Archive | May 2014

Bike Month Street Party and Bicycle Fashion

Yesterday afternoon was one of my favorite events of Bike Month, Cascade Bicycle Club’s Ballard Bike Street Party. We headed over after school, the kids riding their own bikes through the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail. I’m not sure I’ll make that common practice without an extra adult, but things were calm enough at 4pm-ish this particular Thursday.

Our first stop was the kids’ bike rodeo, but the kids spent so much time at the adjacent bike decorating station (stickers, streamers, paper salmon, crayons!) that they didn’t get onto the course before the teeter totter broke…not catastrophically, just a crack in the plywood.

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My four-year old was smitten with the Ride & Glide Professional BMX Stunt Team, but I couldn’t watch without cringing at each trick. (But no crashes! And just one nearly-didn’t-land-in-the-right-spot flip).

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Here are Aldan and Juliette of bicycle clothing and accessory shop Hub and Bespoke outfitted as bike style authorities and issuing citations to appear in the annual street party fashion show. Yes, I got one! I should hope so since I was in a Seattle Channel TV spot about Hub and Bespoke and fashion. Har har, obviously neither Juliette nor I knew it would be about fashion when she asked/I agreed to come down during the filming…but the funny thing is, biking so often has much improved my manner of dress.

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I don’t have a picture of my outfit from yesterday, but below is me on the cover of today’s Seattle’s Child magazine in my bike-friendly “uniform”: short-sleeved shirt, knee-length (give or take a few inches) skirt over leggings, flats. All from the Crown Hill Value Village thift store, now that I’m revealing all my secrets. HOWEVER, all my foul-weather over layers are from Hub and Bespoke: my Rainlegs rain chaps (that work fine with knee-length skirts with the middle buckles left fastened in front of rather than around my legs), merino wool ibex Striped Coppi Cap for cold days, and Clear Coated Rain Spats, though unless it’s really cold and raining hard I just let my shoes get rained on. As for the top, I’m currently sporting a too-big rain jacket I got for Mr. Family Ride, but I have eyes on either (ooh, or both?!) the Hub and Bespoke Women’s Riding Coat or Iva Jean Rain Cape (also sold at Hub and Bespoke). [The Seattle’s Child article about the local family biking scene is terrific–read it!]

Seattle's Child June 2014

That photo was fittingly taken on Bike to Work Day, by the way. And in case you’re wondering why all the skirts? Well, I didn’t realize until getting the Big Dummy two years ago that all bikes don’t have chain guards. The old mamabike bike had one, as did the beach cruiser I used for commuting before that. I only wore shorts with my road bike and mountain bike so I didn’t notice the greasy chain. I doubt my middle school, high school, and college commuter bikes had chain guards, but I don’t recall getting pant legs dirty by or caught in a chain back then. So skirts over leggings are ideal.

But enough about fashion, back to the street party! At 5:45 we joined the kids’ bike parade down most of Ballard Avenue:

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While I have to admit I didn’t see half the booths, other things there the kids and I loved were RainWise, Swift Industries, Pedalheads bike camps, The Hoot Hoots (my favorite local band, their second fave, after Caspar Babypants), Ian from Bicycle Benefits (who is running Bicycle Sundae, AN ICE-CREAM-THEMED ALLEYCAT with Seattle Bike Blog on Sunday), and the Woodland Park Zoo Cheetah Metah! He got one mile per hour faster once he lost the helmet.

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Just before heading out we saw a guy cruise up on this enormous Coker Monster Cruiser with 36-inch wheels!

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Every bike a cargobike

After two gloriously sunny weeks, today was horribly rainy. We started out the day with me on cargobike and kids on their own bikes to head to school early with snacks and stickers for a Bike to School Month Welcome Station. Sadly, we didn’t get many visitors on account of the weather (though many kids walked instead of biked–not everyone takes to cars in the rain) and having moved our party away from the pre-arranged main bike rack to under an overhang in the other playground.

As for our midday plans, I was initially excited to finally try out my flat-as-possible route up Queen Anne (though with only the little kid on board it’s not a true test of the route), but I didn’t want to make my preschooler sit still in the rain for so long so we took separate regular-sized bikes for a multi-modal adventure–three miles/30 minutes to the bus and a six-minute drive up the big hill.

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It was 10:40 by the time we crossed the Fremont Bridge and despite recent record bike counts, we were only numbers 1008 and 1009 today.

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This was our first time putting a 16-inch bike on a King County Metro bus, though we tested the Sound Transit rack when we participated in a Sound Transit lunchtime bike panel last month, so I was pretty sure it would fit. There must be a finite number of bus bike rack types in the world, but they all seem different here. We have yet to ride Community Transit, but we really want to take the double-decker bus, so maybe this summer we’ll discover if that one’s accommodating of little bikes, too.

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I thought we’d ride down the hill (the sidewalk of 3rd Avenue), but the boss requested we bus back down so we reversed our route. I’m not much for figuring out bus routing on the fly (I still can’t believe I got us home after the bus with the broken rack in Issaquah last month), but this was pretty simple.

So we headed back down and made two little on-the-way stops on our short trek home. First up was Recycled Cycles to address my sinking saddle and have the Bobike mini bracket removed from my stem while we were already there. My preschooler is really into fat bikes so we were both mesmerized by this little chopper bike out front. It’s too big for him, but it’s definitely kid sized. It’s only $65–go check it out if you’re in the area!

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Stop two was Fremont Brewing to eat a complimentary apple and let them know we’d be bringing a horde of people in for the June 1st Kidical Mass ride.

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We hit the road again and after a few blocks he decided he was much too tired to go any farther, even for the flat part. He’s lucky–I would have taken my road bike, but I don’t know how to disconnect the trailer (I lost the two tools for the job Mr. Family Ride stuck in my little saddle bag and Mr. Family Ride is out of town, unable to locate similar tools for me…or more realistically, just do the removing for me). I know, I know, woe is me with three family bikes.

The kid suggested I drop a wheel in the empty basket and drag his bike. I tried this because, ya know, he’s the boss, but it didn’t seem like it would work. Instead I went with my own instincts and plopped it upside down along the back of the seat. I keep all my bungee cords in my cargobike bags (and strewn around the carport) so I held the bike in place with my teensy Knog Milkman better-than-nothing lock. It just barely fit around the bottom of the seat and totally did the trick. A couple bungee cords would have been much better, though.

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Just add kid and we were ready to roll! He looks nervous because I was trying to convince him to hold onto the tree–I didn’t mention why, but it was because I was pretty sure the bike would tip over, but I really wanted a picture. He wasn’t into handling the mossy tree. Snails, mud, and guinea pig poo are OK, apparently, but mossy trees are not.

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Bike to School Day 2014

Bike to School Day was Wednesday and I celebrated by leading my first bike train and writing about it for the League of American Bicyclists. I hope I adequately conveyed how exhilarating yet chaotic the event turned out. I had a blast…and have many ideas for how to make things go more smoothly next year.

The kids did a ton of biking which isn’t usual for a weekday–normally Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are preschool days and I carry the kids two miles to preschool where I drop one off and then race right back to our neighborhood to drop the other one off at our elementary school. Thursdays and Fridays we walk or take separate bikes to bring the first grader to school, but it’s only two blocks from home. I wasn’t sure they’d want to ride their own bikes a mile uphill for our pre-bike-train doughnut stop, but we left early enough and they were game! And we may have even gotten there faster than me carrying all the kids, bikes, and stuff.

And that meant I could put our Mighty-O Donuts on my FlightDeck. Sweeter passengers than normal, har har.

Here’s an urban traffic jam we hit on the way to the bike train meetup park. I didn’t want to take to the sidewalk to skirt around the garbage truck because the kids already have a thing for snaking back and forth from street to sidewalk via driveways and I’m trying to convince them to stick to the streets with me where we’re safer.

I think the gorgeous weather had a lot to do with the huge number of participants, but these are Seattleites after all so they probably would have come regardless.

Here’s our horde of 91, ready for a 0.8-mile ride to school:

My preschooler was eager to keep pedaling so he biked the 2.5 miles to preschool and then back later in the day. I only had to vary our route a little bit to add more time on the Burke-Gilman Trail and avoid the door zone bike lane on 34th between Stone Way and Fremont.

He suggested a detour up Gas Works Park Kite Hill on our way home. It’s one of my favorite spots, too. I’m able to bike up the back side, but the switchbacks on the front are too tight for me to negotiate…him, too, it turns out–he insisted on going up the front to race me to the top. “It’s not a race!” I called, like I holler at least 100 time a day.

Happy Bike to School Day, Happy Bike to School Month, and IT’S NOT A RACE!