INTRODUCING…

I present to you: THE HILL TOPPER

I’ve been thinking about bikeventures this summer and how to take baby camping for midweek adventures while Mike is working. I knew I wanted something with more gears and something that could handle both roads and hard packed gravel. I wanted the ability to add a rack, fenders, and a basket. I wanted swept back bars and a dynamo.

So I sent a few emails and briefly flirted with the idea that I could build my own bike before summer. HA! I then hit a few shops and bike sales. I was pretty sure I wanted a Surly Straggler having ridden Madi’s before (and just look at how much that little bike can carry!). But hers is a 50 cm, 700c, which I found out was too big for me when I had to quickly step off the bike on my way up Capitol Hill. OUCH!

I hadn’t ruled out the Long Haul Trucker and had chatted with a friend on Friday about test riding hers soon. I had also lined up a test ride of the 42 cm. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t fit me because of the shortened reach, but I wanted to check for sure. I’m a tall 5’1 (HAHA) and I tend to fall in between sizes which can make it hard to find a good fit.

I saw an instagram post on Saturday morning about the Cascade Bicycles Bike Swap. We had plans to meet up with some baby friends later in the day, but decided to take a quick peek. The plan was for me to go in and look around and Mike to take the baby to oogle dogs at the nearby dog park.

It was so big! And super overwhelming! SO. MANY. BIKES. But then I saw the peek of a tire and the springy mint green. A Surly! A SURLY STRAGGLER 46 cm! There was a woman taking a close look at it and consulting with her friends. She wanted to test ride but hadn’t brought a helmet, she worried. Would it be there later? One friend encouraged her to buy it. She declined.

Phew! I had spent the last 5 minutes making awkward eye contact with the sales guy at the booth and now was my chance! He showed me how the shifters worked and I handed over my ID to take it for a test ride!

It felt so light! So responsive! Mike made his way over from the playground to check it out with me. What did I think about the drop bars? Uh, I have no idea how to use them. What would I want to change? Fenders, rack, basket, bars…

We waited in line for him to buy entry and headed inside to discuss further. It turns out that the shop (Bike So Good) was going to be closing and they were selling everything wholesale. After a little bit of haggling, we committed!

BUT HOW TO GET HER HOME?!

We were able to lash the bike to the rack of the bakfiets (with some trial & error) and I carried the front wheel on my rear rack. We really need one more strap, but someone biking by gave us a bit of bar tape that did the trick!

Mike walked the new bike and Creme up the hill to home while I continued on to our baby brew pub event at Peddler. He joined us a little later on his bike.

I’m still smiling from ear to ear after taking her out today – but more on that later! And I still need to introduce the bakfiets! SO MUCH TO WRITE, SO MANY BIKES TO RIDE!

Bye Bye Boda

When I sold my car and bought an e-bike 3 years ago I thought all my problems were solved! But it turns out that I don’t want an e-bike. When I explain it to people they never understand, because in theory they seem so great and my reasons seem so silly.

You have to charge the battery

This seems simple. But we have our bikes in the bike room – so charging it means bringing the battery upstairs. And then bringing it back down again. I always forgot because I’d be distracted while locking up & only realize it was dead the next day. I also routinely forgot to bring the battery back downstairs & trekking up 9 flights of stairs to grab it was very unpleasant.

The range is ~30 miles so on long rides I’d have to find a place to charge the battery. Once while camping I forgot my keys & had to drag the entire bike into the bathroom of the campsite in order to charge it.

They’re heavy

So heavy. It’s so much extra work to drag the bike around when you’re not using assist, so I always ended up using much more assist than necessary on flat ground to compensate. It added an extra 20 lbs to the bike!

It just didn’t feel right

I didn’t use the bike to its full potential. I didn’t use it as a car replacement like I thought I would when I bought it. Instead, after I sold my car my world shrunk A LOT. I decided that going to far away suburban places to buy bulk toilet paper that we had nowhere to store in our tiny apartment wasn’t something I wanted to do anyway.

 

We sold her to a family with three young kids. I hope they get more use out of her than we did.

Moms on Bikes – Lynne

This post is part of a series (hopefully) of mothers who ride bikes with their children. If you’re interested in contributing send me an email or reach out on twitter!

What does biking with my kids mean to me? Peace, mostly.

Before kids, I commuted by bike and would occasionally bike for other errands. It was empowering being self-propelled and fun, as well as much easier (and cheaper) than trying to park near my work. Since I started biking with my kids, these things have continued to be true, but I also started biking for almost everything else as well. For me, it’s just easier, less stressful and overall more peaceful to bike instead.

Both of my children have — to greater and lesser extents — hated traveling in the car as babies. My firstborn was so strong, I felt it required excessive force to get her to ‘unplank’ her body to bend into a car seat. My second child would be okay with the car seat, but would wail nonstop in the car after 4pm. Both of these problems went away when we were biking. The first day I picked up my oldest from her daycare/preschool with her baby brother in the box bike was the first day we made the ride home in peace. It was blissful. The stress reduction from this alone would have made the whole thing worthwhile, but there are other ways that biking is more peaceful for me too.

With the bike, we don’t get stuck in traffic jams (as long as I remember to avoid Husky Stadium during football games). There is almost always easy parking.

We can stop at playgrounds when requested. We can talk while we ride. I can open packets of gummy rabbits or granola bars when requested. Bike naps are a real and lovely thing.

I started biking with my daughter on a non-electric Edgerunner, with first a Yepp seat and then just a Hooptie when she got a bit older. I loved that Edgerunner! Just before my son was born, I got a Bullitt with a triple-wide box (to fit a preschooler next to an infant car seat in the box) and front-hub e-assist, in order to be able to carry a baby and also to improve weather protection for both kids. I love the Bullitt even more, mostly due to the canopy on the box.

Now I don’t even struggle to get weather-appropriate clothing on my children before leaving home. If they won’t put it on, it goes in the box. They’re usually okay anyway. More than once, I have put a child who won’t put on their shoes in the bike with their shoes. You can sort it out at the other end, when they’re more agreeable. Life is just more peaceful that way 🙂

Moms on Bikes – Ines

This post is part of a series (hopefully) of mothers who ride bikes with their children. If you’re interested in contributing send me an email or reach out on twitter!

This post was written by Ines, a mama from Mexico:

I use my bicycle almost daily, since I discovered that it is a way of transport that beats not only public transport, but also private automobile.  I am never worried if there is gridlock: I always arrive on time to my destinations, and almost without stress. Also, I do not need to allocate extra time, to exercise or practice some sport to be healthy.

I have been a mom for 9 years, and I used the bicycle even during my second pregnancy. (Contrary of what my first gynecologist told me, the increasing weight wasn’t a factor to lose balance). I have continued to use the bicycle at first with one, and now with two children. Of course my activities and my responsibilities have changed, however, I have found means to adapt the bicycle for the new needs. When the second child arrived, I put a child-seat between mine and the steering wheel for the smallest one, and another one on the rear, for the older one.  When my firstborn didn’t fit anymore on the child-seat, I bought a cargo bike (where I have carried up to 4 kids –my sister’s and mine-, or two children and a dog).   It sure is worth all the money I spent on it. Almost like an investment, and no spenditure.

Every day I see expressions of approval, of joy, of tenderness, of sympathy, even of envy -the good one- from motorists or children, as well as pedestrians who see us pass by. I have also seen looks of disapproval, impatience and anger. But the amount of the kind looks exceed those of the nasty ones.

I cycle most of my transfers, either alone, or with my children.

We go by bike: to the school (and to my workplace), to the bakery, to the tortillería, to the market, to the supermarket, to the hairdresser, to the tailor shop. If we go downtown, we ride transit, and we only use the car when we go out at night, leave the city or when there are more people than usual.

To my sons, it is normal that the mean of transport selected to travel, adapts to the need of the moment. There are trips that can be done either on foot, by bicycle, or even on a scooter. We choose the mean according to the destination.

But I have thought of many children in the city. They do not know another way of transport beyond the automobile. For them, the normal thing is to be transported everywhere in that insulating and alienating machine. I do not blame the dads and moms who are full-time drivers. There are many important reasons why, nowadays, Mexicans choose private cars as their only means of transportation.

I am sure -because it has already happened to me- that more than one will wonder when they watch us enjoying the journey, if it is true, that “to be happy, you need a car”.

Little by little, paradigms change. Slowly there are more people who, in spite of the hostile conditions of the interaction with traffic in the Mexican cities, choose the bicycle as a way of transport. Because that means a better quality of life, savings, different experiencees, less stress, and so on.

I can not imagine a life as a working mother, without my bicycle. I simply would not have time to myself.

Always be #coffeeneuring

Always be #coffeeneuring!

Our fifth coffeeneuring adventure was riding to meet a friend at Seattle Center. Coffee was tiny for a hefty price but I hear that the “shop” rotates monthly so they may have better options another time.

  • Where: KEXP
  • When: 10/27/17
  • What you drank: cafe au lait
  • Observation: it was an amazingly beautiful fall day! Our way home was through South Lake Union at rush hour so we ended up on the sidewalk because people driving had taken it upon themselves to block the bike lane in places (“if I have to wait in traffic so do you”).
  • Theme: (SUPER) skeptical baby
  • Total mileage: 12 miles

 

Coffeeneuring number six was on a train! We drank coffee on our way to Portland!

  • Where: Amtrak Coast Starlight
  • When: 11/2/17
  • What you drank: home brewed coffee with milk
  • Observation: this train is so fun! We spent our whole trip in the observation car because windows are like baby tv. Plus there’s no wifi so watching the scenery kept me entertained as well.
  • Theme: skeptical baby
  • Total mileage: 1.1 miles of riding to the link station and then we took the bike on the light rail to the Amtrak station in Chinatown

 

For our last official event of the challenge we had coffee with a friend who just moved to Portland. What could be better?

  • Where: Spielman Bagels (SE Division)
  • When: 11/4/17
  • What you drank: cafe au lait
  • Observation: babe was conked out when we arrived so we wheeled the bikes onto the back patio. It was pretty chilly so we were the only ones outside. The owner (?) brought out chairs for us but in his desire to inspect the baby (he’ll be a first time grandpa in January) he woke him up. Oh well. No bike racks out front but there’s a nice deck in addition to the patio space.
  • Theme: skeptical baby
  • Total mileage: 9.5 miles or so total since this was a stop on our way to the train station

 

Because I totally lost count (and not because I have a coffee addiction) we continued on our coffeeneuring challenge for number 8!

  • Where: Roxy’s Diner
  • When: 11/10/17
  • What you drank: coffee with cream
  • Observation: the latke sandwich is amazing. Why don’t I put sour cream on my eggs normally?!
  • Theme: skeptical ( dragon) baby
  • Total mileage: 6.5 miles

 

On a very cold and wet and genuinely dreary day babe and I rode to Montlake to meet up with friends for a walk around the arboretum. But first, coffeeneuring number 9!

  • Where: Fuel – Montlake
  • When: 11/16/17
  • What you drank: chai tea latte
  • Observation: I forgot how much I loved chai tea lattes! Babe fell asleep on our ride over and despite making a detour wherein we rode downhill only to find our way blocked off for construction and had to ride back uphill (being passed by 2 women jogging), we were still quite early to meet our friends. So I rode many loops around and around and around until babe woke up and I determined it was time to get inside to warm up.
  • Theme: skeptical baby (not so skeptical anymore)
  • Total mileage: 4.2 miles not including our many laps near the arboretum


And for a super spontaneous extra coffeeneuring we stopped to grab a coffee on our way home from an errand!

  • Where: Seven Cafe
  • When: 11/19/17
  • What you drank: chai tea latte
  • Observation: a sleeping baby should not be woken! I left babe in the trailer to snooze while I ordered. It was easy to keep an eye on the trailer & then we sat outside (he was still sleeping🙌) on the cute chairs on the sidewalk.
  • Theme: sleeping skeptical baby
  • Total mileage: 3 miles

More Adventures in #coffeeneuring

More #coffeeneuring!

For our second outing we actually made the coffee at home but I’m counting it because we biked far away and drank it once we got where we were going (which did not GASP have coffee).

  • Where: PEPS group meeting – Matthew’s Beach
  • When: 10/17/17
  • What you drank: home brewed coffee with cream
  • Observation: the rainy season has begun and there was a LOT of debris in the road. Also it’s really hard to walk backward with the trailer attached.
  • Theme: skeptical baby
  • Total mileage: 13.5 miles

For our third adventure we rode to #coffeeoutsideforher at Gas Works park but we were the only ones so we abandoned our post to ride on to Ballard for errands and coffee inside!

  • Where: Ballard Coffee Works
  • When: 10/19/17
  • What you drank: cafe au lait
  • Observation: This place is super expensive & what I thought was a plain croissant turned out to be meat filled. Also babe was very content to coo & watch me knit!
  • Theme: skeptical baby
  • Total mileage: 10.2 miles

 

Our fourth ride was to a new-this-year home coffee shop! We brought bread and butter and our sewing project and drank coffee & had someone fix out sewing mistakes! It was a party! Coffee! Mimosas! Glow sticks for the children! Acro yoga for the babies!

  • Where: Anny’s Cafe and Dance Club – Crown Hill
  • When: 10/21/17
  • What you drank: home brewed coffee with cream
  • Observation: we totally rode out of our way to meet up with someone but she had assist and we did not & HILLS BABY HILLS. There was much walking.
  • Theme: skeptical baby
  • Total mileage: 8.6 miles

Coffeeneuring 2017 Has Begun!

Every year I say I will successfully complete the #coffeeneuring challenge put on by Mary at Chasing Mailboxes, but I don’t know that I’ve ever done it.

So here’s to another year of starting off strong and probably not living up to expectations!

Babe and I rode to the Top Pot in Ballard for coffee and donuts before our grocery shopping adventure. In the spirit of taking things much too far I’ve made a giant spreadsheet to track how much we spend on specific items in order to reduce our food costs. Fun fun fun!

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But back to the coffeeneuring:

  1. Where: Top Pot Donuts – Ballard
  2. When: 10/13/17
  3. What you drank: cafe au lait
  4. Observation: my rear fender kicks up a lot of debris into the trailer (which babe loudly protested) so I really need to get a mud flap put on!
  5. Theme: skeptical baby
  6. Total mileage: 8.6 miles

The ride there was uneventful if chilly. People walked in front of me when I had a green light because they were texting. I was annoyed. I moved my safety cone back into position. Some dude passed us super close and fast on the trail at Stone Way. I’m still super paranoid about turning across the railroad tracks to get from the “trail” to TJ’s.

IMG_6853
SAFETY CONE MAKES EVERYONE SAFER

I’m 90% sure someone dumped a cup of water (I HOPE) on the trailer because it was the only thing wet & the sidewalk elsewhere was dry. Good thing I thought about rain & closed the plastic rain cover. WHO DOES THIS?!

I bought a lot of beer and the bag was super heavy so I stuck it in the trailer behind the child seat. I made it up our hill faster than usual, although I still took my requisite break by my favorite fire hydrant half-way up.

Some dude in a giant truck waited and waited and waited in a driveway until I was *right* in front of him before pulling out. THANX.

As usual babe woke up on the way up the hill so he could scream us home (I wish I could harness this energy to propel us). He continued to cry in the elevator so an ever helpful neighbor asked super helpful questions like: why is he crying; do you think he’s hungry; is he wet? This culminated in my favorite thing, which was patting babe on the arm and saying “baby don’t cry” over and over. Note to self: don’t get in the elevator with this guy again. Walk up the 9 flights of stairs.

Overall an outing much like many of our outings: we bought stuff, we cried, we forgot essential items, we smiled a bunch, and we got a little nap in.

Coffeeneuring suggestions welcome!