Archive | May 2017

Happy Bike Everywhere Day!

As someone without a regular job and regular commute, I love that Seattle’s Bike Month has become Bike Everywhere Month and Bike to Work Day is now Bike Everywhere Day. Our first or second Bike to Work Day in Seattle, I biked over to Gregg’s Green Lake with a baby and toddler and a volunteer from Cascade Bicycle Club said I obviously wasn’t on my way to a real job and didn’t want to give me a half banana. I think she gave me one anyway, but made sure it was clear she was doing me a favor. But now! Now there are tons of stations and everyone is made to feel welcome.

I was able to hit 10 stations after dropping the kids at school at 7:40am before they closed up at 9:00am. The timing was perfect for catching a 9:35am train at King Street Station.

I was tempted to do a repeat of last year’s Bike Everywhere Day trip and take the light rail to Capitol Hill to hit the Swift Industries station, but I thought saving the light rail fare and hitting more stations would be nice this time.

I was also tempted to skip all the stations and rush straight for City Hall and they 8:15am rally for the Basic Bike Network downtown. But I didn’t do that because I had blinders on for BREAKFAST PIZZA at the Washington Bike Law station.

There were so many bikes out! I was number 985 on the Fremont Bridge at 7:52am and number 422 on the downtown bike counter.

I had a bag with me to collect stuff at stations so I wouldn’t spoil my appetite before breakfast pizza. I ended up with an apple, a pear, 2 small Clif bars, a muffin, 1/4 doughnut, 1/2 doughnut, a whole doughnut, a brownie, a patch kit, a beer koozie, cold brew, hot coffee, and a container chocolate milk.

(Note: I’ll add links and photo captions later, just wanted to say “yay Bike Everywhere Month!” even if it means doing so from my iPhone on the Wi-Fi-less train :P )

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Swift Campout Kidical Mass June 24-25, 2017

Let’s go camping! As part of the global phenomenon Swift Campout: Solstice Bike Overnight we’re doing a family bike camping trip Saturday, June 24th through Sunday, June 25th at Fay Bainbridge Park.
New this year, I’ve reserved the three sites next to the kayak-in camp area so we can stay in our favorite section without worry of displacing anyone.

Important:
Register (free) on the Eventbrite event so I can keep track of our numbers and know if we should reserve more sites.
Facebookers can RSVP and connect in the comments on the Facebook event page, too.

Here’s a recap of a June 2016 family bike camping trip at Fay or go straight to the Flickr gallery of 194 photos.

Price:
Hiker/biker sites are $7 per person so we’ll plan for $7 per family or tent to cover the cost of the three sites. This will be paid while camping.

Timeline:

9:15 a.m. Saturday, June 24, 2017 – meet outside Fremont PCC Natural Market or earlier if you need last-minute groceries (kids get a free piece of fruit!) or want to go in for potty visits.
9:30 a.m. we ride! Promptly at 9:30 a.m.! (Which means 9:40, but for real we are leaving by 9:40!)
– or –
11:00 a.m. meet us at the ferry (pay in the kiosk, get in line).
11:25 a.m. Seattle-Bainbridge ferry sets sail (ARRIVE AT LEAST 20 MINUTES EARLY).

Routes:

Ferry information:
From the Bicycles on Washington State Ferries webpage:
“Bicyclists should arrive 20 minutes prior to departure time to be loaded at the beginning of loading process. If a bicyclist arrives after vehicle loading has begun, they will be loaded at the end of the load.”

So arrive by 11:05am. BUT if you’re late, they’ll still put you on–just after the cars load. I love how versatile they are with bikes! But it’s so super fun to roll onto the empty ferry so be early if you’re meeting us there. Plus we can socialize in the bike lane before loading.

If you have an Orca card, there is an automated tollbooth at the far right–no waiting behind the cars! But otherwise you need to wait in the rightmost car lane to pay. Current fares are $8.20 for adults, $4.10 for kids six and up, and $1 for bikes (sometimes big bikes cost extra, though I’ve never been charged extra for the cargo bike or tandem + trailer bike). The Bainbridge-to-Seattle direction is free.

Once on Bainbridge Island, we’ll ride about a block uphill within the ferry terminal area to Bike Barn Rentals and hang out while the car traffic clears. Generally, we push directly onward to the campground, but there’s a grocery store in Winslow for any forgotten items. During our June group trip, we used this stop to divide into three groups:
– Group hitting grocery store and then taking scenic route
– Group taking scenic route
– Group taking direct, highway route (this is the group I, Madi, will lead)

Fay Bainbridge Park
Fay Bainbridge Park features a great playground (!!) and BEACH. There are outlets in the bathrooms and picnic shelter (which might be reserved) for those who need to charge e-bike batteries or other things.

Showers: Bring quarters if you might want showers. Each quarter buys 1.5 minutes of hot water. (I’ll bring a ton of quarters to share because I know how it is to have miserably sandy kids and no quarters.)

Cars/”Supported” camping
Since we’re paying for three sites with parking spots, that means three cars can come. Past trips have see a couple families with various levels of supported bike camping, with half the family on bike and some or all of the gear meeting them via car. Or a van carrying everything. So indicate if you want to nab one of those car parking spots.

Note: We’ve been doing group summer camping trips to Fay for several years now and we’ve gradually been seeing more kids riding their own bikes–we had four last June! Bainbridge Island is very bikey with drivers used to seeing bikes on the roads, but it’s definitely busier (even the quiet, scenic route) and hillier (even the flat highway route) than my own Seattle kids are used to…however, they’re going to ride their own bikes for the first time this trip! I’ll take my cargo bike just in case I need to carry one or both of them and their bikes for part of the way.

Sunday
At this point no concrete plans for when to head back Sunday. We’ll most likely have an early crowd and a later crowd. I’ll probably be part of the later crowd. We can try to have energy to head to Peddler Brewing Company or Fremont Brewing for a Seattle-side hangout before going our separate ways. Our route from Fay to the ferry is a backtracking of our Saturday route over and here’s the route from the Seattle Ferry Terminal to Peddler Brewing Company and the route from the Seattle Ferry Terminal to Fremont Brewing.

Extra night?
Fay Bainbridge Park has a two-night minimum for reservations so I’ve paid for Sunday night, too. Stay an extra night if you can! We’re bummed about the Seattle Public Schools snow make-up day on Monday or we’d stay, too.

Questions?
New to bike camping or bike camping as a family? Feel free to ask questions in the comments or contact me. The Seattle Family Biking Facebook group is also an excellent resource–many families have borrowed gear via that group! Do you want to come, but don’t have the right bike? Check out the Familybike Seattle Rental Fleet.

Social-media-inclined campers should use #swiftcampout

30 Days of Biking 2017 Wrap Up

And so ends another April and another 30 Days of Biking, my favorite bike event in the world! This one has been a little harder than others, with more just-for-the-sake-of-it rides up and down the street in front of our house. It’s been a rough winter and I’ve been blaming the weather a lot (which has been exceptionally bad), but it’s more than that. My friend, SisterX says it much more eloquently than I ever could in her Frugal in Seattle blog post, Quiet. Anyhow, I dragged myself out of bed every morning and biked every day, and I’m calling that a success. 30 Days of Biking can be about so much more than simply hopping on a bike each day for a month. After all, I learned more about myself the time I failed six years ago, than during the years it goes according to plan.

I didn’t have a theme (other than “just get out of bed today”) this time, as I often have in the past, and I didn’t do anything super special, which is also something I’ve had fun with for 30 Days of Biking in the past. Strava says I biked 258.6 miles which is probably a lot less than previous Aprils.

The kids’ Spring Break falls in the middle of 30 Days of Biking which can make things tricky. Last year we went to Minneapolis, birthplace of 30 Days of Biking, for Spring Break and biked all over the place so the only challenge was a quick spin before leaving for the airport. This year we visited family in Los Angeles which is not nearly as bikey and resulted in lots of just-for-the-sake-of-it rides of a block or less.

However, 30 Days of Biking inspired me to do two very fun things while in Southern California: while visiting my hometown, we rented THREE SEPARATE BIKES for the first time and had a fun adventure in Santa Barbara. And then we rented kid bikes where we were staying in Venice Beach (our apartment came with an adult bike) and biked the Venice/Santa Monica boardwalk.

Otherwise April featured the normal amount of grocery trips and the normal amount of fun stuff…we kicked off the month with April Fools Kidical Mass that was a blast! And it finally got warm enough that Pixie the dog and I took a camping trip to Illahee State Park to plan for an upcoming Kidical Mass Bike Overnight.

Our last day of April was pretty unspectacularly special, like all bike rides are. It was our third visit to Lynnwood Bowl and Skate (14 miles from home) to go roller skating. The first time we carpooled with friends there and back, the second time we took two buses there and were offered a ride in a car home, and this third time we bus/biked. Not because it was 30 Days of Biking, but because I dislike timing bus transfers. First of all, biking 10 blocks to the bus stop is nicer than walking, and while the one-mile trip on the other end isn’t so long that it really feels worth it to have the bikes along, it’s a lot farther than we regularly walk and would have been pretty difficult after roller skating for three hours. Plus that mile of biking makes the trip so much fun!

The mile ride in new territory was pretty typical. Had we been on the cargo bike or tandem (i.e. all connected) I would have biked with the sharrow in the street to the roller rink and the bike lane in the street on the way back, but with one loose kid we stuck to the sidewalk. The signs said 30mph, but in the Seattle area people tend to drive the speed the streets allow and a wide, straight street tends to invite speeding above 30.

These crossing flags and sign make it clear this is not a very safe street:

But it was just a mile and not scary on the sidewalk so we’d do it again! We even saw a cute park, Lynnwood Mini Park, embedded in a bunch of wetlands so we’d build in time to explore that. In addition to that we saw the other host of neat things so easy to see while biking or walking, but just a blur from the bus: cool art attached to houses, rocks arranged in a heart around a palm tree, a hand-made “Old Man Crossing” sign, that kind of stuff :)

I’m sure I’ll be back on my game next year and go big for #30daysofbiking 2018. And of course now that it’s May: happy Bike Month!