Monday, July 29, 2013

Riding a Bike on Lake Union

Am I totally hallucinating here? Okay, well I technically didn't bike on the lake but it sure felt like it.

Several years ago the museum used to have Free First Thursday. Not too long ago this stopped for some museums.The city library started having a program where you can fight to the death with other patrons for free museum entry. Okay, I exaggerate. The only museum I have not managed to get a pass for is the EMP/Science Fiction museum. Every time I look, sometimes 3  times in a day, all the passes are taken.

I have gotten out of my total disappointment and discovered the Center for Wooden Boats. For some reason, nobody wants to go there. Well, I will tell you a secret, you can get on a boat for FREE.

Picture of me taken by the passengers in the back
So, we had the option of all the boats because nobody was there. Here I am before I took my panda shot of the two girls taking pictures with the DS. This boat was a cargo bike on a boat. The two more mature people got to sit in the yellow seats and peddal the boat. Since I am used to schlepping this wasn't a big issue. So we left the dock and carefully made our way out and into Lake Union. This was a new experience for me. The whole time we have lived here I have not really made it into any of the lakes on a boat.
This was SO fun! I don't know how to express it. Yo, this was but FUN :) :D
Nice, huh! Then I had all sorts of mind thingies pop in my brain while we paddled. Hey, why don't we just get a boat and boat bike around? Oh, but nothing we need to get to is by water so that settled that. Oh well, but this is totally a great transportation for other people. I remember reading an article in the Seattle Times about the water bike. Oh cool! This is an old article so I wonder if he pimped up his bike. Did he turn it into a cargo hauling machine? He didn't have much room for stuff.
This is one of those pictures taken by kids with a DS
Here is a shot of my foot and one of the kids clenching his fist because this was a new experience for him. After a brief lunch in the boat and some confidence he used those ropes on the sides to steer us. The girls in the back thought it would be funny to trick him and hold the ropes so nothing happened. We ended up swaying a lot and at some point going in circles. I am sure this is hilarious if you are not the one doing the work and just sitting there with your best friend. Somehow this is the opposite direction you see in the picture with the houseboats. GasWorks is nowhere.    

After about 30 minutes of exercise we decided to make it back to shore in order to make this adventure FREE. I was not going over our free one hour. Sure, I had the money but it is way cooler to tell people we did this for free. You know, just to rub in their faces a little ;)     

So, if you want to rub some adventure in someone's face then on the Seattle Public Library website and reserve your pass here.      

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cars aren't evil....I blame the stupid people in them

I don't know what it is about all this northwest sun that puts people in a special funk. People should get some sun but in moderation. Don't outdo yourself and then get behind the wheel. See, this was just the most recent infraction on my radar.

We have been almost been hit at this intersection. Rainier and Holly (deep in the Rainier Valley)

You see, the light is green but this car totally ran the red light. I tried to take a picture of the license just to tweet it to SPD but alas they sped off to get to some fast food restaurant down Rainier Ave. We are pretty cautious here. Even when I have been on my bikey way toward this intersection we still stop and make sure cars aren't running the red light. When we get the walk signal I walk the bike across and on many occasions I have had people call me a "Crazy BEEP!" Yeah, biking is down in the toilet in this part of town. I dare you people North to come down here and try our biking "infrastructure" that does not include Lake Washington on Bicycle Sunday. In fact, I will give you the grand tour.

Somehow I think too much sun is to blame for all these bike/car crashes. Some of them are the stupid people behind the stupid metal machine becoming impatient and whacking into a bicyclist. The average person who has to wait for me and my kid in order to get around us is 5 seconds. I said it, 5 FREAKING seconds! It's nothing but those 5 seconds are like 2 hours to people in a car. How do I know this? When it comes time for a car to try to pass us we put our imaginary counter on. Sometimes we can tell that the car behind us is getting impatient and it has happened on several occasions  when we were biking south on 18th Ave., crossing Jackson Ave to get to Judkin's park. This intersection makes people made and we have had cars try to run us over.

On one occasion the driver happened to be a parent at Washington Middle School. By the time we caught up they were parked and waiting for their sweet baby to come out of the school. What did I do? I pulled up beside the parked car and said, "wow, all that just to park here!" At this point my passenger snapped a picture. It always helps to follow up with a photo and a ding of the bell.

We also have the current bike lane projects that people really pissed off. The bikeway on Broadway looks like it is shaping up and then we have the project on Cherry that was the same site of a guerrilla protected bike lane.

Worse are the comments and trolls:

Judy feels entitled to HER car lanes. FrackAMole to people who choose alternative transportation. I have actually seen plenty of people in that bike box on 12th. Just because YOU don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Sounds a lot like if.... never mind.

It is torture to read these comments but I got lost when I saw the one about running bicyclist over. I think it was removed, otherwise I would post it here. I did find this winner:

Boo hoo, the choo choo takes too much room. Look, that area has been living without a lot of parking since the construction began and actually when things get finished parking will be available.

One more:

This guy has witnessed lots of accidents. He must be up to hoha in police reports.

So you know what? I invite you to take a SLOW ride on a bike. I will even take to you the scariest place to bike these days 2nd Ave. What? You don't want to endanger your life? (While you eat Cheetos and drink Gatorade). So, really get a life. Before you start saying all this crud about bike lanes and biking, get out there on a bike and try it for a week. You might even like it.

Just because bicyclist get a protected bike lane doesn't mean the people in the metal machines will pay attention:

Seriously, wrong on so many levels. How the heck does someone think to even drive in that tiny "lane"?

Here is an example from when San Francisco got their bike lane:

So, what I see in the near future will be a lot of confusion and transpiration haters. Lots to look forward too. Also more exciting pictures for this blog.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fun Bikey Stuff we do

Sunday was one of those days where everyone in this family had something they wanted to do. So, how do I get my family to do the bikey stuff I want to do? Well, I bribe them. So, I bribed both my kid and Mr. Peyos with a trip to a new and interesting game store. What kind of games? Well, only the ones the true geeks play and no NOT Magic the Gathering. We have been on a Settlers of Catan fest and trying to revive our Munckin game. I did research and lookie lookie, I found Gary's Games & Hobbies in Greenwood.

What else did I need in Greenwood? Well, G&O Family Cyclery was having Xtracycle out to do test rides of the Edgerunner. Turns out the Bullitt bike was also available for test riding. I already did my Bullitt riding. I love that bike but then again I have to think about family obligations and how I carry my peeps and cargo.

So, we went into the game store. Mr. Peyos drooled over everything. I am guessing this can be a nice date thing to do without our kid. Our kid wanted us to buy everything Munckin related, including the plush duck. We did our initial look around. By looking by the amount of game stuff, we will be back very soon.

Well, I was smart and the game store happened to be across the street from G&O. So, we didn't have to go far. We waited outside for a while and with lots of fanfare the bikes emerged and I got to try one first. Ahh, I felt special.

Here is the crowd waiting to listen to announcements. My daughter was drooling at those grapes and contemplating her future on the back of another bike. She has been my test dummy kid in all my bike adventures, poor kid.

Here is the bike after we returned it. Yes, this is the same bike used in the Disaster Relief Trials in Portland just the day before. It smelled like nothing so I am guessing none of those smells rubbed. off. My kid was really scared to get on in the first place. I told her, like I always do, "you will like it!". Mr. Peyos had his skeptical face. Then again, his facial expressions are hard to read. We walked to flatter territory and then took off so fast I was a little surprised. We tried the best of Greenwood's hills. My kid did her wiggling and helped me out with her handy arms to signal to cars that we were either going to turn right or left.

Unlike other rides, I didn't feel that my passenger was throwing me off balance nor was their a tug. The ride was seamless. I can't necessarily review the bike yet. For a full rundown check out the post from Hum of the City. So far it is the only extensive review I can find.

Let me tell you what I liked about this test ride. Unlike some bike shops where they make you sign away ten waivers and have to leave ID or money I was able to take the bike for a spin just like a friend would allow me to. Okay, it might be that for liability reasons G&O might have to implement a no-liability waiver just like the one I signed when borrowing the Madsen from Morgan.

I honestly appreciate Xtracycle for coming out and being cool. I also liked the turnout. I met some cool people. I was also surprised on how much my kid LOVED the Hooptie. We had looked at pictures online and every time she said, "that looks like a place for a baby". When we rode the bike my kid realized that she could just sit there and chill, meaning play with her DS if she wants.

We also got to witness people try out the Bullitt. I tried not to look because I feel so self-conscious myself trying out new bikes. I didn't want to make anyone nervous. Looks like it is a hard bike to try the first time for a lot of people. We even witnessed a complete bike tip over, ouch. Everyone is okay.

After we all had fun we went shopping at Trader Joe's. While standing in the mile long line we spotted this bike. Something is wrong here. Do you see it? How does that crate attach to that bike. Must be magic.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Madsen Bike: Should you buy it?

This post is long overdue. Since you may have heard that a new bike is in the works lets talk about bikes I have ridden.

Should you buy a Madsen? Well, that would really depend right?

First, how often do you plan to use it? Will you be biking on lots of hills? What kind of load will you be schlepping?

My needs are not necessarily the same as a family living in Ballard or Wedgwood. We don't own car and really have no plans for buying one. On occasion we have to carry large stuff and most recently we have made some really funny pit-stops at Cash n' Carry. I have to get from the Rainier Valley up to the University District and then back home five days a week. I can easily rack up at least 20 miles each weekday.

I want a bike that will be a multitasker. We had the Burley trailer for a long time and still get use out of it despite the fact that it looks pretty beat up. I have schlepped all sort of stuff in that thing, including some compost. We even moved from one house to another by stuffing it.

The Madsen has the potential to make a mean Costco run without kids. What I don't like about the bucket is that the inside should have some way to attach bungee cords. I found myself using the seat belts to make sure my load didn't tip out all over Rainier Ave. I kinda felt like I was constantly playing a tetris game with my stuff and trying to secure it. It would be nice if it had holes. Yes, holes.

Once you have loaded your kid cargo it doesn't leave much room for the other stuff. Kids come with an assortment: backpack, water bottle, lunch box, sweater/jacket. This is the bare minimum but what if a kid has a diorama, well you better get your friend with a car to bring it to school for you.

Far in the distance: Safeco Stadium
Hills: It handles pretty okay on hills, that is without the assist. Now, if you plan to ride in Seattle I would highly recommend you put an electric assist on this thing do you don't kill yourself.

Noise: This bike made so much noise while I was riding it. I would attribute it to the kickstand. I don't know if every bike has this problem but even deaf people could hear me coming and I seriously mean it because we bike passed the Services for Blind and Deaf multiple times.

The front disc breaks made a ton of noise. After riding the Bullitt I am guessing that this is not normal. Plus, the front disc breaks looked cheap. I don't know, that's just me.

Repairs: This is the worst part. I talked to people at two different bikes shops and was told that the components are cheap. One of the shops did multiple repairs on two different Madsens. If your back wheel gives out and you need a new one you will have to have your shop hunt high and low to find the wheel. The second bike shop told me that Madsen does not have a good warranty policy. I don't think the guys at this shop were trying to poo the bike but if a family has to pay for constant repairs it doesn't seem like a good investment. In general, a good bike shop is trying to help you and not suck money out of your wallet and I truly believe what I was being told about the bike.
The picture on the top are the disc brakes from the Madsen and ones on the bottom are from the Bullitt.
My other consern was how the load was being supported. As you can see on the blue Bullitt the load is supported by a frame.

Here is the bottom of the Madsen. That's it. Humm, this would make me nervous. How long are those bolts going to last in a plastic bucket?

Up on Capitol Hill, Trader Joe's
Probably the worst story about this bike is that the bucket detached from the frame. Can you imagine that????

If the bucket can somehow break apart after a while it makes me scared. Now, I am not saying that Madsen is a horrible bike. I actually met a family who seemed reasonably satisfied with their bike. They did have to do plenty of repairs but the bike was going on year 3. In theory the bike is a nice idea. I had some problems with the kids moving and feeling that it made me off balance.

So, before you go off and buy this bike take a look at all your options be nit picky and ask to put "fake" cargo in it so you get a good idea and if you are in Seattle attempt a couple of  good hills. In the picture above the bike is parked on Madison and 17th Ave., outside Trader Joe's of Capitol Hill.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Meeting of the Bikey minds, but first I have to get there

Dutchy went on a diet
What the heckie poo! Where have I been? Well, if you read the previous post, I have been busy with walking/busing summer fun with our cool kids "camp".

What else? Well, my genetic output of a child had one of her mega growth spurts and is going to leave her mother down here in hobbit land. This just means that she is not so comfortable on the back of my Dutch bike. We can't go far without her complaints. Since our last trip to Gas Works she has been a big party pooper because the seat is annoying.

So, my Dutch Bike went on a diet and lost ten pounds. Here is how it was looking before my kid complained. See the seat and footrest. Now all too annoying for the human I call my child.
Gratuitous fat shot
I guess, it was pointless to have the seat if she won't sit there. I honestly thought I had one more good year with her there. I think several things happened to both of us that made us realize that this set-up was not going to work. One was trying other bikes. Remember my brief adventure with the the Bullitt? Drool!  Then we had the two week love affair with the Madsen electric bike. Then the other issue was her growth spurt. So, the little human I grew is probably going to be some Viking giant like her father, oy.

So we got a working start with what else was out there. Then we do what our family does best, research. We never buy anything unless we HAVE to have it. For example, in 2008 our printer broke. We didn't need one so we went on with our non-spandexy life. Well, 2013 hit and suddenly we needed a printer. So, that is how we operate. We did our research and bought one.

So, we have had some resistance with trying to upgrade to a real cargo bike situation. Thursday was a meeting with the bikey mind of Davey Oil. I biked all the way up to Greenwood to pick his brain and I got to peek inside his new G&O Family Cyclery.
uhhh, who took my zipties?
Biking up to Greenwood was an adventure in itself. Just because we haven't needed to go that way. Our north Seattle boundary has ended in the University district. Sure, we have gone to the zoo, but we have mostly taken the bus. Where I was going was even more north than the zoo. Just so you have an idea, take a look at this map. I had to find a way to bike from the southern ziptie art to the northern ziptie art ball. Yes, I was slightly perturbed someone made art with these because I had a slight mechanical mishap where it could have come in handy.

How was I going to get up there after going over the Fremont bridge. I hate hills and sweat so I decided to try biking up on 8th Ave NW. Oh, but why didn't I just bike up Fremont and go on Greenwood Ave? That hill made me sweaty by looking at it.
Purdy bike lane
Here I go, easy peasy lemon squooshy. Not bad, slightly up hill with few cars. I could totally see a cycletrack/bikeway here.
HUGE Goodwill
Mostly boring until I spotted a Goodwill. OH JOY!!!

More slight hill. Only paint separates me from passing cars but people in the metal machines are polite. Go Ballarites!
Where did all these cars come from?
I made it to 85th Ave NW. to turn right. Okay, 85th Ave NW sucks!  Just a road and one that is a roadway to the highway. This means people in a hurry willing to sacrifice everyone else's life.

Cars behind me trying to pass to get on the highway
I did the only sensible thing and turned on a side street and here I am. This sign is telling me that MY speed is being watched. OOOOOH!

Is he really writing notes?
I found Davey Oil at his shop, yeah!! We are sitting at the cafe right next door and he is making notes while I pick his brain. We had a good chat and details of this visit deserve a whole other post. I promise to write one and post it sooner than later.
Whoah, I didn't see that hearing aid store until later
Here I am leaving the headquarters of G&O Family Cyclery. I am feeling refreshed and good about life. I got to experience the joy of going downhill on the super road of 8th Ave NW. Wheeeee!

This bothered me. I don't like it when the light signal is all the way by the curb. I find it dangerous.

Okay, so the bike up on this street was not bad, it was enjoyable and not too sweaty.
On my way home to the Rainier Valley, joy!
Burke Gilman Trail, here I come!

More to come on this adventure...

Friday, July 5, 2013

I survived 2 weeks of "camp"

For the last three years I have sent our daughter to the Jewish Orthodox summer camp at one of the shuls. I mainly did this because I worked and needed a place to have her. Yes, glorified babysitting. As our kid has become closer to certain friends we noticed that not all her friends are able to afford to go. Yes, it is expensive but well worth the fun for everyone.

Last year I only had to send our kid for one week but somehow I ended up shelling out for 3 weeks for her campy fun. This year we decided to funnel that money into have a Super Summer with friends.

Every week I have devised ways to distract our "campers" and so far our plans have worked out. It also helps that my friend who sends her kids over is super organized, has helpful hints and is supportive. This also means less biking and more walking. Also, the whole endeavor has been low/no cost.

We sweated a couple of bus rides and have done a lot of walking.
Walking to the Burke Museum
As much as I don't mind walking I know that transportation can be so much faster on a bike but by Wednesday our camp group had swollen to 4 kids, a very helpful teen and me. Not everyone in our group bikes but it would be great if we had some super bike with lots of seats and pedals for everyone. I know, I am dreaming. More walking.
Escalator at Downtown Seattle Library
This is just a glimpse of our adventures, some of the more photogenic.
Underground Tour
As you see, all our walking adventures above. On our last adventure in the Underground Tour the kids got to choose a postcard and this is the selection they made:
The underground toilet was popular and so was all the talk about Madam Graham and her "sewing circle". The kids are convinced that Seattle was the fashion capitol with all those seamstresses. When they get older I sure they will realize what it really meant. The last last thing we did on this tour was go to the actual toilet. Of course when a grown up says, "anyone need to go?" kids refuse. When you spin it this way, "Anyone want to go on a fancy toilet?", then all of a sudden everyone's bladder is so swollen they can't wait.

Of course we didn't take pictures in the bathroom but we have that memory of sitting on a fancy toilet and doing our business.

More adventures to follow in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Walking with Biking Gloves

We are weather whimps in Seattle. We are in the middle of a "heat wave". Sunday's  temperature topped at 90-91F. This only means that the houses that are poorly insulated heat up like there is no tomorrow. For me this means that I really refuse to get on the bus. I rather bike in the scorching heat than subject myself to the stop and go of the bus.

This also means that we take more walks. Usually we have to make our way from the bottom of nowhereland to the top of the hill for friends and shul. My daughter LOVES to hold my hand while going up the hill. She likes the extra support of my pulling her up the hill. I have a no touching me clause in the summer because extra heat is just a no no. So, we were walking up the hill and I was seriously thinking about going back home for my biking gloves. My sticky hands combined with someone else's sticky hands, ewww!

My gloves remind me of those handerpants you can get at Archie McPhee. They are white and I am seriously contemplating getting a pair just to walk with sticky fingered children.

Monday rolled around and we needed to do something about the heat. Our house is cooler than most but we needed a pool.

Safeways had kiddie pools for $6 discounted so we took the bus and bought one. Well, you get what you pay for.  We ended up having to slap on the duct tape. Duct tape, good for literally everything!  Our girly summer camp kids had a great time at their private pool party.

Tuesday is not suppose to be as hot as yesterday so we will see if this pool gets a break and my sweaty kids hands are less sweaty.

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 ...