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)!

Riding Around Stanley Park

Stanley Park. The gem of Vancouver. We saved the best for last & hopped on our bikes once the conference finished for a nice, slow roll around Stanley Park. I was carrying all of my stuff with me so I could head straight to the train station. I rode with two other women from the conference who were on Mobi bikes (I’m going to review these next week).

Here’s the route we took from the conference, down past the Olympic Cauldron, down to the seawall, and around the park.


We rode in the Hornby Street protected lanes to get down to the Cauldron but man it was a pain! It was so hard to make the light cycle as it only lasts 9 seconds & we kept having to stop for people to catch up, meaning missing yet another cycle. Plus the waits weren’t short so this was a definite source of frustration. It took us almost 15 minutes to go 6 blocks.

Getting to the seawall from the Orca & the Cauldron wasn’t intuitive & we had to ask for directions from a security guard who yelled at us about biking & made us get off & walk. We rode down a long, switchback-y ramp to get to the seawall & it was pretty crowded! Plenty of people out enjoying the day.

The path is very cut-up with a number of 90 degree angles, forcing awkward turns & it was hard to ride as a group here. But I did find one of the heart-shaped racks! Yay!

Once we got in the park the bicycle path is one-way & it’s raised with a sharp curb down to the pedestrian area. It’s only 8 feet at the widest point, and most of the trail was only 5 feet wide with a sharp cliff face on one side & steep curb on the other. I would not have designed the bicycle section to be raised, instead I would make the pedestrian area raised, much like they’ve done on the new section of the BGT through the UW campus. Passing was often uncomfortable & I was worried about falling off the path.

There were a large number of gates along the trail designed to force bike riders to get off & walk for very short distances, most only 30 meters. This was frustrating, especially since the park wasn’t crowded! It seemed like a way to punish people riding bikes. I fancy myself a rebel, but the other women I was with wanted to abide by the rules so I ended up pushing my heavily laden bike several times.

One of many splash parks
Kids dryers next to the splash park

We took a snack break on the beach & then almost got run over by a dump truck trying to back down the trail half on the bike lane, half on the sidewalk. Yay for unnecessarily large trash removal vehicles!

Super cute box spotted at the beach

I left my new friends around mile 8 & headed onto the street to check out the neighborhood diverters that had been installed to prevent people from driving down the street while still allowing bike access. I then hopped back on the seawall & sped along to catch my fast approaching train in order to snag a forward facing seat!

Street mural

Overall the bike infrastructure in the park was lacking. It was poorly designed for riding which was a bummer as I’d heard such fantastic things about it! If you visit, of course you have to go, the views are amazing, but be prepared to walk & don’t plan to carry a wide/extra long load.

Side note: if your rack falls off but you’re too lazy to stop at a shop for repairs (and NO ONE at the very bikey conference has the tools you need) just hold it in place with your u-lock!


Miles with Madi

I went on a ride with Madi yesterday!

We met up at the corner of the Ave & the BGT and headed west on the trail toward Lake Union. She showed me the new protected lane on 36th. When I rode to the market 2 weeks ago they hadn’t put the bollard up yet so it was cool to see this new connection!

I wonder what they do with the bollards during the market. I didn’t see them this past Sunday so maybe I wasn’t paying attention? Or maybe they’ve just shifted over since the street parking isn’t there during the market.

We headed over the Fremont Bridge & got to see the leftover pop-up bike lanes! The paint was still there from PARKing day on Friday. It would be nice to have them as a connection down to the Ship Canal Trail instead of the current 1/2 block of on-street parking. You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult to remove 3-4 spots (or maybe you would if you know anything about anything) in order to put a protected lane in here.

We rode along the newly-finished West Lake protected lane. It was nice & smooth but the curb was low (good for bikes trying to get up, but BAD if a driver has gas/break confusion which is also shockingly (?) common) & without parking stops the parked cars hang over onto the trail. This would be an easy fix: install parking stops to prevent pulling up too close to the curb.

We stopped off at MOHAI for coffee at the cafe but alas, our early bird initiative was too over zealous & they weren’t open yet. So we headed over to City Center via the Mercer & 5th Street lanes, but not before posing with Mirall at the Allen Institute.

The Mercer lanes are so vibrantly green! Overkill but fun all the same. We popped over to the International Fountain & the Fountain of Creation before going to the food court. After coffee we rode Thomas to Harrison before heading over the railroad tracks to the Elliot Bay Trail. We had an amazing view! Plus the weather was gorgeous!

The trail was quiet but we did see some skateboarders with giant sticks rolling along. We got to see a large cruise ship & some airplane fuselages sitting on the train tracks (DO NOT HUMP).  After that I’m fuzzy but I think we rode through Ballmer Yard to Thorndyke/20th/Gilman (WHY DOES THIS ROAD HAVE SO MANY NAMES) until we turned back onto the Ship Canal Trail heading east. We backtracked over the Fremont Bridge to 36th then down to the BGT & back home!

Awesome! Thanks for riding with me Madi!

Action shot!

I made it up to 42nd again before walking which was positive. I’ve been feeling really nauseous for the past two weeks & a giant wave passed over me as I was coming up the hill so I called Mike to help me lock up my bike so I could head upstairs & lay down. I felt better after eating so I’m hoping it’s just a determined stomach bug.

Bikes & Boats

Woo! I’m at Pro-Walk/Pro-Bike/Pro-Place in Vancouver this week learning about place making & planning from people doing amazingly creative things in their communities!

Yesterday I put out some feelers on Twitter to see if anyone was interested in a bike ride after our sessions. Stephanie from DC & Chris from NJ took the bait! Little did they know I’m horrible at directions & perpetually lost. Fools!

We headed down Hornby with Stephanie on a Mobi, Chris on a rental bike, and I was on Creme. Our goal was Grandville market & they were closing in an hour. One woman gave us directions about taking a boat but when we asked someone else she said we would be able to bike there in only 20 minutes. But we should’ve known that her time estimate was unrealistic based on her outfit (full kit & road bike). After about 10 minutes of riding we saw a sign for the Aquaboat & I relinquished my guiding to Chris. 

We hurried down the dock & hopped on a ferry to Grandville Island. It was a pretty small boat but bikes are allowed & it was easy to bring them along. They’re a private company & don’t take transit passes. Cost: can$4.50. 

Once we arrived on the island we hurried to lock up & head into the market. Everyone was starting to pack up but we were able to walk around & to buy end of day donuts!  We grabbed dinner on the water along False Creek & I ordered the poutine! So Canadian. 

After dinner we bikes along the seawalk to Olympic Park where Dero, a bike parking solution company, was holding a social. 

At the social we chatted with more people from the conference about the difference between US & Canadian politics & attitudes. It’s always interesting seeing an international perspective on local & national issues. 

After the social we biked back along the northern side of the seawalk & got to see fireworks & colorful lights along many of the buildings. I’m horrible at night photography with my iPhone so I’ll let you google it. The path was relatively well light but I still used my big light. It’s a beautiful trail that is lined by parks & playgrounds. There are shops & restaurants & even at 10pm it still felt like a very active space. Both Seattle & DC can learn from this activation of waterfront space. 

We rode back up the Hornby lanes & I was so excited that I was able to ride uphill! And a large hill at that! There’s a Moby dock by the hotel so I left Stephanie & Chris there & headed down the block to my hostel. 

I’m going to write up something about the bike parking at the hostel once I’m no longer locking up there. I don’t like to write about my locking locations for fear that someone will read about it & then exploit the weaknesses I’m pointing out & steal my bike. Paranoid much?

Oh & I won a raffle! I got this cool shirt from Dero!

#walkbikeplaces #placemakingweek

Riding the Missing Link to the Lost Cities

When did people who like to play board games become nerds?

Personally I’d rather play board games with my partner than watch any of the 8 channels we have on TV. It’s way more interesting. Plus, as a competitive person I’m always itching to WIN.

Also, on our new grad-student/1 income budget we’re always looking for cheap entertainment. Modern board games offer up a good value for a limited investment. As such we’ve decided to spend our anniversary budget on a few new games & a night at home with delicious take out & cheap champagne.

A few weeks ago @nospandexrequired suggested I check out Card Kingdom over in Ballard. So on Saturday we decided to ride over & check it out.

But first we headed to Whole Foods to grab some more toothpaste & then onto Trader Joe’s for coffee. I love the new lanes on Roosevelt! Alas, they haven’t finished paving south of 45th, so we popped over to 12th to avoid all of the bumpiness & dust. From there we rode down the hill to the BGT and then headed west. The line at Fremont Brewery was around the block at 11:15! They must’ve been having some kind of event.

I was riding pretty fast until we passed the Google Steps. I’ve been a little sore lately & the pavement around Google is pretty bumpy. Each bump was painful but luckily the pavement smoothed out for a bit further down the trail.

This was Mike’s first trip west of Gas Works so I was OH SO EXCITED to show off the missing link! WOO! But we only rode on it for a block before turning onto Ballard & then up one block to the shop.

Bike parking was great! Wave racks, but partially covered by the overhang & right by the door. By the time we left around 1:30 the racks were full! I also liked that we could see the bikes from where we sat outside at the cafe.

The store was huge! It was also really light & airy, especially compared to other shops I’ve been in that are more focused on role-playing games. They have a massive selection & a ton of space to play a game & try it out before you buy. We opted to grab lunch in the cafe while playing Lost Cities.

On our way back home we stopped at Gas Works to check out the view from Kite Hill. Beautiful as always!

Also I found these super cute shoes at the thrift store on Friday & I just HAD to wear them.

Biking with someone who doesn’t bike

Last week my Dad was in town visiting. He doesn’t bike. But I never let a little challenge like that stop me…

On Monday I took him biking around Green Lake Park, showing him the lovely lanes along Ravenna & the trail around the lake.

It was cold while he was visiting, almost cold enough to want a hat covering my ears while riding. My ears seem to get so chilly but I don’t have a good ear warmer. I’ll have to invest.

On Thursday I dragged him to #coffeeoutsideforher despite the fact he doesn’t drink coffee (again, I enjoy a challenge). We got there early & biked up to the top of Kite Hill for the amazing views. Coffee club was super popular this week! We even met a tourist from NYC who was riding by on a rental bike.

We left coffee & popped over to the Theo Chocolate factory for a tour & bought quite a bit of chocolate. It turns out that Sally from Frill Ride, the woman who made my bicycle skirt guard was on the tour too! She noticed my bike outside & left us a note! So nice!

After the tour we headed up to the Troll & then backtracked over to Lenin. We headed back down the hill by Waiting for the Interurban & then rode to Fremont Brewery. My dad had the Summer Ale & I tried the Boat Kolsch. I thought the Summer smelled like BO but the Kolsch was great!


Who put that mountain there?

Is what I say to myself all the time.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME SEATTLE? These are not hills. They are MOUNTAINS.

Yesterday I rode to Capitol Hill. I did not want to do this, but alas, my local art store didn’t have the size of glass I needed & I knew Blick would, so off I went. Sidenote: much better location for my wallet than in DC because now I can’t get there without fear of death by heart attack!

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I took Yuba because HILLZ. I headed south over University Bridge where I graciously surrendered my right-of-way to a large truck hauling a boat (JK no, they just ran the stop sign) & pulled a box turn at the light to head east on Furhman. Last time I biked to Capitol Hill I took Harvard & it sucked. Furhman was relatively quiet & FLAT but more than one person revved their engine behind me. Why? FOR FUN PROBABLY.

Googlemaps is crazy & directed me to turn up Shelby which I don’t even think is possible to bike up. I think you would just tip backwards & fall to the center of the earths core if you tried it. Seriously. My neck hurt just looking at it. I decided to press on & try to find a hill with less grade. I turned right onto Hamlin to head up the hill & had to use full assist while pedaling as hard as possible. WHO PUT THIS MOUNTAIN HERE?!

After a relatively long break at the top with copious water consumption & much panting (to the consternation of the man setting out his trash can) I turned left on 10th & pressed onward & ever upward. I hopped onto the sidewalk at E Roanoke to push the button & continue on my way up 10th. This is a stupid intersection.

I plodded along using copious amounts of battery power while gasping for air & cursing the tectonic plates that lie underneath this horrible city. I stopped at the top of the hill to catch my breath & suck down ever more water while sweaty profusely & mumbling profanities (but only because I was too out of breath to yell them).

The bike lane ends here but the lane is 12 feet wide so yay for being squeezed in between moving & parked cars! I never feel like I can hold a 12 foot lane. They’re just too wide. No particularly close passes though, most drivers moved partially into the center passing lane to pass.

When 10th turns into Broadway it becomes a bit more narrow so I rode in the lane here until the protected lane starts at E John Street. The lane is nice & wide with plenty of passing space & bike specific traffic signals. Alas, my journey was almost over so I didn’t get to ride in it for too long.

I purchased a few pieces of pre-cut glass as well as an 18 x 24 inch pad of newsprint The smaller glass fit in my basket but I rested the newsprint & the large piece of glass on top & secured it with a bungee. Most people would assume that you can’t bike with large sheets of glass but I do it all the time & I’ve yet (knock on wood) to break any.

Despite feeling nauseous & dizzy and having a SPLITTING headache (riding up mountains will do that to a person) I decided to try to ride through Interlaken Park on my way back because after doing all the work to get up the hill I figured I should get to enjoy it!

Lovely filtering at Volunteer Park

I headed back down Broadway & turned off in order to ride on Federal Way which was quiet but also hasn’t been paved in 1,000 years. After bumping along for several long blocks I turned onto E Prospect to head through Volunteer Park. It had started misting by now so I took shelter under a large tree & tried to protect my pad of newsprint from rain so it wouldn’t bubble up. I ripped up the two plastic bags I use for seat covers in an attempt to cover the pad. It worked relatively well but required some re-tucking in throughout the rest of the journey.

Cargo secure, I continued on my way. But being severely directionally challenged I got lost. Googlemaps wanted me to turn onto 19th to get to Interlaken Drive E (which I should have done?) but I was confused about which section was open to cars. I wanted to ride through the whole park & I saw that E Interlaken Boulevard was marked in dark green for protected lane/trail so I was trying to get there.

In the end I walked my bike down the very steep sidewalk to 23rd while squeezing my brakes as hard as possible & gave up, tired of going several steep blocks uphill only to go right back down & up & down & up-up-up. 

I got back on my bike & headed down 24th, taking the sidewalk over the Montlake Freeway & the bridge.
I headed up the ramp at the Link station & rode back through campus along Stevens Way. Home at last, we walked over to Udon where I ate the best noodles ever & then took a nap to recover.

Soon to come: a petition to level the city to make it humane & civil.