Motherbiker

On a day just like this about a year ago I huffed and puffed my way back up from the beach at Discovery Park. Very pregnant. Dressed in a way too warm outfit after the sun broke through the clouds. I said to myself – if you can do this, you can give birth 1 as I practiced my breathing techniques amid Braxton Hicks contractions.

I have no abdominal strength and I find riding upright bikes, like the bakfiets and Creme can be challenging. I have to use my back much more in order to stay sitting up and I tire quickly.

On the Surly I carry far too much stuff! I fill up my giant panniers with heavy objects (like bottles of champagne and large books). I tow a heavy trailer filled with a baby and everything he may ever need (except I’ve forgotten the essentials, of course).

I’m here, 10 months after having my body cut in half to pull another human out, and while I won’t deny that it gets easier – it’s still hard. Physically my recovery has hit a plateau as the nerves regenerate. My diastasis is still large and hasn’t improved in months despite yoga and physical therapy.

Mentally my perspective has changed. I must push on and continue despite being tired or wanting to stop. I won’t sacrifice a baby nap for a bathroom break unless I actually fear a bladder explosion. Naps are sacred. I’ve also become more flexible, looking for opportunities to stop and take a break more often.

I usually know my limits, like the fact that I dislike baby wearing after a long or strenuous bike ride. Instead I bring the stroller. But sometimes I push them, biking extra laps around the lake for nap (and #bikeeverywhere) points, or go on long arduous and untested camping trips.

Iv definitely been putting my body through its paces recently; I’m riding more than I ever have before, and almost all of it with a baby in tow. And despite my inability to sit up from laying down without using my hands, I’ve never felt stronger. I’m in better physical (especially cardio) strength than ever.

So thanks to all my mom friends who show me every day how lovely this new life is. And shoutout to the moms of grown children who go on amazing solo adventures and prove that life is long and there’s time for everything. I love you all.

Kanaskat-Palmer State Park

Back in March a group of local WTF riders (women-trans-femme) planned a trip to Kanaskat Palmer State Park. It looked fun but I couldn’t make it at the time. So without any route planning Jen and I decided to go!

Jen booked us a yurt #GLAMPING for two nights. I did minimal route planning, mostly focusing on how to get to Renton (original plan was to bus), with less focus on the Renton to Kanaskat route, since I saw few turns.

The way out seemed to take FOREVER. We left around 10, headed up through the arboretum and hopped on Lake Washington Blvd, then along the lake until we saw signs for the Mt. to Sound/I-90 Trail. UPUPUPUP through a magical forestland with beautiful lush waterfalls to get to the trail. Some of the grades/turns here were dicey and we had to walk bikes due to our wide turning radi.

We headed east over the lake to Mercer Island, breaking for lunch in the shade before following the hilly trail along the highway. Why do hills always come around a curve so you can’t see the top?

At the I-90/Mt. to Sound split we took Mt. to Sound to the Lake Washington Loop. Here we found a gravel trail parallel to Lake Washington Blvd. It’s not on google yet but I had heard from a friend that it was good! And it was! Be aware of narrow bridge crossings. We just fit walking our bikes (trailer included) but no one could’ve been coming head on. But then it just ended. So we turned around and headed up a block to the road. There’s a nice shoulder here but it looks like it would be narrow with weekend pedestrian traffic.

Google routed us through downtown Renton which was less than pleasant on a HOTHOTHOT day because the massively wide roads radiate heat right back at you and there’s no shade. If I rode it again I’d follow the map below to avoid that section. The trailhead is not well marked and the beginning is actually just roadway. Cars aren’t allowed to cross 3rd from Mill, but we did it and found the trail is a sharp left after the intersection. It looks like they may make a more direct connection to 3rd in the future.

Once on the trail we found it to be lovely! It was relatively shady until we ran up against 169. There it’s quite loud and sunny. And all just slightly uphill which makes you feel crazy – like you’re going way too slow on flat ground.

Where the trail turns to gravel we made our critical mistake. We should’ve take the right fork uphill (be aware steep and very loose gravel) to the Green River Trail, but the sign was behind a pole and the path looked too steep to conquer so we continued straight. Our mistake added about 7 miles, including a less than pleasant bit of highway riding. Had we not missed the turn we could’ve gotten all the way to Fred Meyer on the Green River Trail.

Once at Fred Meyer we walked around in a daze shopping. We had been on the road about 9 hours. Food acquired and lights mounted we forged ahead the last 8 miles. Traffic moves fast but the shoulders are wide and not too debris filled on the main road. Once you turn off onto Kanaskat-Retreat you lose much of the shoulder to collapsed gullies but most drivers passed in the oncoming lane (albeit at high speeds).

Arriving to camp in the pitch darkness was confusing as signage inside the park is lacking. We rode in circles, our sense of direction shot in the inky blackness. Eventually we found our way to the campground and got to our yurt around 10:15.

After a 12 hour day we unloaded and devoured a rotisserie chicken in the darkness on the floor. The next morning the camp host fixed our power issue so we drank coffee on the porch and meandered through the woods.

The Burley trailer had issues with one wheel coming loose and we decided that it just wasn’t safe to ride back with. Jen called for back up and her husband and kids made the drive out (about an hour and a half compared to our 12 hour debacle) to pick up the trailer and extra gear. They also brought a floor pump which was great because it turns out my rear tire was running at only 30 psi! Talk about living #thesupplelife!

The next morning we packed up and headed out around 8:15. Baby H rode in a box mounted Yepp Maxi seat and we constructed an impromptu sun shade with my new Therm-a-rest Z Lite. The ride back made me truly appreciate the grade we had been riding on Thursday. No wonder I felt like we had been doing so much work! We had been doing SO MUCH WORK!

Four our return we followed the western side of the Lake Washington Loop. I was worried about the Rainier portion – but it was okay. It was the Seward Park Ave S portion that was a miserable disaster. People driving large SUVs passing with only inches to spare at high speeds on a marked bike route. The road was narrow with large parked vehicles taking up much of the driving lane. We ended up on the sidewalk and then taking a hilly semi-detour to avoid as much of it as we could.

After a daisy chain break at Seward Park we headed out on Lake Washington Blvd. It’s a signed bike route and posted signs say BIKES HAVE RIGHT OF WAY and yet the speed limit is inexplicably 30 mph. Some people passed with enough clearance but they still drove far too fast for the curvy road conditions. Instead of the arboretum we followed the signed loop route back to the U District.

I don’t think I’d do this again – at least not with baby. Maybe with a group of adults assuming that we were all kid free and brought a back up tent just in case we had to make an unplanned stealth campsite. But it was fun! And it taught me things about myself, plus things to do differently next time. Like bring a paper map because google is not for bikes. And bring good lights. And learn to fix a flat. And water. All the water. And coordinate who is bringing a light stove and coffee supplies so you don’t end up with a heavy stove and two coffee set ups.

Here’s the route I’d recommend for the most pleasant journey: http://www.usatf.org/routes/view.asp?rID=597418

#30daysofbiking 22-30!

More #30daysofbiking!

Sunday, April 22: Earth Day! We went to the kidical mass from MOHAI to Discovery Park then we ventured through the Locks and stopped at Peddler for beers on the way home.

Total miles: 22

Monday, April 23: was supposed to be a trip to the baby story time at the library with another stop at the park. But H was asleep when we got to the park and I forgot when my appointment was so we had to skip story time and rush off to Eastlake. Turns out that I was faster than I thought, and my appoint was an hour later than I had in my calendar. So more park hangs and iced coffee to make up for it. But it was a three nap day so winning!

Total miles: 16

Tuesday, April 24: woo! Low mileage but much up and down climbing. After picking up some nursing supplies from a friend in Wallingford we hit Meridian Park. H fell asleep a block before we got there so I hung out for about an hour 🙌 before he woke up. After eating lunch and playing we headed to Kids on 45th for shopping. New bath toys in hand we rode downhill to the Burke and over to campus. We showed a friend out super secret (really just convoluted) way of avoiding all of the random staircases on campus, then hung out with them at the park before they had to run. Afterwards we swung by Trader Joe’s for some unexpected groceries and then home for a much needed bath. *I burned to a crisp despite sunscreen so any sunscreen recommendations are welcome!

Total miles: 10

Wednesday, April 24: was hot and hilly! Up up up we climbed to a park with a water tower. That should prove to you just how hilly it is! And I got us to climb an extra super graded block uphill so we could have a better view of Mt. Rainier. Just kidding! I didn’t realize that we could get to the playground from the lower side of the park 🤦🏽‍♀️ then off downhill to a meeting right near home. I only showed up to the wrong place again! This time also involved an extraneous uphill section. Ahh well.

Total miles: 5

Thursday, April 26: off to the mall! Granted it’s an outdoor mall & much of our time was spent playing in a fountain, but it was still a mall. #safetypizza lady made her big debut! After the mall I passed the bike off to Mike near home so I could pack while he biked the baby to the store.

Total miles: 4

Friday, April 27: was a quickie! At 4:20 am I grabbed a LimeE bike & rode down to the light rail. I didn’t get to test it’s uphill zippiness but it was fun anyways.

Total miles: 1

Saturday, April 28: I rode a stationary bike at my suburban NJ hotel because I didn’t have access to an outdoor one. Recumbents are weird.

Total miles: 1

Sunday, April 29: same recumbent ride.

Total miles: 1

Monday, April 30: for my final day of #30daysofbiking I took a LimeBike back up the hill from the light rail. Not a LimeE but it was good to be home anyways!

Total miles: 1

And now we go on to #bikeeverywhere month! Woo for more biking!

#30daysofbiking 15-21!

Sunday, April 15: after the bad bike juju of this year a friend suggested that we bless the bikes. So we met up at Gas Works & cast some magick spells! We started off with a salt circle, then charged up some crystals with positive bike energy, and the burned sage and palo alto while reciting a spell I modified (a car protection spell) for bikes. It was fun and made me smile!

Afterwards we rode to Peddler for beers and then to Ascent for a new camping pad. Hoping to take baby H camping this week but 🤞 it warms up a bit!

Total miles: 15

Monday, April 16: was raining and COLD. Like January cold. My quick ride down to an appointment was all I needed to turn me off of camping and make me never want to leave home again. I didn’t take a picture because it was also raining.

Total miles: 1.5

Tuesday, April 17: was sunny! Plans to bike to yoga were derailed with the baby napped for 2 hours so instead we headed out for an afternoon adventure! First to the plant store for some new pottery, then to PCC for flour.

Total miles: 7

Wednesday, April 18: was sunny! And slightly warmer! But of course I had to wait around all day for my bread to rise so no fun adventures for us. But I made it out to the mailbox and then hit a cafe for some cookies.

Total miles: 1

Thursday, April 19: started off iffy. Our bike room locks were be upgraded but they forgot to give out the new keys! Eventually we got in and off we went to G&O! Afterwards we took the long way home through Ballard and stopped off at the herb store. It was sunny

Total miles: 12

Friday, April 20: was another slow start. As we drop down to 2 naps it’s hard to leave the house if we don’t get going by 9. After that we’re trapped until 12! We made toddler friends at Met Market then rode to Lake Forest because a mama never interrupts a nap when she can help it! On the way home we stopped at the park for wiggles. I’m now the proud owner of very sandy shoes.

Total miles: 23

Saturday, April 21: alone time! Grocery shopping alone time! I took the bakfiets out to run a few errands and buy many many groceries at several different grocery stores. I could’ve fit the baby in with everything but it was so much nicer to be alone. I didn’t even forget anything on my list and I only made 2 impulse purchases! Win!

Total miles: 10

#30daysofbiking 8-14

Sunday, April 8: Emerald City Ride! The last chance to ride over the viaduct before they tear it down!

My dad was in town riding Mikes bike, but he was getting a ride to the start. I left home at 5:15 to ride over with Jen on her NEW metrofiets! I had somehow forgotten to register myself so had to take care of that first. Our way downtown was wet, dark, and we found out that the newspaper delivery guy drives in the Westlake cycle track 🤷🏽‍♀️

Once everyone was there & registered we were off! With many stops for photos of course. We lost my dad on the I-5 express lanes but caught up with him at the finish. With frozen toes we opted to leave Jen and take the train home.

Total miles: 23

Monday, April 9: was a beautiful sunny day for a bikeabout! Baby H & I rode to the arboretum for some park hangs with a friend, then off we went to Fred Meyer. After loading up on managers special meat we hit the park for a picnic. Baby H still hasn’t figured out how to sleep in the front seat but we’re working on it.

Total miles:12

Tuesday, April 10: was wet. And I almost didn’t ride to meet people at the zoo. H was napping, and with the trailer gone I’d have to drag the bakfiets up the hill. There would be walking. And rain.

But then baby woke up & off we went! To the zoo! It didn’t rain much. I had to push it up several large hills at the end. But we still beat our time estimate by 15 minutes! Fast is forever.

Then after the zoo baby was resisting a nap so we stopped off at the playground for some swing time. And a bold squirrel jumped in the box! When I confronted it, they hissed at me! Eventually I shooed it out & we went on our merry way.

Alas, our merry way was down Roosevelt where we were stymied by several people driving and parking in the bike lanes (despite more than adequate freely available parking mere inches away). Chips achieved, we biked the wrong way for half a block up Roosevelt (mostly because I pushed forward too hard while putting up the kickstand & couldn’t get back up on the sidewalk) before heading along 47th and down, allowing us to avoid construction detours and extraneous hills.

Total miles: 9

Wednesday, April 11: cold, cold, cold rain. After a beautiful morning we headed out in the freezing cold rain to a doctors appointment. We were planning to ride there before heading to dinner in Ballard. But it was too cold so we rode home and changed out of our wet clothes and took the bus. My feet thanked me.

Total miles: 14

Thursday, April 12: more cold rain. By the time the sun came out in the afternoon I was headed to a meeting to talk about bikes. It ran late so my ride consisted of up and down the block on a slightly broken, ill-fitting bike. I’ll note that whoever designed it clearly never rode it because the extreme toe overlap made it so my feet touched the wheel when I wasn’t even turning!

Total miles: .25

Friday, April 13: rode to a weekly appointment that I never ride to. When we came out the baby seat had been crushed under a car bumper. I was very upset. Mike picked up baby H & brought him home while I followed behind a bit later. I love the versatility of the seat but don’t think I’ll replace it with the same model due to concerns I have about the damage.

Total miles: 3.5

Saturday, April 14: after the baby seat destruction of Friday I was feeling sad & vulnerable. But I still wanted to complete #30daysofbiking because I’ve never been able to before! So I had Mike put a front seat on the Surly to test it out. I can reach okay but the seat jams up against my boobs. I think baby would have no room for his head! So just a quick trip to Trader Joe’s in the pouring rain. But hey, I didn’t break any eggs!

Total miles: 1

#30daysofbiking 1-7

April is #30daysofbiking month so here’s a weekly digest of our rides.

Sunday, April 1: I rode home from the Full Moon Ride at Golden Gardens with friends at 12:30 am. What a fun way to start the month!

Total miles: 7

Monday, April 2: all packed up and ready for Portland! This was Mikes first ride with the front baby seat and he made it about 100 yards before almost crashing. But he recovered (with the help of a concerned construction worker) and we made it to the light rail without further incident.

We spent the train ride in the observation car and collected the bikes on arrival. We opted to check our bags this time so we wouldn’t have to carry a lot of stuff. The baggage car on the Coast Starlight is about 1/3 mile from the coach seats so not having to schlep everything down and bag is a plus. And since we have to wait for the bikes anyways, bag check doesn’t add any wait time in this direction.

Madi met us at the train station with Pixie and baby H fell in love with his new cat loving bestie. After picking the boys up from school we rode to grab dinner at a Mexican place close by.

Total miles: 15

Tuesday, April 3: the day started with a trip to Woodstock for coffee and snack purchasing. After that we rode to a cafe to meet up with Kath. Baby H had rejected his morning nap so I nursed him to sleep while we hung out. Then we headed out for an adventurous day of riding up Mt Tabor! Up and up and up! I carried baby on the way up to the top where we made coffee and ate snacks. This park had the cleanest and most well lit bathrooms I’ve ever seen!

Mike carried H back down the hill and over to pick up the boys from school. Back at home we took a quick nap before Mike and Madi headed out to pick up some PokPok for dinner. We spent the rest of the night in a food coma while planning our epic Wednesday adventures.

Wednesday, April 4: was epic! We started off with a baby nap! Woo! Our journey took us to NE Portland, because Seattlites must find all the hills.

First up was Velo Cult for mural photos and a quick peek inside, followed by a ride to Cat 6 Cycles to meet Steve the 6 toed cat. Then we popped into Gladys Bikes for lunch recommendations, hit up some delicious texmex, and back to Gladys for the real errand of the day: saddle library time!

We chatted about butts and vulvas and then she had me test out 3 saddles: a harder one, a padded one, and padded one with the cutout. I got lost each time I rode around – but did find some great gravel roadways for adequate testing. In the end my butt and my buttget aligned! I got the MTB Kona (it’s so shiny) which is wider and shorter than the stock MTB 135 saddle that came with the Surly.

For our next stop we headed to NortherCycles for a photo with the unicorn rack! 🦄

And then on to Microcosm so I could get a new Unapologetic Feminist sticker (which now comes in pink)!

Madi had to get the boys but baby H needed to nurse and take a nap so she dropped us at Clever Cycles. While I fed the baby Mike test rode a few bikes. H was woken by a cacophony of bells and wanted to join in on the fun. I bought a new Qi bell for the Surly – I think it’s the only bell that’s wide enough for my .38mm handle bars. It blends in so well that I keep forgetting it’s there!

We started heading back to Madi’s and we met her en route! Visiting Portland so often is really paying off in terms of finding our way.

When we got home we saw that Mike had broken a spoke! I had asked if he had a broken spoke that morning (but it wasn’t) so I must’ve jinxed it! The closest bike shop was willing to stay open an extra 5 minutes to make the fix and he grabbed dinner for us on the way home.

And as a bonus ride we hit up a bar for drinks while he stayed home with the kiddos! I borrowed the Brompton! It was fun! But squirrelly! Bromptons can be customized a lot so each one is so different! I didn’t figure out shifting but luckily we were only on flat ground.

Thursday, April 5: to the train station we go! And then Madi got a flat. Womp womp. It’s the curse of Lindsey. She insisted that we leave her and continue on towards the train.

We made it to donuts without getting lost and met up with Kath! Upon leaving we split up, I headed to the train station to check our bags, and Mike followed Kath to a bakery to buy sandwiches for lunch. The person at the bag check gave me some side eye about my bike and wouldn’t give me a tag for Mike’s bike without seeing it. Seating was first come first serve and we ended up getting a bank of 4 to ourselves, despite having to wait for the baggage handlers to hang our bikes.

Despite the rain we decided to ride home taking the semi circuitous route (because I don’t yet know a safe downtown route) along the water and then up to Seattle Center before heading home via Westlake and the Burke. I even rode into the fountain (because I was already wet)!

Friday, April 6: was a bigger day than planned! In the morning I took the Bakfiets up to Greenwood to meet up with a friend who was renting a bakfiets of her own! We headed north on the Interurban so she could test ride and get a feel for hills on a quiet stretch. After hitting up Kidd Valley on 143rd we headed back south so she could grab her kids from school.

Baby H & I headed home, but not for too long! After a short nap we got gussied up for date night! We rode back up to Greenwood to drop baby at our friends house where we played bike tag. Mike grabbed the Metrofiets and left the bakfiets. After drinks and wings we headed back to grab baby and swap the bikes back for our ride home.

Saturday, April 7: was raining. Like real rain. Originally I was supposed to go pick up a trailer (to temporarily replace our stolen one) but baby wanted to nurse all morning so I sent Mike off to grab it. We’ll need to order a special skewer hitch so that it’ll work with disc brakes, but once that’s in I’m hoping to get it set up with the car seat.

But I still had to get out and ride! After some time getting our wiggles out I strapped H into the front seat on Creme and headed down to Recycled Cycles. After searching through the used bins & not finding anything for new projects I left with a new chain lock. Hopefully this one will last longer than the old one. Of course it was raining when we headed home.

What’s 30 days of biking if it doesn’t rain?

Big Weeks & Little Weeks

I don’t ride when Mike is out of town. It’s hard to get up the energy to take care of everyone AND ride to the places we need to go. He’s been gone a lot recently so we’ve done a lot of bussing and walking.

But we have been participating in #errandonnee (although we’ve got a stomach bug & probably won’t finish) so here’s our current score card:

School/work: took baby H to toddler gym to distract him from teething. It failed miserably. He cried the whole time. People really hate crying babies and they act like you’re murdering them when they cry as you ride by.

Total miles: 5

Store: hit up Indoor Sun Shoppee and Theo for a new plant baby and some chocolate. Last time I was at Theo I forgot my wallet (no, they don’t take diapers as payment) so I made sure to bring it this time.

Non-store errand: stopped off at Free Range for some bike advice and also so he could tighten up my rear wheel. Mike has a habit of under wrenching on the rear wheel after he changes a flat or moves the trailer hitch around. We also slid my seat back further on the rails so I’d have more space in between me and the baby seat. I still can’t straddle the bike while both feet are on the ground-but it’s better.

Total miles: 7

Peaceful everyday actions: organized a quick #coffeeoutsideforher as a way to hang out with friends and talk about fun things. A nice way to keep it positive. Plus I got to test out the bio light for myself (Mike is usually on stove duty). I used too much fuel and needed more starter chips. Oh well. Now I know for next time!

Store: stopped by Ascent in Ballard to see about a used camping pad for baby H. They didn’t have any but we pet some cute dogs & I got to change a diaper blow out in the dressing rooms so that was fun!

Total miles: 15

Non-store errand: we technically rode to a store but we did have an outdoor picnic and I was testing out some gear so I’ll leave it up to you if it’s breaking the rules – rode to REI to test out hiking packs and left with a new lighter weight sleeping bag that still fits baby H & I (together 🙄), a pair of shoes for Mike, and a few other odds and ends. The large Swift pannier worked fine on the front rack although it was wonky riding with only one bag.

Total miles: 13

Social call: took baby H out for a blustery ride to the arboretum for a social call (for me, but also there was another baby for him).

Non-store errand: we also hit up the library on our way home for some crawling on and licking of the floor. Yay!

Total miles: 6

You carried what: my flat, skewer-less rear wheel. Womp womp. Someone broke into our building and stole our trailer (which is making me realize just how attached I was to it!) and for reasons unknown to anyone ever, flatted my tire and stole the skewer from the back wheel (but not the locking nut) among other things. So it was technically unridable but I’m going to count this walk as an errand. In addition to the fixes I got her some colorful replacement water bottle cages and a new headset piece. They’re making me happy.

Personal care: riding the bike home from the shop. The rear wheel is a bit squeaky but I’m hoping it’s just a bit over tightened and will loosen up with our planned rides tomorrow. It was a quick jaunt as I was cutting it close to baby bedtime but still good to have her in working order once again.

Total miles: 4

Arts & entertainment: baby entertainment that is! We rode to an egg/beer hunt with friends! A pit stop at the park for swings while we waited for the rest of our bike parade to arrive, followed by a fun 80 block ride to a friends house. Older kiddos his eggs for small kids and adults hid beers for each other. Neither of the babies in attendance wanted to crawl so they just sat on a picnic blanket & watched the bigger kids run around. It was great!

Total miles: 15

Personal care: moon worshiping with friends! We rode west towards the beach with a stop off at Fred Meyer for firewood. Upon arrival we found all the fire pits in use, with several unsanctioned ones burning outside the official rings. So we made friends with some lawbreakers and took over their fire when they left. It was lovely. We rode back after midnight but I’m going to count all the mileage since it started within the timeframe.

Total miles: 15

Lookie! We finished! 12 errands over 12 days for a total of 80 miles! Impressive!