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!

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.

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.