Portland Fiets of Parenthood 2014

Two years ago we took Amtrak Cascades to Portland with the old mamabike for Fiets of Parenthood, last year we BoltBused with the Big Dummy, and this year we drove the car with the old mamabike, trailer, and kid bikes. More bikes, less green.


After nearly six years with the old mamabike (Bianchi Milano city bike), I finally invested in a SunLite Adjustable Cross Bar Bicycle Adapter for Rear Car Rack to make the step-through frame fit on the car rack more easily. It’s great! I’ve only put the bike on the car a few times, but it’s worth it to keep it level and secure. I was able to squeeze the 20-inch kid bike on the rack, too, and the single Burley trailer rode shotgun (I was able to break it down even more and shove it in the trunk for the ride home) and the 16-inch kid bike in the trunk.



We set out Friday at 10 so traffic wasn’t bad and were just a little late to join the PDX Cargo Bike Gang at the Eb & Bean artisan frozen yogurt shop.


The bakfiets belongs to Kath of Portlandize and we rode to a park together after marionberry yogurt with sprinkles (that’s what I had, anyway). I discovered since my last visit tons of traffic lights have a tiny blue dot (next to the red light, hopefully you can see it) to indicate one’s bicycle has triggered the light to change. Amazing! The little bike icon at the bottom of the photo below is where one places her wheel to trigger the light and indicator.


Portland is the best in America when it comes to bicycle infrastructure, but I experienced a couple problems. I encountered a salmoning (heading against traffic) skateboarder in the protected bike lane near the Convention Center. He didn’t notice us until the last moment, but was easy enough to dodge. Much worse was a guy that pulled his car over in front of us to park in the protected bike lane to take a picture of this movie marquee–but a couple hours before this picture when it read:


Ah, Portland. I could have squeezed around his car, but figured he’d be quick enough so we stopped and waited so he’d notice us and feel bad and hopefully think twice about obstructing a bike lane in the future. Bringing a bit of the passive-aggressive Seattle style to town.


After Dawson Park, I parted ways from Kath to visit the Islabikes warehouse and crash my friend, Alyssa’s, appointment for her daughter to test ride. Both my kids have Islabikes and we LOVE them. I’ll write about them for real at some point, but in the meantime, read this super-informative Two Wheeling Tots: Islabikes Beinn 20″ Small review.


While we were inside the warehouse I saw the strangest sight out the back door–some sort of vehicle piled with 300 wooden chairs followed by a longjohn holding a couch.


Unsurprisingly, it was Emily Finch ferrying over a bunch of furniture for the Disaster Relief Trials afterparty. I had hoped to see her new Metrofiets this week (replacing her stolen bakfiets), but it’s not quite ready so she was on her Christiania cargo trike and followed by her eldest daughter on a borrowed Bullitt.


We rounded out our big day with a dip in the hotel pool and the Disaster Relief Trials pre-party at Velo Cult. A few people didn’t recognize me since I didn’t have my regular bike along, heh.


Fiets of Parenthood Day

Saturday was action-packed with Fiets of Parenthood and DRT sharing space. This year’s DRT had a competitive Open Class and a new Replenish Class that was to be completed with a child along and was only (only!) 15 miles. My original plan waybackwhen was to try Open Class…but then Replenish Class with both kids sounded easier to make happen…but once I decided to drive with the small bike it became apparent just Fiets of Parenthood would be best. Speedy DRT Replenish Class participants were able to do both DRT and Fiets, but I didn’t think I’d be fast enough for that, and certainly not fast enough for the kids to do Kids Fiets before I did Parent Fiets.

We started with a Kidical Mass ride with the Marleaus, in town from Northern California. Peter won Fiets of Parenthood on his Brompton last year. We met near the Hawthorne Bridge, but rather than take a direct one-mile trip over that bridge, we did a three-mile jaunt via the Steel Bridge which we all deemed more kid friendly.


We headed over early to watch the start of DRT. Here’s Kath taking off with Replenish Class:


And shortly thereafter, the start of Open Class:


Longboard skateboarder (with cargo trailer) Cory Poole showed me his map and said the course looked tough:


Below is a picture of him setting off. Just as he started skating, someone ran up and handed him a GoPro on a stick. He later told me he was asked to record the first leg since he was the only hands-free competitor. Very generous–it can’t have been easy! But my favorite moment of the start was happening in the background: Joyanna, my DRT partner in crime last year finished stowing stuff in her red-and-yellow trailer and then helped her friend get her helmet on so they could have a speedier start. What teamwork!


And cargo dogs! First I saw this shortie (corgi?) in a longjohn:


And later Rando Awesome showed up in a lofty ride. I met him last DRT in a sidecar on a BMX bike, but he’s too awesome for just one bike:


The Fiets of Parenthood course was tough! First up: raised, twisty track with very narrow bridge over hot lava. Most of the kids shuffle-stepped across it, but I had to put a foot down to help drag my trailer back up on the track. Ouch, it burned!


Then slaloming through cones:

Photo courtesy Kelly Williams

Photo courtesy Kelly Williams

Two heavy grocery bags, a ramp just wide enough for my trailer, the dropped toy retrieval, and new this year: FIRE EXTINGUISHING!


Then a new enormous teeter totter (not pictured) and the also-new woop-di-doo, shown here with last year’s winner, Peter Marleau. On one of my two practice runs I got a little off-center and dropped the trailer off the side, but we got it right for showtime.


But this year’s winner was the other Marleau, Kristi!! Behind her is Andy, who made all the course pieces, and Cafe Mama Sarah Gilbert was the hostess-with-the-mostess emcee again.


I didn’t note the kid results, but here are the Parent Fiets times. Two minutes and five seconds of the most fun ever!


And back to DRT stuff…here’s Zak, visiting from Temecula, coming in from the Replenish Class. He has a Metrofiets at home, but he’s borrowing Metrofiets framebuilder Phillip Ross’s for the event:


And the Open Class winning bike was a custom Bike Friday longtail. Or maybe it’s a midtail. It’s similar to the amazing Haul-a-Day midtail, newly available to the public.


The DRT after-party at Islabikes was hopping…despite adequate seating thanks to Emily and daughter. The caliber of the temporary bike parking in the rear parking lot was amazing. I wish I had thought to ask where all the racks came from. Good bike watching, too! I love this Bullitt with a grocery store shopping cart body as its cargo box. Part of “Team Beer” according to a sticker on the frame. Go Team Beer!


And I wish I’d seen this Perennial split frame in motion–just look at it! Is that U-lock even doing anything? I’m so confused by the whole thing. But I like it.


I also got my first in-person look at Michelle’s DIY sunshade on her Xtracycle EdgeRunner


The kids were kept busy riding the test track. It’s normally made of bike boxes, but Islabikes had borrowed a bunch of cones (dirty ones, I think they had been part of a mountain-bike- or off-season cyclocross race) which worked better for multiple bikers at once. And Olive Rootbeer and Dingo rode up on their tall bikes to wow the kids with their clown skills, storytime, and balloon twisting.



The following day I took the Hawthorne Bridge to Clever Cycles and the true meaning of the new bollards sunk in. I thought they were excessive because cars have always waited for me here–maybe even too much…on our first visit a car stopped for me when I was quite far back from the intersection and had to awkwardly wait for close to a minute while I made my way uphill to the crossing. At first I thought maybe this was to prevent weird over-waitings like that, but it’s really to add this passing lane!


By the way, the guy on the longtail that passed me complimented my bike and I resisted the urge to say, “But I have a longtail, too, at home!” and just thanked him. It’s hard not to dis the old mamabike when the new mamabike is such a cargo-carrying queen.


And then the temporary bike lane next to the road construction! In Seattle this would have probably been a BIKES MERGE WITH TRAFFIC sign. I think they might not even make those signs in Portland.


At Clever Cycles I saw a half-a-Hooptie! I’ve been thinking about doing this myself. They said quite a few customers have done this and like it. I want to preserve easy access to my FlightDeck for a kid to hop off and push the walk button at intersections without loop detectors (maybe not an issue in Portland with all those little blue lights) and because I like sitting on my deck and I don’t fit in the full Hooptie. Others roll this setup so they can use the removed rail as a step rather than buy a set of U-tubes.


I believe that was our third visit to Clever Cycles of our four-day stay. This day I had a front-wheel stabilizer put on so it’s not all just using their kid-friendly potty and rendezvousing with friends. We also paid a third visit to Islabikes to get a rear rack for the 20-inch bike. Now to find some little panniers for it. I hear front rack panniers fit well. It seems like a sign I should put a front rack on one of my bikes so we can share bags. More cargo!


The test track cones were already gone, but the bike boxes weren’t back up yet so the kids made do in the parking lot.


This was my first time dragging a trailer around Portland and it worked OK. Parking such a long rig was a bit tricky in certain spots, but everything worked well. My four-year old rode in the Bobike maxi rear seat and my seven-year old in the trailer. The main thing I noticed was how quiet our rides were. The seven-year old couldn’t see all the interesting stuff from the bridges and when he did want to tell me something, we had to play telephone with my incomprehensible four-year old passing along the message. It was pretty fun.

It was nice being able to fit all our bikes in the elevator and hotel room; I have to valet the Big Dummy. I got pretty adept at squishing the bike/trailer into the elevator just so. It was a tight squeeze, but not tight enough that other hotel guests didn’t squish in with us most rides. I guess that’s a sign we don’t look scary.


I still can’t believe I figured out the trailer breakdown and putting-back-together. The kids took a picture of my allen-key-and-wrench technique for disengaging the trailer from the bike. I’d like to get one of those easy pins for it, but I don’t know if we use it often enough to warrant it.


Bye Portland, love ya!!


2 thoughts on “Portland Fiets of Parenthood 2014

  1. The corgi’s name (yes, a corgi probably mixed with shepherd) is Cordi. Her bike is a Tom’s Cargo Bike by Tom Labonte, and the artwork on the side is by Jeff Lauten.

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