30 Days of Biking 2018: Day Twenty

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

Started the morning with school run, groceries, and other groceries. Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

On Fridays I fetch my younger kid right at the end of the school day. He had sore legs from Run for the Arts so I carried him home. I left his bike at school to grab later when I went back for his brother. He’s the only one in the family not to have seen the yard with the little horses so we stopped by on the way home. Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

After chess club I went back to fetch the other kid. We have a big birthday weekend planned for him so to prepare we went by the hardware store to get some fossil-digging supplies. They had Venus flytraps so he got Veenie the Third. Veenie the Second traveled home in my handlebar coffee mug holder, but I held this Veenie on the way home (10 miles versus 1 mile). Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

April trips tracked on Strava
Today’s miles: 8.62
Total April miles: 406.54

30 Days of Biking 2018: Day Nineteen

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

I dragged a zippy bike to school this morning. In Seattle I didn’t like riding my Big Dummy around unless I needed it for carrying something and always opted to take a lighter bike if I didn’t have the kids along, but the terrain is more forgiving here so I usually take the Big Dummy everywhere. Except today I wanted to maximize my time working with Kath so I left the Big Dummy at school for the day. Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

Kath and I wanted to take advantage of the great weather so we met at Posie’s Bakery & Cafe in Kenton. It’s really cute up there! And we were right by the Paul Bunyan statue. The bright sun meant we couldn’t take photos of his front so we’ll have to go back on a cloudy day. Bike: All-City Nature Boy Disc.

I had just enough time to swing home to grab Pixie before the kids were done with school and figured I’d swap the single speed for my folding bike so it’d be even easier to bring two bikes home. Folding bikes nestle into longtail bags so perfectly! However, an impromptu playdate meant we walked home. It seemed like too much trouble to walk all the bikes home so I left everything locked to the rack and just walked the Brompton home. And later on I took the Brompton back to school. Bike: Brompton.

I often load my bike the way I think it will look the cutest, but I was going for easiest here, honest! The Brommie (32ish pounds) weighs more than either kid bike so I considered putting it on the side with the U-tube on the bottom and laying an Islabikes on top of my deck, but this just fit better. I used an Xtracycle Utility Belt to extend my middle straps over the top, a GearTie to hold the little red bike’s headtube firmly to the back of the Hooptie, and a Yuba Cargo Strap around the sides of the Brompton to secure it to the Hooptie’s front and back and the little blue bike’s headtube to the back of the Hooptie. Drove like a charm! Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

April trips tracked on Strava
Today’s miles: 25.96
Total April miles: 397.92

30 Days of Biking 2018: Day Eighteen

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

Thanks to a two-hour late start at school today I got to bring the neighbor kids to school, too!

Then I bag-and-dragged their bikes back home afterwards. I hope we can ride to school together more, it was so fun! Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

Then I dropped Pixie at home and paid a visit to the grocery store. Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

Then I swapped groceries for Pixie and we met Joyanna to test ride a Kidical Mass route for Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. We found a winner! Bike: Surly Straggler.

And back to the Big Dummy for school pickup during which the kids (mostly the 8-year old) biked way ahead of me from halfway home onward. I really need to work on increasing this independence, I love it!

April trips tracked on Strava
Today’s miles: 24.57
Total April miles: 371.96

30 Days of Biking 2018: Day Seventeen

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

The weather wasn’t horrible today, but I just couldn’t muster the energy to leave the house other than bringing the kids to school and then picking them up six hours later. I had grand plans of getting groceries, but it was cold and I stayed in. Once the kids were home the sun came out and we did a bunch of gardening, but no more biking.

My 11-year old didn’t ride his bike today and at the end of the day my 8-year old didn’t want to ride either. Bag-and-dragging a 20-inch bike blocked the a lot of leg room so they both sat side saddle. I moved my Hooptie rail to the other side of the bike so they had both a foot rail and hand rail on the side they were facing. The bike pulled to the right a bit, but uneven loads only take a bit of pedaling to get used to. And yes, I do have a tow hitch, but it’s not on the bike right now because we tend to bash our shins into it.

April trips tracked on Strava
Today’s miles: 3.77
Total April miles: 347.39

30 Days of Biking 2018: Day Sixteen

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

Hooray, my 11-year old (11 as of yesterday!) decided his foot doesn’t hurt anymore and he’s back on his own bike. I still took my cargo bike on the school run because I like to carry their backpacks on the way there and then take their helmets home. Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

While the kids were at school I took my laptop to a coffee shop to work. I had attached my speaker to my single speed for the Ladd’s 500 the other day and it was still on my bike. I love the John’s Irish Strap for so many things! Bike All-City Nature Boy Disc.

I was back on my cargo bike for school pickup and used my deck as a bench to sit on with my eight-year old while I gave him one of my socks after his foot got soaked in a puddle. Big: Surly Big Dummy.

I thought I was done for the day, but my printer was out of ink so I ran out to get more. And got the wrong cartridge. So then I went out again to the copy store. Bike: All-City Nature Boy Disc. All-City Nature Boy Disc.

April trips tracked on Strava
Today’s miles: 17.91
Total April miles: 343.62

30 Days of Biking 2018: Day Fifteen

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

A fun first today to mark the halfway point of #30daysofbiking! I carried both kids home from the train station and it was so much better than taking the bus.

It took 1:15 which was a lot faster than the bus last time given the 50-minute wait (we missed the previous bus by three minutes). Not to mention that taking a long, slow bus ride with two kids is a pain in the butt! There’s one big hill on the way home, but my eight-year old was happy to jog it. Thank goodness! I think I could have made it up the hill without resting on the way, but it’s certainly nicer just carrying one kid.

Then he and Pixie jogged the last seven blocks so she could get some wiggles out, too.

If only I’d gone a teeny bit faster we would have missed those few minutes of rain at the end, but we still all agree biking is the way to go…and maybe we’ll do it on three separate bikes next month!

April trips tracked on Strava
Today’s miles: 15.27
Total April miles: 325.71

3rd 1st Annual Ladd’s 500

Lessons learned: show up early, bring extra water, snack before riding.

I’ve had the pleasure of participating in quite a few Portland bike events during visits from Seattle — Fiets of Parenthood 2012, 2013, and 2014, Disaster Relief Trials 2013, one and a half TNRs, and a few smaller Pedalpalooza 2017 rides — but my experience at the 3rd 1st Annual Ladd’s 500 was the Portlandiest bikiest thing I’ve done yet! There were so many amazing bikes: tall bikes, swing bikes, cargo bikes, mini bikes, grill bikes, and a lot of skateboards.

A tall bike with fenders! Only in the PNW.

The Ladd’s 500 is a biking relay race of 500 laps around Ladd’s Circle with a bunch of rules I didn’t notice until after I got home (they were pinned as the top post within the Facebook event so they weren’t exactly hidden):


“It’s not a race, it’s a relay”

You are responsible for the people around you. Call your passes. Don’t cause a wreck. Don’t be a dick. If a wreck occurs, report it to the booth.

We are allowed to be in the park, and we are allowed to ride on the road. If anyone feels otherwise, please be judicious in your diplomacy or find someone who is able to do so.

Faster traffic to the outer edges of the circle.

Try not to fuck with cars. This is not a closed course, share the right of way.

Absolutely don’t fuck with pedestrians. Hitting a ped will result in a DQ. This is not a joke.

If you crash, get the fuck out of the way. If you’re helping someone who crashed, help them get the fuck out of the way. Don’t crash, dumbass.

There will be a pit lane by the start/finish line for rider/bike switches. If you enter the pit, you must come to a complete stop. Failure to do so will be penalized in whatever manner seems funniest at the time.

If a red flag is shown, the relay has been stopped temporarily; riders are to proceed immediately to the pit lane and come to a complete stop. A green flag will be shown to indicate that the relay is resuming.

Record your laps and finish time at the booth. Don’t lie, that’s stupid.

The Belligerante Rule: Cheating will be tolerated if it’s funny. Laps are to be run consecutively, not concurrently.

The Nathan Jones Rule: Riders wishing to enter solo should bring two bikes in order to make their switches.

No motors unless your machine is very slow and heavy, or if a motor is necessary for your mobility.

Solo participants using machines with one or fewer wheels are exempt from required equipment switches, unless they want to.

As always, leave no trace. Pack it in, pack it out.

I figured I’d find a team upon arrival until my friend Armando (Pedalpalooza 2017’s #1 fun seeker) posted to the Facebook event a day in advance that he was looking for teammates so I joined up!

So the team was a decision easily made, but I had a lot of trouble choosing a bike. So I decided not to choose at all; after having spent Friday biking all over town with no fenders in unexpected rain I brought all my fendered bikes — longtail cargo bike, Brompton folding bike, and a single speed. And also my longboard skateboard for good measure. I brought Pixie, but I didn’t bring the kids (but they have fenders, too, for the record). Approaching Saturday the forecast called for lots of rain, but the day started gloriously dry and grey.

Apparently things started promptly at 10 so when I arrived at 10:20 I darted right into the action. It seemed easiest to keep my momentum and enter the fray, even though I had all the bikes on my bike. I figured I’d only have to ride part of a lap with my laden cargo bike to find Armando, but it turned into four laden laps of looking and then one more of working up the courage to pull over and stop (not that those five laps counted for my team — no cheating for us!). So next year I know to show up early. Since it’s a relay it’s certainly not required to show up early, but in the interest of having the most fun possible and the least confusion possible, early is the way to go.

Our team Aching Knees (play on Ankeny) split the 500 laps into 30-lap chunks that we counted ourselves as we rode. I found it hard to keep track and may have done 33 laps my first leg. One team sent their riders out with bags of a certain number of jelly beans to eat one per lap. Another had a lap counter who held up a numbered piece of paper each lap. I’m sure there were some other methods, too. I suspect there were a lot of people just riding for fun, not even worried about counting. What freedom!

I did my first 30 laps on my cargo bike with Pixie in the basket. Half a lap in I realized I was hungry, but I’d left all my snacks in the center circle. So next year I’ll eat before my turn and also bring snacks along for the ride for good measure. But other than mild hunger it was an exhilarating time! I quickly discovered the nuances of the course, namely the headwind on the west side and tailwind on the east side, and the gradual transition between the two. Rounding the corner towards the start/finish line (at the north tip) after coming out of the tailwind but not yet hit with the headwind was the funnest part of each lap. There seemed to be more spectators there, too, which added to the urge to go fast (or at least look serious). Most riders were good about keeping in the appropriate “lane” based on speed, slowest near the center, fastest on the edges. There was still quite a bit of passing on the left, but I felt safe and didn’t experience even any near misses.

After quite a long and much-needed rest (we had 10 team members splitting the work) I was up again. This time I left Pixie in the lap of a teammate and took my zippy single speed out. It was quite a different experience. I was quick enough that it wasn’t hard to keep track of my laps and I couldn’t feel the headwind! But the best thing about this second leg of mine is that I grabbed an ice cream cone handup during my first lap. Not only did it sustain me for the 30 laps, but I biked a bit slower for the first few laps while eating the cone and easing into the race rather than hitting it full steam ahead was nice. My hand got a bit sticky, but I figured sticky was better than slippery.

After that I went off script and rode a bunch of bonus laps carrying Aaron Flores of The Sprocket Podcast on my cargo bike deck while he interviewed people biking alongside us. Then I carried Drew the photographer around for a while. He sat backwards on my deck (as did Aaron before him) so he had a clear view of the field of faces (rather than a blocked view of a field of backsides). And then I carried another even bigger photographer around for a bit. Pixie was in my front basket for all of this so while she wasn’t the only dog doing laps, I think she may have been the dog who did the most laps.

PJ carried Aaron, too. But my bike has padding for passenger butts.

I didn’t end up doing any laps on my Brompton, but I unfolded it for a friend to ride and it made for a great prop. I pointed it out to Brompton guy about town, Adam Herstein, who said he might spearhead an all-Brompton team next year.

My longboard saw a bit of action, too. I don’t skate much these days, but when I met NW Skate Coalition‘s Cory Poole at the DRT five years ago I was inspired to dust off my old board. It ended up coming in very handy when my younger son was on a 12″ pedal bike because I couldn’t keep up walking and I didn’t bike slow enough without falling over (and jogging was out of the question). For Ladd’s I did just three laps while holding Pixie and found more tiring than any of the biking.

Armando did six laps on my longboard!

Then I finished up back on my cargo bike for 10 laps with the whole team to hit 500 together. We ended up coming in 13th! I have no idea how many teams were signed up, but I’m very happy with our results. Apparently I did 124 laps total which explains why I was too tired to visit the after party. I also developed a bit of a headache from not drinking enough water during the course of the day. It was so cold when I left home that I only thought to bring my one water bottle, but the sun peeked out for a bit and it got positively warm. I even took Pixie’s thick knit sweater off. Heading home at 4pm it started drizzling and it was glorious! Of course I wouldn’t have felt that way had I adequately hydrated so next year I’ll bring lots of water and plan to take breaks. It takes a bit of courage to leave the center circle, but visiting a local business to purchase a snack and use the restroom will be part of my future Ladd’s 500s.

I’m not sure if my kids would have wanted to hang out there for all six hours, but it’s definitely a kid-friendly event. I pedaled alongside a few giddy kids on cargo bikes and even saw a couple kids riding their own bikes here and there. And “Best in Show” was one of my favorite kids, Penny, who did laps by skateboard, unicycle, and shuffling atop a big ball. I’m bummed I missed the awards ceremonies…just must have happened just after I left, but I didn’t have even another minute of energy left.

One thing that surprised me was that cars drove into the circle. The Rules warned that it wasn’t a closed course, but I figured anyone driving in the neighborhood would notice the bike traffic and choose to avoid the circle. The first vehicle was a FedEx truck that waited a very long time for an opening and then swung through a second time. As the day wore on more and more cars joined the action. I only saw one that took to the inner track and it must have been a little scary for them to get out of the circle, but I didn’t see anything that looked dangerous for the bikes.

April trips tracked on Strava
Today’s miles: 28.7
Total April miles: 310.44

30 Days of Biking 2018: Day Thirteen

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

Huge and early day today. My friend Andrew is in town for the Ladd’s 500 (tomorrow) so we biked the equivalent of 1/3 of a Ladd’s 500 today to warm up, starting with PDX Coffee Outside at Lower Macleay Park in the cold drizzle. Then New Seasons Market, breakfast at Vita Cafe, Community Cycling Center, after which I picked up a piece of glass in my rear tire and walked my flat two blocks to Everybody’s Bike Rentals & Tours (a great little shop!), Microcosm Publishing, and Universal Cycles. Bike: Surly Straggler.

Later I found the most unimproved of all the unimproved roadways in my neighborhood heading to another New Seasons Market. I will avoid this block with the kids in the future for sure. Bike: All-City Nature Boy Disc.

April trips tracked on Strava
Today’s miles: 30.34
Total April miles: 281.74

30 Days of Biking 2018: Day Twelve

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

Started the day with a “bag-and-drag” after dropping the kids off at school. I can bag-and-drag both bikes, one on either side, but my 10-year old is still catching rides on my bike rather than riding his own. And I have a special tow hitch if I want to drag-but-not-bag both bikes and have room in the bags for other stuff and full access of the deck for the kids to sit. Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

And then I carried both kids seven miles to the train station to bring them to Seattle for the weekend. It was a little colder than I realized it would be so halfway there I sacrificed my rain jacket to a pair of cold legs. Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

Pixie and I took the train back down after delivering the kids, freed my Big Dummy from being secured with every lock I own and that was that. I’ve only used the cargo bike to carry both kids to the train station since that’s the downhill direction, but if the weather is decent at the end of the weekend I’ll give it a try in the uphill direction. It’ll be faster than the bus (our usual transport home from the train) and probably easier than waiting for and sitting on the bus with two tired kids. Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

April trips tracked on Strava
Today’s miles: 17.64
Total April miles: 251.4

30 Days of Biking 2018: Day Eleven

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

Started the day with school drop off with one passenger and one bike rider. The balloon is still going strong — a teenager even shouted at me that she liked it today!

On the way home Pixie and I checked out the house with the little horses. If it’s clear to turn left off the busy street I use on the way home I’ll do so a bit early and today it took us by the horse house. In the past I’ve let Pixie out to walk among the herd (they’re the exact same size, it’s so cute!) but I could hear the homeowner working in the carport so we just paid our respects and moved on. Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

Later on Kath of Portlandize met up with our cargo bikes and laptops to sit in a cafe and work together as we try to do once a week. COFFEE BEER is very new, as are its bike racks. You can tell by that extra bar near the bottom so if a bike thief unbolts the bottom of the rack they can’t slip your lock off. Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

We went to the grocery store together after working and Kath showed me her favorite route in — it avoids the steep hill I take and doesn’t require biking through the parking lot. It also features a cool “desire line:”

In the evening I picked up a free trailer from my local Buy Nothing Group that no one else wanted. It’s the same make as the one that was stolen from me a few years ago! I think I’ll mostly use it for non-kid cargo, but hope to loan it to friends to use for kids and non-kid cargo, too. Bike: Surly Big Dummy.

April trips tracked on Strava
Today’s miles: 10.32
Total April miles: 233.76