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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!” :)