Archive | March 2016

Vancouver, Canada with cargo bike by BoltBus

We’ve gone south to Portland four times with the cargo bike on BoltBus now, but this was our first time north to Vancouver, Canada! Lots of pictures below, but all the pictures on Flickr here.

Our day started with an 8:15 a.m. departure on Friday:


I didn’t realize our 10:00 a.m. BoltBus had started its journey down in Portland, Oregon, so it was already half full. Remember, if there’s not enough room for the bike, it doesn’t get to go…which means I’d either need to very quickly find somewhere safe for it and leave it behind or not get on the bus at all. Fortunately the driver saw my bike and instructed me to put it in the cargo hold before any of the bags went in. Phew! I’ve never had my bike turned away, but the possibility always makes me very nervous. Meanwhile, Amtrak Cascades only allows roll-on service to normal bikes, and boxed bikes must weigh 50 pounds or less so I’d need to separate my 76-pound bike into two boxes (assuming I knew how to take apart a bike and then put it back together). So once again, hooray for BoltBus making travel with a longtail possible!


The bus was full, but I was able to seat the kids next to one another and me right behind them. That ended up working very well–probably better than had I sat across the aisle from them. They happily chatted and drew and I just had to pass pencils and pens of the requested color forward every 10 seconds. And my seatmate had seven nieces and nephews and was happy to interact with the kids and chat with me. I was in the back row and at our 15-minutes stop in Bellingham, the kids had fun sitting in the way-back alcove:


I think I’ve noticed people sitting up there for the moving parts of the trip, and that would probably be pretty fun for kids. At ages eight and six the bus was a lot easier than our first time, but it’s still not as easy as the train.

Amtrak Cascade pros for travel with kids (and everyone?)

  • A dozen cars to walk through and get wiggles out!
  • Dining car with food for purchase (and seating for change of scenery).
  • So many potties! Including two very large handicapped stalls if you need to squeeze the whole family in at once.
  • Soap and water in the potties (versus just hand sanitizer on the bus).
  • Potable water in the dining car–our trip up was very hot and we drank all our water quickly (though this was my fault for not noticing the overhead vents! On the way home we put the air on and didn’t dehydrate, plus we found water fountains while crossing the border to refill–but there weren’t water fountains in the border-crossing room on our way up).

BoltBus pros

  • Fast customs clearing at the border crossing.

Our BoltBus was ahead of schedule on the way up (and only 10 minutes late on the way down), and the border crossing was a breeze–we drove through the smaller Blaine border crossing so although we didn’t get a view of the Peach Arch, we passengers unloaded with all our luggage (bikes got to stay in the cargo hold) and clear customs in a private room. A train will always generate a much longer line of passengers than a full bus.

And the bus arrives next to the train station so that’s convenient!


We stayed with my friend Tonya, who also has a Surly Big Dummy (so we’re basically family!), who met us at the train station and guided us home. But before that, getting off the train we watched a guy pull a folding bike out of the cargo hold and he realized we’d met on a group ride in Portland in December. He was able to navigate using his smart phone without having to pay for an international data plan thanks to the Maplets app (which I’ve just now installed).

I was so excited to show the kids the Trans Am Totem on our way from the train station (they loved it, too):


We stopped at Terra Breads and met up with Lisa of Spokesmama because we family bikers like to flock together. My kids became fast friends with the rest of the flock and I was intrigued by the variety of bikes as we hung out in Olympic Village Square: lots of road bikes, fast tandems and slow upright tandems, a BMX crew, little kids on bikes, and clunky old commuters.


I packed pretty light for the weekend, but realized something: my kids are getting heavy!

I think it’s partly due to the fact that we don’t bike daily right now. School is two blocks from home and we walk (it would take longer to bike!), and we generally don’t leave home after school…though now that the time has changed and it’s light later, we’ll start to do so. And I only have the kids every other weekend and don’t choose to carry a bunch of dead weight on my cargo bike on my non-parenting weekends. But also: they’re getting heavy!

Tonya offered to carry a kid at the train station and they both said no because they’re shy little ornery things, but after cookies at Terra Breads, my six-year old acquiesced. Yay! (Of course then the eight-year old said yes, too, and it nearly turned into an all-out brawl, but I got them to agree to take turns).


Then we biked to the MOST AMAZING STORE: Landyachtz. I thought Tonya was making a joke about cars, but they’re a Vancouver-based longboard brand! Tons of demo longboards, indoor skate park, bike repair, fancy coffee, oodles of pinball machines (including The Addams Family, my fave!!!!), and outdoor patio with lots of seating.





Landyachtz is on the Adanac Bikeway (Adanac = Canada backwards) so there were few cars and lots of bikes, making it was easy to test ride as many longboards as we wanted to.

Saturday was sunny! And cool. Big kid in the winter jacket was probably overly bundled and little kid in short sleeves runs weirdly warm, but I was just right in wool sweater and awesome new Canada v Mexico soccer scarf.


My big kid soon demanded his turn on Tonya’s bike and I was able to keep up with her and her son as we traveled along a terrific bike-friendly route across town. I visited alone 11 months ago and got to bike the excellent downtown Vancouver protected bike lanes with Tonya and Lisa so it was OK that we skipped any downtown action this visit. The traffic calming is amazing!






We soon arrived at Tandem Bike Cafe for my Urban Cycling book reading. The event was fun, and Tandem now has a copy of Urban Cycling in their library, or Vancouverites can purchase their own copies at Raincoast Books and MEC. And keep an eye on Spokesmama for a future giveaway.


Tonya secured a projector and screen for my presentation so of course we argued over who got to carry it home afterwards. She won and took the big screen, but at least I got the projector. (This is what cargo bikers do, we stubbornly fight over carrying all the stuff.)



We dropped the gear at home, did some kid- and bike-swapping and made for Plateau Park.


I got to see this park 11 months ago, but it was 99% done and surrounded by a fence. It was so great to share it with the kids this time.


Sunday started grey and drizzly, but 42 people gathered for the Vancouver Family Biking Easter Bonnet Ride! Read Lisa’s #YVRFamilyBiking Easter Bonnet Ride Recap on Spokesmama.



The clouds blew away and left us with gorgeous blue skies, but it stayed windy along the water. Our route was amazingly pleasant with multi-use paths, bike trails, separated bike lanes, and quiet streets.






Our destination was the Wild rabbits of Jericho Beach because Easter! We only saw a couple bunnies, possibly because they sensed the eagle watching us all from a nearby tree.

After the ride we hit Granville Island. We visited the island five summers ago (by car), but the kids didn’t remember it. The spray park was open our previous visit and I think the play structure was different and bigger. Still awesome, though!


And then back to the bus. For travel away from Vancouver, one gets to BoltBus through the train station which is nicer than standing out on the street like in Seattle and Portland. Our border crossing was quick again, but our driver reminded us several times to have our papers filled out and worried aloud it might take a long time, so maybe it’s not always fast. There was also a border control agent who pre-checked all our stuff while we were waiting in line, looking for problems. It’s interesting how differently things work on one side of the border than the other. When driving in years past, I’ve been impressed by the signs to turn off engines and the convenient holding areas to move cars efficiently towards the crossing on the Canadian side versus the inching-forward traffic jam on the U.S. side. But it’s been a while so maybe it’s better now.


The 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. bus ride home was not as easy for the kids as the 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. ride up, but we made it! Pulled in at 9:10-ish, loaded up at 9:18 and home a bit over an hour later.



All in all, an awesome time! We’ll visit again in the summer. But it’s tempting to travel by city bus to the train and borrow or rent a bike or bikes in Vancouver. We’ll see.

Family bike camping Bike Overnight June 4-5, 2016

Let’s go camping! As part of Adventure Cycling Association’s 40th Anniversary National Bike Travel Weekend we’re doing a family bike overnight Saturday, June 4th through Sunday, June 5th at Fay Bainbridge Park. Our bike overnight is called “Tots in tents at Fay Bainbridge” (per the “be creative” suggestion about the event title, sorry).
Facebookers can RSVP on the Facebook event page.


9:00 a.m. Saturday, June 4, 2016 – meet outside Fremont PCC Natural Market.
This will give us time to watch one another’s luggage-laden bikes to pop inside for last-minute supplies and potty breaks and be ready to ride at
9:30 a.m. we ride! Promptly at 9:30 a.m.! (Which means 9:40, but for real we are leaving by 9:40!)
– or –
11:00 a.m. meet us at the ferry (inside, in line).
11:25 a.m. ferry sets sail (ARRIVE AT LEAST 20 MINUTES EARLY).


Ferry information:
From the Bicycles on Washington State Ferries webpage:
“Bicyclists should arrive 20 minutes prior to departure time to be loaded at the beginning of loading process. If a bicyclist arrives after vehicle loading has begun, they will be loaded at the end of the load.”

So arrive by 11:05am. BUT if you’re late, they’ll still put you on–just after the cars load. I love how versatile they are with bikes! But it’s so super fun to roll onto the empty ferry so be early if you’re meeting us there. Plus we can socialize in the bike lane before loading.

If you have an Orca card, there is an automated tollbooth at the far right–no waiting behind the cars! But otherwise you need to wait in the rightmost car lane to pay. Current fares are $8.10 for adults, $4.05 for kids six and up, and $1 for bikes (sometimes big bikes cost extra, though I’ve never been charged extra for the cargo bike or tandem + trailer bike). The Bainbridge-to-Seattle direction is free.

Once on Bainbridge Island, we’ll ride about a block uphill within the ferry terminal area to Bike Barn Rentals and hang out while the car traffic clears. Generally, we push directly onward to the campground, but there’s a grocery store in Winslow for any forgotten items.

Our campground is in Fay Bainbridge Park which features a great playground (!!) and BEACH. There are outlets in the bathrooms and picnic shelter (which might be reserved) for those who need to charge e-bike batteries or other things.

Hiker/biker camp spots are $7 per person, though sometimes the camp host is OK with us paying $7 per bike (essentially making kids free!), so we always check in with the camp host first. Also, we’re often given permission to camp in the kayak-in area, which we’ll try to do again this year as we like that side best! Payment happens at a kiosk between the restrooms and the camp host.

Here’s a recap of 2014’s summer family bike camping trip and Flickr gallery of our 2015 Swift Campout.

Note: We’ve been doing group summer camping trips to Fay for several years now and usually don’t have kids riding their own bikes. This isn’t to say it’s not allowed, of course, but both the quiet scenic route of years past with its lack of shoulders or bike lanes and the highway we’ll take this year (and took last year) with its very wide shoulders but spots of 50mph traffic are not what I would consider exceptionally kid friendly. Bainbridge Island is very bikey with drivers used to seeing bikes on the roads, but it’s definitely busier (even the quiet, scenic route) and hillier (even the flat highway route) than my own Seattle kids are used to.

At this point no concrete plans for when to head back Sunday. We’ll most likely have an early crowd and a later crowd. I’ll probably be part of the later crowd. The later group will head to Peddler Brewing Company for a Seattle-side hangout before going our separate ways. Our route from Fay to the ferry is a backtracking of our Saturday route over and here’s the route from the ferry terminal to Peddler.

Don’t despair if this weekend doesn’t work! There will also be a trip for Swift Campout June 25-26 and I think our summer family bike camping trip will be July 30-31.

Note: Social-media-inclined campers should use #adventurecycling #biketravelweekend #bikeovernights for this Bike Overnight for National Bike Travel Weekend.

New to bike camping or bike camping as a family? Feel free to ask questions in the comments or contact me. The Seattle Family Biking Facebook group is also an excellent resource–many families have borrowed gear via that group! Do you want to come, but don’t have the right bike? Check out the Familybike Seattle Rental Fleet.

Our beloved G&O Family Cyclery was damaged in the Greenwood Explosion, please help!

Links first:

Davey (left) and Tyler (right, posing with my bike)

Davey (left) and Tyler (right, posing with my bike)

Looking at photos of the damage to the block, it’s amazing that no one was killed yesterday. It’s all so incredibly sad and I feel for all the people affected.

Searching my blog for “family cyclery” I found so many posts. The shop–and the people of the shop (Davey, Tyler, Donald, Karl, and Forrest)–are big parts of our lives as well as for so many other members of the Seattle family biking community (and well beyond Seattle, too!).

I remember when Davey first told me he was planning to open a family-friendly bike shop. Had we not bumped into one another on the Burke-Gilman Trail I’m sure I would have grabbed him by the shoulders and shaken him as I shouted “WE’VE ALMOST OUTGROWN OUR TRAIN TABLE, YOU MUST LET ME DONATE IT TO THE SHOP! EVERY FAMILY-FRIENDLY SHOP NEEDS A TRAIN TABLE!” As it was, I just shouted it while gripping my handlebars.

And Davey obliged me:

Train table on the bike

There’s a kid tucked in there, too:

Train table on the bike

Our first visit to G&O Family Cyclery was one of countless visits. I’ll admit I probably make more visits to say hello than for bike repairs. I’ve made many new friends in G&O, used it as a meet-up spot, and had a million wonderful conversations with other customers.

G&O is a huge part of the robust family biking scene in Seattle. Making it easy for people to test ride bikes and purchase bikes–not to mention be able to talk about bikes with kids in tow–is so important.

If G&O has touched your life in some way, even just through the stories of others being sent on their journey of family biking joy, please help save them.

3 Reasons to Ride a Longtail with Madi Carlson – video for Clever Cycles

This was the video Path Less Pedaled shot with me for Clever Cycles during my BoltBus visit to Portland last month.

I hope it’s common knowledge that I love all types of cargo bikes and strongly believe that you can’t go wrong. If you’re drawn to a certain bike–even for inexplicable reasons–go for it! Odds are you won’t regret it, but if you do, bikes are certainly a lot easier to resell and try again than are cars.

That said, I LOVE LONGTAILS. Especially my own Surly Big Dummy. For all the reasons stated in the video. These days, I’m quite fond of their “LONG-evity ;)” referred to at 0:58 in the video. It’s easy for me to fit two (or three if I find an extra) kids on my deck as well as carry along their two bikes. With room for additional stuff in the cargo bags and our doggie in the front basket. That’s not to say longjohns can’t do this, too (especially with the Caddyrack rear rack by Cycletrucks), but longtails are exceptionally good at it.

Like the more-well-spoken version of me in the video says, Clever Cycles has a big selection of longtails and other cargo bikes (and folding bikes…and kid bikes…and plain old regular bikes…and kid play corner…and kid-friendly restroom) if you’re in or visiting Portland.

Kid stuff at Seattle Bike Show 2016

Our Kidical Mass ride from the Ballard Locks to the Seattle Bike Show was great! We were about 26 humans and 1 dog on 20 bikes.


New this year at the bike show was an obstacle course for little kids! Bikes and helmets were provided, no need to bring your own.

 And a climbing wall!

And the same fun stuff from last year, like the zip line and pump track for slightly bigger kids.


Our favorite booths were all there: Familybike Seattle (full disclosure: I’m on the board of directors) with lots of cargo bikes to look at, chocolates to eat, and family biking information to absorb; Bike Works with a wheel to spin (Bike Works also ran the bike valet parking out front); and Pedalheads bike camps. OutdoorsNW had a lot of giveaways, free copies of the annual NW Cyclist issue, and a photo booth; Amtrak had junior conductor activity books, and my kids tell me the massage chairs looked great, but the lines were too long.

Morgan Scherer, Executive Director of Familybike, and I spoke on the main stage about family biking and had a good turnout.

Find Familybike at booth 1520, in the southwest corner, near the terminus of the zip line, and conveniently close to the potties.

There’s surely a bunch of other fun stuff I didn’t see in my 10-minute dash up and down every aisle. My kids’ goodie bags are full of candy, one apple each, stickers, and pins. As always, quite the haul.  


April is 30 Days of Biking and First Weekend Seattle Ride is 4/2/2016

30 Days of Biking is one of my favorite events. These days I’m an everyday bike rider, but I wasn’t always. I credit the fun challenge of 30 Days of Biking for making me become one–which I realized in September 2011 when I failed the challenge.

So why am I telling you about 30DoB already, when I specialize in last-minute announcements? Well, because registration has started! Two years ago I was the first to register which was really exciting. This year I was number two. Hurry up and you can be number 1400!

So sign up wherever you are and if you’re local, come on the first weekend ride with Astrid and me!

Saturday, April 2, 2016, 12:00pm
Start Location:
Gas Works Park–top of Kite Hill!
2101 N Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98103

Links links links:
Facebook event page
Cascade Free Daily Rides listing listing

Full description:
Whether or not you are a 30 Days of Biking pledge, come out for this easy, scenic, and fun ride featuring waterfront vistas, riding on both streets and trails, plus coffee and food stops! We’ll start inside Gas Works Park, atop Kite Hill (unless it’s raining badly, then we’ll find some good trees in the parking lot to huddle under). If you are arriving by car, parking is easy at Gas Works Park.

The ride will follow the Burke-Gilman Trail, cross the water at the Fremont Bridge, then take the Ship Canal Trail to the Salmon Bay area. We’ll stop at Caffe Appassionato for coffee to go (BIKES ARE ALLOWED IN THE DRIVE-THROUGH! SO FUN!) and take it over to Fisherman’s Terminal to enjoy the view. Fortified, we’ll head to the Locks and walk our bikes through to Ballard, then ride Peddler Brewing Company for a lunch stop. Cycle Dogs bike-based vegan hot dogs is the food truck of the day, sandwiches are available from the brewery, and it’s OK to bring your own food.

Then it’s back to the start via streets and the Burke Gilman Trail.

Bring money for the refreshment stops, and come early to get the safety briefing.

In the spirit of 30 Days of Biking, the ride will happen rain or shine, but will be much shorter if the weather is bad.

Here’s our route.

Distance: 10.00 miles
Elevation Gain: 330 feet
Pace: Leisurely: [10-12mph]
Terrain: Mostly flat
Regroup: Stay together
Weather Cancels?: No rain cancellation

Note: This is a Cascade Bicycle Club Free Daily Ride. All participants must wear a helmet and sign a waiver. Read more about Cascade Free Daily Rides.