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.

Reckless Riding

Unless you tell a pregnant woman (repeatedly) that she should be careful, she will ride her bike extremely recklessly. It’s just a fact. We all know this.

Of course this is an inconvenience to you, dear passerby. For you must yell to her as she lumbers by, huffing and puffing her way to the top of the hill.

If you’re lucky she’ll be locking up and you can admonish her while she’s trapped between her bike and the rack. In this case I’d especially recommend doing it while she’s struggling to bend over to retrieve her dropped keys, as she’ll be out of breath and less likely to respond. By all means, do NOT help her pick up her keys. This would reward her for her reckless riding behavior.

Be sure to remind her that once baby comes she won’t be able to ride anymore. Encourage her to purchase a large SUV for her growing family, you know, something really safe.

It is your duty as a human to yell at pregnant women. They can’t help themselves in this vulnerable time. You must remind them of their poor life choices every chance you can. Otherwise they may view themselves as people capable of making their own choices, when in reality they’re just vessels for future humans. This is your responsibility and I expect you to take it very seriously.

 

Who Needs Padded Pants?!

It was day 3 of our first (& totally over zealous) bike camping adventure. We had worn our normal, cotton shorts (because who needs those special padded pants?) and were setting off on our longest day yet (each day was the longest day we had ever ridden before). It was a balmy 85 at 8 am and the humidity was already oppressive. The air was heavy and the sun was already high in the sky.

Our route took us along a relatively flat, paved trail but we didn’t anticipate the extreme lack of shade. Because it was a converted rail road line that was currently being used by a power company, there were virtually no trees along the trail. My shorts were soaked through in minutes. A bit after noon we stopped off at a bar for burgers and fries and I downed 2 beers to go with it. The air conditioning was like heaven.

We hurried out of the bar after checking the weather report & seeing that we could potentially beat the approaching storm. Not 30 minutes later I began to regret the beer. My ass was already sore from riding, but after using port-a-potty toilet paper for my beer induced diarrhea I couldn’t sit on my bike seat without crying in pain. Hemorrhoids are real my friends.

We made it home minutes before the storm began & vowed never to go bike camping again. Don’t worry though – we went again a few weeks later (but only for 1 night).

Why the flashback moment? Pregnancy hemorrhoids, obviously! 

I’ve taken to riding Creme because that seat is more comfortable. I can ride for upwards of 10 miles on Creme without any irritation, but I can barely make it 3 miles on Yuba without serious discomfort.

So how did I manage to ride 16 miles with minimal discomfort the other day? Witch hazel pads! I was nervous about the length of my ride so I decided to soak an overnight pad in witch hazel in an attempt to prevent irritation. It worked great! I’ll be sure to repeat this method for the remainder of my pregnancy, and to employ it for future camping trips.


If you’re still feeling soreness and irritation I’d recommend a sitz bath (you can find these at any drug store) with diluted apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes. Tuck’s also makes some nice witch hazel wipes if you don’t want to commit to wearing a pad while riding.

Happy hemorrhoid prevention!

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.

Fake Baby

What happens when you dress up a bag of citric acid and some clay in a onesie & bike around with it?


You get weird looks. Horrified looks. Stares. Maybe even some screams.

We received a hand-me-down carseat from a friend  & wanted to test out ways to fit it on the bike. It turns out that a standard car seat is the PERFECT size for the Yuba Bread Basket!


In order to test the steering & handling we decided to test it out with 10 lbs of weight. The basket is rated for 50 lbs & I frequently load it up with heavy cargo. Total weight of the carseat & fake baby: 20 lbs.

It worked! It doesn’t affect the steering, although it will mean slightly wider turns due to the handlebar clearance. If you have it set not quite so upright this probably won’t be an issue. It also doesn’t affect my vision! The basket makes it so I can’t see my front wheel anyways, so I didn’t find the height of the seat to be an issue.

Before adding real baby to the seat we’re planning to add in a layer of foam to the bottom of the basket. We also ordered a buckle strap to run under the seatbelt holder (if you weren’t using the base) for additional security.


But yay! Frame mounted baskets for the win!

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.