The best laid plans

Never work out.

With weather yesterday in the 70s and sunny I was dreaming of the beach! I was hoping to go to Olympic Sculpture Park and was able to rope in a friend to join!

Except that the baby didn’t want to go for a bike ride. He started out grumpy and his mood didn’t improve. I think it was a combination of sun, an overly floppy hastily attached sunshade, wind from not having the cover on, and DST waking us up later so we had less morning play to get our wiggles out.

Even though it was only in the 50s when we left home I didn’t want to bake the baby as the day heated up so we took off the cover for the bakfiets. I’d never ridden without the cover and it was so nice! It somehow felt easier to get places, although maybe it was just the nice weather.

A few months ago I ripped the sun shade from our stroller and it was under warranty so they sent us a new one. It has Velcro on the sides where it wraps around the stroller frame so we stuck the Velcro to the car seat. Then we tucked the back part of the sun shade down against the box to keep it from blowing away. I added a thin muslin blanket to provide additional coverage. But it was too loose! The shade ended up being too floppy and baby H was not a fan. But also he didn’t like the sun in his face. No winning kiddo.

So after many silly songs and no signs of cheering up we stopped for a quick on board nursing session. So much easier without the cover attached! While he nursed I watched some sparrows flit around in the trees and practiced my squats. I’m 100% people thought I was doing some sort of crazy dance but the baby was happy.

After about 10 minutes we were off again! But still unhappy. We made it about 5 more minutes of riding before a total meltdown. So out of the bike and onto the grass! At a very non scenic spot. But H was happy to throw his ball and wave his arms. Plus he discovered a new sound of the day: BEEP BEEP! Everyday he likes one new weird sound. But the next day that same sound is boring to him. Babies.

At this point I didn’t think we could make it to the park so texted my friend to see if they were down to meet up at the locks. They were! We hung out for about 20 minutes before starting out again. This time we were relatively happy (with a few roadside dandelion stops of course).

And I made it up Emerson! I had to walk up in the pouring rain 6 weeks ago so I was extremely proud! Go me! I decided to try out a new route to the locks. I rode up Gilman in the new protected lanes until the end then followed the signs for the locks. It took us down a relatively steep trail, across a narrow wooden bridge, and then down another steep but short street. And boom! Arrived! It was much nicer than riding on Market or even on 21st.

At the locks we picnicked for a bit and then Jen tested out my bakfiets with her nanny baby! He loved it! Or maybe just the new toys in the car seat. But then I remembered it’s a crazy expensive fine for riding in the locks so we put an end to that.

I’ve been biking around with a folding chair for 3 months and finally got to test it out while nursing! It worked great! Totally worth the extra 3 pounds or so.

I reversed our route for the way home, walking up the steep street. Of course as soon as we got to the bridge we had a massive diaper blow out! So out of the bike, onto the ground, changed him in a pile of pine needles. And then back on, and up the hill to Gilman.

He ended up sleeping the whole way home! It was fabulous! I stopped a few times to adjust the little blanket but he stayed asleep until I unlocked the door.

Overall a fun day!

Oh! Join me for full moon rides! Next one is 3/31. Ride from the Wall of Death at 9!

A Day at Discovery Park

Not too long ago I didn’t think it was possible to ride to Discovery Park. When I was 37 weeks pregnant I accepted the (self-imposed) challenge & rode over. And then down to the beach. And on the way back up (mostly walking) I thought to myself: if I can make it up this hill, I can totally give birth. I was pretty sure I’d give birth on that hill, I was having so many contractions!

On the way home I noticed new markings indicating a change in the bike lane. And while recovering from birthing H they did it! They made a protected bike lane from the end of the Ship Canal Trail to Magnolia Town Center (about 4 blocks away).

We had ridden over last month for a family picnic and hike and it was glorious (minus those last 4 blocks – WHY YOU DO THIS TO ME SEATTLE?!)!

So we were back! And I was determined to find a way up to the bluffs where there’s a big sandy patch perfect for exploring. We made it with only minimal breaking of the no riding on trails rules and I think I figured out how to go next time to avoid that issue. I’ll post the route once I confirm.

The day was clear and the Olympics were out! We spent about 40 minutes shoveling sand into our mouth before I packed us up and headed for the playground.

The playground squirrels are bold! One climbed into the bike trailer while we were on the swings.

The protected lanes worked well except when we had to turn from Gilman onto Emerson. I signaled our turn too adamantly & ended up biking into the soft bollard in the middle of the lane, where my toe got caught underneath it! I thought I was going to have to take off my shoe! After several awkward minutes of jiggling my foot I was free! And we made our way home without further incident.

Yay for safe infrastructure!

Your bike is too heavy

And other things men say to me…

One night wayyyy back in December Mike was out of town and I was a lil drunk, and a friend got a bunch of us to sign up for “chilly willy” and commit to riding in prom dresses. And because I had no one home to say “but Lindsey you would hate that”, I registered!

Fast forward a few months to bitter cold, and the thought of riding around a hilly island in freezing wind and snow (!!) had me bummed. But we had gone dress shopping already – so we were committed! Although I told myself that if it rained I would just bike to a coffee shop, hang out there alone for a few hours, then head home and say I rode the whole thing realllllly fast.

As it was, I planned to meet up with Jen at 6:30 to ride the longer, flatter route to the ferry. We were going alone, as all of the other mamas had kids in tow and would be taking a later ferry. But the morning of was so windy that we didn’t want to take the more exposed route. And I forgot to charge my light so it was dark! We decided to take the still not super direct route (but the one I knew better than guessing at the direct one) through Seattle Center. This also may have been for photo ops…sorry Jen!

We made it to the ferry with time to spare, but getting in the slow line (12 mph or less) was quite the challenge! It was blocked by all of the fastfastfast riders who simply could not move over to make room. But we made it! By the time we loaded onto the ferry it was almost full. We parked up on the upper deck by laying our bikes down (non drive side) in a very Surly fashion. It was windy on the deck! I think we were the only ones crazy enough to go outside.

Of course as soon as we got back to our bikes to off load I got the “your bike is too heavy” comment. He said he was impressed with anyone riding on a steel steed. And the bags! “Why so many bags?” SNACKS. And puffy down vests. Of course he was riding with a backpack and that looked horrible to me. I told him not to worry, that it was my lightest bike and I could even lift it over my head! He seemed doubtful, but repeated press ups of a 20+ lb baby will do that for you!

We waited a bit for faster riders to clear out before heading up the hill to start the course. There I was met with my first descent. I’m not a great descender (I fear speed) but it’s gotten much worse after a recent slide down our steep driveway. And my brakes on HT require more hand strength to fully activate than I currently possess. Needless to say it was slow going and many people passed me. But then I passed them back on the uphills because lil Hill Topper lives up to her name!

We stopped for photos along the water and got some passive aggressive comments for that, but soon continued on up the hill and around the corner and OOF. I had broken the cardinal rule of going up hill around a blind corner: I expected it to flatten out and thus didn’t shift out of 8th gear. I felt like a certain 8 year old I know. So I had to step off and walk up to a flatter spot where I could get going again. Many people yelled ON YOUR LEFT to let me know that I was very much inconveniencing them and obviously hadn’t trained enough for the event.

We stopped for photos and burgers at Frog Rock and again at a cookie stop not too far down the road. That’s when the pack of fast riders from the next ferry caught up to us. They wooshed around us on a downhill, going 40+ mph. They did not seem amused with my five seconds off, three seconds on braking style. I got many glares as they zoomed by.

But then we came to the first big uphill and I was passing people left and right…until…someone popped their cleat out just in front of me and that was the end of that. I made my way over to the side to walk the rest of the way. I probably could’ve recovered if I had more experience riding in groups, but as this was my first organized ride I wasn’t able to swerve around him and keep going.

We rode with the pack for a while and it was fun! And we were fast! I even pedaled on the downhills! We were cruising! The next major downhill was terrifying and I lacked the confidence to open up like I had done on some of the less steep grades. I think the combination of hills, cars, and curves really bothered me. Of course I downshifted too early in anticipation of climbing the big hill ahead and lost a lot of momentum. We stopped at the top to readjust our layers. There was a lot of yelling at the top of the hill from volunteers directing traffic. They just kept yelling CAR CAR CAR CAR UP CAR BACK CAR CAR CAR CAR UP CAR BACK BIKES AHEAD BIKES BACK BIKES UP CAR CAR CAR! It was pretty much the worst. I missed the quiet of earlier.

The halfway point was just ahead so we pulled off for bathrooms and baked potatoes. The lines were long when we arrived but it seemed to clear out fast. Of course I dropped my potato on my drive train…

Just as we were finishing up the mama bears rolled up! We stayed to hang out, but probably overstayed by about 20 minutes chatting. It was hard to get rolling again. Soon after we hit the road we spied a fox! Jen thinks that it was checking out my new Swift bags! Copyright infringement!

Around this point a man yelled “on your left” as we headed up hill. I kept waiting for him to pass me. But he never did. Ha! I guess I was just going too fast. We muddled along to the shortcut, got turned around and then eventually found our way. But a big, winding descent threw me off my game. At this point the crowd had thinned out so we were stuck on the gravel and debris filled shoulder. And it had been windy so there was a lot of tree litter. People driving cars were passing close and fast. I couldn’t handle it. So I walked. Then when I went to get back on I crunched a huge rock the wrong way and almost tipped in front of a car. So I took a few minutes to hold back the tears before setting out again.

And then, the final climb. Up, up, up. Again the bike lane was filled with debris and impatient drivers of very large vehicles with extremely wide overhanging mirrors were passing. About 3/4 of the way up I pulled off to adjust layers and let some slower riders get further away from me. It turns out I’m not a confident passer on the uphills. I don’t want to pass someone who speeds up to compete with me (aka MEN) and then won’t let me get back over. People (men) don’t like to be passed by people (mostly women) in velvet dresses.

All was going well on the final downhill stretch until someone in a Subaru decided to punishment pass me just as I was skirting a major pothole. Don’t worry. We both got to that stop sign at the same time.

And the end! Chili and cornbread! I’d give it a meh on both counts – the beef chili tasted like inside of a can and the cornbread had huge grains of sugar that made the texture unpleasant. We hung around for about an hour with the mama bears, who finished up a few minutes after us. Lynne brought beer (& it was still cold!) because she is awesome.

But then it got too cold so we headed for the ferry, where of course we stood in line for a while freezing our butts off before getting on. The benefit to being towards the front of the return line was that I got to hang my bike! Woo! I actually got trapped between the bike and the wall and Jen had to rescue me but it was fun anyways. A bunch of Surlys parked near me so I know I was in good company despite the many repeated exclamations of “wow that Surly looks heavy” and “I can’t believe you’re riding a Surly uphill” and “heavier bikes should go down hills faster”.

I looked a bit out of place on the return ferry, what with my crushed velvet dress and all. Jen’s husband ended up giving us a ride home which was awesome because it started sleeting just as we got out of the car and I don’t think I would’ve handled it well on the ride home.

Overall it was fun! And not too cold. The weather held up nicely. Jen said I looked “fucking majestic” on the uphills. And that’s how I felt! But I think I’ll add interrupters (brake levers on the flats) to improve my descending.

The Hill Topper gets suited up!

I have some pretty epic plans for bike camping this summer (maybe too epic, we shall see) so I wanted to outfit the HT with racks and bags.

I was able to score some SWEET panniers at the Swift Industries “seconds” sale last weekend. They’re so pretty! The sale was a bit crazy! When we first arrived there was no line, but the wind was gusting 30-40 mph so we headed to a coffee shop in Pioneer Square. By the time we got back there was a line! I was able to grab a set of big rear bags for the back that I would’ve been happy with, but then a friend traded me for some that were a different color & gave me a front bag she didn’t want. It was kismet!

This week I dropped the bike at G&O for racks. I opted for a pretty standard rear rack (holds 50 kilos!) and basic front rack. The Straggler can be hard to add racks to, but they made it work! I like that the baby will be a bit further back to give him more space.

I’m hoping that the bags will fit down under the foot rests and then to use the front bag for easy access items.

I was looking to find a used Yepp seat in black, but opted for the newer version once I learned how easily it attaches! And it’s so light! I think it can go on any rack that can hold the weight, so it’s good for switching around bikes with Mike or visiting with friends! But of course color matching is a very important consideration, so I ordered it in the all black version. Hopefully it’ll be in next week!

I rode back to G&O with Lynne today while everyone else was at swim class. It’s a good thing I did because on the way over my gears were skipping. I had them shorten my derailleur cable to keep it from interfering with the bags.

The verdict is still out on if the left bag will interfere with the rear brake at all (fully loaded) but I’m goin to try to rig up a shim for the rack to hold the bag a bit further away if that’s the case.

On the way home we stopped off at R&E to check out their annual party and bid on some bikes! Woo!

Chilly Hilly is tomorrow! Going to fill up my bags with ALL THE SNACKS!

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 🙂