Archive | October 2016

To Tacoma with Three Bikes on Three Bus Systems

We had quite the adventure today, getting to the North 40 CX cyclocross race in Tacoma using our three bikes and three buses (and Pixie the dog in her dog packpack). I wouldn’t want to make a regular habit of this trip, but I’ll try anything once. My big takeaway was: there are lots of buses outside Seattle proper that only have two-slot bike racks. Uh oh.

I considered taking the old mamabike (my city bike with one kid seat) so I could carry one kid and just deal with two bikes on the rack in case someone else was traveling with a bike on the same bus (mistakenly assuming there would be three slots), but the kids both wanted to ride and that bike is heavy. It’s gotta be less than the 50 pounds it weighed when it sported front and rear kid seats, but it’s still a pain to heft up onto the rack. So I took my road bike, 25-ish pounds, with rear saddlebag full of snacks and front bag full of books and toys (and more snacks).

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We didn’t really need bikes for the trip, what with crossing the street for the first bus, then going two blocks to get to the second bus, crossing a street to reach the third bus stop, and then traveling a handful of blocks to reach the race…but I knew the kids would have a lot more fun with their bikes along at the race, whether or not they wanted to do the kiddie lap (they didn’t, bummer) and I wasn’t sure what that last handful of blocks would be like. And when the kids didn’t want to cross four-lane Pacific at the Parkland/Spanaway border at a mere crosswalk, our ride turned into a mile with detour to a stoplight. Plus the streets off Pacific didn’t have sidewalks so it was much nicer to be on bikes than on foot.

Nope. Not crossing here.

Nope. Not crossing here.

Our first bus was the 26 of the King County Metro system. As far as I know, all Metro buses have three-slot bike racks. I think they switched from two bikes to three bikes shortly after we moved to Seattle eight years ago. It was very quiet out and our bus ran early so while we waited to let the clock catch up the stop before our stop, I decided to hop off to double our downtown ride to four exciting blocks between bus stops.

Our second bus was the 594 of the Sound Transit system. We take its sister, the 554, to Issaquah once a month for orthodontist visits and that bus always has a three-slot bike rack so I assumed the 594 would, too. Ho ho ho, it did not. I peeked in and told the driver we had three bikes and asked if we could bring the littlest one on board? He thought for a second and mentioned the next 594 was also the same type as his (the tour-bus-looking kind) and would also have have just two slots (I asked if some 594s are different bus types and have three slots and he said yes) so he said we could come aboard. Phew! And he carried the littlest bike on board himself and stowed it vertically in the seat pair behind him.

Our third bus was the 1 of the Pierce Transit system. A new bus system for us! I figured the video on the website showing a two-slot bike rack might be an old bus so I Google image searched and thought the pictures I saw looked like three-slot bike racks and we’d be OK. Wrong again! All the Pierce Transit buses we saw had two-slot racks. But those racks had the old, easy-to-use metal hook arms. I know they aren’t as sturdy as the new yellow claws or the even newer black claws, but they are so much easier to use! The driver was unfazed by our extra bike and let me carry it onboard. And then let another guy carry his bike on board, too.

And 2.5 hours later we were there!

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It wasn’t raining when we left home and the Seattle forecast looked dry so I under-dressed us for the Tacoma rain that kicked in a bit after we arrived. The kids still had fun and we hung in our Recycled Cycles Racing tent by the fire, with great view of the barriers, until it was my turn to work one of the course crossings. The kids tooled around on their bikes while the rain steadily increased…which I may not have really noticed were it not for the announcers repeatedly pointing it out. The kids had rain jackets and thin gloves, but no boots or rain pants. I had a wool sweater and cycling cap. Pixie was wrapped in a baby blanket in her backpack with her head poked out the side window.

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After an hour of that, we headed for the 1:44pm Pierce Transit 1 back to Tacoma. I had contemplated leaving my own bike in the team van so we’d only have two bikes to deal with, but I didn’t want to run after the kids to get to that first bus stop. Also, a teammate offered to drive us home if we left all three bikes in the team van, but we’d have to wait until after he cleaned up the course. Naturally, one kid wanted to do that and one kid didn’t. So I decided we’d try our luck with three bikes, hoping the 594s in the afternoon would be of the three-slot bike rack variety. And we were off to a good start: the 1 driver was cool about me bringing the littlest bike on board again.

The 594, not so much. A bus with a two-slot bike rack pulled up at our stop and I asked about the bike and was given a firm no. Considering how knowledgeable the southbound 594 driver had been about bus types, I asked if the next bus would have three spots and how soon it came and he said he didn’t no the type, but it’d be half an hour. He said he’d call someone (shift supervisor, I think he said?) to come down and talk to me. Wow, really? No one appeared to talk to me and I couldn’t tell from the next 594 driver’s poker face if he’d been warned about us, but he said we could bring the bike on board and put it in the mid-bus wheelchair spot. By the way, we watched a wheelchair load on a Sound Transit bus in the morning, drawing our attention to the mid-bus ramp and it’s really cool!

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Back in Seattle we could have biked all the way home. Of course one kid wanted to bike and one kid didn’t. I was partial to not biking uphill in the rain for close to an hour at kid speed so we biked two blocks to catch the 26 that takes us a two flat blocks from our house. And we got lucky–the 26 was running late so we only had to wait two minutes rather than 28 minutes for the one I thought we’d have to catch. And it had three empty bike spots for us on the rack.

And 3.25 hours later we were home!

Yeah, that’s a lot of time spent in transit on transit. But I should point out that the venue, Marymount Event Center/LeMay Family Collection, is hella far from home–50 miles away. Google maps says it would take an hour to drive there with no traffic so this was definitely longer than that (even with the rain, I don’t think there was traffic). I’d guess all three buses run more often on weekdays and the connections would have been quicker…but I’m too lazy to check. But mostly, it was a fun way to spend the day. We didn’t end up reading all together, though one kid read to himself for one bus. I also forgot about the toys they’d packed and they never asked for them. But we had a wonderful view, especially from our lofty tour bus seats on the 594. And after all this, only having to get to the Washington State Historical Society (where we transfered from the 594 to the 1) for Trainfest seems like a breeze! But we’ll do that without bikes.

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Bikey Halloween Costumes of the Past

These days Minecraft Zombie Pigman and Witch Darth Vader have their own Halloween costume ideas, but there was a time I could dress them up as whatever I wanted…and of course that was bike stuff. Here’s a quick stroll down memory lane of bikey Halloween costumes of yore…

2010: Halloween sharrow

Sharrow costume


2011: Halloween bike lane icon and bike box

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2012: Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Halloween Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Halloween Seattle Neighborhood Greenways


I’ve only dressed my bike up once, as a salmon for 2013 Cranksgiving.

Salmon costume

I’m all for dressing up bikes and can’t wait to see the entrants in the Xtracycle #XtraSpookyContest, but my days of bike decorating are done for now.

I’ve had THE BEST bike costume idea for three years, but it keeps raining on Halloween and I think it’s time to officially give up the dream…and share it here for closure: UPS truck and driver. I haven’t yet recycled the cardboard and donated the outfit pieces back to the thrift store, but that will happen soon. I’ll keep my two yellow Go Brightz–they were to be my flashing hazard lights for when I parked in bike lanes and made my deliveries. I finally took them out of their packaging to have down low glow on my road bike for the May Moonlight Mash in Eugene, Oregon this year.

Still from Moonlight Mash 2016 vimeo

Still from Moonlight Mash 2016 vimeo

Are you dressing up your bike or dressing up as something bike-themed this year?

I finally named my cargo bike!

I have a lot of friends who name their bikes and I’ve always thought that was a fine idea, but I’m just not nearly as creative as I used to be, so I’ve been content with The Old Mamabike, The Mamabike, and The Tandem. However, I did name my most recent bike–Valentine, a single-speed cyclocross bike I got in February. I figured it was a fluke, but now…maybe there’s a chance I’ve still got it!

Oh, fun side story: my parents opted not to use our given names for my brother and me for the first two years of our lives. I can’t remember which culture if was from, but I remember it was borrowed from a culture not our own. I also remember my mom responding to my “BUT WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO US???!!!” with “Well, we heard about this tradition and I can’t remember the reasoning behind it, but it sounded neat!” Sheesh. (I’ll post an update if my dad emails me to clarify.) Anyhow, my brother was introduced to me as Little Brother, but I was a bit under two (ooh, and nameless also, I guess!) when he was born and the closest I could get was Yakoo Brooker. And so everyone called him Yakoo Brooker, Brooker for short. For a long, long time. Eventually–like last year…no, like when he was five, maybe?–he demanded we use his given name. Unfortunately for me, he wanted to use the whole damn thing so I stumbled over Alexander for a while. I imagine we either stopped talking to one another or he came to his senses and conceded to be called Alex. For decades we’d see people we hadn’t see since we were little who’d address him as Brooker and I’d giggle while he muttered “It’s Alex now.” Poor kid.

And so after nearly five years of not-so-intentionally not using my Big Dummy’s real name, she’s got a real name! But that also comes with a story…

After leading a Kidical Mass ride through a wind-and-rain storm to a nursery for pumpkins, hay maze, and mini baby goat petting, we returned home and I unloaded the bike formerly known as The Mamabike: I plucked the puking kid off the FlightDeck and carried him inside, removed the dog and all her stuff from the front basket, unhitched the puker’s bike from the back, lugged the eight pumpkins to the porch, and carried in the two bags of snacks and extra clothing…

As I returned to wheel my awesome bike deep into the carport to lock her up I took in her empty fork mounts and gaping FreeLoader bags–now containing only rain water and fallen leaves–ready for whatever we throw at her. And I impulsively said, “That’ll do pig, that’ll do.”

Meet Babe!

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Yay Babe!

As always, stay tuned for the annual Big Dummy birthday post in early December in which I’ll recount the amazing things we’ve done over the past year so nothing of that nature right now.

But I do want to talk about another Big Dummy…one I love even more than my own (shh, don’t tell Babe!)

My celebration at the naming of my bike feels hollow knowing the life-saving Big Dummy of my friend Ginger was just stolen!

Here’s a clip from the local news. And @stolenbikespdx tweet:

The bike is registered with Bike Index and lots of eyes are looking for it, but add your eyes to the hunt and share the video, share the tweet, and register your own bike(s) on Bike Index RIGHT NOW if it’s not already in their database.

Kidical Mass to Celebrate Roosevelt

Saturday, November 5
10:30 a.m.
Mighty-O Donuts, Tangletown
(2110 N 55th St, Seattle, WA 98103)
Facebook event page
The route: 2.3 miles

The Roosevelt Paving & Safety Project is almost complete and it’s time to party!

Join Familybike Seattle for a Kidical Mass ride to this special free event.

10:30 a.m. – meet at Mighty-O Donuts in Tangletown. We’ll have coffee and vegan doughnuts and can pop across the street to the 56th Street Market to purchase new, unused toiletries (toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, etc) for the donation drive at the University District Food Bank, now in its great new location.

Our 2.3-mile route through Green Lake will feature quiet neighborhood streets, some of the Green Lake path, paint-separated bike lanes, and finally the new protected bike lane on Roosevelt!

Noon – Ribbon cutting with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways at the University District Food Bank. Kids and families will ceremonially ride onto the new Roosevelt Protected Bike Lane.

The event runs until 1pm with fun programming:

  • Transportation resource fair (SDOT resources, ORCA, Pronto, Vision Zero, etc.), activities, and food drive at the food bank.
  • Community passport: visit participating Roosevelt businesses and collect stickers. Completed passports entered into a drawing to win prizes.

Recap: Kidical Mass rides to Swansons for pumpkins and baby goats

Hooray for hearty Seattle family bikers who came out for Kidical Mass rides to Swansons for pumpkins and baby goats! despite every Seattleite being extremely worried by the SUPER STORM forecast. A large group–17!!!!–gathered at G&O Family Cyclery for free espresso (thanks!!) while the kids played in the awesome toy corner.

Photo courtesy G&O Family Cyclery

Photo courtesy G&O Family Cyclery

Here’s our 4.1-mile round trip route from G&O Family Cyclery to Swansons Nursery and back to Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery. Google maps calls it “mostly flat,” but the slight hills are noticeable on heavy bikes and kid bikes. We crossed to the south of busy NW 85th Street for the flattest possible route, and carefully chose our northerly wiggle for relatively easy crossings of 85th and Holman Road. Coming back was a little more straightforward since the “mostly flat” was the downhill sort of “mostly flat.”

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We had light rain the whole time, but only felt a bit of wind as we turned the last corner to the nursery. It was a great opportunity to test rain gear for many of us. I was OK in rain jacket, rain skirt, shoe covers, and no gloves (though I brought two pairs just in case). My kids wore rain jackets and rain pants, but really wanted to wear regular shoes instead of boots so they ended up with wet feet. My older kid pedaled and was OK, even without gloves (he finds it easier to shift without them), but I carried my younger kid due to an upset stomach and his feet were pretty uncomfortable. As were his hands, wet despite his gloves. We have two sets of handlebar mittens–one Bar Mitts and one Portland Pogies–and I love them and recommend them to adults all the time (and Bar Mitts Stroller Mitts for Xtracycle Hooptie/Yuba Monkeybars/Haul-a-Day Whoopee-Deux rails), but my kids aren’t used to shifting with them yet. This is reason enough to take the tandem + trailer bike on our next cold ride.

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Swansons was great! The goats were adorable! With awesome names: Buttermilk Pancake, MegaMan, and Tootsie Roll. And the kids enjoyed the hay maze and peeked at the partially-assembled holiday model train display (I hear it’s going to be a cross between Halloweentown and Whoville this year).

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Unfortunately, the day didn’t go quite as planned–Swansons warned us they needed to close early, at 2pm, due to the impending wind storm, but our end spot, Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery was closed until 3pm for a special event. That didn’t really matter for my family, though, because my kid with the upset stomach vomited by the pumpkins so we headed for home as soon as we could.

But we got our pumpkins! We agreed ahead of time on each kid selecting one big pumpkin, one medium pumpkin, and two mini pumpkins. One kid wanted all ghost pumpkins so we ended up with a cool-looking bike load.

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A few families coordinated drying off at a nearby house together so I’m relieved an after-party/playdate still happened. We biked off with one other family which was fun for our two puddle splashers (and their littler kid is the one who gave me a shell and told me I looked pretty during one camping trip so he’s my super duper favorite even though he doesn’t seem to remember our special moment).

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See all the photos by me and S J from G&O Family Cyclery in this Flickr album: 2016 Kidical Mass to Swansons Hay Maze – October 15, 2016 – 70 photos.

Happy fall!