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.

eBikes are Mobility Tools

It bothers me when I see people disparaging ebikes as being for lazy people. I question whether these folks have ever ridden a bicycle while actually carrying anything on them. Have they ever ridden when they were under the weather? Or overheated and tired? I don’t think these people ride their bikes for transportation. Instead, they view ebikes as a lazy means of recreation, which is a false premise to base opinions on.

I have a cargo bike with bion-x e-assist. Bikey weighs 60 lbs or so without cargo, so she’s quite a hefty broad. She’s HARD to ride up big hills empty – let alone loaded down with cargo. I don’t know how people ride giant cargo bikes (with or without kids & cargo) without e-assist in Seattle.

I don’t ride my e-bike because I want to be lazy. I ride it because I want to get to my destination without getting aerobic exercise. I don’t believe that transportation should be a workout. I ride my bike to get places – not to work hard. And that doesn’t make me lazy.

We don’t own a car so we need mobility tools that are easy & convenient to use in order to get anywhere. Biking is easier for me than walking – especially when I’m carrying heavy items or things in a backpack.

I haven’t been feeling well lately & my ebike allows me to ride uphill without wanting to vomit. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Because I have a life to live & things to accomplish & this is the easiest way for me to do that.

Instead of writing off ebikes we need to understand that the people who use them aren’t any less a part of our cycling community than those who don’t. Instead of making everyone “work hard” let’s understand & appreciate that bicycles are a mobility tool first & foremost; their recreational value is one of marginal privilege.

Bike Camping at Fay Bainbridge pt. 2

Yay for part two! Here’s part one.

Okay so we’ve arrived at the campsite! It’s a small place with most of the sites backing the parking lot on one side & the water on the other side. There’s official hiker/biker camping but it’s really close to the parking lot side & it was full when we arrived.

We bumped into the host after paying ($7/person) & he suggested that we camp next to the kayaker campsite. This was further from the parking lot but still had a picnic table, adirondack chairs, and a fire pit. Our site was 200 yds from the bathrooms which was far in the middle of the night, but still doable.

I love open fire cooking so we made black beans (remember to bring a can opener if you bring canned beans!), sweet potatoes, and onions for dinner & polished it off with a growler of icy cold beer from Fremont Brewery (in our Miir growler) and skittles from the ferry.

We sat around the fire for a while & played some music before heading to bed around 10. Tug wasn’t amused that we were camping again & both dogs reminded us that despite the purchase of the 3 person tent (upgraded from 2 person), there would be no additional personal space gains because they need to sleep right ON TOP of us. YAY!

In the morning we took the same route back to the ferry & the crossing was beautiful! The ferry was crowded & a woman at the campsite was worried that we would have to wait for a long time because of the Seahawks game but Mike reminded her that bikes board first.

We were pretty tired in the morning & I didn’t charge my battery overnight so I wanted to conserve energy & so we ended up taking quite a few breaks along the way. A guy on the ferry said we were “fast” but he also assumed that it should’ve taken us more than an hour to ride 4 miles (he passed us as we turned onto 305). We bought chocolate from some girls selling it at the terminal & chatted with their moms about cargo bikes. One of them assumed we were going to put the bikes in our waiting car at the terminal & then seemed very worried when we told her that no, we don’t have a car & yes, we are going to ride through Seattle to get home.

We opted for a longer, less direct, but more off-street & more flat route than on the way there. This is the same route I rode with Madi the other day. There are really only 2 uphill portions outside of the approach to our building.

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We were exhausted by the time we got home & Mike ended up walking the last 3 blocks with the dogs. Kunu tried to chew his way out but didn’t make too much headway although he did manage to add some new teeth holes to the carrier.

If we were going to do it again we’d leave them at home to relax with a sitter & spend the weekend by ourselves.

Bike Camping at Fay Bainbridge pt. 1

Woo! Bike Camping!

We did a quick overnight last Saturday out to Fay Bainbridge with the dogs. Yes, that’s right, I rode around on the worst tour ever & then immediately switched bikes to go camping because I am insane!

Also I packed too much! I really love cooking over a fire pit while camping & we camped at several locations that didn’t sell wood this summer. I didn’t want to be out of luck when we arrived so we brought our own. We now know this is unnecessary but at least we had it when we needed it.

I rode the newly decorated Yuba and was tempted to rip off the spiderwebs because they kept getting caught in my leg stubble & pulling with each & every pedal stroke. But I did not because apparently I have the patience of a saint.

Mike had Tug & Kunu in the trailer as well as my ridiculously giant (and yet oh so comfy) overkill 32 degree sleeping bag. It’s the antithesis of backpacking gear but I like both how squishy & soft it is and how much room there is in the hips. My much more practical lightweight bag is tighter through the hips & I don’t sleep as well in it. I didn’t get a picture, but it packs down (in a compression bag) to about the size of a toddler, so Mike had it bungeed to his rear rack.

We ordered more bungee cargo nets but they hadn’t come in yet so I used the strap from the yuba bag to keep the wood attached. It leaned somewhat precariously but didn’t fall off so yay me!

On the way to the ferry we took the route I knew, even though it wasn’t the flatest or most direct. But as someone who gets lost very easily (& can’t take directions) I wanted to prevent any arguments so lead us on a familiar route that I had taken with Madi the week before.

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We rode the BGT to the cycle track on 34th, over the Fremont Bridge, along the Ship Canal Trail to the new Westlake lanes (thankfully we didn’t run into any tacks) then rode up the sidewalk on Mercer to get to the bike lane here, turned onto 5th, through Seattle Center to W Harrison, down to 3rd and up over the railroad tracks to the Elliot Bay Trail. From here we rode through Olympic Sculpture Park & along Alaskan Way to get to the ferry terminal.

We paid with our Orca Cards & arrived just in time to ride onto the next ferry! I was worried about the bikes tipping (because of the precariously placed wood) but everything went well! I tied the bikes up with the rope provided, but I don’t actually think it did anything.

Once on board we brought the dogs up to the sun deck & bought a much needed cheeseburger to share (not with the dogs). Luckily they were pretty patient during the unloading process. I’d guess we had them in the trailer for about 5 minutes not moving which is 3 minutes longer than it usually takes for Kunu to try and escape.

Upon arrival we huffed & we puffed up the hills along 305. This was not a pleasant ride. But I did like the sidepath & bike bridge where the shoulder disappeared. Alas, it ended & we were back riding next to cars going 65 mph. Yay!

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I did NOT like the “bike lane” at lights that asked people riding bikes to merge over car traffic (LOLZ 65 mph) and ride in between two lanes of moving traffic (straight & right turning). They were barely 4 ft wide & felt far too dangerous so we stuck to the shoulder & checked carefully for potential right hooks. It took us a long time to get there mostly because we were tired & we didn’t want to get lost & have to backtrack up any hills so we checked the directions a lot.

After the final slog up a GIANT MOUNTAIN followed immediately by a descent down said GIANT MOUNTAIN we arrived!

See pt. 2 (coming soon) for more about our camping adventure!

Bike Decorating: Halloween 2016

Thursday was the first day of fall! And you know what that means, right?


We dug the decorations box out of the storage unit to find that I didn’t actually pack most of my bike decor. The only item I had left was the skeleton garland & that just would not be festive enough by itself!

I struck out on decor at the art store so I headed over to the Dollar Tree to find some goodies. I wanted to change it up with decor for both Halloween & Thanksgiving and the price was right!

I found orange & black mesh tubing that I wove through the basket. I tied the ends in the back so no zip-ties needed. I also picked up a new plastic skull as a centerpiece. I poked two holes in the back & added a piece of wire then zip tied it to the front the of the basket. I’m hoping it won’t rip off like last year but I’m doubtful since it’s not very sturdy.

I added the skeleton garland from last year & zip tied each skeleton on so they wouldn’t hang down too far & dangle close to the wheel. For additional skull action I made spoke skulls! I poked a hole in the top of the plastic skull & then threaded wire through the hole in the top & the pre-cut hole in the bottom. I twisted the wire around the spoke so they’ll stay mounted up & down. Very easy to steal, so we’ll see if these last very long.

In a bout of overkill I also added spiderwebs to the frame with little plastic spider sprinkled in for good measure. I don’t know how long it’ll last since it’s pretty fragile but I have plenty leftover if I need to add more.

We also hung up our Halloween gel clings that look like dripping blood so our windows look awesome. The only thing left is to put up the orange & purple lights I got & our tiny apartment will be transformed into a spooky murder den. Yay!

Lopsided Loads

Friday we planned to take the dogs over to Magnuson Park & stop off at Mud Bay in University Village on the way back.

We decided against the dog park with all of the rain since we had just cleaned the house. I’d like to check it out though, so we’ll have to look for a sunnier day.

In the end Mike & I ended up riding over to University Village without the pups. The ride there is mostly downhill & I love that E Stevens Way is a no-passing zone through campus. I love when we can ride next to each other but people can get really nasty about riding two-abreast on the incorrect assumption that it’s easier/faster to pass multiple single-file riders. We bombed down Pend Orielle which was awesome. I love fast downhills. Also racing Mike because I almost always win!

We got to the bike racks in front of the Tiffanys just in time! It started pouring as we were locking up so we took refuge under an awning. We walked around a bit before unlocking & riding over to Mud Bay. It’s not located in the U Village plaza so we rode on the sidewalk of 25th to get there. Of course someone driving an SUV almost plowed into us as we turned up the driveway to the store. It’s a really steep entrance & we both lost momentum & had to hop off & walk up the hill.

As we loaded the 45lb bag of dog food onto my bike it started pouring so we waited for a break in the rain before leaving. I was standing on the right side of Yuba when I put the kickstand down but I should’ve been on the left, where the weight was so I could rest it on my hip. I dropped the bike onto my leg & now I have a lovely welt on my shin.

Mike popped the chain back on & we rode back down the sidewalk to cross 25th at Pend Orielle. We hopped on the trail here & then cut through campus to get back home. Uphill was not as fun. Who would’ve guessed?

It would’ve been much easier to ride with the load if it had been centered or equally weighted. Unfortunately we don’t have any bungee cords right now, otherwise I would’ve strapped it across the rear rack. I could’ve put it in the basket (50lb weigh limit) but steering gets wonky above 35lbs. Oh well, we made it home with only 1 bruise so alls well that ends well!

Who put that mountain there?

Is what I say to myself all the time.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME SEATTLE? These are not hills. They are MOUNTAINS.

Yesterday I rode to Capitol Hill. I did not want to do this, but alas, my local art store didn’t have the size of glass I needed & I knew Blick would, so off I went. Sidenote: much better location for my wallet than in DC because now I can’t get there without fear of death by heart attack!

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I took Yuba because HILLZ. I headed south over University Bridge where I graciously surrendered my right-of-way to a large truck hauling a boat (JK no, they just ran the stop sign) & pulled a box turn at the light to head east on Furhman. Last time I biked to Capitol Hill I took Harvard & it sucked. Furhman was relatively quiet & FLAT but more than one person revved their engine behind me. Why? FOR FUN PROBABLY.

Googlemaps is crazy & directed me to turn up Shelby which I don’t even think is possible to bike up. I think you would just tip backwards & fall to the center of the earths core if you tried it. Seriously. My neck hurt just looking at it. I decided to press on & try to find a hill with less grade. I turned right onto Hamlin to head up the hill & had to use full assist while pedaling as hard as possible. WHO PUT THIS MOUNTAIN HERE?!

After a relatively long break at the top with copious water consumption & much panting (to the consternation of the man setting out his trash can) I turned left on 10th & pressed onward & ever upward. I hopped onto the sidewalk at E Roanoke to push the button & continue on my way up 10th. This is a stupid intersection.

I plodded along using copious amounts of battery power while gasping for air & cursing the tectonic plates that lie underneath this horrible city. I stopped at the top of the hill to catch my breath & suck down ever more water while sweaty profusely & mumbling profanities (but only because I was too out of breath to yell them).

The bike lane ends here but the lane is 12 feet wide so yay for being squeezed in between moving & parked cars! I never feel like I can hold a 12 foot lane. They’re just too wide. No particularly close passes though, most drivers moved partially into the center passing lane to pass.

When 10th turns into Broadway it becomes a bit more narrow so I rode in the lane here until the protected lane starts at E John Street. The lane is nice & wide with plenty of passing space & bike specific traffic signals. Alas, my journey was almost over so I didn’t get to ride in it for too long.

I purchased a few pieces of pre-cut glass as well as an 18 x 24 inch pad of newsprint The smaller glass fit in my basket but I rested the newsprint & the large piece of glass on top & secured it with a bungee. Most people would assume that you can’t bike with large sheets of glass but I do it all the time & I’ve yet (knock on wood) to break any.

Despite feeling nauseous & dizzy and having a SPLITTING headache (riding up mountains will do that to a person) I decided to try to ride through Interlaken Park on my way back because after doing all the work to get up the hill I figured I should get to enjoy it!

Lovely filtering at Volunteer Park

I headed back down Broadway & turned off in order to ride on Federal Way which was quiet but also hasn’t been paved in 1,000 years. After bumping along for several long blocks I turned onto E Prospect to head through Volunteer Park. It had started misting by now so I took shelter under a large tree & tried to protect my pad of newsprint from rain so it wouldn’t bubble up. I ripped up the two plastic bags I use for seat covers in an attempt to cover the pad. It worked relatively well but required some re-tucking in throughout the rest of the journey.

Cargo secure, I continued on my way. But being severely directionally challenged I got lost. Googlemaps wanted me to turn onto 19th to get to Interlaken Drive E (which I should have done?) but I was confused about which section was open to cars. I wanted to ride through the whole park & I saw that E Interlaken Boulevard was marked in dark green for protected lane/trail so I was trying to get there.

In the end I walked my bike down the very steep sidewalk to 23rd while squeezing my brakes as hard as possible & gave up, tired of going several steep blocks uphill only to go right back down & up & down & up-up-up. 

I got back on my bike & headed down 24th, taking the sidewalk over the Montlake Freeway & the bridge.
I headed up the ramp at the Link station & rode back through campus along Stevens Way. Home at last, we walked over to Udon where I ate the best noodles ever & then took a nap to recover.

Soon to come: a petition to level the city to make it humane & civil.