Archive | February 2016

Can’t we all just get along?

I’ve been meaning to share a link to my friend Marley’s Bike Nicer Seattle campaign that she developed for the Connect Puget Sound: Big Ideas Festival. It’s an awesome concept in and of itself, but it’s also the perfect way to share the benefits I personally reap from riding with one of my favorite people. Marley embodies “bike nicer” and not everyone is as lucky as me and gets to spend time in person/in saddles with her and have that good nature rub off. Biking isn’t just about biking for me, it’s also about the wonderful people it’s brought into my life.

Not that I need a personal anecdote as an excuse to share Bike Nicer Seattle, but sadly, yesterday provided the perfect impetus.


Marley and I had a grand plan to ride my tandem together for Chilly Hilly on Sunday. She came by R+E Cycles’ Bike and Pike Expo on Saturday, where I was spending the day hanging out with a stack of my Urban Cycling books. I had already planned to ride my tandem to the event because it’s R+E’s brand, Rodriguez (scored on consignment from the shop!). Knowing Marley could come by for a practice run made the plan even better. Between taking expo goers on tours of the frame-building facilities downstairs, mechanics took the kidback cranks off and moved the pedals back down to the adult position so Marley didn’t have to contort to six-year-old height. The test ride was fun! I was a little nervous because I’m not used to anyone actually helping back there and therefore am not practiced at the constant communication required for tandem riding (“Shifting!” “Coasting!”).

But we mutually chickened out in a series of Sunday 6am text messages and rode our two Surly Stragglers instead.

And then the thing happened after having had a marvelous day filled with friends and talking to a lot of new people over the course of the day. I posted it to my Facebook wall and Instagram because those are great places to vent and/or whine and have friends commiserate. I am incredibly thin-skinned and easily discouraged and it helps me greatly to get support from my friends after the fact via social media. Even though it “worked” and I feel better, I share my experience here, too:


So Marley and I decided last minute not to ride the tandem today (we never got our costumes dialed in, we were a little scared about the high winds forecasted, and neither of us got a full night’s sleep). But Chilly Hilly was still a lot of fun!

…until I was waiting in line for the return ferry and three older guys in head-to-toe neon yellow made fun of me for my choice of footwear: “Ha ha ha, look at your shoes! So pro! You have the ‘best’ shoes of the day, ha ha!” Note: I had my rain jacket on so at this moment I did not look like a flight attendant (I like to travel with lots of snacks so I had a front basket full of cookies, pretzels, and beverages to share with anyone who was hungry…and offered to change seat assignments on return flights if necessary, because laughter is almost as important as snacks).

You know me, I think you should wear whatever you want to ride your bike, whether it’s a silly costume, a cycling kit, or what you were wearing already ( <- my personal favorite). I think EVERYONE should ride bikes. Because it’s SO FUN. I would never say anything to discourage anyone from riding bikes. There was nothing good natured about these guys, they just wanted to be assholes to me. I smiled at them and said I wear these shoes every day and find them great for biking.

What bothers me the most is the thought that maybe they harassed other people. What if those other people weren’t yet committed bicyclists and mean remarks by three assholes scare them off their bikes after today and steal from them the joy that bicycling brings. I wish I had shook off the sting of their words and said something about all getting along.

So I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, and wearing what I’m wearing, and next time (which probably won’t be too soon because most people aren’t assholes) I’ll be a little braver in my response.

I hate to lump people into two groups, but it’s hard not to notice striking differences in appearance at Chilly Hilly. The majority of people are in cycling-specific clothing and I feel for them when I see them in the ferry line hobbling around in what must be very uncomfortable shoes for walking. I don’t know much about the inner workings of Cascade Bicycle Club, but I am a volunteer ride leader and benefit from many programs the club offers. I have always assumed the “serious cyclists” who pay for most of the entries in the big rides like Chilly Hilly, STP, and RSVP generate the revenue that both puts on those rides and funds the things I think are the most important, like the Major Taylor Project and the educational programming that directly impacts me. So I’m certainly not going to be mean to those with deep Lycra pockets…though mostly because I’m not going to be mean to anyone!

Chilly Hilly isn’t a family-specific event, but it’s certainly family friendly. I rode it with one kid four years ago and this year I saw a few kids in trailers, on tandems, and on trailer bikes–and one superstar who pedaled his own 16-inch bike and retired to a trailer behind his dad’s bike when he couldn’t push on. For me, I’ll fully admit that since having discovered the relatively flat highway route to get to bike camping at Fay Bainbridge, I might never ride the hilly route with kids again. Maybe they’ll want to ride Chilly Hilly in the future and we’ll do it, but we are all primarily transportation cyclists and do things in two-mile increments, not 33-mile increments, so Chilly Hilly would be a very big deal for us.

Marley isn’t the only one with this big, yet simple, idea. A couple weeks ago, Surly Bikes shared this Don’t Be a Dick blog post. Surly is another organization I can’t claim to know much about. They seem to present a surly (duh) persona, but at the same time they’re also pretty lovable, as seen in Jules’s Our Own Two Wheels post. And they are one of the sponsors of the Women’s Bicycle Mechanic Scholarship program run by their parent company, QBP, that sends 16 women to UBI’s Professional Shop Repair and Operations Workshop (happening right now, this very second!)–including Kyla of Green River Cyclery and the Busted Bike Cafe whom I recently met and adore.


Just to add a little levity, since I don’t really know how to cope without the shield of humor (I should work on that, too, I guess), I feel I should share a dirty little secret: I was wearing hidden cycling gear. I was in cycling shorts from my team kit (yes, I have a team kit…though I sometimes accidentally call it a “costume” and I LOVE when people are surprised that I own a kit) and a couple times my skirt blew up an inch too high and the bright blue peeked out. I was embarrassed and joked that I looked “too pro”. Of all the phrases to use! It had never occurred to me to wear my kit to Chilly Hilly. I wear it to races (I race cyclocross a couple times a year) and during the two times I went on training rides. This is half because I don’t want to misrepresent my team, Recycled Cycles Racing, if I’m not riding seriously (like on a city bike with a basket full of cookies) and half because I consider it special and only for racing (and training, were I to do that). So I guess I can laughingly consider myself superior to the yellow bullies because Chilly Hilly just isn’t a big enough deal for me to “kit up”.

And hey, I did get a little more “serious” in the evening when I donned cleated shoes (but cyclocross ones that are easy to walk in, not the hobbly road bike ones I’ve never experienced) and took my cyclocross bike to our annual team meeting where I picked up my new kit. YAY NEW KIT! Of course I mostly chatted with my teammates who have kids about family biking gear, but bikes are bikes are bikes. And people are people are people.


p.s. I didn’t even share a clear photo of my shoes, nor describe them. It hardly seems important. But this is them:


I’m standing on my Surly Big Dummy’s FlightDeck before my recent trip to Portland.

I don’t know what brand they are. They’re from a long line of flats from the thrift store that fit comfortably and are close enough to black that I think they match everything (don’t worry, I outsourced all fashion information in the book). Oh, that’s another reason I was embarrassed about wearing my cycling shorts: they were my only non-thrifted item. Had it had been colder, I would have worn Vans or boots and socks, but that’s marginally less comfortable. And takes longer to get feet into when I’m late out the door and still have to go buy cookies.

Kidical Mass to Seattle Bike Show

Seattle Bike Show is this weekend!

Kidical Mass will ride there on Saturday.
Meet at the Ballard Locks (3015 Northwest 54th St, Seattle, WA 98107)
We’ll be inside the locks, on the Ballard side, watching boats (and near the potty!)
Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.
Facebook event page

Here’s the route.
The bits along Alaskan Way will probably be a combination of under-construction road and under-construction multi-use trail depending on both car- and foot traffic by the time we arrive.

Why should you attend the show?

1) There’s a lot of fun stuff for kids–see my hasty Kid stuff at Seattle Bike Show post from last year. That was the first year Seattle Bike Expo became Seattle Bike Show and it was already great, but I expect to see even more great stuff for families this year.

2) KIDS 17 AND UNDER ARE FREE. I think tickets are $12 (online they’re $12 plus a small fee) for adults.

3) Familybike will have a big booth this year (booth 1520) with lots of bikes to check out. Sign up to volunteer at the booth. It’s super fun and very easy–you just greet people as they read the very detailed tags on all the bikes. Kids welcome to volunteer at the booth with you.

4) I think the show is always the first opportunity to get OutdoorsNW‘s awesome NW Cyclist issue. Oh, I see this one will contain book reviews (hint, hint). [Update: the book reviews will be in the online edition only, but it’s still worth grabbing the print issue!]

5) But most importantly, come see Morgan and me talk on the main stage Saturday at 2:35 p.m.!

Family, Cargo & Utility Biking– by Morgan Scherer & Madi Carlson

Sat March 5 2:35 p.m – 3:10 p.m.

Join Morgan Scherer, Executive Director of Familybike Seattle, and Madi Carlson, renowned author of Urban Cycling for an engaging talk on the magic of cargo and family biking! Hear real-life stories of what it takes to “go by bike” without giving up the perks of having a car…spontaneously picking up free furniture at the side of the road, “car”pooling with the kids, heading out for vacation, and more! These two cargo and family biking mavens will lead you through the joys and humorous travails of getting around Seattle by bike, with kids and stuff (lots of stuff!).

Ms. Scherer has been creatively biking her family around Seattle since 2000. She started with a recumbent bike and trailer, added an electric assist motor, and moved through a variety of contraptions from there; including a tandem with a trailer-bike, and numerous others. . With all that experience, equipment, and a desire to change the world by bike, Ms. Scherer started Familybike Seattle with the first Family Bike Expo in 2007. Familybike Seattle has grown each year, and now includes a sliding scale rental fleet, workshops, Kidical Mass, and advocacy.

Madi Carlson has been family biking since the moment her older child turned one, in 2008. A passionate family biking advocate, Madi loves leading group rides like Kidical Mass, a fun monthly family bike ride and shares family biking information and stories through her Family Ride blog. She is also the author of “Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living” (Mountaineers Books), an easy-to-navigate manual for bike commuting–including commuting with kids.

I’m not going to put this on the Cascade calendar since it’s to a non-Cascade pay event, so if you are waiver averse, come along!!

#coffeeoutsideforher check in

So, it’s been 20 weeks since my #coffeeoutside: For Her post. Time for a check in!

Still going strong, still every Thursday at 10:00 a.m., still open to all, but we’re meeting at Gas Works Park now–at one of the covered picnic tables in the play barn at the east side of the park. I post a reminder (or any changes) to my Instagram the day before.


If I make it to the park a little early I ride up Kite Hill to take in the view. Today was the most gorgeous day ever. (We even put a bird on it.)


Today started out small, but this #coffeeoutsideforher was our biggest yet with 10 people and 2 dogs all told!

Michelle and I arrived first and I learned she once wanted to be a food stylist. It shows! This will probably be the background for next week’s reminder Instagram (#caughtgramming!). She made those macarons, by the way, and they were SO GOOD.


Then Jesse came for the first time. He’s fairly recently back from a stint in Washington D.C. where he frequented the Friday Coffee Club.

And Alyssa came on her vintage Cycles Maino. Molto carino!


Bob came with croissants and answers to my bike touring questions. I can’t link directly to the post about the third and final round of the second annual Stoked Spoke Adventure Series on the Swift Industries Blog, so I’m going to paste Bob’s presentation here:

Wedding bound via Bitterroot and Big Hole
This route took me from Seattle to Bozeman, MT to attend a wedding. The first 5 days were on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail and featured lots of sun, dirt, gates to climb over, missing trestles and one terrifying bridge crossing on I-90. At Rosalia we cut through the Palouse towards Lewiston where I followed the ACA Trans Am route through the Bitterroot and Big Hole Valleys. Lots of small towns, a few mountain passes, and one terrible thunderstorm later I arrived for a big ol’ party in Bozeman.
Start Ballard, WA
End Bozeman, MT
Milage 1021 miles
Duration 13 days
(my phone died twice so the GPS data isn’t totally accurate but the general gist is there)

And Jason Goods of Swift Industries came by on his Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer. I love that bike! We’ll both be at the Seattle Bike and Pike Expo at R+E Cycles on Saturday.


Zanna arrived a little later than she meant to because she got sidetracked on her way over, investigating a stolen bike. And yes, that’s the Zanna of last year’s “Seattle Bike Blog: Bike theft hero spots stranger’s ride, returns it during victim’s costumed birthday bike ride” fame.


And then Kristine on her touring bike (and answers to more bike touring questions), Laura on her Brompton (who also rode to the top of Kite Hill to take in the view first), and Lisa on her Kickbike with a delicious cake.


Note: attendees are not required to bring food or anything else. There were just really good pickings today so I feel obligated to share (I brought caramelized-onion-infused cheese, salami, and crackers. And vanilla almond milk for the coffee). I always bring a bunch of extra mugs and coffee and am happy to make all the coffee.

Other coffees outsides
#coffeeoutside Wednesdays 7:00 a.m. at Madrona Park. Details weekly on @jdgesus’ Instagram

EPACC (En Plein Air Coffee Club) Fridays 8:00 a.m. at various locations. Tomorrow’s will be at the Ravenna Park picnic shelter.

Longtail cargo bike on BoltBus

I’ve traveled to Portland from Seattle via BoltBus before (three round trips!), but it’s been over two years. BoltBus can accommodate a longtail cargobike if there’s room whereas Amtrak Cascades only allows regular bikes weighing under 50 pounds (so my 75-pound longtail would need to go into two separate boxes to travel on the train. And Amtrak Coast Starlight doesn’t allow roll-on service so all bikes need to travel in boxes). But the train takes $5 bike reservations so when I have a choice, I choose to take a regular bike on the train. This trip was originally scheduled to be an Amtrak trip with regular bike, but I ended up needing to bring the big bike (though I was traveling without the kids) so I switched things up at the last moment and did some breathing exercises to prepare myself for the eventuality that there might not be room…BoltBus is awesome, but BoltBus makes me nervous!

First up, pedal down memory lane of previous BoltBus trips:
July 2013 for DRT (and recap of the DRT event), August 2013 for Fiets of Parenthood, and January 2014 to go to the Islabikes warehouse.

And here’s the Flickr gallery of 84 photos from this trip.

Traveling solo meant for a lot less luggage (and a ton less snacks) than previous cargo bike/BoltBus trips: the blue bag on my FlightDeck contains three days worth of clothing, the black messenger bag contains my laptop and rain gear, and the big blue thing in the FreeLoader bag on the side of my bike is my longboard skateboard because why not? It’s hard not to fill up that free cargo space.


Loading went well! The bus was half empty so the driver let me have the middle of three luggage bays to myself (and later had standby passengers fill in around it). I had stripped my bike down of all easily removed bits (Hooptie rails from the sides, two-bike tow hitch from the back) so the widest thing behind the handlebars was my Rolling Jackass centerstand…which scraped horribly as a shoved it into the bus and a kind woman helped me lift and shove–a first! In retrospect, I should have used the skateboard to help roll it in…that’s how I’ve always moved furniture around the house, after all!


Not that I come to Portland for the weather, but I’ll admit I prefer when it’s not wet and not cold. I checked my favorite app, Dark Sky (I don’t usually purchase apps, but this is totally worth $3.99, and no, I don’t want to learn to read a free weather map) and knew I’d have ten dry minutes upon arrival. Unfortunately I wasted many of those minutes loading my bike back up and then posing for my TimerCam Pro app (also worth paying for–$1.99) on my favorite bridge, Tilikum Crossing.


My aim was a bit off–I thought I was pinching the words “TILIKUM CROSSING”. Also, it hailed a little while I was standing there so I arrived to Rivelo quite bedraggled, which isn’t the best way to present oneself the day before a book reading about urban cycling (including lots of information about rain gear!).

I continued my rounds, popping in at Islabikes (such great kid bikes!) and Clever Cycles, where I got my rear brake tightened up and my broken front-wheel stabilizer replaced (with the last Hebie one in America! Well, maybe. Probably.)…which made shoving the bike into the BoltBus on the way home quite a bit easier (no scraping RJ as the handlebars tracked in level).

And then the reason for bringing the longboard…
I met up with Ginger of Biking While Fashionable (psst, they’ve also taken a Big Dummy on BoltBus) to check out PDX Dance Dance Revolution Session #1, a longboard skateboard dance party. They intend for it to be a weekly event, Fridays 5:30 p.m. at Alberta City Park. I got to carry one of the two kids there, which was awesome, because it’s silly to have that big deck with no people or bookcases on it.

Later on, I fetched my Seattleite friend, Alyssa, from the final train of the day–she, too, left her kids behind, but also left longtail behind, thus the train rather than bus.

And the next morning we had SUN! Look at that!


And this was why I brought the big bike…I met with Laura and Russ of Path Less Pedaled to be part of a video about longtail cargo bikes for Clever Cycles. Super fun! I needed multiple takes, but my bike and book got it right the first time. Natural stars!


Last time I was down in Portland with my Surly Straggler (a normal-sized bike I took on Amtrak), I Instagrammed a picture of the bike on Car2Go bike rack because Portland has bike racks on Car2Go and no one else does. The crowd went wild! So this time we took a silly photo of my way-too-big Big Dummy on a rack. Totally doesn’t work.


And then on to the other main purpose of the visit, Urban Cycling book reading at Rivelo! Rivelo is such a cool shop. Lots of my friends ride gorgeous Rivendell bikes and they carry tons of cool smaller items, too. I got my first-ever pocket knife last visit (which I used on a recent bike daytrip I intend to blog about soon) and this time I got a John’s Irish Strap, named after John Bennett of Rivelo.

The reading was fun! And there are signed copies of the book at Rivelo still so go grab one! They make terrific gifts, wonderful for your interested-in-biking-but-not-sure-how-to-get-started friends just in time for spring and Bike Month.

Photo by @kelleyas

Photo courtesy @kelleyas

On Sunday, Shawn Granton of Urban Adventure League took me on a tour of North Portland (thanks Shawn!). The tour outlasted my Garmin battery by a teensy bit, but here’s 20 miles of NoPo fun, including a little Statue of Liberty, Skidmore Bluffs, Kelley Point Park, the street above the off-road section of 2013 Portland DRT (spot of possibly my favorite photo ever, by @mybagisbigger), Chimney Park/Pier Park, and Cathedral Park under the St Johns Bridge.


The BoltBus trip back to Seattle the following morning was the smoothest one yet. There were a lot of people waiting to board which made me a little nervous, but the bus driver saw my bike and cheerfully told me to load it before anyone else shoved in their bags. Wow, that was a first!

And soon enough I was back home, to a land where the drawbridges raise much more often. Oh, there’s one now…


Future trips:
The kids and I plan to take BoltBus and the longtail up to Vancouver for Easter weekend, but it’s too early to book yet…another benefit of Amtrak and its much more advance calendar. And I’d like to visit Portland during Pedalpalooza for the first time, maybe once with kids and cargo bike on BoltBus and once with no kids and regular bike on Amtrak.