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

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!

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.