Monday, December 31, 2012

You can't buy 2 cubic yards of compost on a bike

I probably didn't mention before, we don't own a car. No, I am not a crazy environmentalist. We do a lot in our household because we have gone through several periods of unemployment. We grow a lot of our own food, bike and even save water in rain barrels. The rain barrel fandango deserves a separate post one day. Well, garden bike lady, how do you schlep lots of stuff? We happen to subscribe to a service called Zipcar. The car can be rented by the hour or even day. Gas is included and for a nominal fee you can get total collision insurance. This is not an ad for Zipcar by the way. Cars2Go has recently come to town but they are smart cars.

When we need LOTs of stuff or all those potatoes for Pesach we borrow a car and zip zip.

Having a bike has been helpful to stop and look at those hidden treasures in the city. You can' t notice details if you are stuck in a car. Just yesterday we came across the smallest Lego museum. It's a quick trip but then you can enjoy the rest of your day inside Half Price Books across the street. Get out there and walk, bike, or breath some fresh air!

Lego Museum

Up Next..Taking the Clown Bike on the Train

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The tzinus police is going to get you!

In Seward Park their is no minhag hamakom when it comes to tznius wear. Some women even go bare legged, as shocking as that might sound. Stockings don't have to be a certain color or have seems sown into them. There is so much variation in married women' s head covering. Some wear a sheitel, a tichel and (gasp) nothing at all! I am not going to go into the halachas or even the reasons why these women dress like this. Hey, that is between them and Hashem.

So, what do you wear when you are going to bike. I can tell you what I do because it's pretty practical and works. I have biked in all sorts of weather conditions. Remember the summer we reached record heat?  I biked in that just to get to the downtown library so we could cool off. It was so HOT that summer. I was sizzling and so was my passenger. Tisha B'Av was miserable.

First of all you should wear leggings. Don't go bare legged, it's a really bad idea.  A big gust of wind can go wooosh and lift up that skirt over your head. I like to find my leggings at Nordstrom Rack. You can find summer leggings which will keep you modest warm or cool depending on the temperature. I also like to find leggings rather than tights. If your tights get wet at the feet life, can be so squooshy and cold.  The temperature always dictates to me single leggings day or a leggings and tights day. So far we have made to through December with just leggings.

Next accessory, a good skirt. I have found in my biking experience that a pencil skirt is going to limit your mobility. I like to buy a skirt that will last a long time and go past my knees even when biking. I also like clothes that look normal once I am off my bike. Where to shop? I like Land's End. Several of my bike skirts have been purchased on sale from there.

Having lived in Copenhagen you see people in so many combination of skirts/tights. AHH, but Copenhagen is flat. Do you want to see Copenhagen fashion then look no further than Cycle Chic. Mikael Colville-Andersen likes to stalk cyclist and pop out and take picture of them. I can only imagine him hiding behind a bush and going, "aha!, click".

Example from Cycle Chic

I like this ladies outfit. She looks so happy and well dressed. I bet she could schlep a lot of potatoes.

Let's talk tops/sweaters. This is really up to your discretion. How hot do you get? If you heat up quickly then you might be comfortable with a light sweater and a vest. I wear tops with higher neck lines and sleeves. If you are more covered up in hotter temperatures you can actually feel cooler. Exposing all that skin is not going to help.

Ugh, snooze. I think I am starting to make myself sleepy. I will tell you I am not the most fashion forward or fanciest of dresser. I dress for the weather. I also dress so that I can keep my neshama intact rather than exposing every single body part to everyone.

Where to shop: Goodwill, Value Village, Nordstrom Rack, LOFT, Land's End. Try to find clothes that won't suddenly rip at the seems or make holes quickly. If you wear your tights long enough they will make the perfect imprint of your tush while sitting down. This is probably why people like to buy the bike pants/shorts.

7 miles in spandex
I my opinion, investing in tights is a much better idea than spandex. A while back I read an article in Momentum Magazine about a guy who biked 7 miles in his full bike regalia. WHY? It didn't even sound like a strenuous ride. This was the most annoying article to read. We still laugh about it even though it was written in 2010. Mike bikes seven miles with two good hills. Huh? Really? Why? Boo hoo, he bikes from  Ballard to Capital Hill. Please, that's nothing!

Really, this is not necessary. Stop torturing yourself, get a better seat and puts some pants on please.

Up next, You can't buy 2 cubic yards of compost on a bike

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

.....but you only have one kid

When you are a religious Jew and you only have one kid people feel the need to make constant comments on this. Sometimes they are direct comments and other times they are indirect. Mainly it's other women. Mr. Peyos is always perplexed about this.

This never seems to happen with my friends who know me well. These are people with large families and without saying it they know how I feel deep down inside without having to communicate it. It's not that I wake up in the morning and go, oh great! I have one kid! I try to work on myself and what I can do to strengthen myself because after going to friends weddings and seeing them have kid after kid, it becomes harder. I hate to admit it, when I am niddiah it is like a truck hit me. I usually go through a day of crying following by a lot of hisbodidus.

I am very happy to have produced the one I have but something always makes me wonder, what if. I think this is what keeps me motivated to bike. Well, Hashem makes everyone' s body different and apparently mine has only produced one offspring.  So, I take advantage of this fact and am able to bike with my kid.

Okay, now that I have wiped away some tears let's get on with the rest of today's blog.

How does that really happen? Like the blog began I was physically incapable of towing myself. Then I worked up to towing a trailer and then to my final contraption. Let' s take a look at that.

On my bike I have a seat attachment. It's called a Bobike Junior. The seat is meant to fold down and with some adjustments the nice people at the Dutch Bike Company fitted it to my bike. I put lights on the back and black reflective tape I bought at 20/20 Cycle. The rack the bike seat sits on is heavy duty. When people blog or review racks they always say stuff like, "ohh, it carries lots of beer". Well, pretend my little cuddle muffin is 47 pounds of beer.

Light hitting the tape

Oh, but why a seat? Like I said before. I wanted to be mobile. While I will never be able to put this on the bike bus racks I can bike to light rail, get on the train and fit in an elevator.

Side note about about elevators: Not too long ago I read an article about the escalator in San Francisco. Well, human waste clogged up the escalator and they became non-functional. EWWW, gag! If you know anything about downtown and the homeless population and lack of toilet facilities (don't get me started on clocks too), you might guess that some of the elevators have that potential. Some smell inside and some I won't even get near (Pioneer Square and Westlake tie for this honor).  If I use an elevator it is usually the one at the International Station. This elevator is made of glass and you can see out or in. If you get stuck, has v'shalom, then at least you have light inside the elevator. From this point you can bike downtown. Even better, avoid the elevator and get off at SODO and bike to Krispy Kreme. I refer to this trip as "Bike for Donuts". These are the only kosher donuts around so don't tell me that I should bike so "such and such" place. The only other kosher donut I am going to get is at home.

Look, let me show you:

What happens if I ever am blessed with more kids? Well, I will have to become just as awesome as Emily Finch in Portland (ughhh, Portland again?). She has six kids and some of them look pretty chutzpadik. That ride can not be easy, but she does it.

Sure, I couldn't afford this set up even with one kid. I don't make enough gelt, hence the living without a bike for a while until we had the money.

It is always a good idea to work up to a goal.  If you don' t start one with a kid then start on just biking alone for groceries or small errands.

Up next...The tzinus police is going to get you..

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's raining, it's pouring and how to keep those tootsies dry.

Wow! What a depressing last blog. Sure, violence happens everywhere but without that protective layer of metal surrounding you a person becomes more aware. On a bike you are aware of the road, the bike and most of all the weather.

Look at that rain. The childhood me would be sticking my Barbies in there , wheee..
I live in Seattle right? It rains here all the time right? The truth is that while we do see our fair amount of rain it is possible to get around without getting wet. How is that possible? If you look back at all my bikes you will notice one thing they have in common, fenders. Fenders in the front and back. Those taco clad bicyclist would object. Woah, that adds a whole pound! So, you are really going to object when I start adding more "heavy" accessories. Gasp, is that a bell? Ding Ding.

Lets face it, you really need to keep those feet dry. Anything that seals out the wet and is slip proof is good. You don' t have to go out and buy a slew of hi tech gear. Save yourself the trouble, but if you are going to walk/bike then spend some money and do your research.

The guy with the peyos gets to bike in these. Sure they look fancy but I am a super shopper. Target sells some really nice rain boots sure to seal out rain. The more fashion forward in this house seem to get a pair of Hunters. No, I am not rich, only concerned about my feet. With the walking/biking lifestyle you tend to wear out shoes. Peyos man always wins the "most holes" contest. I will need to make a mental note to myself about taking a picture of "holy" shoes. Harhar, hehehe...

What about your body? Occasionally I will be forced to use a bike poncho. I bought it once and maybe have used it 5 times.  I biked to Ballard and bought it at Hub and Bepoke. It was not that pricey but as the Jewish Dane I live with has noticed, it is not meant for 6'4 man. I usually bike during daylight hours and we usually have a lot of evening/early morning rain. Some people go the route of buying rain pants and a jacket. A long time ago we used to wear this but then wore tzinus wear, requiring a skirt, instead of jeans. Without it I would accumulate a puddle on my skirt so this helps with that. I don't like plastic jackets because none of them breath right. At one point we tried a Shower Pass Jacket. Everyone ooohs, and awws about this and it didn't work for either of us.  Of course, if it comes from Portland than I MUST buy it.

Remember, I lived in Denmark. Nobody looked like a yellow fool biking. People just wore clothes.  I biked to class in a blizzard once. Ahhh, Copenhagen! The ideal bike city we all envy/love. We can only dream of a city like that. Stay dry folks!

Up next... but you only have one kid..

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Tale of the Other "Hood"

Central District "Hood"
Insert the beginning of the William Tell Overture

Just imagine the birds walking up, the water from Lake Washington glistening and all that nature. Once you have passed this point and you no longer have this spectacular view you have entered the Central District. Welcome!

By far a more dangerous place than the Rainier Valley. Daylight gun battles can happen any time. People are robbed at all hours of the day and people in cars don' t get the whole "bike crazies", that would be me. Yes, all of that happens too in my hood but somehow I am less aware of it. You see more people on bikes in the CD than in the Rainier Valley. Also, people on bikes look pretty normal and use a bell when passing, ring ring.

I had my share of scary stories. The worst was biking south on 19th Ave when we encounter some fool standing next to The Good Neighbor grocery store shouting for us to stop because he needed to "borrow" my cell phone. "Yo, I asked you nicely, now I am going to kill you!" At this point their was nothing to do but peddle faster and get the heck away.  We made it passed him and he couldn't outrun us because he was too stoned to know what walking straight meant.

I would characterize this neighborhood as a mix of dilapidated houses and people with their posh new homes. We changed our route while the weather permitted until Justin Ferrari was killed because he happen to be driving down Cherry and Martin Luther King and took a bullet from a gun battle. Martin Luther King used to be our route, not anymore.

Yes, this was a very horrible event perpetrated by evil people but that shouldn't stop anyone from biking anywhere. Even the scary hatchet murder shouldn't discourage biking. We should feel free to bike and not be afraid. If someone yells for you to stop, don't do it. If someone starts running after you, bike faster. Frankly, I ignore people unless they are also on a bike. It's always cool to meet people on bikes looking happy and having a good time.

Up next....It's raining, it's pouring, and how to keep those tootsie dry.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Biking in the "Hood"

I bike around/through two hoods. One is the Rainier Valley and the other one is the Central District.

I do live in the hood. Why? As a married Orthodox Jewish woman I need services that other wonderfully bikE neighborhoods don't have. So I live in what is the Rainier Valley.

In my hood I have to find new routes in order to avoid being run over by cars. This is always fun and we learn so much about people and smells. The smells on the road are WAY better than the ones on the #7 bus. My daughter has learned what a certain smell is (you can only guess, now that it is legal) and we have experienced some scary situations, but those have really only happened in the other hood. Let's blame them.

Rainier Valley "Hood":
If you want to experience the colorfulness of living here read Rainier Valley Post. They do a good job.

We are missing bike infrastructure. Riding on the sidewalk is not safe so I have had to resort to finding back streets to get around. My route can only be characterized as "the crazy route". That's why it takes so long but no longer than a bus ride.

For a while we biked on the sidewalk on Martin Luther King. Then the worst happened. My husband was biking down, minding his own business and bam! An elderly lady driving out of the ACRS hits my him on his bike. So there he is all 6'4 of him lying on top of the hood of her car. My husband's eyeballs, beard and peyos plastered all over the window of her car. He could see her fear. What about his? Well, he has so much trust in Hashem. He managed to take his new taco bike (I love tacos and you are going to hear all about them) to the Mount Baker Station, park there and make it to his meeting at work. Later in the day I get a message at work, "Hi, I just got hit by a car, call you later." That was the message. He didn't say he was at work, in the hospital, bleeding and lying on the street. I thought the worst. I frantically call the reception at work and ask if he checked in. She says yes and said that he didn't look bloody. You see the mashul? Don't ride on the sidewalk fool. The fool part was more for me than you. I am not 6'4 so I would have been the taco, not the bike.

Wonderful torture hills!

Well, what DO we have here? The Chief Sealth Trail! Woopie, oooh, wahhh!  The Chief Sealth trail goes nowhere and it is hilly. If you want a workout go ahead.

See the workout. It is a very lovely trail along the power lines.

Biking on Lake Washington is too full of cars driving too fast. One time, in winter I biked home this way, trailer/kid in tow and it was the single most scary experience of my life. Yup, no street lamps. Sure we had lights but it was dark. No way Jose!

Wooh,more space to park!

Beacon Hill is starting to work on making better routes. Red Apple on Beacon Hill has some really great bike racks where people love to shove their shopping carts into. Thanks!

What could our "hood" use? How about more speed bumps and changing around those bike route circles. They don't work and are missing in some spots. If you are unlucky you will end up on some yucky street you don't want to be. How about ending up on Henderson in the middle of a gun battle. Nice!
I can only guess that those bike route circles were made by someone in a car. I want a flat road or a gentle slope, not hills just like in the Tour d' France.

Up next....A Tale of the Other "Hood"

Friday, December 21, 2012

More Upgrades and Clown Bike

Our tale ended off with a broken trailer. The Burley was great while it lasted and we used it for everything. If you are committed to living without a car then get one already. The investment and customer service was fantastic. Alas, it was not made for schlepping a kid 20 miles a day, hauling large loads from Lowes, and buying three bags of very heavy groceries with a kid. You get my point!

What was next in our horizon? Unemployment. Yes, one of us got laid off and we were forced to use money for my next bike purchase into food, shelter and bus fair. By this point I had a ton of kale in our garden. I had only wished I had wisdom to grow other winter veggies I wouldn't have to spend lots of time checking for bugs.

Skip to June 2012. Hooray! My husband becomes a real employee again. With the first paycheck we used some of the money to buy a bike investment.

This is the birth of what I dub the Clown Bike. I am sure you are thinking I bought a Bakfiets, a Madsen, or a humongous trailer. No, I wanted something more practical and mobile. All those require a commitment. I wanted to be able to get on the train, light rail and be able to fit in an elevator.

That is a shower cap protecting the seat.
I bought a Work Cycle bike made in Holland and imported to the U.S., sold at the Dutch Bike Company. My bike has a Nuvinci Infinite hub and is complete with everything you need in order to bike and feel like a normal human being, rather than a spandex clad taco.

I added several essentials, including the seat to schlep my kid. So it probably looks freaky when I am on it. Hey, it's a bike with two heads!

This blog takes a Shabbos break. Good Shabbos everyone!

Up next, Biking in the "Hood".

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bike Evolution and Upgrades

Once upon a time in 2007 I went to a chain bike shop, because I didn't know any better and said I wanted to purchase a bike. Now this was not my first bike purchase but the first one I ever purchased while living in Seattle. I wanted an internal hub because I was so enamored with them while living in Copenhagen during our first years of marriage. Everyone was zipping around with way cooler bikes. I had a Nishiki mountain bike but it worked and nobody stole it so I was semi happy with it.

Skip to 2007 and my final purchase of a 3 speed internal gear Fuji. Little did I know that this was a bad idea. Do you see that hill I am on? I hadn't even made it to Trader Joe's on Madison. The first year I rode to the 48 bus and had the bus do the work for me but then something happened. I had to make it home for Shabbos (the Jewish Sabbath). It was winter and candle lighting was at 4:05pm. I was leaving work early but Metro is a pain on Fridays. Ok, so I made food the night before. My kid was already home with a friend. All I had to do was get home. I biked fast down Martin Luther King and made it home in time to change, light candles and then pass out. 

After two years of heavy use and one full summer of having a Burley attached the hub started to smell like smoke. Nobody believed me. I went to Bike Works and they just looked at me puzzled. Then it felt like I was dragging something in that hub. 

Bike Upgrade and Trailer
I gave up in the summer of 2009, found a bike at 20/20Cycle and lived with that for two more years. This time the Burley broke. In December of 2011 I was leaving my house, Burley attached with kid inside. We get down our hill and both wheels pop out and the latch connected to the bike breaks in half. Ugg, as my daughter would say.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Welcome, let's bike!

Seattle by far is the most challenging place to bike. I took this 4 years ago and those hill are still not flatter.  No, I am not standing on a roof. I am in fact on a road, looking down at the 1-90 floating bridge.

During winter I only see those true die hard bicyclist out in the rain, cold or light snow. I'm out there too but riding with normal clothes. Yes, normal. What??? Even with all these hills and my desire to dress modest you will never find me in form fitting spandex. Ewwww, gross, stinky. You know, those things degrade to the point where the backside becomes a light nude. I had the horror of riding behind a tush one time, ugh.

Then the assumption is, "oh you don't bike far". Sorry bub, but I bike 10 miles to my destination and 10 back to my point of origin. What?!!

To top it off, I bike the 10 miles back  with 47 pounds of another human being. So, it must be an electric bike. Nope, the peddling is fueled by food. The other human is too tired to think about biking home. Usually they are munching on some nutty snack banned from school.

So, what's the point of another bike blog in Seattle?  To be honest, I don' t see any other women out there on a bike schlepping a kid. Sure, I would have liked to start a garden blog, but how can I when we already have Oak Park Hates Veggies.  I meet men on bikes with kids but I have yet to meet another lady to talk to. Occasionally we will meet someone but they look like they are not in the mood to talk. It could be their kid is also tired and cranky and in need of a nutty snack too.

Welcome, to No Spandex Required!

Up next....Bike Evolution and Upgrades

Bike Escape: Fay Bainbridge Park 2019

I went camping without kids. How did I manage that? (insert shrug) One of the old time pedal parents went with me. Our schedules for this ...