Archive | April 2016

Upcoming: Earth Day Kidical Mass

Saturday, April 23 at 11:00 a.m.
Husky Grind at Mercer Court (3925 Adams Ln, Seattle, WA 98105)
Facebook RSVP

Let’s get out on our bikes and celebrate Mother Earth! Pack a picnic and meet us outside Husky Grind at Mercer Court–it’s along the Burke-Gilman Trail just east of the Wall of Death (go early if you want to grab food at Husky Grind). We’ll be riding 5.5 miles, through the Center for Urban Horticulture which is easy-to-ride hard-packed gravel, just to warn ya. We’ll stop for picnic lunch in Magnuson Park (exact location TBD, but I’m leaning towards the amphitheater by the community center). If the weather’s not so nice, we’ll eat quickly and head back, but if it’s nice, we’ll hang for a while and then head back via the more direct route of all Burke-Gilman Trail, no gravel.

p.s. If you’re around April 16, there’s an official Earth Day celebration in the Magnuson Park children’s garden.

About Kidical Mass

Seattle Kidical Mass rides are presented by Familybike Seattle. Familybike Seattle is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that decreases barriers to bicycling for families of all income levels. We believe that biking as a family increases our individual, family, and societal quality of life, while at the same time moving toward sustainable lifestyles and communities.

Kidical Mass is a fun, safe, easy-going, and law-abiding family bike ride for kids of all ages. It started circa 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, and has since spread to other bikey burgs, like Seattle! Our monthly group rides include a nice mix of experienced cyclists, and folks just getting started. We hope to educate bike-curious parents about ways to bicycle with children, help kids learn to ride safely in the city, and increase the visibility of family biking on Seattle streets. Kids are traffic too! All manner of bikes and high-occupancy velos are welcome.

Some Kidical Mass ride leaders are Cascade Bicycle Club volunteer ride leaders. Cascade Bicycle Club is the nation’s largest statewide bicycle organization and serves bike riders of all ages and abilities throughout the Puget Sound region and across Washington state. Cascade’s mission is to “improve lives through bicycling” through many programs including free group rides. For Kidical Mass rides led by Cascade ride leaders, all participants are required to sign a wavier and wear a helmet.

Weekly En Plein Air Coffee Club

One #coffeeoutside a week isn’t always enough for me, so I love when I can make it to En Plein Air Coffee Club (EPACC). This one is on Fridays at 8:00 a.m. and at different parks each week. There’s a mailing list signup at the bottom of the EPACC.org website to be alerted of the Friday site on Thursday.

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Today’s was close to home, along the Ship Canal Trail, at a nameless park our preschool often played at.

Here’s this week’s mailing since I don’t see it on the EPACC blog yet:

EPACC will meet along the Ship Canal Trail.

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Emperor Saga of the Heian Period held flower-viewing parties with sake and feasts underneath the blossoming boughs of sakura trees in the Imperial Court in Kyoto. Poems would be written praising the delicate flowers, which were seen as a metaphor for life itself, luminous and beautiful yet fleeting and ephemeral. —Wikipedia

The En Plein Air Coffee Club will meet for hanami Friday 8th April 2016 at 8am underneath the cherry trees along the Ship Canal Trail west of the Fremont Bridge. Here’s a map.

One more thing: I know of one other regular Seattle #coffeeoutside: Wednesdays at 7:00 a.m. at the Madrona Park picnic shelter. That one usually has a Tuesday reminder on jdgesus’ Instagram.

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 8 miles: 10.2
April cumulative miles: 155.2

Weekly #coffeeoutsideforher

Every Thursday I host a coffee outside, called #coffeeoutsideforher, though it’s not only for women.

#coffeeoutsideforher
Thursdays 10:00 a.m.
Gas Works Park, viewpoint in the southeast edge of the park
Reminder on the familyride Instagram every Wednesday

It’s not necessary to bring anything–I always have plenty of coffee and mugs, though the usual gist of #coffeeoutside is that everyone brings their campstove and coffee kit to make their own coffee (and yield a cool photo of all the various coffee systems).

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I stayed until noon this time so it’s not necessary to show right at ten. The weather tends to dictate how long we hang out, but we’re always there at least an hour.

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One more thing: The kids and I are out of town for Spring Break next Thursday, but I think #coffeeoutsideforher will still happen without me. It’s happened once before without me and it seems to have been going long enough that it has a life of its own!

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 7 miles: 26.2
April cumulative miles: 145.0

Bike/bus to Issaquah

Once a month we turn a trip to the orthodontist into a big adventure by taking bikes. Our orthodontist is 20 miles away, in Issaquah (hometown of Modest Mouse if you’re not from here and think Issaquah sounds familiar) so we do a bike/bus combo trip. We usually take the Sound Transit 554 from downtown, but our appointment was later than normal and we were able to take the much closer-to-school/home Sound Transit 556 bus. It was our first time on this line and the route is completely different so that was exciting.

We take my Bianchi Milano city bike (“the old mamabike”) when we use the bus since my Big Dummy is too long and too heavy to go on the bike rack. It was easiest when it had two kid seats and we all fit on the bike, but now it just has a rear seat and one kid has to ride his own bike. Actually, today it had two rear seats because I brought it’s original rear seat, a Bobike Maxi, along to give to a friend. The new rear seat is the Bobike Junior, suitable for my now bigger kids.

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I didn’t strap the extra seat on very well at the beginning, but my six-year old helped by holding it on. The extra seat also meant I couldn’t drape my eight-year old’s bike over the seat(s) and ride the bikes two blocks to school and had to walk them side by side–such a pain! I’m not very good at ghost riding (riding one bike while dragging another with one hand).

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Issaquah is a great town. When the kids were littler, they loved the train-themed playground and adjacent train museum (they still like the playground, but don’t care so much that it’s train-themed). They also love Maurice, the barber in the Cut Loose Caboose next to our orthodontist, and happily get their hair cut there while Daisy, the Pomeranian, looks on from the cupola. There’s also a salmon hatchery and we can’t leave without lunching (or dinnering in this case) at the Issaquah Brewhouse (crayons and kid menus, Duplo table, board games including Battleship).

One more thing: My friend who now has the Bobike Maxi recently wrote an excellent blog post: If you’re not biking, you’re part of the problem.

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 6 miles: 18.1
April cumulative miles: 118.8

Bike camping at Illahee

Pictures with captions to make up for quickie blog post! An actual S24O! (Sub-24-hour overnight)

The nice thing about the Emerald City Bike Ride happening so early is that I had tons of time to go home to rest and pack and make it with plenty of time for the 3pm ferry to Bremerton.

This was my first time taking Pixie camping as well as my first time on the Bremerton ferry. It’s downtown, same pier as our usual Bainbridge ferry, but the crossing is 60 minutes versus 35 to Bainbridge.

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Illahee State Park was just 3.5 miles from the ferry (my extra mileage is from going all the way down down down to the beach and back up up up).

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I took a different route on the way back and it was not as nice, with more climbing and a highway bridge with narrow sidewalk.

I got extremely lucky weather-wise and all the rain fell while we were asleep in the tent. I kept an eye on the morning forecast and left early enough to stay dry all day.

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Bremerton seemed hillier than Bainbridge, but I am prone to being more comfortable with the “hill you know” so I could be wrong. It’d be fun to go back and explore for a flat-as-possible route to Illahee and then take the kids.

Pixie did great bike camping. In the evening she didn’t want to stay super close while I set up camp, but in the morning she sat in her little bed and chilled while I put everything away. So having the kids to keep her busy will be nice next time. The hiker/biker sites were $12 which is more than Fay Bainbridge’s $7, and there are only two of them. They don’t have picnic tables and the square for the tent was a bit small for my REI Half Dome 2+ (you can see the corner of my tent staked outside the square on the right in the picture below). So we’ll shell out for a proper site when we come back. For dinner, Pixie and I walked down to the beach. There was a great trail and kids would consider it a fun hike. There’s also a small playground up at campsite level.

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One more thing: I couldn’t attend, but that night Menstrual Monday returned from hiatus! It’s a monthly ride for women–the first Monday of the month, meet at the Seattle Center International Fountain at 6:30 p.m., ride at 7:00 p.m.

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 4 miles: 10.9
April 5 miles: 12.2
April cumulative miles: 100.7

Emerald City Bike Ride

The Emerald City Bike Ride was AMAZING! The new SR520 will have a bike lane that won’t be open for a year, but for one weekend the city closed the freeway to cars for a few hours and allowed runners on Saturday and bikes on Sunday. And a lot of people took advantage of it. I read horror stories of stranded celebration-goers on Saturday, and on Sunday I experienced a much less over-packed, but still over-packed, situation. The marked route wasn’t equipped to move as many people as were allowed to register for the ride, but despite a horrible bottleneck at the beginning and quite a few during the course of the ride (several of these were caused by people on unicycles who rode two abreast and were hard to pass, interestingly enough), it was a blast.

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No photos of the jam-up at the beginning, but see all my pictures here.

The route

The route

The ride opened at 7am, and everyone had to start by 8:15am (to be off the bridge by 9:30am and release it back to the cars). So I set my alarm for 5am (oof), and met a few friends for breakfast at the 5 Point Cafe. The cafe was out of the way (I live really close to the start of the ride), but it’s open 24 hours. Also, I’ve seen the place a million times biking the kids to the Seattle Center so there was no chance I was going to grab an extra hour of sleep and miss a chance to go in. I hit the Fremont Bridge at 5:45am and was number 39 on the bike counter. I have a feeling most of the previous 38 bridge crossers were up late Saturday night, not up early Sunday morning (the bike count resets at midnight). I saw a few women biking the other direction on Dexter a few minutes later (soon to be numbers 40 through 42 on the bridge)–they had numbers on their handlebars and helmets and were also headed for ECBR, probably breakfasting somewhere closer to the start. They shouted a cheerful hello to me and I smiled, but wasn’t awake enough to whoop back at them.

I’m not often up to see the sunrise and it was gorgeous.

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The light on the bridge was great, too, once we finally walked our way far enough through the backup that we could ride.

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I read that there were over 7000 participants and assumed I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew whom I hadn’t intentionally hooked up with, but I ended up seeing so many of my friends! I saw a ton of family bikers, which was very heartwarming. I hope they all fared OK during the initial backup. I know it would have taken a lot of work to keep my kids happy given how long it took to get to the actual riding, especially given the early hour!

The 520 bridge was pretty hard to ride–I was surprised to see that one side of it was open to cars after all so bikes were confined to just half of it. The shorter course (8 miles versus 21 miles) was just over the bridge and back so once we navigated our way through that, the second part of the ride wasn’t as congested.

I know people who have biked the I-5 express lanes in the middle of the night and it’s awesome! I mean, I hear it’s awesome. Seeing it in the daylight was even more awesome. And the course was much much longer than just the express lanes. We got to ride an amazing amount of I-5! I loved how everyone pulled over to the side to take pictures as soon as we got onto the I-5 bridge. It’s just that cool to get to ride on the freeway!

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And then the tunnel!!

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I didn’t check out the snack stops since they were so crowded, but I hear there was great food at the International District one, and I got to talk to a lot of friends at the Lake Washington one while Marley refilled her water bottle.

There seems to be some hope that this could be an annual event. I sure hope so!

One more thing: 10 of the below miles are from a bike camping trip, to be recapped in the next blog post.

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 3 miles: 41.8
April cumulative miles: 77.6

30 Days of Biking 2016 First Weekend Seattle Ride recap

Today, as last year, Astrid and I led the 30 Days of Biking 2016 First Weekend Seattle Ride. There were 20 of us and it was ten miles of fun! And the weather was terrific. The day started grey and cool (which wasn’t so bad because I’m a bit sunburned from yesterday’s beach visit and riding around in the sun all day) and I didn’t think we’d see blue skies all day, but we ended up with a beautiful day.

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We met atop Kite Hill in Gas Works Park and I forgot to post ahead of time that it’s easier to ride up the backside so most of our riders negotiated the tight switchbacks up the front, oops.

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Like last year, we rode through the Caffe Appassionato drive-thru because they allow bikes! There aren’t many places like that in Seattle.

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It’s not the cleanest system because then I make everyone carry their coffee by bike a couple blocks to Fishermen’s Terminal so maybe we’ll change things next year.

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We were able to walk through the Ballard Locks with surprising ease and I realized how different it is to walk a recumbent bike–there aren’t handlebars at convenient walking height.

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Stopping at Peddler Brewing Company was great with tons of room both in the sun and shade outside, with easy bike parking. We arrived hours before the food truck of the day, but made do with the prepared sandwiches and salad they have on hand.

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I love this ride (all two times we’ve run it) because it attracts lots people I haven’t met before. I’m not sure why and only thought to ask a couple riders how they found out about it (Facebook).

One other thing (ooh, maybe this is my theme this year! One more thing at the end of each post): one of the riders assumed I wasn’t coming along on the ride when he saw my shoes. I was confused–did he know me? Was he alluding to my experience at Chilly Hilly and making a joke? And why didn’t I take the time to consider an appropriate response to future shoe comments back when I wrote that post? Two of my sweet friends were about to pounce on him with defensive words about shoe choice, but I stammered something about “Yes, I ride my bike in these shoes” (the silver ones from yesterday’s photo, btw). Shortly before this, Alyssa rode up in pretty green flats and declared “I’m wearing my pro shoes.” I said I was only wearing pro shoes because I thought it would be too cold for flip flops. So my homework is to come up with something nice and confident to say about shoes that more gear-oriented cyclists might find surprising.

April 2 miles: 12.3
April cumulative miles: 48.1

30 Days of Biking 2016 begins!

For many of us (thousands of us!) April means 30 Days of Biking:

30 Days of Biking is a pledge to ride your bike every day in April, any distance, any destination, and share your adventures online. Hashtag #30daysofbiking. For every 2 pledges, we’re donating $1 to World Bicycle Relief. Help us reach 10,000 pledges in 2016!

I love 30 Days of Biking and have joined the fun since September 2010. Last year some friends posted what I took as a negative blog post about 30 Days of Biking and it quite upset me. I’ll admit I’m overly sensitive so hopefully most people weren’t so affected. I try to be careful not to say thing that would influence anyone to bike less based on my own biases. Of course not everyone will want to participate in 30 Days of Biking, but for me personally, it was a big part of becoming an everyday biker and I will never stop appreciating it for that. And of course not everyone needs to participate in 30 Days of Biking. For some people this is because biking each day of the month isn’t challenging for them. But I remember when it was for me. I worry about forgetting how different and sometimes difficult things were while getting started. I often think about the first time I rode up Stone Way without stopping…and the first time I rode up it twice in one day. Nowadays it’s no big deal, but I don’t want to lose the memory of when it often defeated me. And I don’t ever want to forget to the extent that I sound smug.

Anyhow, 30 Days of Biking posted this to the 30 Days of Biking Facebook page and it made everything better:

Since this is Day 1, there’s something we need to talk about right away. Let’s have a little heart-to-heart. So here it is: If you miss a day, it’s OK. We obviously can’t control what doing 30 Days of Biking feels like for you, but we don’t want you to feel shame or guilt about having missed a day. This isn’t about shame. It’s about encouragement and celebrating the bike life.

Think of ‪#‎30daysofbiking‬ as a river. You can step out onto the riverbank for a moment, but that doesn’t stop the river from flowing onward. You can jump right back in, and (we’re mixing our metaphors here but bear with us) pedal harder, or just do two rides in one day, or do a bonus ride in May. It’s all good. Just don’t quit! Keep riding with us.

So yes, it might be annoying to see thousands of us posting to social media with the #30daysofbiking hashtag for a month, and I blog much more often than normal to keep track of my days and miles (and once again hopefully a theme will emerge, but I dunno). I like to think of it as a view into the daily biking life of a regular family biker/urban cyclist…though perhaps for a more-exciting month than usual since it’s fun to “go big” for 30DoB.

With all that said, here’s my Day One:

My day wasn’t quite as epic as I had planned. My original-original plan was to bike down to Tacoma for the grand opening of the expanded Defiance Bicycles. Although Seattle has many cool bike shops, it’s fun to visit cool shops in neighboring cities, too. But when I was in Tacoma for the Washington Bike Summit a week and a half ago, I found out they weren’t quite ready to open and celebrate. Plan B emerged at the summit when I was talking to Kyla of Green River Cyclery and I decided I should ride to Auburn instead. It’d be a perfect chance to take a better route than last time. But then I ended up sending a borderline sick kid to school and didn’t want to stray so far from home in case I had to fetch him (I didn’t). The weather was GORGEOUS so plan C was to take Pixie to our favorite beach, Golden Gardens. Perfect beach day!

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Part of plan B was to check out the new space of local bike bag makers Swift Industries, open their first day after moving from Ballard to Pioneer Square. I opted to leave Pixie and my Surly Straggler at home and go with my newest bike, an All-City Macho Man Disc. It’s a single-speed cyclocross bike and I got it for racing (and hopefully will race more than just once this year for a change!), but I’ve been riding it around for non cyclocross because it’s really fun…as long as I stick to flat terrain, that is.

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I was a bit early getting to Pioneer Square (fast bike!) so I stopped in at Back Alley Bike Repair and invited Jake the Snake along. He got a Sitka Hip Pack he had been eying online not 30 minutes before I arrived. Kismet!

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Downtown, the Second Avenue protected bike lane is a MESS right now. Lots of it is because they’re adding protective planters to the not-very-protective flexiposts (yay!) and part of it is construction. There are spots where the lane suddenly disappears and a one-block detour up a steep hill to Third (at that moment I wasn’t too happy about being on my single-speed bike). Someday, I think Seattle will add detours for bikes that are just as safe as the detoured facility. I’ve seen this in Portland (and photos in other cities) so I know it’s possible.

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I zoomed home to grab Pixie and wished there was one more hour in the day so I could load my Surly Big Dummy with a load for the thrift store because then I’d have been on three different bikes for day one! But instead, I got the Straggler back out for hanging with my friend Alyssa in the evening. Yeah, I could have taken the Big Dummy even without carrying a big load of stuff, but a 35-pound bike is faster than a 75-pound bike and I was running just on time.

Side note: Alyssa and I met through our kids making friends at a cyclocross race four years ago (“You’re five? I’m five!” / “You like sharks? I like sharks!” / “That’s your mom’s cargo bike? Well, that’s my mom’s cargo bike right next to it!”)

I tucked two empty growlers in my Swift Industries pannier after discovering my Pronto Cycle Share knit cap is perfect for keeping them from clinking against one another.

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Chuck’s Hop Shop is kid- and dog-friendly and Pixie saw five other dogs there while we filled the growlers and grabbed a couple pints of ice cream (Full Tilt whiskey praline and vegan mayan chocolate).

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Already at Alyssa’s I remembered April 1st is the day of annual bike jousting at Sully’s Snow Goose Saloon. We both lamented we should have gone. I’m pretty sure Pixie wouldn’t have liked it. I see April 1st is on a Saturday next year so I’ll keep it on my radar. We rode past the aftermath at 11:30. It smelled like curdled milk.

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Upon arriving home I realized that while I didn’t ride three different bikes, I did bike in three different pairs of shoes: flip flops to the beach, clipless on the cross bike, and ballet flats to keep my toes warm in the evening. That made me think of the recent Bikeyface: New Shoes. But I doubt shoes will be my theme of the month…if there is one.

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A couple other fun things: I had a great conversation about handlebar tape at the raised drawbridge. And taught him the term shoaling when he apologized for cutting in front of me. I also saw ten friends in passing on the Burke-Gilman Trail, stopping to talk to one for ten minutes. Had a nice chat with a family biker at the Golden Gardens bike rack, and Pixie got lots of waves. And this isn’t a good thing, but two Priuses ignored the “straight only for buses and bikes” signs the entire length of Bell Street today. I lost a five-dollar bet to my friend Brad last Tuesday when I said a Prius would surely drive the street with us. It was the first time it’s never happened, and I’ve had it happen five times since then now. Other cars ignore the signs, too, but Prius drivers seem to feel particularly entitled. I hear many of them are Uber drivers–is that true? Would that make them more likely to ignore signage?

Good day!

April 1 miles: 35.8
April cumulative miles: 35.8