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

Review: Coobie Women’s Comfort Bra

More biking while female problems.

Normally when I ride my bike I do so in my normal bra under my normal clothes and all is good and well. But recently my boobs have grown and have been very sore (thanks pregnancy hormones) so I looked into purchasing a bra without underwire to wear around the house.

I was lead to the Coobie – a softcup bra (there are cups & there are 2 distinct & removable pads) but had some reservations. My major fear was that it wouldn’t work. As a 32G I’ve accepted that I need underwire in order to be supported and comfortable, and to take the pressure off of my back.

Good news! It works! This bra was surprisingly supportive for wearing around the house & I was able to sleep in it to relieve some soreness.

Bad news! It’s not great for bumps. I wore it while riding on the Burke Gilman Trail in Fremont (SO MANY TREE ROOTS) and it was quite painful to go bumpbumpbumpbump.

Overall my review is positive but I would recommend bustier women stick with the underwire while riding if your route involves poorly paved areas.

You can buy it on Amazon or local maternity stores. I got mine at Village Maternity (in U Village) for the same price as Amazon (although not as many color choices).

Quite Possibly the Worst Bike Tour of Seattle (EVER)

On Saturday I went on a bike tour led by members of the Professionals Council for my Urban Planning program. This was supposed to be a tour of the city where we could get to know other people in the program and our professional mentor counterparts. We’ll be ranking potential mentors next week for a match based on shared interests.

The tour was set to meet in Volunteer Park. Almost instantly things went wrong. Students arrived expecting to rent Pronto bikes, as advertised on the sign up sheet. I took Creme (via the bus) but I assumed that we would meet near a Pronto station based on the flyer. No. In fact, the person leading the tour (John) didn’t know where the closest station was. He also didn’t understand the pricing structure, and failed to inform people about usage fees. He was under the impression that the bikes were per day. No one on the tour ever docked their bikes over the course of the next 4 hours. I imagine it was quite expensive. I explained it to several people.

It’s also worth noting that all of the members of the Professionals Council who attended were men. For a program that’s 50% women, this is a problem.

But back to the meeting location of Volunteer Park: sure, it’s a lovely example of an Olmsted park, but it’s also at the TOP OF A GIANT HILL. Which we promptly rode down. So why work so hard to point at one thing & have us head back down? Cruelty.

So we headed down from the park to Broadway where we rode in the uncomfortable sharrow zone for a few blocks until the protected bike lane starts. I noticed that most people were riding dangerously close to parked cars & kept swerving in & out of empty parking spaces. It made me uncomfortable that the ride leader didn’t have any sense of different skill or comfort levels.

So we’re riding along & stopping & more riding & stopping & at one of the stops the leader, John, decides to go on an anti-protected bike lane screed. He rants about how protected bike lanes cause people to be hit at driveways. He fails to explain how non-protected bike lanes solve this problem. Pro tip: they don’t. He asserts that there simply isn’t enough information about them. They haven’t been studied, he says. They’re a fad, he says. John apparently doesn’t know Europe & South America have been doing this for a while. And writing about their great successes. He should read more.

So then we do some more riding & stopping & John launches into another screed, this time it’s anti-streetcar. It’s an outdated technology, he says. It’s 18th century, he says. Apparently he doesn’t know when bicycles were invented. Or the all mighty combustion engine he thinks moves people better than the streetcar. It’s redundant, he says. We have Link now, he says. Well if redundancy is the mark of failure, we should start ripping up roads for cars RIGHT NOW, I think.

So we’re riding & riding & then we’re on YESSLER & isn’t that fun? It’s where numerous people riding bikes have been hurt or killed but yeah don’t give anyone any riding tips about streetcar tracks. LOLZ.

Then the PC members rant about density = bad. Growth bubble. BLAH BLAH BLAH. We should look at living in suburbs. Isn’t Bremerton nice? How about Everett? Just a short drive away. CAN’T HIDE CONTEMPTUOUS LOOK ON MY FACE ANY LONGER. AUDIBLY SNORT.

John wants us to bike up 4th until another PC member actually BEGS him to take us up the 2nd Ave lanes. He’s crotchety about this.

We meet at Pike Place Market & proceed to ride through it. On a Saturday. A FUCKING SATURDAY. PC members remark about the LOVELY example of a woonerf that is Pike Place. Don’t people driving massive SUVs on this street make it so INTERESTING? INSERT CONTEMPTUOUS FACE HERE. Pro tip: a woonerf only works on low traffic streets (for all modes) not a heavily touristed zone that sees massive hordes of dazed wanderers.

We then ride on a stroad with a sharrows & fast moving traffic. An exchange student in the program is almost right-hooked. I’m the only person who checks in to see if she’s okay.

We walk up a GIANT FUCKING HILL.

We’re now on a true woonerf with John decrying bike advocates who want to add a contraflow lane. He’s basically comparing them to pro-segregationists. At one point he actually yells the word SEGREGATION. We ride on the sidewalk for 5 blocks because it’s a one-way street with no contraflow lanes.

Lake Union. More bitching about streetcars. NO ONE CAN GET HERE FROM I-5 so it’s a failed venue. FAILED GODDAMNIT. That’s why Amazon is here. Because it’s failed, John says. LOLZ.

We ride into South Lake Union Park to MOHAI. People ding bells at pedestrians. It’s a DEAF EVENT. About inclusivity. There are signs. I point this out. No one else says anything.

People search for a Pronto station to dock at. Bitching about the Westlake protected bike lanes removing parking from John.

I leave. Quickly, and with gusto. I know who won’t be making it onto my mentor ranking card.

Biking While Female: A Review of Period Products

On Sunday morning I was excited to get my period! Woo! That may seem like a strange statement, but after several days of excruciating cramps with absolutely nothing to show for it, I was excited for the shed to begin. If I’m in pain I at least want to know something is happening & that it will end soon!

So why am I writing about it? Let’s backup about 10 years to when I first started taking hormonal birth control. It lightened my flow significantly & I was able to use tampons, or my more recently preferred menstrual cups (Softcup – the reusable kind), with a light panty liner at night. My flow was very manageable, light during the day and virtually non existent at night or any time I was laying in a prone position.

Riding my bike with a cup was a breeze. Tampons were fine, although the string could be annoying, but nothing to write home about.

Fast forward to today: I’m no longer able to take hormonal bc & I’m not able to wear tampons or cups for the next few months while I continue to recover from surgery. My flow is no longer light or even manageable (babbling brook vs. waterfall) and I felt 13 again. How could I possibly leave the house knowing I may well experience a wardrobe malfunction with no way to change?

So in my quest to not feel like a grown woman wearing a diaper I set out to find a pad that was both comfortable & effective. Here’s how it went:

I tried the Always infinity Overnight Pads with Wings (I hate buying 3 different kinds of pads; I prefer 1 kind that works in the majority of situations).

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via Always

On Sunday I had a pretty light flow & we took an impromptu 9 mile ride to Fremont & around Lake Union so I had plenty of test-ride time!

The pad is tapered, narrow at the front & larger at the back, not something I’ve seen before, but it seems helpful. The wings held it in place for the whole ride, no awkward bunching or moving. And the wings didn’t stick to my skin either, they stayed attached to my underwear, yay!

The pad is very soft, not to crinkly so I didn’t feel like I was wearing a diaper. It had a low profile & I couldn’t see it through my yoga leggings which is a super plus! I liked the length, it provided nice, full coverage.

Always advertises that the foam will mold to your body, and, for the most part, I found this to be true. It wasn’t bulky like other pads I’ve worn. It also didn’t cause much irritation while riding. I noticed some slight discomfort after about 7 miles, but as this is about how long I would usually ride in a day, this works for me!

In my never ending quest to review sanitary napkins (also because I still have my period) I rode another 12 miles on Tuesday! This time the results were less exciting. My flow was pretty heavy & after my ride I noticed that the back of the pad had shifted a bit. I was also hot & a little sweaty so this could’ve contributed. There was minimal leakage on my bloomers which was annoying but not worthy of a special wash.

Overall I’d say the limit on these is 10 miles or so for heavy days & I wouldn’t wear something light colored. As it was I wore my Hawaiian print skirt so if I had leaked no one would’ve even noticed.

Other possible products I’d like to try:

  • Thinx panties – although the price point is high at $30/pair & I would need at least 3 pairs to make it work
  • Reusable cotton pads
  • Luna pads – same cost issues

Do you have a favorite product?

My First Ride!

Back on the bike! I’ve been longing for the freedom biking gives me & this weekend I finally got a taste!

On Sunday we pulled out Creme for a quick spin around the block. I immediately noticed a wonkiness about her, and despite headset adjustments, we weren’t able to fix it. We walked her over the our local bike shop & got some bad news: the drop-out was bent.

We shipped our bikes here using bikeflights, but I would NOT recommend shipping with them if you have other choices. All 3 boxes sustained significant damage & so far 2/3 bikes needed significant repairs. They did refund the shipping costs, and these have pretty much cover the cost of repairs.

Shop guy said the bike was safe to ride since it wasn’t bent due to a crash, but that I could go over to R+E to see if they’d be able to bend it back into place. I’m opting not to fix it for now & I’m sure I’ll just adjust to the new wonkiness over time & then probably never fix it (shhh).

After getting her checked out, we hit up Trader Joes & Safeway for groceries & I decided to ride back from Safeway. It’s a short ride – only 4 blocks, but it’s downhill so I figured it would be a good test run! It also let me carry our groceries and our new plant home!

I beat Mike home & then I did a few laps back & forth on our street while I waited. He must’ve been walking very slowly because I got tired of waiting & decided to loop down one more block and come back up the hill behind our building.

The uphill block was harder than I expected but it was pain free! A guy who lives in our building was super impressed with my bike (because she’s BEAUTIFUL DUH) and so we chatted about that for a few minutes. I must admit, I was a bit embarrassed about how out of breath I was after only a short ride!

I noticed some soreness on my sits-bones, but I was sitting very far back on the seat to avoid any compression of my lady-bits so I’m sure this contributed to the issue.

Do any of you have cut out saddles? My doctor recommended some but they all look so ugly (& let’s be honest, that’s what really matters) & too sporty for my bikes so I haven’t purchased one.

Ready to go cargo?

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Not sure you’re quite ready to pull the trigger? Here’s a link to my review of my eBoda. If you’re a part of #bikedc keep your eye out for my floral basket & give me a shout during one of the many events of bike month!

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*This is an affiliate program & I am compensated if you use my code. This doesn’t change the price of the goods you receive (before discount). You must use the code at the time of bike purchase (purchasing accessories & bike at the same time).

Review: Ibex Juliet Mitten

Fall is upon us!

As we move into this chilly and windy season I decided to add some fall pieces to my collection. I have quite a bit of winter gear but I always struggle in the spring and fall to find those mid-weight pieces.

When I ride my hands get REALLY cold. Even at 50-60 degrees I find that my fingers get numb, especially on those lovely downhills. I’ve tried wearing a pair of old running gloves but found them too thin. It’s almost as if they made my hands more cold than if I wore nothing at all. My winter mittens, nondescript black gloves, are far too warm, making my hands sweat above 35 degrees.

I decided to give Ibex mittens a try. I love all of my other Ibex pieces, so I figured it would be a pretty safe bet.

The Juliet Mittens are sized wool mittens with leather palms:

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Here’s how they performed:

  • Warm but not warm enough to make my hands sweat (55 degrees, cloudy, windy)
  • Water resistant – worn in light rain and mist with gusty winds, the outside was wet while the inside stayed dry
  • Leather palms provided good grip and kept the thumb and palms dry
  • Flexible and functional allowing my fingers to move inside
  • Easy on & off – no snagging on rings or knuckles
  • No odor when wet
  • Dried quickly while laid flat

The one thing I would change about these mittens: add a little hook to hold them together.

Price: $60.00

Value: time will tell, but these look well made an durable