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Biking and busing strategies (help plz!)

We visit Issaquah about once a month for our orthodontist. I often skip blogging about it unless there’s something exciting and new involved (like adding the Bobike Junior kid seat in place of Bobike Maxi kid seat), but I try to document things more in April for 30 Days of Biking so here we are! Plus we mixed it up bus-wise a bit so this is also a good time to ask for HELP WITH STRATEGIES FOR BIKE/BUS ROUTING!

Here’s what I do:
I start with home-to-destination Google maps transit directions to see which bus(es) go closest to our destination. Often it’s a two- or three-bus trip so I try to find out if we can bike to the last–or at least the second–bus. Often this is the point of that bus’ route closest to home as the crow flies, but sometimes it’s less uphill or less busy-road-stricken for us to hit it somewhere else along the line. Or now that the light rail comes near us, it might be where light rail gets closest to that bus…though we haven’t been incorporating light rail with our multimodal travels much yet. THIS IS ONE SPOT I CAN USE HELP: I want to look at all the stops on a King County Metro or Sound Transit bus and I don’t think the websites show everything, just some of the stops (the timed ones?). When trying to hook up two buses and kids on bikes, I really want to know every single stop. So I pull out my iPhone and check on the OneBusAway (“The Open Source platform for Real Time Transit Info”) app. It seems silly to use both computer and smart phone to figure out my route.

Anyhow, today was a bit different because we ran an errand in Fremont on the way to the orthodontist. We usually catch a bus near home to get downtown where we can transfer to the 554 that takes us 16 miles to Issaquah. I didn’t want to bike back uphill to catch any of our usual buses (mostly for the sake of my nine-year old who was on his own bike, honest!) so I used Google maps transit directions to find an alternate first bus. I settled on the 62 at the corner of 34th and Fremont in front of Starbucks. Bonus: it’s right by PCC Natural Market (where kids get a free piece of fruit) so we grabbed some groceries on the way. Removing a kid from a seat and having to lock up two bikes is a bit more involved than grocery shopping on my own, but even so, bikes still make squeezing in extra errands so easy!

The kids have apparently been paying more attention than I realized and have become savvy bus riders because they suggested I check OneBusAway to make sure the bus was on time. So I checked and discovered it was running six minutes late. We had seven minutes to go a block and a half between buses so when we saw a bus 40 with DOWNTOWN on the display, I decided we’d hop on and figure out our stop once on board. This is way out of my comfort zone! I like plotting our trip the night before and hem and haw for way too long over various options. Thank goodness for smart phones–I spent most of the trip studying the 554 and 40 routes and chose the two stops that lined up best–close to each other, but not in the part of downtown where that close togetherness was down a very steep hill. But! Then I figured since we’d have quite a few extra minutes for our transfer we should do something more interesting than just riding one block of sidewalk. So we got off near the top of the 2nd Avenue protected bike lane and rode most of the way down it…a whopping half mile! It doesn’t connect to anything so I rarely take the kids on it which means it’s always a treat to have a kid or two on his own bike when we’re down here.

Turns out I was wrong about our timing (have I mentioned I’m not a pro at riding the bus?) because as soon as we got off the bikes, the 554 arrived. Usually I fold in my rear baskets and fold down the seat (like in my photo below of our trip back) but there wasn’t time! I even forgot to remove my water bottle, but that side-entry drink cage (the only one I could find that fits in the tiny triangle) held tight.

And then we were in Issaquah where the riding is great! It’s a flat mile from the bus stop to the orthodontist and Issaquah has a lot of double-wide sidewalks that are officially part of the Issaquah Trail System so we bike on those.

We usually eat lunch while we’re out this way, either sushi right next door to the orthodontist or Issaquah Brewhouse a block from the bus stop. Today we opted for the brewhouse. It’s a super kid-friendly place, with coloring sheet kid menus, a Duplo table (in the back section that’s usually closed during lunch, but they’ll let kids go play in it anyway) and several games (my guys always choose Battleship, and there are two sets of it). The kid meals used to come on Frisbees, but today they had regular plates. There’s also a dog menu (and that food comes on a Frisbee, too) so we’ll bring Pixie along come warmer weather when the outdoor seating is set up.

We left the bikes locked up and walked next door to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, one of our favorite places to visit. Despite being one of our favorite places to visit, we’ve never strayed from the front part before and I had no idea there was a back section with a fish ladder and many educational displays! Plus there’s a little playground just across the street. Wow!

But even better than all that, we were invited into the mysterious white trailer we sometimes see parked by the salmon ponds. They were piping in coho fry (babies), clipping their adipose fins, and counting them as they put flushed them out into a different pond. We didn’t get to do any fin clipping, but the kids got to pet them, name them, and put them down the drain. Extremely fun! And we’ll be on the lookout for Banana and Slimy the coho when they swim back up here in four years.

Then we biked a couple blocks (on the sidewalk) to the playground by the train museum, close to the bus stop. The water fountains were shut off (for the season, back on soon?) so we popped in the police station for the restrooms and to fill water bottles before we headed home. There’s a great display of police patches from all around the area inside if you’re into that kind of thing.

And there’s a great statue of an eagle trying to catch a salmon right outside that my kids love climbing on (always) and cutting themselves on (occasionally) while waiting for the bus to arrive.

Coming home we usually get off the 554 at Westlake Park and on nice days like today, stop at the playground for a bit. New this time was a little basketball toss.

Then just one block of street (and a BUS ONLY lane which is also OK for bikes) and half a block of sidewalk and we caught the bus that drops us off a couple flat blocks from home.

This last stop, as well as PCC to the first bus stop and the Issaquah Depot Park playground to the third bus stop are close enough that my passenger could run ahead so I didn’t have to deal with all the various steps of loading–I wore the backpack rather than pry open a rear basket and in this last case, popped the seat open to accommodate the bag of stuffed animals.

So we made it there and back just fine and had one of our best Issaquah visits ever, but seriously: give me all your bike+bus route finding tips and tricks!

A Week in Minneapolis During 30 Days of Biking 2016

Last spring break we went to Minneapolis, Minnesota. We have quite a few friends in Minneapolis, some of whom we hadn’t seen in quite some time and have been missing terribly, plus I was extremely excited to be in the birthplace of #30daysofbiking during #30daysofbiking! Win-win.

Flickr album: Minneapolis, Spring Break 2016 – 374 photos · 1 video

I’ve only been to Minneapolis twice–once during a four-hour layer returning to San Diego from a visit to my relatives in the Netherlands. On New Year’s Day no less! But it counts because Kristin picked us up at the airport and drove us into town to hang out. And once for John’s fall wedding during which I discovered as a [then] Southern Californian why looking at the fall foliage made me so anxious–I’d been trained from childhood to think “Poison oak! Get away!” when I see red leaves. I’m over that now, by the way.

Spending a whole week was AWESOME. We went everywhere and did everything. I wanted to make a big overlay map of my Strava recordings, but that proved too much work, so here’s (there -> to the right) a thrown together picture of my maps (click to see it bigger) that hopefully quickly show just how much we were able to get around.

Perennial Cycle
Super super huge thanks to Luke of Perennial Cycle for letting me borrow the shop Xtracycle EdgeRunner. And for inviting me to do an Urban Cycling book talk before the pastry ride. And for having such a cool bike shop! So many people admired the Xtracycle as we explored town. I hope some of those families find their way to Perennial Cycle and join the revolution. Perennial Cycle has lots of different bikes, like anything one could want to commute on, Brompton folding bikes, and the fat recumbent trike my kids can’t wait to grow long enough to fit on.

30 Days of Biking
I adore 30 Days of Biking! We attended several events and I got to meet 30DoB co-founder Patrick Stephenson. It’s a wonderful event and I highly recommend you sign up right now.

Bike trails
I knew ahead of time that Minneapolis is fairly flat so biking the two kids around was easier than at home, but what I didn’t know to expect was all the terrific bike trails! 83 miles of off-street trails according to this Hennepin County Metro Bike Trails Guide. In Seattle we have some multi-use trails which are great, but in Minneapolis we rode on bike trails with an area of separation and then a separate walking trail. No dodging around dogs on long leashes or worrying about surprising walkers in headphones. And the many trails go lots of places! I kept asking for confirmation that they were used as commute ways and not only for recreation. We utilized the to get many places, like friends’ houses, Minnehaha Falls, and Fort Snelling.

Nice Ride MN bike share
I didn’t ride a Nice Ride MN bike share bike, but it was fun to see them everywhere. They had just come back out from winter hibernation and everyone–even locals who rode their own bikes everywhere–were so excited about it and declared it the most reliable sign of spring. It was awesome to see a successful bustling bike share system in action (I write this on the day Seattle’s Pronto Cycle Share shuts down). We, uh, often used docked bikes for the kids to climb up for boarding the Xtracycle deck because like I said, they’re everywhere.

Recap of our week
I’m going to do a quick recap of our week of activities below, with miles per day and links to my Strava maps. Nowadays I have a Garmin Edge 520 that’s easy to record trips with stops, but last year I had a Garmin Edge 25 that was cute and little, but couldn’t be turned off at a stop in the middle of a trip to preserve its short battery life. It stopped working three minutes after the warranty expired, but I’m happy with this new, bigger one. I’m not one for riding fast, but it’s neat to tally how much I ride and it’s very helpful for exploring routes for leading future group rides.

Sunday, April 10, 2016
13.1 miles | map
We stayed with our friends Martin and Stacy (and two kids and one dog). Martin picked us up at the airport Saturday and drove us to Perennial Cycle to fetch the bike. I could have biked it home, but since I’d already biked through the kitchen early in the morning to up the bike with Martin’s truck (*gasp*) on Saturday so this was our first Minneapolis riding. Stacy asked my kids if they’d like to tag along to a birthday party at an amusement park type place so they ditched me for our first day of riding! But Martin and his eldest came along for the Sunday Social Cookie Ride and I even got to tow the kid and his bike a little bit :)

And we stopped at Behind Bars Bike Shop on the way home. Cool shop!

Monday, April 11, 2016
16 miles | map 1, map 2
Obvs we had to visit the Mall of America during our week. I deemed it a bit far for biking to. Plus it was freezing! I flattened my hair over my ears to keep them warm on the ride to the light rail station where we left the bike locked up for the day. The MOA was awesome even though the kids didn’t want to go to the aquarium or in the amusement park. The Lego Store, Brickmania Lego Store, and videos at the flight simulator store were excitement enough for them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016
18 miles | map 1, map 2
First up The Bakken Museum: The Electricity of Life. Small, but so cool! The kids loved every single exhibit. Then we followed our friend James out to his house for a sleepover with his family (four fun kids!) through the snow! To quite Patrick in the Surly Brewing interview I linked above when asked why 30 Days of Biking is in April: “Because April is the confluence of all seasons. You could get a shock snowstorm. It could rain. It could be a perfect beautiful spring day with the birds chirping and the green leaves and the flowers blooming.” And indeed we got the full spectrum!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
12.8 miles | map
The weather Wednesday was terrific so we spent the day at the park walking distance from our friends’ house after some sharing of kid bikes in the street out front. And we swung by the Spoonbridge and Cherry on our way back home. This was the only time things were a little tricky for biking due to some construction and busy roads. I probably didn’t take the best and more direct route from the bike trail to the spoon, but we made it just fine. I certainly see why Minneapolis is one of the best places for biking in the US.

Thursday, April 14, 2016
18.6 miles | map 1, map 2, map 3, map 4
We made it into St. Paul to visit the Como Park Zoo–via the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. I biked us through just to check out the deserted fairgrounds, but it also served the purpose of keeping us off busy Como Avenue, an unpleasant experience on our way back home.

We had lunch with Anthony Desnick, then director of Nice Ride MN where I got the inside scoop on Mississippi River Paddle Share. We’ll have to come back when the kids are tall enough to fit on Nice Ride MN bike share bikes so we can bike/paddle/bike!

Martin, Stacy, and kids met us by bike for dinner at Surly Brewing Co which has a wonderful waiting nook for kids, kid-friendly (i.e. spacious) seating both inside and out, and little bins of toys/puzzles for each table of kids. It was also the gathering spot for a #30daysofbiking ride so even though it was too late for us to go riding more, I got to meet Patrick!

I think this was also the first time my six-year old thought standing on the deck would be fun so that was a recurring motif for the rest of the week.

Friday, April 15, 2016
26.3 miles | map 1, map 2, map 3
I love that my older kid’s birthday always falls during Spring Break! Last year we were in Victoria and spent the big day camping, hiking, and dining on sushi and cake in town (with special police station tour two days later!) but this year he’s more into military stuff than police stuff so we biked to Historic Fort Snelling. It was a long, but awesome ride over. Martin advised us to stay on the east side of the Mississippi River until Minnehaha Falls, where we stopped for lunch waterfall oohing and aahing, and a playground where the Xtracycle got a ton of admiring glances.

The trail between the falls and the fort was pretty and woodsy and then a section alongside the highway. I kind of like highway-side bike trails–it feels like something built especially for bike access to a spot most people would only think to drive to. The last little bit was up a hill. A hill so steep I had to kick the birthday boy off the bike so I could make it up. I guess it’s good for a fort to be on top of a hill–better view of approaching enemies and all that. One hill in one week isn’t bad.

Note: it wasn’t yet Fort season. I figured we’d just ride over and explore around the closed grounds, but we got incredibly lucky and it had just opened that day for its first school group of the season and they let us in! The blacksmith made my birthday boy a nail and someone too official to be in period costume unlocked the gift shop/bar and gave the kids pins after he’d overheard we were special birthday visitors.

We met our hosts back in town for sushi birthday dinner and then cake at home.

Saturday, April 16, 2016
29.1 miles | map 1, map 2, map 3
Not that Fort Snelling wasn’t super fun on Friday, but Saturday was my day! We followed Martin to Perennial Cycle for a morning of 30 Days of Biking stuff. Music from Ben Weaver, giveaways and doughnuts from Banjo Brothers, and an Urban Cycling talk by me! I got to meet some friends in person for the first time and our friend, Tom, who recently moved to Minneapolis from Seattle was there on his Big Dummy.

Photo courtesy @hangsaroundthefort

And then we joined the Pastry Ride to a street fair (with bounce house!) and that was AWESOME.

We left the bounce house with Martin and Tom (and the kids opted to ride on Tom’s Big Dummy and there was no deck surfing) for more fun “me-type” stuff. First up we rode to Peacock Groove to meet Eric Noren and a bunch of amazing “deep custom” bikes.

And then we went to One on One Bicycle Studio where Surly Bikes was leading a big gravel ride that we didn’t take part in, but I enjoyed the bike shop (and adjoining cafe) and the kids got little grenade-shaped bike locks that they [obviously] love.

Then the bestest part of all the best parts and there were so many best parts to the week! All the old crew got together for a bike biking-with-kids brewery tour! For most of it we were six adults and six kids on bikes, but all told there were nine adults and six kids, some of whom I hadn’t seen since one of the weddings, five collective kids ago! I think Martin had mapped out five or six breweries, but we only made it to three before it was way too late to be out still. Community Keg House, Able Seedhouse + Brewery, and Bauhaus Brew Labs were also kid-friendly and adult-friendly. We all had the best time!

Sunday, April 17, 2016
9.8 miles | map 1, map 2
Our last day allowed some time to play before our flight so we met Tom and kids and James and kids at a park to get some wiggles out before our long sit–so that made for eight kids!

And then back to Perennial Cycle to return the Xtracycle because it was too big to hide in my suitcase.

In case I didn’t mention it already, WE HAD THE BEST TIME EVER.

It certainly helps having friends to show one around, but we did fine for our many trips where I just let Google maps tell me how to get from point A to point B. If you’ve been thinking about visiting Minneapolis, do it! And if you haven’t been thinking about it, add it to your list now. And tell me if I missed something I should have done so we’ll know for next time. I don’t know when we’ll be back, but we’ll be back for sure! And Minneapolis friends: please come visit us in the meantime!

One more thing/30 Days of Biking

“One more thing” is the closest thing I have to a theme for this round of #30daysofbiking. There’s just always so much I want to share about biking and it’s been a convenient way to tuck something unrelated at the end of each post. I’m making my “one more thing” the first thing on this last of the 30 days. Tonight’s “one more thing” was an 11pm impromptu ride with Pixie up Kite Hill in Gas Works Park. It was a beautifully clear day in Seattle, the kind where I gasp and stop pedaling when I first catch sight of Mount Rainier. It was also a beautifully clear night. I pedaled past a fire twirler in the flat part of the park and arrived up the hill just as a paper lantern was being released.

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I don’t often bike just for the sake of biking (and I brought my wallet along in case I felt compelled to hit a grocery store on the way home and turn my ride into an errand), but I adore the silly-ride component to 30 Days of Biking and consider a 11:59 p.m. pajama-clad circle in the living room just as important as any other ride. So I’m happy to end my month with a ride with no purpose other than getting out on my bike.

I sat on the hill with my little dog shivering in my lap and watched as two more lanterns journeyed up and over the Space Needle. I had a lot of company on the hill. I was kind of surprised, but I guess 11pm on a Saturday night isn’t all that late for most people. I was surrounded by conversations: two people arguing about work stuff, a small group practicing some sort of dance behind me, three college-aged kids with a camera speaking in Japanese, and more. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was the only buddy-less person in the park (sorry, Pixie, you don’t really count). I stayed a while longer, enjoying the view and surrounding chatter, but eventually bundled Pixie back into the bike basket and headed down the hill, thoughts of aloneness filling my head. I spend a lot of time alone these days. Maybe not a lot of time, but every other weekend without the kids still feels like a lot. It’s great having the luxury to easily travel to Portland and other places kid-free, but at the same time, all that travel is in large part about keeping busy. I’m just not very good at being alone and get stir crazy. If I sound pitiful, please know it’s not that bad! I had to check just how long ago I shared I’d been called profoundly sad–this past December, on the Big Dummy’s birthday. Not even five months later I no longer feel that way. Yay me! I wouldn’t say I’m back to normal yet, but I’m a helluvalot more used to my new normal. And still: biking makes everything so so so so so much better.

It’s two-fold.

The simple act of biking is so joyful. Just as a bike makes it easier to escape an unpleasant situation, such as my one more thing on the 18th, it also makes it easy to escape a bad mood. It’s really hard to stay in a grumpy mood while biking, and I’m a bit of a wallower so sometimes I try to stay grumpy in vain.

And then there’s the community of the biking public that continually lift my spirits. There are days I’ve had trouble shaking a bad mood, but I’m able to have a string of pleasant biking interactions that fix everything. Often it’s bumping into a friend and either stopping to chat for a few minutes if we’re traveling in opposite directions or sharing a few minutes of our separate-though-momentarily-parallel rides. And sometimes it’s just having a favorable interaction with a stranger, like the helmetless guy on a brakeless fixie while his normal bike was in for repairs who was happy to follow my kid-friendly route through South Lake Union on Thursday or a nice “Hey we have the same helmet” conversation at a red light on Friday. Not to mention the wonderful people I meet through bicycling. I’d imagine it’s not the only way to meet cool people, but I sure don’t know any other way. Today at my Urban Cycling book reading at the Burien Library I got to meet Meredith, a fellow family biker, in person for the first time…though I feel like I already knew her thanks to social media interactions. And yesterday was the same, though way different with Stevil Kinevil of All Hail the Black Market, my friend I hadn’t actually met in person before. He’s no family biker, but we still talked about all the pertinent stuff: bikes, art, homebirth, kittens.

These thoughts cheered me up as a wound my way down the hill and noticed several more groups of not-alone-people. Just past the fire twirler a guy on the edge of his group of friends noticed me and asked of no one in particular, “Hey, who’s that dude on the bike?”

Me! I’m that dude on the bike! Alone, but not really.

One more thing:

Just because April is now over doesn’t mean I’m quite done covering our month of bikey exploits. We has the most amazing time in Minneapolis over Spring Break. Visiting the birthplace of 30 Days of Biking during 30 Days of Biking was such a treat. And I intend to tell you all about it. I meant to do so today, but I’m just not organized enough. I hope to take advantage of the #TBT (throw-back Thursday) trick and get it written on Thursday when I can pretend it was my intention to post in May all along.

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 28 miles: 16.5
April 29 miles: 14.3
April 30 miles: 11.7
April cumulative miles: 437.3

Burien test run

Route update:
I ended up light railing to the reading, thinking it would be quicker…but it wasn’t! Oh well. But for future reference, what I would have done differently than my Burien test route is stay on the Delridge-Highland Park Neighborhood Greenway (PDF) a bit longer and then follow Barb Chamberlain’s helpful advice:

Original post:
In preparation for Saturday’s Urban Cycling at Burien Library book reading, I biked over to see how long it would take (1:40 with stops for pictures). I decided ahead of time I’d bike all the way there and take the light rail back so I could also check out the route between the library and light rail. I also decided ahead of time I’d want to go multi-modal the day of the reading since I’d be bringing a heavy box of books. Now, I don’t think it’s necessary for my “street cred” to bike the whole way there ahead of time, but I did the same for my reading at the Kirkland Library last month, even though I had to bus/bike the day of due to time constraints. But it’s a good excuse to bike somewhere new because I’m not very good at biking for the sake of biking rather than biking for an errand.

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Since I was on my quick little road bike alone with no kids to worry about, I didn’t do my usual amount of route research and just let Google maps guide me…even though that process didn’t work out for me so well a few months ago to Auburn. But my Burien route turned out to be somewhat OK. Mostly, I discovered that while taking the light rail back home was quicker than riding, it was long enough to be kind of boring and the ride out wasn’t as hilly as I had feared so I think I’ll ride the whole way Saturday after all.

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This was my first time on the Delridge-Highland Park Neighborhood Greenway and it was great! It’s steep at the beginning, climbing up from the West Seattle Bridge Trail, but once up on the ridge, it’s fairly flat. I would not want to do this with a heavy bike, though. There are also lots of well-marked wiggles at intersections to make the crossings safer. My Google maps directions took me off the greenway about halfway along so I’ll stick to the pleasant route on Saturday.

While heading from the library to the light rail station, the weather suddenly changed. As the sun disappeared and grey clouds rolled in, I rode up to and along a high grassy ridge. The weather and terrain transported me back to a childhood trip driving across the Afsluitdijk between my uncle’s house in Amstelveen (next to Amsterdam) and my grandmother’s house in Groningen. It was bewildering and I couldn’t imagine why Seattle would have a dike. Then a plane roared overhead and I realized I was next to an embankment hiding and muffling the airport. Ah! Of course I would have realized this had I studied the map ahead of time, but I wouldn’t have had my nostalgic experience.

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One more thing:

Heading down 2nd Avenue I saw a new downtown bike counter being installed! I was number 35, but it doesn’t officially open until Monday at 7:30 a.m.

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30 Days of Biking stats:
April 27 miles: 21.5
April cumulative miles: 425.6

Bike towing with a tow hitch

I first shared pictures of my Big Dummy’s two-bike fork-mount tow hitch in my Happy fourth birthday, Big Dummy! post last December. I’ve used it a lot and adore it. It’s made by Haulin’ Colin/Cyclefab and I hear he’s going to make more! …well, once I do some measuring of mine (tomorrow in the daylight, I promise!). I used it on Wednesday to pick up my road bike, repaired after having been hit by a car when a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend was riding it. (He’s fine! And only the front wheel of the bike was damaged.)

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And hey, silver lining: the old wheel didn’t have overlapping spokes so I couldn’t fill it with spoke cards. New wheel is spoke-card compatible!

Dragging a 25-pound bike around is no big deal so I hauled it down to Mountaineers Books to pick up a box of Urban Cycling books for Saturday’s book reading at the Burien Library. Unhitching the bike only takes a couple more seconds than would lifting it out of the cargo bag so I locked up responsibly.

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Pretty views by Harbor Island:

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And while East Marginal Way South and Alaskan Way South can be pretty horrible on weekdays (I don’t think all the freight trucks operate on weekends, thankfully), the trucks were at a standstill in the center turning lane as I headed back north and only one car passed me in this long stretch. Many people ride on the sidewalk on the other side of the street here.

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One more thing:

While my big kid was playing with circuits in an after-school engineering class, my little kid and I went to the grocery store. Three days in a row riding with just the little kid, how fun! We didn’t have a lot of time and decided my Straggler with Burley Piccolo trailer bike would be our fastest machine. He’s only been on the Piccolo once because we usually use it with our tandem bike and I stick his less-eager-to-pedal-hard brother back there and use the stronger kid as my tandem stoker. But even with him happily pedaling, this rig was heavy! Trailers and trailer bikes are awesome devices and I love that a regular bike can be made to carry a kid or two with them, but they’re not the easiest to lug around. Having all the weight on two wheels either in on-bike seats on regular bikes or with a cargo bike is just a lot easier in my experience.

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30 Days of Biking stats:
April 26 miles: 23.8
April cumulative miles: 404.1

Commuting with mini commuter

On Monday, my six-year old and I retraced our pedal strokes from Sunday’s errand (bottom of page). I tried to level the playing field this time, though: I had him carry all the stuff in a pannier, thinking it would make him slower and I rode my single-speed bike, thinking it would make me faster.

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We have three pairs of Swift Industries panniers for bike camping with the tandem plus trailer bike. One set is regular/big sized that I got for my Straggler and the other two sets are small, that I figured we’d use both on the tandem and with the kids bikes–they both have Islabikes with little rear racks, but this was the first we’ve tried a pannier.

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It didn’t work, he still destroyed me on the hills. He left with a cheerful “See you at the top of the hill!” each time and hollered “Car up!” for me each time he saw a car. He has also decided he wants a Garmin for his birthday. I really like my Garmin Edge 25 for me, but I think he will be OK with the cheapest bicycle computer I can find. Any suggestions on good kid bike activity trackers is welcome!

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Riding with just one kid is pretty fun and not something I often have the chance to do. As they get older and more independent, I’m sure we’ll do this more and more so this was a fun little glimpse into the future. We varied our route on the way home to swing by the bike tree at 3728 Densmore Ave N. Had my kid been Strava-ing, his ride would have shown him riding past the tree twice, but we only have my Strava record of my 1.9-mile trip to go by.

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One more thing:

While the kids were at school I biked over to Cascade Bicycle Club to turn in my ride leader waiver from Saturday’s Earth Day Kidical Mass ride. Halfway there I stumbled upon the All-City Cycles demo event at Counterbalance Bicycles. As luck would have it, I was riding my All-City Nature Boy Disc so I left it at the demo tent and borrowed an All-City Log Lady, their new mountain bike, for running my errand. The flat six-mile trip wasn’t the best test ride, but I hit every puddle and patch of gravel. Which is pretty funny considering I kept suggesting to my kids on Saturday’s ride that they stick to the Burke-Gilman Trail proper rather than the gravel shoulder. I hope I can remember how much fun I had and allow them to ride freely without complaint next time.

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The Log Lady was pretty fun and I think I need to go mountain biking again soon.

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 25 miles: 13.4
April cumulative miles: 380.3

Short day/tall bike

Sunday, April 24th: We had a very mellow day. Since we decided Saturday afternoon to cancel our bike camping trip, I didn’t have anything planned for the day and it was hard to motivate to go out just for the sake of going out given the rain. There were a few breaks in the rain and during one of them we headed three blocks to our school playground: the six-year old on his bike, the nine-year old on his scooter, and me walking my tall bike. Poor Pixie the dog didn’t have a vehicle of any sort.

Here’s one of our many races, all of which ended in arguments, punches, or tears (of course):

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I must say “it’s not a race!” 200 times each day, but it seems to have no effect.

I’ve only ridden my tall bike once before, the day I got it over a year ago. I really need to take it out more often because it’s fun! Also, it’s just like riding a bike.

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I also need to learn how to mount it like a pro. I climb on at a wall…and then ride back to that wall to get off. Photo courtesy of my six-year old and his adorable thumb:

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I’ve watched videos of getting on and off tall bikes for inspiration. Here’s a really good one out of Portland (of course).

One more thing:

Later in the day I ran a quick errand with just my six-year old. He fancies himself quite the cyclist and wants to start racing when he’s 10 and be in le Tour de France when he’s 23. Plenty of time for him to come to terms with downshifting to a reasonable gear for climbing our steep hills rather than mashing up and tiring himself out before the day is done. I’m sure he’ll listen to his coach better than he listens to his know-it-all mother. Here he is demonstrating “aerodynamic” after defining it for me.

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30 Days of Biking stats:
April 24 miles: 2.4
April cumulative miles: 366.9