Archive | November 2016

Recap: 2016 Thanksgiving Kidical Mass Lake Union Loop

‘Twas our rainiest Thanksgiving Day yet. Here’s the Flickr album of 115 photos, many of them blurry, all of them grey and wet. But our annual Thanksgiving ride is rain or shine so there was never any thought of canceling.

img_3595

Check out previous rides to see less rainy, more exciting photos:

I wasn’t sure anyone would make it out to join us, but we met with one other family at Gas Works Park for the start and word of another catching up along the way.

Official start-of-ride group shot (my children are both hiding): two adults, three kids, one dog / two longtail cargo bikes, two kid bikes, one balance bike:

img_3598

While I stopped to load one of my kids and his bike onto my cargo bike, we were joined by three more adults, one tween, one dog / one cycletruck, three regular bikes / one dog trailer:

img_3600

Our first new bicycle infrastructure this year were the flexiposts protecting the bike lane over the University Bridge:

img_3608

Despite the weather, we stuck to our schedule and stopped at the little playground at the southeast corner of Lake Union from 11ish to 12ish. And good thing, we were joined by another dad and kid! This made our final tally 11!
11 people: 6 adults, 1 tween, 4 kids, 2 dogs / 1 Surly Big Dummy longtail cargo bike, 1 Xtracycle EdgeRunner longtail cargo bike, 1 Larry vs. Harry Bullitt longjohn cargo bike, 1 cycletruck cargobike, 3 regular bikes, 2 kid bikes, 1 balance bike (the balance biker was off and on), 1 dog trailer.

img_3714

This year we did ten loops around the Lake Union Park model boat test pond (except for me who did zero so I could take pictures and my seven-year old who raced around 13 times):

img_3746

And then we enjoyed the other new bicycle infrastructure along our annual route: the Westlake Bikeway!

img_3763

One other change this year is that the Starbucks in the AGC building was closed for the first time! We stopped for a beat to consider our options while cars streamed through the drive-thru (which wasn’t open to bikes, of course).

img_3767

I suggested we continue along our way and see if we stumbled upon anything open. Having a warm-up stop is pretty nice, but I was also anxious to get home and start wringing out our wet stuff.

Normally we would have biked under the Fremont Bridge before crossing on the west side for the most kid-friendly route, but my kids were so far ahead they didn’t hear my shouted directions so we strayed a bit from this official route. I guess that’s a hazard of the kid-friendly Westlake Bikeway ;)

We noticed the Fremont Starbucks was open as we stopped next to Yellow Dot Cafe to consider next steps. A phone call revealed the Fremont Caffe Ladro was also open so half the group headed there and half of us continued home.

img_3781

I was happy to get the kids’ boots on the boot dryer and this was the first time I made use of our HotSnapZ Reusable Hand Warmers. The heat packs are so big that they don’t tuck into gloves or boots easily so we’ll have to do some plotting before we head out in the cold next. They’d work nicely in pockets for passengers, but not sure what to do about pedaling kids.

img_3796

Happy Thanksgiving!

In keeping with my resolve to just keep pedaling…but also do more, I’ll share how we started our day when normally I would skip posting about this part:

The kids and I spent some time talking about Standing Rock. I told them about our friends who are out there, like Mike who is charging phones with his pedal-powered generator bike. We wanted to choose some items from the Standing Rock Needs You Amazon Wish List, but had trouble getting the shipping to work (which I see has a workaround now) so we gave to the The Official -Sacred Stone Camp GoFundMe instead.

Advertisements

Bikes on the bus

A tweet and Instagram of a video my seven-year old took of me removing our bikes from the bus got more attention than I expected (especially from France, bonjour!) so I probably should put it up here, too:

* Yes, it takes longer to load than unload…but not much longer.
* Yes, all Seattle buses have racks for two or three bikes (as far as I know).

I’m no bus-on-the-bike pro since we usually only bus once a month to get to our orthodontist 20 miles away. Our trip to Tacoma with Three Bikes on Three Bus Systems last month was quite educational and makes our usual one- or two-bus trip to Issaquah feel easy in comparison.

How to
Before our very first bike/bus outing I watched the video on the King County Metro “Loading your bike” page a lot of times and used one of the practice racks.

About our racks
The rack in my video is the Sportworks Apex 3, the newest style here in Seattle. I discovered this by reading the comments of this Seattle Transit Blog post: Metro’s Xcelsiors hit the streets.

While I don’t know everything about bikes on buses, I have picked up a few tidbits…

* Just yesterday I learned from a lovely mostly-bike-and-bus-based piano tuner, Audrey Karabinus, that if the rack won’t fold down from the bus as expected, push it in towards the bus first. Worked like a charm on yesterday’s sticky rack!

* And from a friend who works for Sound Transit, the old DL3/Trilogy and DL2 racks can hold wheels as small as 20 inches and the Veloporter can hold wheels as small as 16 inches. I’d guess the new Apex also goes down to 16 inches.

I refer to the racks by the style of hook they have:
Apex = black plastic hook
DL3/Trilogy, DL2 = black metal hook
Veloporter = yellow claw

I like using the old black metal hooks best since they’re the easiest to deploy. Even the new ones can be sticky…a bus driver told me that when passengers don’t treat them gently they get like that.

Do you have any bike-on-bus insights? Please share them in the comments below!

Biking in Downtown Seattle with Kids

Monday morning the kids and I escorted Russ and Laura of The Path Less Pedaled to their BoltBus and found ourselves downtown with three bikes, no school, and unexpected great weather. I don’t really like biking downtown with the kids so we don’t do it often. I prefer to bike “scary” places as one unit, either on the Big Dummy or tandem + trailer bike, but during non-peak hours it can be fun to be on three separate bikes…though we resort to quite a bit of slow sidewalk riding.

img_3406

…but first, here are my photos from the kid-free weekend with Russ and Laura. And allow me to confirm that the breakfast burritos at TNT Taqueria are excellent. And our evening burritos mentioned in VLOG 027 were from Rancho Bravo. Seattle: not just coffee.

“VLOG 026 – Cranksgiving Seattle – Day 2 Part A” is the best of the Path Less Pedaled videos because Pixie gets the most airtime:

but VLOG 025 – Bikey Seattle Day 1 and VLOG 027 – Bikes Bikes Bikes in Seattle! are also great.

Back to the family biking stuff…
Our first stop was 5.5 blocks to Back Alley Bike Repair. I thought we had done a combo of street and sidewalk, but my Strava recording makes it look like we stuck to the sidewalk the whole way. Jackson Street has streetcar rails and can be pretty busy. At the bike shop I looked into replacing lost gloves and stolen helmet, but didn’t make any purchases. The kids signed the shop copy of “our” book, URBAN CYCLING: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living. Fun fact, even the page that looks like it’s signed by me isn’t–it’s been forged by (outsourced to?) Stevil Kinevil.

img_3422

Then we rode a whopping 1.5 blocks to the Klondike Gold Rush Museum and National Historical Park. I thought we had stuck to the sidewalk since it was so close and on our side of the street (and rails), but Strava says we took to the road so I guess that’s what we did. It’s all flat down here, by the way, which makes it easier riding in the road with kids, knowing we can move along at normal speed and not uphill crawl speed. It’s a great little FREE museum, by the way. We spent a lot of time this visit and learned much more than last time. The kids were game to sit through the 25-minute movie, something they usually don’t have the patience for.

img_3425

Then we went 16 in-street blocks (16!) and one park block through Occidental Square to get to Westlake Park for a snack and playground break. This took us along the 2nd Ave Cycletrack. I let my speedy seven-year old zoom ahead since he knows to wait at intersections. If there weren’t so many people in cars who either don’t notice or ignore the NO RIGHT ON RED arrows (we saw two such people today) I would have urged him to go through ahead of me. While stopped at a red light at 2nd and University I pointed out the silhouette for Sher Kung–one of 240 placed around Seattle on Sunday for World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. We attended the memorial ride for Sher Kung two years ago, which was the reverse of this part of our route (Westlake Park to Occidental Park). The kids sat on the Big Dummy that day and we felt safe in the company of hundreds of other bikes, but I wouldn’t have let them bike downtown on their own back then.

img_3429

From the end of the 2nd Avenue Cycletrack we biked two blocks of Pike in the street. As you can see, I took the Big Dummy just in case either (or both) kid wanted a lift, but I got lucky and didn’t have to tote anyone.

img_3432

Fun times at Westlake Park and the Holiday Carousel looks ready to go in a few days. The kids aren’t currently carousel fans so we won’t come back down for it.

img_3460

img_3477

From Westlake Park we rode the sidewalk for 10 blocks: a block of 5th alongside Westlake Center to cut across McGraw Square and stick to the sidewalk of Westlake until the street car rails peeled off. FYI, BUS ONLY is for bikes, too. Then we got back on the sidewalk for the last block of Westlake between Mercer and Valley because it’s a mess.

img_3478

And then that long glorious stretch of the Westlake Bikeway. I learned that the yellow strip I thought was a divider between bikeway and sidewalk is actually a bike bridge between hot lava and piranha-filled river! It also looks like an effective way to avoid the carpet tacks.

img_3481

There’s also a new trick called “The Limbo”…but also sometimes called “The Limo”. Pedal fast to build up speed and then coast past your mom like this:

img_3482

We stopped for sushi in Fremont, then biked home at 4:30 in the dark (ugh, yes, dark at 4:30 p.m. way up here). We ride three sidewalk blocks up from the Burke-Gilman Trail before we can ride a couple street blocks. Yahoo for those sidewalk blocks this time because they brought us face to face with a new cat! He’s super friendly and the kids have named him Fluffy Star Nightmare.

img_3487

Kidical Mass to Olympic Manor Holiday Lights 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 (WINTER SOLSTICE!)
Meet:
4:00 p.m. Loyal Heights Community Center playground
Roll: 4:45 p.m.
Tour: Olympic Manor neighborhood holiday lights
End: 5:30 p.m. Grumpy D’s Coffeehouse
Length: About three festive miles
Facebook event page

12212015f

Read recaps of previous years for inspiration: 2015 recap | 2014 recap | 2013 recap | 2012 recap (Critical Lass)

Come to the park at 4pm to have time for playing, stringing lights, and taking photos of our lit-up rigs while there’s still a bit of daylight left. The nice part of holding our ride on a weekday these last two years is that the community center will be open! Good for hiding from possible rain and visiting the potties before we roll out at 4:45pm.

I’ll update with exact route info: this was last year’s three-mile route, but I will look into cutting out one more uphill block and see how this 2.8-mile route feels.

We’ll finish up at Grumpy D’s Coffeehouse around 5:30 p.m. There’s a warm fireplace near a group of comfy chairs, plenty of table seating, and toys! Hang out a bit for peppermint hot chocolate and other treats.

2016 Thanksgiving Kidical Mass Lake Union Loop

It’s that time again!
Seattle’s Annual Thanksgiving Family Group Ride Lake Union Loop is coming up next week.
On Facebook? RSVP here.

Same rough timeline as years past:

Thursday, November 24, 2016
10:00 – Start gathering at Gas Works (near the play barn)
10:30 – Depart
11:00-12:00 – Playground by Daniel’s Broiler
12:30 – Starbucks warm-up stop
1:30 – Back to Gas Works

As always, families are welcome to drop off early for naps/cooking/eating plans. We’re usually a much smaller group by the end.

Route map (it’s a CLOCKWISE LOOP if you want to catch us en route):

Recaps from Thanksgiving 2014, Thanksgiving 2013 and Thanksgiving 2012.

IMG_8164

IMG_8279

To the mall (no, the other mall, the farther away one)

I’m not much of a mall goer. Three years ago I biked 4.5 miles to our closest mall, Northgate Mall and noted it’d been three years since my last visit. We live 2.2 miles from University Village (or U-Village if you’re cool), but that’s an “outdoor lifestyle shopping center” which is hardly the same as The Mall.

But how could I say no to riding to the Lego Store in Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood with friends?! Granted, I never want to do it again, but it was a blast. Reminiscent of a summer bike camping trip, in the way it was so tiring and so humbling. So fun!

img_3211

* Flickr album of 42 pictures here.
* Strava route of the trip north here.

It was a long trip on a cold day so we took the tandem train (Rodriguez tandem and Burley Piccolo trailer bike). It was too big a trip for the kids to ride on their own and I figured even a little bit of pedaling would keep them warmer. Plus they don’t like riding their own bikes with handlebar mittens because they can’t see their shifters (it’s very important to see the number while declaring “I told you I could ride up that hill in gear seven!”), but I can put our Portland Pogies and Bar Mitts on the tandem train…though my stoker found them uncomfortable with his bar ends so we took them off partway into the trip and will have to do some adjusting before our next outing.

img_3141

We biked four miles to G&O Family Cyclery to meet up with the start of the ride. That put us at 4 bikes / 11 wheels / 11 people. We collected some friends at Bitterlake Playground: 3 more bikes / 6 more wheels / 5 more friends. We lost 1 bike / 2 wheels / 2 friends to Costco along the way, but picked up 2 bikes / 4 wheels / 2 friends on the way home so it was quite the roving party.

img_3158

We’ve previously been as far as Sky Nursery, nine miles from home, so we had five miles of new territory! Echo Lake and Echo Lake Park were really cute, and are just before the Interurban Trail ends for a bit at the Aurora Village Transit Center so that might make a fun epic 20-mile (round trip) kid ride some summer day.

A friend warned me the day before about the one big hill and described the secret work-around. Our ride leader Anny knew all about this (because family bikers are all-knowing), but the secret work-around has a very narrow spot the trike wouldn’t fit through so we skipped it in the downhill direction on the way to the mall. All the non-trikes took the secret route on the way back. Here’s the map of the regular-versus-secret route. My phone froze on the way home so no photos, but I’ll paint you a picture with words: heading south on 76th Avenue West at the south side of Lake Ballinger we crossed 205th in the crosswalk and biked one block west on the sidewalk of the south side of 205th. Then we ducked through a small cut-through in the railing to get to Wallingford Avenue.

It was great that there was so much multi-use trail for the trip. Lots of bollards along the way which makes me think people would drive their cars on it otherwise, but maybe it’s just a formality. I like that there aren’t a lot of bollards on the trails in the City of Seattle, but we do get lost cars on the trails now and then because of it. I also kind of enjoy biking on trails alongside freeways. It feels like secret access to an area not meant for bikes. But then it’s also ridiculously loud and stinky and we joked (in shouts so we could hear one another) about the joy of biking on the beautiful trail as we soared over I-5.

img_3198

The mall was very mall-like. I’ve been there once before, when my dad was visiting with a rental car and drove us to the Build-a-Bear Workshop to make Minions. The bike rack situation left much to be desired–just two on those hitching posts you’re supposed to lift your saddle and hook over. There’s an REI at the mall, but it doesn’t have bike racks outside.

img_3209

We were all starving (despite many snack breaks along the way) so we started at the food court (after an obligatory super-long journey to the potties) and then hit the Lego Store. Unfortunately our walk in from the bike rack took us past the American Girl doll-store-and-fancy-restaurant and a few of the kids make a break for the door, but we were able to catch them in time.

We stayed the perfect amount of time so there was still a bit of daylight on our way back to Seattle. We got back to Greenwood at 5pm (after leaving from G&O in Greenwood at 11am) and hung with the group at Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery for a little bit, but still had those four miles to get home and poor Pixie was home alone all day again so we didn’t stay long.

It was an awesome and exhausting 32-mile day and I went to bed at 8pm and never want to go there again…unless a friend says, “Hey let’s all ride to the mall!” :)

Green Seattle Day, by bike

We planted trees today! Green Seattle Day took place in 15 parks around the city and I selected Golden Gardens as our park of choice. It wasn’t the closest location, but it’s our favorite beach and a flat bike ride…or so I thought. The event details arrived yesterday and pinpointed the location as up the hill from the beach. The email only provided driving directions so I poked around Google maps for a bit to decide what to do. Biking gradually up to the top of the hill via Green Lake and Greenwood didn’t sound appealing so we planned to stick with our flat trip to the beach and walk what Google maps said would be five minutes up a flight of stairs.

Flickr album: Green Seattle Day 2016 – 76 photos, 2 videos.

I was a little worried about leaving our bikes locked so far away from us for three hours, but not worried enough to bike uphill. The beach doesn’t get crowded in November, but there was an exercise group next to the bike rack when we arrived and a few families at the playground when we returned.

img_2927

We’ve never been up the hill next to the beach, but it’s great! Except the stairs were closed for construction. And there was no sidewalk on the busy road. I was stymied for a minute, but looking at the stairs, they appeared to be repaired and just missing the railing so we carefully walked up them.

img_2932

The planting was great fun! The kids can’t wait to go back and visit the last two trees we planted: Douglas Fur Seal Tree and Bunny Ears. We also saw a couple worms, a beetle, a snail, a squirrel, and A SALAMANDER.

img_2947

The event ended early on account of the wind–they didn’t want to risk the volunteers being squished by fallen trees. But we planted a bunch of trees and removed a bunch of invasive species. I hoped to find a better way back down the hill so we followed the trail to the west of the dog park. Unfortunately it didn’t look like it would take us back down to beach and the swaying trees above us were a little worrisome so we turned back and took the closed stairs again.

img_2960

We hadn’t made any concrete plans for the day besides the 9-12 tree planting (which ended up being 9-10:30) so we hit at the beach playground and ate snacks. We heard tell of some beavers in the wetlands so we walked over to check them out. No beavers or turtles, but we saw tons (tons!) of ducks and a cormorant. And then spent a long time on the beach. It’s nice having a flexible schedule, though we ended up leaving Pixie alone longer than I (and she!) would have liked. There was one dog at the tree planting, but he was mellower than Pixie.

img_2978

Next up was lunch at Red Mill Totem House across from the Ballard Locks. The large lock is empty (through November 23rd) and it’s a sight to behold!

Then we had the usual hella long ride home with me carrying one kid, then both kids, then one kid again.

img_3075

The day cleared up and was beautiful, though windy. It was raining when we left home so both kids wore rain pants. I don’t always think to bring rain gear if it’s not raining when we leave the house and they would have been very cold without that extra leg layer. My older son wore his winter boots, but my younger son wanted to wear his tennis shoes. I brought his rain boots along just in case, but didn’t get them on him until after he rode into a puddle so deep he got stuck and had to wade out. Unfortunately I didn’t think to bring extra socks. I’d like to think now he’ll listen to me about not riding through puddles–they can hide potholes! you don’t know how deep they are!–ha ha, wishful thinking.

img_3046

All in all, it was a very fun day. I later found out that while we were the only family biking to our tree planting event, my friend in Portland PLANTED TREES BY BIKE with Friends of Trees. Wow! The kids can’t wait for Green Seattle Day 2017 so I’ll try to rally a group to bike with us and make it even more fun. And I took a page from “Transportation Nag” Merlin Rainwater and emailed the Green Seattle Partnership to ask that they consider providing transit and bike directions in the future. By the way, here’s where you can donate to Green Seattle Partnership–we did!

img_2937