Seattle Cranksgiving 2014

Happy Cranksgiving, everyone! Cranksgiving defined by Seattle Bike Blog:

Cranksgiving is a food drive scavenger hunt by bike exploring some of Seattle’s most unique food vendors and grocery stores to gather food for Rainier Valley Food Bank.

I took a bunch of pictures over seven hours and 20 miles: Flickr set of all 90 pictures. 105 riders participated and Seattle Bike Blog is sure to post a recap with more data soon.

Participants were allowed to form teams of three. We were nine (but five of them were kids). Alyssa on her Xtracycle EdgeRunner with CycleFab/Haulin’-Colin-attached Burley Piccolo trailer bike and one kid, Dave on his regular bike with trailer bike, me on my Surly Big Dummy with two kids, and Barbara on regular bike with kid bike coupled behind with FollowMe Tandem coupler and one kid.


Here’s the manifest:



In an effort to finally get to the finish line on time, I created a route map ahead of time and warned friends we’d only hit two grocery stores on the way. I didn’t bring my route instructions with me so we didn’t quite stick to this, but just for future reference and the sake of sharing, here’s my flat-as-possible route from Gas Works to Rainier Valley via Capitol Hill and Beacon Hill because we really didn’t want to ride Lake Washington Boulevard again after last year’s many brushes with people driving too close for comfort.

And were were ten minutes late anyway! But we had tons of fun and I did all the photo challenges, which was a blast.

Even without my carefully curated directions, we avoided busy streets until Beacon Avenue South after playing on the zip line in Jefferson Park–and this part of Beacon was on my route anyway. However, everyone passed cautiously. So refreshing and not at all like Lake Washington Boulevard last year.


Something new for me this year is I rode in Rainier Avenue for the first time. No sidewalk, all street. Just 3/4 of a mile from turning in our manifest at the Royal Room to the Rainier Valley Food Bank and then back again. But only because I happened to be heading over at the same time as a bunch of Point 83 bike club members so I felt safe in the pack.


The food bank was hopping. I went for a few heavy items (turkey, big spaghetti squash, two big bags of rice) rather than a lot of little things, but next year we’ll go for bulk and variety to better utilize having a cargo bike.


The after party in the Royal Room was great. The kids thawed out and ate while prizes were distributed. My seven-year old wore his Halloween Blue Angels costume and got the loudest applause in the costume contest which was incredibly exciting for him. Everyone else in costume chose prizes, too, because there were a lot of prizes to go around!


Alyssa and Dave rode the whole way home, but Barbara and I opted to take the light rail. We managed to fit all three bikes and five people in the upper Westlake Station elevator. I don’t think much more could be crammed in there, but it’s tempting to try.


In addition to the missing map, I didn’t get our clothing quite right. This is our fourth Cranksgiving (and Seattle’s fifth) so I should know this by now, but I let the kids wear regular shoes instead of snow boots. So I draped my old rain jacket like an apron over my seven-year old’s legs and feet and my new rain jacket over the five-year old’s. It almost did the trick.


It didnt’ occur to me until we got to South Lake Union that I should put my rain spat shoe covers over my five-year old’s feet because even having borrowed a pair of wool socks from Barbara, his toes were still cold. Anything that works well for rain will work well for warmth, but I often forget that. So we stopped by MOHAI for that one extra layer.


And took a moment to appreciate the view. This is at about 5:15 p.m.–already dark!


Seattle Cranksgiving 2013 – Family style

Another year, another Cranksgiving! We’ve participated three out of four times now–the first, third, and this fourth one (the second coincided with a Kidical Mass ride). Last year the kids wore their Halloween costumes (Seattle Neighborhood Greenways), but today our bike wore the costume: salmon! I figured it made most sense to have it swim backwards/upstream and please know this is not a statement about Seattle’s bicycle infrastructure (or lack thereof), the kids are just really into salmon.

Salmon costume

There were so many people this year–126 according to Cranksgiving sponsor Seattle Bike Blog: 126 Cranksgiving riders haul 1,443 lbs of food to Rainier Valley Food Bank. Sadly the big salmon blocked me from climbing onto my FlightDeck to snap a picture from on high, but you get the idea:

The crowd at Seattle Cranksgiving 2013

There were no spoke cards left when we arrived, but I was able to lay hands on a manifest right before they ran out. Neal’s wearing the festive Twin Six Yule Tide T in the top picture if you’re curious.

Seattle Cranksgiving 2013 manifest

Seattle Cranksgiving 2013 manifest

I reeeeeeally wanted to finish on time this year after having been so late to the finish last year, but with the 1:30 cut off that only gave time for one stop if my team of illegally large size was going to stay together and take the Lake Washington Loop south. In previous years I’ve caught the light rail train as I don’t know a way down to Columbia City from downtown otherwise, but this year I thought it’d be a nice change to actually ride the whole thing. I like to pick and choose my method of cheating :) Previous years’ cheating has only involved using the train (which might not be against the written rules, but it certainly feels like cheating); this year I amassed a team much larger than three–we were 18 including kids (though four members bailed for naps), some teammates hit a grocery store not on the list, and I even showed up with pre-bought groceries when I heard a friend lament that the food bank never had spices.

Univeristy District farmers market

We started at the closest stop, the University District Farmers Market (my first visit to their new location–it’s great!) and some of us hung out there while others hit a couple other stops and returned for the big ride south. I think each of us ran into someone we knew and I got a chance to check out some of the other participants. Love this banana costume!

Seattle Cranksgiving banana-costumed participant

And check out this cool front rack. He meant to find a big back of rice, but the DIY platform worked OK for produce, too.

Nice haul at his first stop

Knowing we couldn’t possibly make the 1:30 cut-off time, we eventually headed towards Ark Lodge Cinemas via the well-marked Lake Washington Loop. I’m a sucker for a well-marked route!

Heading south on the Lake Washington Loop

Group shot before dropping down through Lakeview Park.

Cranksgiving group shot

The above overlook is also where Andres declared he had spare pannier space and offered to help anyone with cargo. This was followed by the obligatory offer from each of us to take on more cargo. Needless to say, everyone kept their stuff.

Something the kids and I learned winding down Lake Washington Boulevard: lone riders don’t care for an “Allez! Allez!” as they grind uphill in the opposite direction, but groups of college cyclists love it.

Photo courtesy Neal Poland

Photo courtesy Neal Poland

The view was magnificent, clear enough to see Mt. Rainier. My Mt. Rainier pictures didn’t do it justice so here’s a pretty building instead.

View from the Lake Washington Loop

But riding along Lake Washington Boulevard wasn’t so nice. There were a lot of impatient drivers and we saw a couple near misses as drivers nearly swerved into oncoming traffic rather than wait a couple seconds before passing us. I’m going to steer clear of the area outside of Bicycle Sunday when it’s mostly closed to cars.

Cars on the Lake Washington Loop

The tail end of our ride was along Rainier Avenue. I take to the sidewalk here, as did everyone I saw (though most riders arrived before us so I don’t know if everyone is scared of the street here). For more on Rainier Ave, read Davey Oil’s Why I’m Riding on Rainier Avenue series.

Rainier Ave sidewalk

Unfortunately I missed the whole party at Ark Lodge Cinema. I heard muffled announcements and cheering while escorting kids to the potty and while I ferried our food to the Rainier Valley Food Bank there was a raffle:

Photo courtesy Neal Poland

Photo courtesy Neal Poland

The kids weren’t torn up about missing the festivities, but they didn’t understand why we biked through two playgrounds without stopping so we hit the Rainier Community Center play structure as soon as we finished dropping off the food.

Rainier Community Center playground

We took a slightly different route on the way home, with less busy lake-side riding (one mile instead of four), a pleasant little climb up through Coleman Park, and the I-90 Bike Tunnel–so much fun for the kids to yowl echoey train sounds through.

I-90 Trail

I-90 Bike Tunnel

The next two miles seemed very uphill, but I’m not a good gauge of appreciating a new route over the hill I know.

22.8 miles later we were home with another Cranksgiving in the bag.

For those curious of our team’s family bike makeup:

  • Bullitt
  • Cetma Largo
  • FollowMe Tandem coupled to regular bike
  • Surly Big Dummy (2)
  • Yuba Boda Boda
  • Yuba Mundo

Seattle Cranksgiving 2012

Cranksgiving 2012: Seattle’s bike-powered food drive & scavenger hunt was awesome! We participated two years ago (last year it conflicted with a Kidical Mass ride) and it was great to see how much the ride has grown. It’s hard to tell how many people stay away when the weather is less than ideal, of course, but even in the rain, cold, and wind, there were over 40 riders.

Here’s the manifest:

and I think the fact that I still have it means I wasn’t DFL, but rather DNF (Did Not Finish. You’ll have to Google the other TLA.) Or maybe I’m off the hook since someone else from my team turned in a manifest before I arrived well after 3pm. Obviously, I don’t really know how alleycats work. I’ll study up before I do another one.

Here’s my team: Team Family Ride, The Transportation Nag and friend, Barbara and son on her Kona MinUte, and half of team (the other half met up en route after a toddler birthday party–multitasking!).

Then we all split up and I never saw any of them again.

I rode with Barbara and Neal of Alleycat Life who I don’t think I get to count as a teammate since he was documenting the ride–though he also filled his baskets with donations at each stop.

I was so happy the ride didn’t start on Capitol Hill this year and I didn’t want to hit the grocery stores up there. Skipping a couple stops was a good plan, but in retrospect, I should have only hit Pike Place Market and Uwajimaya before taking the light rail down to the checkin. But we headed north (and uphill) to the University District Farmers Market (for an exciting 10-pound squash and lots of oohs and aahs over the cargo bikes) and Rising Sun Produce.

Barbara had to take off after our first two stops, but I happily took her donations (Yay WideLoader shelf!) and Neal and I headed south to Pike Place Market. That orange spokecard is for Cranksgiving:

Photo courtesy Alleycat Life

I took the obligatory picture with Rachel the Pig, but didn’t buy anything as I spent our visit thawing out the kids. We started out on the wrong foot when I didn’t put the kids in full rain gear to better show their Seattle Neighborhood Greenways costumes and let them cavort in the puddles with their snow boots (snowproof, but not waterproof). I almost packed an extra set of boots for the kids, but didn’t want to sacrifice the cargo space so the three-year old spent two hours with wet feet. I put him in dry socks and wrapped his feet with my rain jacket and that seemed to do the trick. And the five-year old had plunged his snow gloves (also not waterproof) into a puddle so he got my cotton gloves (better than nothing). Fortunately, hauling such a heavy load keeps me warm enough that I don’t need jacket and gloves most of the time.

Someday I should try riding up and over Beacon Hill, but today we took the light rail south to Columbia City where we found a couple other cheaters (though there’s nothing printed about going multi-modal in the rules) and then we all got lost (uphill–wah!) on the way to the checkin/weigh station. We saw lots of participants on their way back from the park, headed to the food bank, but by the time we found the picnic shelter, everyone was gone. But the Rainier Valley Food Bank was still open so we unofficially dropped off our haul. I wish I’d taken a better cargo picture–I had a very big bag of potatoes, a bag of apples, the big squash, and a bunch of other smaller stuff.

And we made it to Full Tilt Ice Cream in time for the raffle and winners…although we had to huddle in the back away from the door so I didn’t actually hear who won–can’t wait to read the details on Seattle Bike Blog.

It pays to have the slowest bike in the fleet when the videographer is on his pretty, but slow vintage bike. We got to be the stars of the show!

Then I cheated again and called home for a pickup for the boys. They wanted to ride home with me but I was worried about them being too cold on the way home. Everyone: remind me to pack extra boots next time! I think the three-year old’s wails that he wanted to come with me were proof that he was too tired to deal. Poor little guy. In the time it took me to get home (cheating on the light rail again) they got home, cleaned up and changed, had a couple of meltdowns, and sat down to eat.

I made one small detour on the way home–I ran into Jake and his daughter on his Big Dummy getting off the light rail. I didn’t even realize they were on the ride until we got to Full Tilt–that’s how many participants there were! His chain broke as we headed towards Dexter and since I tend to know where the closest bike shop is at any given time (since I can’t fix anything myself), I called Wrench Bicycle Workshop at 5:55 and Greg said he’d happily be there until we arrived, even past 6pm closing time. I don’t think I could propel my bike in this manner, but Jake made it the whole way there by skating along with his right foot on the left pedal. He had hoped to run his BionX e-assist to scoot him along, but it sputtered out despite having some charge left. I love the idea of electric assist making cargo bikes (and even regular bikes) more accessible, but they certainly seem to be finicky.

So 22.6 miles later, that was that! 5.5 of those miles were kid free so they don’t count as much.

I think I’d love to set up a family-bike-oriented alleycat (alleykitten?). Who’s in? But not until it’s warmer.


We rode to Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill to take part in the Cranksgiving bicycle ride this morning. I checked the “terrain” box on Google Maps and it didn’t look too hilly, but I had to push the bike the last four blocks. I should know better than to ride to any neighborhood with “Hill” in its name. I also never want to ride somewhere when the route crosses a street named Summit–especially if Summit isn’t even the top of the hill! I had considered biking to the University District and putting the bike on the bus (for the first time), but it looked like that would have taken twice as long.

But anyhow, we made it to the park and met up with 30 other riders to shop at a variety of grocery stores for non-perishables for the Rainier Valley Food Bank. I’m embarrassed to say we only hit two grocery stores and took the Light Rail Train to get to the finish line, but it still counts. Heading home (via the Light Rail) from the finish line, the boys got incredibly cold–Brandt started shivering and Baby Rijder hibernated (aka took a nap) so I called home for a pickup. Totcycle had the right idea clothing his two kids in snow suits today. But at least we finally made it to Uwajimaya and got invited to be part of a family fashion show come Bike Expo time. I knew these new boots would pay off! I’ve never owned boots before, but this is a classy city so I’ve stepped up my footwear.