming from this direction was probably better for biking kids. When that pedestrian/bike bridge we’re heading towards is finished, things will be great.

Our first stop was the newly redesigned Montlake Playground. It’s huge! And the kids did fine on the route over…though it may have been a bit too uphill for them had we retraced our route on the way home. But we’ll do a test reverse run and think about bringing a Kidical Mass here once the trail detours are done.

I was particularly impressed with this big climbing structure, though I worry it’d be too enticing for kids too small to use it (actually, more worried for their parents who’d try in vain to convince them to play on one of the many smaller play structures).

We hung out at the park for an hour or so and then headed to Montlake Elementary for Silly Hilly (yes, that’s me on the poster), a route finding scavenger hunt extravaganza for Central Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. Here we are lined up with the Blue Team, one of four teams.

This was our route. I kind of cheated choosing Blue Team…I’m leading a Critical Lass ride to Pedaler’s Fair in a week and used this as route testing for that, too.

We documented many potholes and problem intersections (and some good stuff, too), but the best was the required three silly team pictures. First up: “I see Sasquatch!” at the end of the car-free portion of Interlaken Park:

Blue Team silly picture number two: passed out and waiting for the bus at the top of Interlaken Park:

And Blue Team silly picture number three: throwing shakas because we just successfully crossed busy Aloha:

We followed the signs for University Bridge through Interlaken Park on our way home and since I couldn’t remember how busy the route was, I let the kids ride on their own. And it was pretty busy! But they were having a blast riding in the road so we didn’t resort to the sidewalk until Harvard Ave E.

Which turned out to be a good call because as soon as it joined Eastlake, we were met with a taxi in the bike lane.

But just after the taxi we got back in the street so they could cross the University Bridge in the bike lane. It was a little nerve-wracking for me, but they did great. It is very hard to adjust to both kids riding separately when I’m so used to getting to carry them everywhere. It’s a lot easier when one is tired and on the bike and I only have one to focus on.

Of course a big, wide bus drove by us as we were passing this sign in the bike lane. Wouldn’t it be nice if the city had construction signs that attached high up on light poles?

The construction indicated by those bike lane signs was a little confusing, too. I had just convinced the kids I should load them and their bikes onto the cargo bike when we saw a biker take the closed road with the blessing of the construction works who had been gesturing something at us that I couldn’t decipher (I guess it was, “Come on down, the road’s fine!”). So I unloaded the bikes and we took the empty blockaded road that brought us back to familiar territory.

Today worked out OK, but we need more Silly Hillys–and the resulting Neighborhood Greenways from them–so these little guys can really ride all over town.

Today’s miles: 10.8 miles
April cumulative: 379 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 17

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 25

While my seven-year old was at school for the day, the four-year old and I headed down to Union Station–formerly Seattle’s train station and now home to Sound Transit headquarters. The Great Hall at Union Station is open to the public, but I’ve never been before. It’s gorgeous! Go check it out.

We took part in a lunch-hour all-about-bike presentation for Sound Transit employees in preparation for Bike Month (May).

These were the seven stations:

  • Ben: Bike maintenance
  • Henry: Fix your flat
  • Justin: Tools and gear for the road
  • Steve: Clean your chain
  • Sophie: Putting your bike on a bus bike rack
  • Josh: Cascade Bicycle Club classes
  • Madi: Family bike riding

All organized by Rebecca Roush, who also added my little guy to Seattle Bicyclist Portraits (he wasn’t really that eloquent, but Rebecca was able to extrapolate some good stuff from his grunts and nods).

I talked to several prospective family bikers and also took advantage of the other stations…our 16-inch kid bike fit well on the Sound Transit bike rack. I didn’t realize such a little bike would fit.

And after this bike, Steve insisted on cleaning my bike chain when he saw how badly it needed cleaning. Oops.

I carried the kid and bike on the way down, but I told him he could ride part of the way home, once we reach the Parking Squid. There’s a lot of construction along the Waterfront, but the Parking Squid across from the Aquarium marks the OK-for-kids-to-ride spot. Of course we had to take a squid-climbing break first, which was auspicious because The VeloBusDriver biked by and stopped to say hi. I picked up some pointers for biking to Mercer Island. I’ve never been by bike and apparently it’s a nice ride.

On the Elliott Bay Trail we happened upon a guy with an Evolve Electric Longboard. It goes forward, backwards, and has a brake–all controlled by hand-held remote.

Along the Ship Canal Trail we saw fire (fire!) at Fremont Maritime Services. Just a training session, don’t worry, and we stopped to watch because we’ve only happened upon active training once before, years ago.

By this time we were running a bit late for 3:30 school pickup so we rode separately over the Fremont Bridge and then I scooped up kid and bike on the Big Dummy for the big race to school. Running dangerously late twice in one week! We made it just in time again, but Wednesday’s downhill race to school was more exhilarating than this flat-then-two-blocks-steeply-uphill slog.

Today’s miles: 15.5 miles
April cumulative: 368.2 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 1
April cumulative: 17

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 24

I wasn’t sure when I’d get my biking in today–with no preschool and rain all day, I feared it might be an around-the-block, late-night solo ride. But that’s the beauty of 30 Days of Biking–that counts! And it’s kind of nice when the month includes at least one of those. But we took a legitimate ride when we escorted friends home after a playdate…so I could show them my new route to Greenwood! I think they liked it. No, Alyssa’s face doesn’t read “Wow I love this route!”–that’s the look that goes along with hauling a passenger windmilling little legs (for working invisible pedals, naturally) uphill. So cute! But Probably makes things a lot harder for the one with the traditional pedals.

We couldn’t do a drizzly loop without a snack stop so we popped into Makeda Coffee: coffee for me and bagel and play area for the kiddo. Great stickers on their bike rack: Bicycle Benefits, Seattle Bike Blog, G&O Family Cyclery.

And cafe dogs! We’ve never noticed them before, but we must have come on their working day before this. I’m not adding them to the dog tally since we were off the bike. And no, I haven’t written out Dog Tally Rules yet.

Today’s miles: 7.1 miles
April cumulative: 352.7 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 16

#TBT – Cycling while pregnant

Madi cycling while pregnantI was a little too late in submitting my story to make it into the Simply Bike: Cycling While Pregnant series before the blog took a hiatus, but I loved reading all the stories and am currently enjoying the trimester-by-trimester Common Pregnancy Questions on Velo Mom. My “babies” are now 7 and 4.75 (with no more planned) so my cycling while pregnant days are long behind me, but it was such a special stage so I’m happy to belatedly share some thoughts. These are my answers to the questions of the Simply Bike: Cycling While Pregnant series.

Favorite part about cycling:
Noticing so many little things about the city as I pass through—this is even more special with my toddler along for the ride.

Bike you ride:
Bianchi Milano city bike with Bobike mini baby seat.

What three words sum up your cycling experience while being pregnant:
Easier than walking!

How did being pregnant affect your approach to cycling or your daily commute:
I cycle primarily for transportation and am pregnant with my second so my “commute” is ferrying a two-year old around town which is very conducive to short trips that keep us close enough to home for midday nap breaks.

What (if anything) surprised you about cycling while pregnant?
Walking upstairs is much too tiring and I avoid stairs as much as possible, but bicycling is a breeze. I ride slowly on a fairly upright bike to begin with so sportier cyclists may notice more of a difference.

How did your family and friends react to you cycling while pregnant?
It certainly helps that half my family is in the Netherlands where cycling is such a normal part of all stages of life. No one seems especially concerned nor impressed with it.

What (if any) special accommodations did you require to continue cycling throughout your pregnancy?
Nothing! I was happy to discover my belly fits behind the Bobike mini front kid seat even past my guess date. During practice surges (that’s the HypnoBirthing term for Braxton Hicks contractions) I just coast or slow my pedaling.

I hoped the baby wouldn’t make his arrival on time so I could attend one last Kidical Mass ride and he obliged so I was able to keep riding to 40+ weeks.

What would you say to another woman interested in cycling while pregnant? What have you taken away from the experience?
You’ll love it! It’s a wonderful and easy way to feel normal and energetic during pregnancy. It’s too easy to become sedentary when expecting and treat pregnancy as a delicate condition.

In addition to cycling, what other activities helped you stay fit and active during your pregnancy?
I love swimming and loved how buoyant I felt in the water. It was a lot harder to find time to go swimming alone than it was to go biking with my toddler, though, so I’m not able to make it a regular habit. This photo is from 37 weeks pregnant, having just completed a one-mile open water swim. It almost felt like cheating, swimming while so buoyant.

p.s. TBT stands for Throwback Thursday

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 23

Most of our weekday family biking is done without ride buddies. You can tell from day 20 how exciting it is to have company, especially when unexpected. This morning Ellie swung by to borrow some family biking equipment (Burley Piccolo trailer bike, balance bike, kid bike helmet) to display at Adobe’s Green Transportation Fair. That’s a Kona Ute longtail cargo bike with LionTail’s Sparrow System electric assist. I was a bit worried about making her late to work (chronic problem of mine: apologizing for slowing down ride buddies), but we got to ride with Ellie half the way to preschool–woohoo bike buddy #1!

Next I dropped off my second kid and realized Julie of Wheelha.us was heading the same way as me…except she needed to stop by Mighty-O Donuts on the way. Naturally I didn’t mind the extra stop. Bike buddy #2! (And #3 and #4 if I count the kids in the Bullitt.)

We made two discoveries on the way over, one good, one bad. The good: a new Little Free Library at Latona and 51st.

The bad: the speed bumps on NE 56th Street are gone! Maybe they had to go temporarily so the pitted road can be repaved? And maybe they’ll come back as full-street speed bumps rather than the less effective triple humps? Hoping to hear more about this change soon.

I was headed to a coffee shop with wi-fi and Julie was headed to G&O Family Cyclery so I was excited to show her my new favorite route to Greenwood (see day 16, though up Latona). She’d used this route once before, but on the day of a regatta at Green Lake where cars idled in the bike lane and she’s boycotted it ever since. Today was a regular day and I think she liked it!

I popped into G&O when I was done wi-fi-ing next door, but I didn’t get enough bike-shop-hang-out time so I left to fetch my preschooler and headed right back up. I don’t usually hit Greenwood from North Lower Queen Anne, but when I do, I go up Fremont Avenue because any other route is way out of the way. Plus the light at the five-way intersection half-way up is always red, providing a little rest break. It’s not a hill I’d want to climb daily, but it’s OK every once in a while. And today something interesting happened I captured on Instagram:

Frame 1: This fixie guy was waiting at a bus stop at the bottom of Fremont Ave and was apparently inspired to ride up after me+kid pedaled by (1/4)
Frame 2: OMG I think he’s gonna die (2/4)
Frame 3: Oh thank goodness he’s catching the bus, poor guy (3/4)
Frame 4: And finally he catches up! Take care, guy! (4/4)

G&O was preparing for a photoshoot for Momentum Magazine. Julie and I couldn’t stay long enough to play customers in the background, but our friend Maritess should be visible in some of the pictures! But we were there for the prep work–Davey and Tyler wanted to move a bunch of bike boxes off the showroom floor for the shoot and our kids insisted on helping out. They insisted on helping out with Every. Single. Bike. Box. and we were pretty late in leaving to pick up our oldests from elementary school. But hey, bike buddy #2 again! It was an exhilarating race across town and…WE JUST MADE IT! There’s no penalty for being late to pickup and our teacher assured us she’s happy to wait outside with the kids for late parents, but I’ve yet to be late.

Today’s miles: 18.8 miles
April cumulative: 345.6 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 16

30 Days of Biking 2014 – Day 22

April and 30 Days of Biking are winding down which means Bike Month is just around the corner! After fetching my preschooler we headed to Cascade Bicycle Club for our Bike to School Month kit (for my other son’s elementary school). Today my four-year old opted to ride in his brother’s FlightDeck seat which I figure is good preparation for our unknown-as-of-yet next arrangement. I still think about a Hooptie, though I’m leaning towards half-a-Hooptie with one side rail absent for easy on and off (there are several intersections where it helps to have a passenger hop off and walk over to the sidewalk and push the walk button). But I’m still undecided. The four-year old leans out to the side to see past me when he’s on the deck so I can imagine the amount of movement that would go on behind me with a Hooptie–that’s not something I’m eager to enable. Today he mastered holding on with one hand while snacking.

But after picking up (literally) our Bike to School Month kit (so heavy!) he was back to his own seat for easier snacking.

This year’s kit is bigger and better than last year’s. If I can just get my act in gear and spread the word we should have a great Bike to School Month!

Mel, our crossing guard who bikes to work, passed us on the Burke-Gilman Trail while heading to his afternoon shift. We kept catching him at red lights and had a lovely three-part conversation. He’s the best.

Today’s miles: 19.5 miles
April cumulative: 326.8 miles

Bikes ridden: 1
April cumulative: 7

Dogs: 0
April cumulative: 16