We kicked off the new year with a big, bikey weekend. Hope you did, too.
Saturday was our first time to Carkeek Park by bike. Yippee! I haven’t been to Carkeek Park in five years–since back when I stopped driving regularly. I wasn’t sure I’d ever get back there, though I had thoughts about riding over solo to see if it might not be too hilly on a family bike.
I almost didn’t brave the trip, but friends (who have two Big Dummies and two tandems!) were in town playing at the park and I felt inspired…and they used to live here and were able to give me route advice. I opted for the tandem-plus-trailer-bike thinking a bit of pedaling would keep the kids warmer. It was too long and uphill to consider letting them ride their own bikes (not to mention the untested route). I’d like to ride the tandem more and more often this year. And maybe the kids will even start pedaling at some point!
The five-mile mostly gradual uphill ride to the QFC on Holman Road isn’t something I’d want to do every day, but it’s fine every so often. Then the one mile of Pipers Creek Trail was hard-packed dirt and wonderful. Though there was a steep downhill set of switchbacks on the way in. Fortunately the kids decided they wanted to walk the scary downhill part and I was able to ride down with the empty train. It was magical and frost-covered along the trail…moreso around the bend behind the kids, but I had them back on the bike by then. They were amenable to walking back up the hill on the way out, too, thank goodness. I had them detrain once we were already on the steep part and couldn’t get the bike rolling up the somewhat icy trail, but I think I could ride it up empty starting lower down.
The kids were pretty cold by the time we got home, though we’ve certainly had colder and more uncomfortable rides. Playing outside isn’t something we do often in the winter and it’s even rougher when flanked by sitting on a bike for over an hour on either side.
Sunday I opted to take the Big Dummy for our ride to the Seattle Aquarium (Wolf Eel Day! Our fave!), figuring I could wrap the kids up better sitting on the deck. The front little kid wore an old adult snowboard jacket as an extra top layer and my wool sweater tied around his waist as an apron to cover his feet. And the rear kid tucked his feet into the Xtracycle FreeLoader bags (which means I can’t fill them up with crap) and I tied an adult rain jacket around his waist to cover his legs. I wouldn’t call them toasty warm, but they were comfortable enough to stop and skip rocks across the frozen model boat pond at Lake Union Park–it makes an amazing sound!
This isn’t a “first” of the same caliber as biking to Carkeek, but I locked up to the Parking Squid for the first time. I used to consider it much too far from the entrance of the aquarium, but the kids are much better walkers at six and eight and I don’t seem to travel with as much stuff these days. Mostly it’s a shame to have to cross a busy street when parking at the Parking Squid so next time I might choose between the octopus bike rack which is just as far away (But covered! That would have been nice given the unexpected drizzle.) or our summer spot locked to a railing on the side of the building.
I’m not much on New Year’s resolutions since killin’ it fifteen years ago with “Eat every item off the Taco Bell menu over the course of the year” because how does one top that? Nor am I much at kicking off the New Year with bike proclamations, always having recently done an annual recap for the Big Dummy’s birthday. But I do resolve to figuring out our layers so the kids are warm enough on the bike. I think we might ride Chilly Hilly–I’ve done it twice solo and once with just the smaller kid. I’ve been thinking about ordering a bunch of chemical heat packs, but I hate disposable things. Though now I see there are things like HotSnapZ Reusable Hand Warmers! Anyone have experience with those? I’m tempted to try them on the kids. And maybe on my toes.
And I even have a resolution for myself, but it’s kind of a boring one: sleep more. But always a good one. And sure to lead to easier mornings, more happiness, and a better memory (she types at 11pm…)
I also need to contribute to an article with my hopes for bicycling in Seattle in 2016. Haven’t yet decided what to write. Obvs, I should sleep on it.
Those snapping hand warmers are pretty good. Especially for the price. But they dont last fantastically long – not enough for a whole bike ride. And they’re too thick to pop in your shoes. So far the only ones I’ve found for your toes are not reuseable. Hmmm I wonder if cutting foot-shaped reflective material to line your shoes with might work – reflecting some foot heat back up. Do reflective thermal socks exist??
Thanks for the feedback! I ordered enough to have a few sets of the small ones for each kid so we can swap them out during a long day out. I read a lot of the user reviews and it appears they last much longer in pockets so I’ll try that with the bigger ones on the back of the cargo bike. And yeah, not sure what to do about feet…one guy had a theory about putting them on his ankle so they warmed the blood going down to his feet and said it worked so I guess we’ll try that (but with the smaller size). I haven’t heard of reflective thermal socks, but I know people who use Showers Pass Waterproof Socks and those sound nice!
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