To REI on separate bikes

We’re in a fun place where the kids are strong enough and predictable enough to ride their own bikes a lot more than ever before. Also, they’re a lot heavier than they were last summer and it’s a treat to offload them! I still take the Big Dummy when we go out on separate bikes because I like to be able to carry one of both of them (and their bikes) should they get tired, injured, grumpy, hungry, etc etc etc.

We needed camp stove fuel from REI so this seemed a good opportunity to ride somewhere new with three bikes…though it was probably really based on my not wanting to carry them up the a big hill on the Big Dummy and not being ready to lock the tandem up for an REI-visit amount of time.

I should have plotted our route carefully ahead of time because my kid-riding-separately routes are generally pretty different from my normal routes (which also differ if I’m carrying kids or not and if I’m on an empty cargo bike or regular bike), but I mentioned the I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Park when I presented them with the plan and they agreed that riding their own bikes was a terrific idea so I couldn’t turn back! We took the route I would take to REI were they not riding solo (which is the route I would take with them riding solo to the Colonnade, but not the route I would take with them all the way to REI): over the University Bridge and along Eastlake a few blocks before climbing one block to a quieter street and crossing under the freeway via the I-5 Colonnade and then crossing back over the freeway on Lakeview. I still have trouble wrapping my head around the idea of climbing higher than need be just to go back downhill, but the route is quieter and the hill is less steep. Here’s my Strava recording of our route.

Getting to the Colonnade worked well. We took the sidewalk for bits–uphill on 40th until we met Roosevelt to cross the University Bridge and then again once Eastlake grew a parking lane.

We took a breather at the Colonnade…or rather, I took a breather while the kids ran around the mountain bike park.


At this point I realized I had no idea if Lakeview had a sidewalk and if it did, was there one on both sides of the street? I saw a bit of sidewalk, but thought it didn’t go all the way through on the west side so I had us ride on the east side (towards traffic, not generally the side one should bike on on the sidewalk) because I didn’t want them to ride uphill on the fast arterial with just a sharrow. But we were soon blocked by blackberry brambles (note: obviously this is a problem unique to this time of year).


And the sidewalk does indeed go all the way through on both sides of the street so we waited a long while for an opening to cross (nope, few people driving on fast streets wait for even little kid street crossers) and crossed back over where there were still lots of blackberry bushes, but the overgrowth wasn’t quite as bad.




We stuck to the sidewalk for the Lakeview freeway flyover. Terrific view from up there!


And after a couple more blocks of Eastlake sidewalk we were safely at REI. The bike parking is perfectly fine, by the way, I’m just always nervous locking up the newest bike in the fleet. I really do want to take the tandem + trailer bike out more for normal things because we usually just ride it for bike camping and it’s SO HEAVY and I’d love to enjoy it in a svelter situation.


I don’t have a favorite route from REI to South Lake Union and take slightly different routes each time. This time, our route was dictated by riding past an exciting-looking construction site (big hole!) and then needing to detour around a different construction site road closure.

Solo-riding kids are also useful for popping up on the sidewalk to push beg buttons! Even quicker than having passenger kids hop off the Big Dummy deck to run over and push the button and run back.


Now even though I didn’t end up having to carry either kid at any point during our voyage to REI, the Big Dummy came in handy while we were hanging out at the Lake Union Park beach: I was able to quickly ferry a wet barefoot kid to the potty at MOHAI. I’m not sure how soon I’ll switch to riding a regular bike rather than the cargo bike. Probably when I can’t keep up with them on my heavy bike. I can keep up with my nine-year old, but not my six-year old.


Then we took our familiar route home. The Westlake Cycletrack is a bit more completed than last time!


And, of course, there was one last blackberry stop because no prior agreement about having already stopped three times for blackberries and a promise to go picking first thing in the morning will make a stop on the homestretch unnecessary apparently.


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