Biking While Female: Pregnancy is Weird

Real talk: pregnancy is weird. I can’t bend over to tie my shoes but I managed to bike 15 miles today.


I had a meeting over coffee in Belltown this afternoon & the weather was beautiful so I decided to bike & I definitely do not regret my decision! I opted for the Westlake option to getting around Lake Union, although GoogleMaps tells me that Eastlake is shorter. I didn’t actually stop off at Gasworks on the way there, but it was the only way to capture my whole route.

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It took me the predicted 40 minutes, which was surprising since I tend to be a slow rider. Much of the way was ever so slightly downhill though, so I think that tipped the scales in my favor. I was nervous about getting tacked on Westlake because I keep reading about it happening to other people, but so far so good on that front.

I’ll often take the long way around to get from the Burke Gilman to the Fremont Bridge, but today I wasn’t feeling the bumpiness by Google & didn’t want to be late so I opted for the road. The bike lane is closed there due to construction but it was mid-morning with virtually no car traffic.

After Westlake I headed up a block to turn onto 9th (using the pedestrian signals) & rode along 9th to get to Bell St. It was a pretty quiet, although I did have to go around 1 FedEx driver who had parked in the bike lane. I walked the first 2 blocks of Bell because they’re pretty steep uphills & I didn’t want to tire myself out too much. Plenty of drivers disregarded the bike/bus only signs but short of in-person enforcement I don’t see how to fix that problem. Bell is really nice to ride on: vibrant, narrow, well landscaped, and human-sized! At the end of the hill I turned onto 1st where I rode on the sidewalk for 1.5 blocks to the coffee shop.

After our meeting I wanted to take my time riding back (because who really wants to spend a sunny afternoon writing a paper on the Alaskan Way Viaduct?!) so I opted for the long way home. With a cupcake to go, of course. It’s a steep downhill from Wall St to Elliot Ave but the combo coaster/hand brakes made it safely. I stopped for my cupcake after passing the face & would highly recommend the splurge purchase. $5.25 is a lot for a small pastry but DAMN! This had actual whole raspberries inside!


There were a ton of people out & about on such a beautiful day so the trail was pretty crowded. Luckily there’s a bathroom by the pier because baby has been enjoying sitting on my bladder! It was a nice slow ride from here to Balmer Yard in Interbay. From here I hoped on the bike lanes on 20th Ave W. Where it switches over to Gilman Ave W the bike lanes drop out but there was space to ride in the parking lane with relative comfort. I’d love to see this transformed into a protected lane here to allow for a better connection to the Ship Canal Trail. After turning onto W Emerson Pl & heading downhill I hoped onto the trail to head back to the Fremont Bridge.


I made a pit stop for snacks at West Ewing Park, across from Wallace Field before heading up & over the bridge. I rode along 34th to get back to the Burke Gilman & then made a quick stop over at Gas Works. I rode almost to the top of Kite Hill, but ultimately decided it was best to walk up. It wasn’t too crowded but there were plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine! Then I stopped off by the water before making my final turn towards home.

Overall a great day out in the sun & I’m glad I postponed paper writing (jk – ask me about that tomorrow)!

Pregnant Body; Pregnant Brain

My body is quite pregnant. But my brain is quite determined to forget that.

Like yesterday when I convinced myself that I could bike 4 miles in 25 minutes & would be FINE. This would be my non-pregnant biking speed. But my brain had committed my body & so here we were. Lost. Angry. In the pouring, windy rain, riding in circles around & around & around. Five minutes late became 35 minutes late & I devolved into a hopeless mess as I failed to find my location. I thought I was losing my mind.

In the end I found my destination (no thanks to googlemaps) by cutting through a hole in a fence. I was only 500 feet away from it the whole time, a classic can’t get there from here scenario. I biked through a panic attack, during which I beat myself up for being utterly lost & helpless, unable to complete the simple task of navigation. I resisted the urge to puke while choking back my tears.

My pregnant body decided hemorrhoids would be a nice gift to my un-listening brain. My round ligament protested my frantic pedaling & repeated carrying of my very heavy bike over very tall curbs.

Today my whole body hurts. Maybe my brain will start listening. But this is doubtful. My brain just reserved a camp site for bike camping over Memorial Day weekend. My body doesn’t know yet. I wonder what fun punishment she’ll spring upon me after that trip.

Errandonnee 2017

It’s that time of year again! Time for #errandonnee! If you’re not familiar with the social media phenomenon, it’s a friendly way to encourage people to ride around town & get stuff done. It’s hosted by Mary over at Chasing Mailboxes.

I’ve participated for the past 3 years but I’ve never actually completed a score card (much like #coffeeneuring). Mostly because I’m lazy and also because I’m not a fan of patches (GASP). I like stickers more. Less work. More sticky. But I love running errands on my bike so here’s my informal participation:

Tuesday

#1: Personal Care – lil nug wanted McDonald’s so lil nug got some McDonald’s. Unfortunately there’s no bike rack but I locked up to the fencing around the drive through. At only 1 block off the BGT I will totally be back as more cravings arise.


#2: Store – next I headed over to University Village to pick up some stuff for around the house. I found a sale on storage bins to help organize our cloffice (office/closet). I also found a cute air plant at Ravenna Gardens to put in a sculpture that I made. Next it was time to go to the Amazon bookstore (because they have the nicest bathrooms) to look around. I popped over to PaperSource to get some cards & envelopes and then got a GIANT ice cream cone at Molly Moons. It had been spitting out so I found some covered bike parking at QFC while I picked up some more strawberries. I also stopped by GAP & found a good deal on these super cute baby leggings (I have a problem, I know).


#3: Store – back to University Village! I only bought flat cards – not flat cards & envelopes at PaperSource & the sale was ending that day so I quickly headed back out on my bike to make the switch.


Wednesday

#4: Personal Business – I took Bikey over to G & O to talk about changing up the handlebar situation. We’re going to add a stem riser to make the bike even more upright and give a bit more clearance for the baby carrier.

Grass is just a toupee for mud puddles

#5: Personal Care – on the way home from G & O I had a nap attack. The kind where you feel like you MUST LAY DOWN & SLEEP or you will die. It was hard to make it home. Lil nug kicked me anytime we stopped for a red light or when he determined that I was pedaling too slowly. All I wanted was to sleep. But then we passed Xi’an Noodles & I had a sudden craving for their cumin beef “burger” & I knew that I had to stop & grab one to go. So I locked up to the patio rack of the place next door & managed to snooze a bit while waiting in line. Win!


I thought about riding to my midwife’s appointment later in the afternoon but decided that I was far too tired & we took the bus instead.

Slow, slower, slowest

I went for a brunch jaunt up to Ballard with Madi yesterday for biscuits. We ate at Morsel & I thought they were totally worth the hype! Not necessarily worth the line that’s always outside of their U District location, but a weekday visit was well timed.


We met up at the Wall of Death on a beautiful sunny, albeit slightly chilly morning. We rode the BGT until the end & then took Shilshole for half a block to turn up 17th. They should really extend the trail the extra 200 yards to connect to 17th while we wait for them to finish planning the trail extension.

We found a boat outside Mighty’O! A brand new parklet with seating & plants that’s so new it hasn’t even been debuted yet! Obviously the perfect photo op.


My current pace is ~9 mph on flats. Anything much more than 10 I start to get heartburn. I ended up using the first level of my assist to keep up. It seems early to feel so slow, but I’m trying to listen to my body & do what it wants.

When we got to Morsel I thought I forgot my keys (except I really didn’t, thanks pregnancy brain!) so we ended up locking together. Thank goodness for Madi’s Abus folding bike lock because Bikey can be a pain to lock to since she’s so large & has the GIANT front basket. The outdoor seating was lovely, especially since it’s a pretty small place with only a few small tables.

Madi had a hair appointment so I headed back to campus for a meeting of my own. I had 30 minutes so took my sweet time. It wasn’t until I got to Stone Way & checked my phone that I realized I only had 5 minutes before my meeting! At that point I used the assist to help me speed things up & ended up being only 5 minutes late.

Later in the day I rode Creme to campus to meet up with Lynn & then headed to the dentist for some tooth pain. My ride home was slowwww and I walked half a block uphill but overall I’m happy that my body is still moving forward at a relatively steady pace.

 

Biking to REI

I had to made a swap at REI. My dad bought me a new jacket for my birthday but it didn’t quite fit so I ordered a larger size to the store. I decided to wear the jacket over & return it so I wouldn’t have to lug an extra coat around.

REI is only about 4 miles from me by the most direct route but Eastlake is a total bummer so I decided on a very calm yet very circuitous route. My route was very flat – the only hills being on Harrison & the climb up the 4 blocks at the end back to home.Screen Shot 2016-12-17 at 5.25.38 PM.png

I rode the Burke Gilman Trail to the Fremont Bridge & then hopped on the Westlake cycle track until I got to 9th. I took 9th to Harrison then over to Yale and down to John because the bike parking is located on the Eastlake Side of the building.

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The ride was pretty calm & there weren’t too many people out until I got over to Yale which houses the parking garage for REI. This is a mess. People are angry.

Despite wayfinding signs getting to the bike parking is tricky. The signs all seem to point in contradictory directions & they use the term “bikes” to mean “mountain bike test trail” NOT to be confused with “bike parking”.


The parking is covered & close to the exit – although weirdly far from the entrance – of the store. I was disappointed in the installation of the racks. They’re bolted together to a stringer that connects 8 or so racks but this puts them too close together & the stringer made it hard for me to set my kickstand. My bike JUST fit in the rack but it meant I was taking up 2 spaces instead of 1. There was also a limited number of racks for the MASSIVE number of car spaces in the parking garage. It was token bike parking & that’s a bummer.

The store is huge. I thought I was in an IKEA. There’s a play area for kids & a restaurant & 8 million lines for returns & online orders. It was packed the weekend before the holidays & wait times at the checkout were 30 – 40 minutes.

I was able to swap out one jacket for the next size & headed back out on my cold, snowflakey ride home.

Why is building safe infrastructure so hard?

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night, convinced that your idea is so important that you just HAVE to write it down RIGHT NOW before you forget?

Why don’t we have community hearings when they want to add a shoulder to a road? Or add guardrail or rumble strips? When they want to add a median?Β When planners and engineers want to incorporate safety features to protect people driving we rarely hear about it.

Why then, when they try to add infrastructure to protect people riding bikes or walking do we need to hold multiple community stakeholder meetings over the course of several months or even years to get this done?

Why, when we try to build infrastructure to protect the lives of our most vulnerable users, to ensure their safe and constitutionally protected passage on our streets, must we first appease the community and get “buy-in”? Why can’t we do this?

The answer is value. We don’t value the lives of those who don’t travel exclusively by car. They aren’t important. They’re just “recreating” and they need to grow up and buy cars like real adults.

I’m tired of being told that my safety and constitutional rights aren’t as important as people who drive. We deserve the infrastructure; community buy-in be damned. If safety was truly paramount – as the saying goes: if we could save evenΒ one life – we would build the infrastructure that is proven to increase safety.