Sunday, March 20, 2016

Mini Blog Post: Crash

Before crashing. Doesn't look that wet outside.
This is mini blog post #3. It's a series I started just for Davey Oil. The first two were only sent to Davey but this one might amuse others.

I have had the Metrofiets for a little bit and have managed to crash in the following ways:

1. The tween crashed into me. How did this happen? I was using a route some douche bag suggested. In order to avoid a pretty bad car collision drivers were using the alleyway behind Tin Umbrella. So, when we turned on to that street some jerk drove out fast, I screamed and hit the brakes hard. This resulted in the tween crashing right into my derailler. After this I had one good gear. It got fixed but seriously, don't listen to idiots who don't know routes.

2 minutes before the crash

2. I crashed hard and this time very hard. We had a series of days where it didn't rain and so when it rains again the road become slick. With complete confidence I thought I could grab something with one hand and mange the bike at the same. WRONG. Don't do that. Then I did the fatal mistake of braking. My brakes are good. So, I started skidding left and going down at the same time. AWWWWW!! OW!

While I was falling I was thinking, my tights are falling, how embarrassing. Luckily, I had the poncho on so nobody saw this disaster.  AWWWW! I kinda just stayed on the ground and wondered if my legs worked. A guy walking kinda stared and when he realized I wasn't moving he said, "are you ok" but kept walking. I am not sure how to feel about that. The time I saw a drunk lady stumble on Broadway and fall I helped pick her up.  So, I got up moved the bike over to the side. A woman saw this from her house and came out. I was close to 20/20 Cycles so I limped over. I was not sure to cry, the adreline still pumping.

Daniel came out, checked my bike and gave me a band-aid. Seriously, those guys are nice. 20/20 Cycle, I love you!

I biked home with all my junk and here I am, on the couch embarrassed. I don't think my knee is broken but it's swollen. My tights are intact and it's really bizarre how I was so worried about the condition of my tights.

I know, I biked home with a full load. I don't think I'm broken.

DAMN!! Metrofiets, you make one bomb proof bike. DAMN, Alex, you put components on my bike that work well. Respect!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cargo Bikes on Sound Transit: Not so fast

Hi UW LightRail. I only biked here for show. No Cargo bikes allowed, I know.

It's old news but per Sound Transit "no oversized, cargo, family cargo, tandem, or fueled bicycles are permitted on any vehicle".  This is not a new rule but it was spelled out more recently, especially with the opening of two new stations.

Cargo and family bikes are a spectrum. I wish a length requirement was used instead because this would clarify better what is allowed. Many cities have a cap on length and I think this is helpful for people who plan to be multi-modal. The SkyTrain in Vancouver, BC specifies that bikes must be less than 185 centimeters or 73 inches long. They also limit which stations bikes can exit.

This is NOT a cargo bike
After our trailer days we looked into what would give us the most flexibility. It turned out my Oma bike with a kid seat on the back would be the most flexible. If I had to, I could load it on a bus bike rack and mitigate all elevators with it. It was a great set-up. I had to bike the 1st kid to school in Capitol Hill and home again. 20 miles each day on a bike if we didn't do errands would be helped by taking the train at Mt. Baker the rest of the way home. It worked for the most part.

When we finally upgraded to a cargo bike I knew that using it on the light rail might be difficult. In fact, I figured lightrail could be used in the most extreme circumstances, especially if I need to get to G&O with a bike that was having issues. I asked about rules then but didn't get a firm answer. The transit police didn't kick me off. I got a lot of curious looks and questions but those rare times we used lightrail we managed to load in and out without problems.

The instances when I used the light rail I did it when it had the least amount of people on the train and with the completion of the Beacon Hill Greenway I would only take it a few stop. As ridiculous as it seems, just taking it to there got me out of parts of the Rainier Valley the the tween has trouble riding. We currently have no connections and if I can manage to spend less time biking through some dangerous intersections and roads, the more I am encouraged to bike.

That time we saw Frozen in 2013 and it was frozen outside, burr
So, since 2013 I have been pushing it with the Edgerunner on the light rail and anticipated a day when that would not be a transit tool to get me to my destination. I prepared. I bought a normal bike at BikeWorks and will soon add a seat. I can bike very far distances with the tween and toddler on the Edgerunner deck but even with assist it's a big chore and they fight. Yes they fight. The toddler kicks her and the tween is in the way of his ability to see and throw stuff. Nobody is happy. Biking any distance with both of them is torture for me. So, the tween rides, regardless of the distance. I would like to expand out network so we have the REGULAR bike so we can take lightrail all the way to the University Washington. For me, this connection means we can blissfully ride on the Burke Gilman.

I can maneuver the Edgerunner on the train and it works well. This is only possible because I know which door will open and where to position the bike.

2 bikes, luggage and a stroller. It's like a bad transit comedy

BUT.....Regular bikes don't do well on Sound Transit Light Rail anyway.
The space is weird. In general it was not designed with bikes or luggage in mind. I am constantly reminded of the struggled for passengers to find a seat and a place for their luggage. People honestly don't want to drive or use a car service so lightrail is a great option to get from the airport downtown. People put their luggage in the bike/luggage space, the folding handicapped area or worse, use two entire seats so they can sit with their luggage.

Mr. Peyos, demonstrates hanging his bike for me. Most bikes block this space.

We know their are certain peak times. We call them "Airport Hour". Recently, airport hour seems all the time. I won't even dare get on with a stroller. It sucks! Even Mr. Peyos has issues with his own, made for Vikings bike. The man is 6'4 and his bike is oversized.
That time Mr. Peyos instantly turned his bike into a CARGO BIKE.
Mr. Peyos doesn't hang his bike because he feels that it blocks that middle passage and become a nuisance so he likes to stand with it. He gets on the lightrail regardless but the man is tall and Danish so bringing a bike on the train is a normal.

How does it work in Denmark. Watch the video, it doesn't matter if you don't speak the romantic language of otter, I mean Danish.

I honestly don't remember that much drama with the older trains but I do remember seeing a guy get hit in his private area with a bike so it makes me laugh, old times. Okay but Seattle is not Denmark but you get my point, design the space better and we won't have this chaos.

My "normal" bike fits on a Metro rack. 

The times I have tried to get on the train with the older kid with regular bikes we have to maneuver ourselves, mostly because my bike doesn't fit on the hook and she can't lift her bike.

What can you do. If you haven't signed the Seattle Greenways petition, read it and then sign it.

You can also contact Sound Transit and let them know, that the space needs a redesign.

We just stand because neither of us can hang our bikes.
These new rules forced a lot of people to make hard decisions on what bike to buy, how to mitigate taking kids with them on the lightrail. This topic has opened a can of WORMS. I welcome worms, but only in my compost pile. Some people bought certain bikes, which per ST rules are technically "cargo" bikes, feel they can't go on the light rail now.  You might as well buy a car you hippie biker. I want mass gridlock on roads. DO IT.

The "cargo bike" wording is so vague, that's why a length requirement would be better. I can see a whole slew of bikes that could fit on lightrail now during non-peak times. I'm not talking about the Edgerunner. I have no plans to bring that bike on the lightrail.

You might technically have a "cargo bike" BUT here's what you can do.  Before you board the train stand at the front where the driver can see you. Sure, full disclosure. Walk past them. Give the driver the thumbs up. If they ignore you, you are golden. Get on the train, enjoy!

I'm not even going to go into what is and not a cargo bike because a transit system should do some homework before they start using words to make rules.

Sound Transit, not that you read this, set a length requirement.

If you need help. Contact me (nospandexreq at gmail dot com) Aside from myself, can also do some consultation so that this length requirement can be more clear. We can even hold a mini-Familybike Expo just so you learn.

Again, nobody listens to me because I'm just a lady on a bike with close to ten year of biking with kids and using a bike as transportation all of my life. I know nothing! Fuggggg, get me some spandex and then someone will listen to the words coming out of my mouth.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

M is for Metrofiets (Part 1)

The beginning of the "build a bike" journey
Don't hate me when you read this.

I think ever since I saw my first cargo bike in 1995 I always wanted a front cargo bike. Living in Denmark will do that to you. We had friends who worked for the Danish Post Office and I thought it was so cool they delivered the mail by bike. So cool! So what prevented me from buying one? Money was a factor for a very long time. Then we moved to Seattle and it became terrain. I worked with a woman at the public school who was pretty discouraging about getting a Workcycles bakfiets despite her family owning own. I tried one in early 2007 and loved it but could understand that the weight of the bike might make it hard. I had nobody to consult about this and did not know people who were putting electric assist on bikes. So, I put the idea away.

Then I had the love affair with the Bullitt (Part 1 & Part 2) bike and had the opportunity to bike with one. It was fun but not the bike for me. My love was smothered by my short legs and the ouchie stand over issue. When you have to stand tipy toe over the bar, ouchy!

One day my daughter was biking next to me and she said, "Mommy, what would be your dream bike?" I told her, "A Metrofiets, I think it is the happy medium between a Workcycles bakfiets and a Bullitt". She rolled her eyes at me and we didn't talk about it again.

Later during my downtime, I was looking on Craigslist for fun and the most extraordinary ad pops up. It's an ad for a Metrofiets frame at the most ridiculous price. It was one of those, too good to be true ads. I had my doubts about it so I asked one of the owners of Metrofiets about it. As you can see, the picture was grainy and the price, CRAZY!! He confirmed this was the original owner and he had dismantled the bike  I put off the idea because how would I pick up a bike in Portland? I have no CAR. Oh whine.....I need a car to get something.

I sent an message to my two bike friends who would understand this bike lust. It happened to be the week that one of these women was going to Portland. What!! It was also the week we got our tax return. Um, how could I not? The three of us kept this a secret! My enabler friend and family drove down to Portland and on the way back to Seattle picked up the bike. When the bike finally made it to my home I couldn't believe what I did and felt pretty guilty about it. I have another a bike. This time it's a frame. I don't know how to build a bike. You can tell I didn't think this through. Yes, I had guilt. I had guilt I had the money to throw cash on this and I had guilt because I had another bike BUT we had discussed another set-up because the toddler is very physical on the Edgerunner despite being buckled in. He has plans to be a stunt double for movie babies.

You have no idea. Baby Peyos is one strong little person. He sleeps wonky, despite our best efforts to make him cozy, shakes the bike like their is no tomorrow and the worst offence, he throws stuff off the bike. He is a champion at aim and throw. We have hit a few people and in his latest incident was quick, grabbed my helmet camera and tossed it.  My husband understood my need for a better baby bike prision, especially the part where he throws all his body weight around while on the back of the Edgerunner. It looks bad too. The tween likes to warn me about his crazy wiggling. Usually with screams of, "he's going to make you fall. YOU ARE GOING TO FALL!"

So, I end up with a bike frame. What to do now? My bike shops are ones that I picked because they were on my route home. The bike shop that has been kind to me since 2008 has been 20/20 Cycles in the Central District. They helped me fix my bike in cold rain and when the tween was little it was her favorite place to go play with a My Little Pony puzzle while we waited for bike repair.

It is also the shop that sold me the Redline Metro 9. That bike was so well loved.  Never once were any of us treated like the loco religious family on bike, some shops would snub us. Yes, some shops were complete a-holes to us.  Some shops have learned how to change their attitude to customers showing up to shops but other's have a lot to learn.

In any case, we LOVE 20/20. I sent Alex, the owner of the shop a picture of the frame and asked if he was interested in a project. Why didn't I take it north to G&O where I bought the other bike? It's far! I feel like it's always some epic adventure to bike up there from the Rainier Valley. I wanted to be close enough to check on my bike from time to time. It's 7 very hilly miles to the shop but it was worth it.

The story of the box:
I interrupt the bike build to give you the story of the box. The frame came with a plywood box. The owner had built but it weighed a bazillion pounds. Did you know the Metrofiet branded box weighs 10 pounds? It cost so much money! After a week or two wondering about the box component I had these silent conversations with G-d about it. I know, some of you can't even go there but I DO! Then like a miracle, someone was selling the box and rain cover at the most extraordinary price. Again! You hate me so much.

Nerds make cardboard replicas
I had the dilemma of bringing this box home. I didn't know what it looked like but it was in Portland. I consulted my bike women friends and after several conversations I figured the best way was for me to take the Bolt bus to Portland with my light bike to pick up the Metrofiets box. Did I know it was going to fit? I had no clue but what I did was build a replica out of cardboard. It came pretty darn close to the actual dimensions of the real thing, except it didn't weight 10 pounds. do you like my attention to detail?

So, I loaded a regular bike on the Bolt Bus and headed down to Portland. My adventures in pictures.

Yes, it's so crazy. I have a bike that doesn't have electric assist. How will I manage? Can I bike? I love the assumption that I am not able to bike on other bikes.

Bolt Bus is really accommodating. The other bike belongs to the owner of Back Alley Bike Repair. We fit. Then again, I consider the Soma Tradesman a normal bike. NORMAL.

Did I mess up and take a weird picture. NO, I didn't. That's that weird back thing. It's a foot. The guy behind me wouldn't move it and kept it there until I turned around and did a silent staring contest. 

It didn't smell all that much but it was annoying. 

Hello Portland on a Sunday. Where is everyone? Hello bikey people. My destination was North East Portland and had no idea where I was going. I had a general idea how to bike there but it was dubious how fast I would bike. When you live in Seattle you think hills, hills, hills. I was told on the phone, Portland has hills.

Eventually I would like to bike in Portland with my whole family but I feel I have a duty to find out if Mr. Peyos can get across bridges because, vertigo. This looks like our best crossing. It's low just like his native Denmark. 

Way finding was really good. It was hard to get lost. I am a master at getting lost.

I was told that this is a hill but waited a long time to catch the hill. This is N. Williams which I enjoyed and thought it was nice but this is a Sunday and the weekday traffic is nowhere. On a Sunday I would find this okay for my tween to ride. 

Speed hump humping. I like how the paint extended over the entire hump. I wonder if it was too low and wide to cause drivers to slow. Again, Sunday, where are people. It's like I arrived to a city without people. 

The seller of the box and rain cover helped me configure it on the bike. This gave the most room for handlebar clearance. The cardboard box helped me figure this part out before I dared bring that bike. Like all things in life, it starts raining and hard. I have gear, it's called a poncho and funny shoes. Don't make fun of me. 

Just in case you wonder how I managed to bike this load, easy. I even stood in a huge puddle just to take this picture. Only smart choices here.

Since this is Portland I felt bound by the fact that someone might steal my box. On the way south I talked to a homeless man about the box. He told me to not leave it unattended because someone might steal it. We chatted mostly about the wood and construction. Another guy yelled, "take a picture of that!" What Portland? Don't you have people who do this every day? My hopes of going into Powells to buy books was crushed. I had 2 hours to kill, it was raining and was very afraid. 

Just another picture of my magnificent awesomeness. 

Meanwhile in Seattle the toddler falls asleep on a pile of cloth diapers. I was told that he slept like that for 2 hours. Diapers are cozy.

Again, Bolt Bus staff were accommodating. They let me bring both my bike and box on the bus and didn't even blink. Amtrak, you could learn so much. I contemplated taking Amtrak home but they canceled the train due to a mud slide. I did bike to the station to ask if they could accommodate my box in addition to the bike. I didn't get a clear answer. I think that means no.
I decided to take rest in a Starbucks so I can watch my bike and charge my phone. Of all the places, why didn't I choose some other place, hah. In this time period someone saw the bike and box and somehow it was assumed it was stolen. I saw one couple eyeing it so I suspect them. In turn they made me nervous. I wasn't sure what they were doing so at that point I went outside and decided to walk around. When you are brown you are paranoid when gringos start touching your stuff, no kidding. Downtown is a weird place to bike so I wasn't interested in hanging out.

I walked past this place and it looked interesting but it felt too hip to go in. Pobresita, she can't afford a home so she is walking around with her portable house. I had a whole Mexican soap opera going on in my head from this point on. 

The ride home was mostly boring and I was tired. Nobody put their foot on my face and I got two seats all to myself. I even got a workable plug for my phone. Look what I did, I brought the whole thing on the Light Rail. It's against the written rules to bring a CARGO bike on the light rail. Like I said before, this is a perfectly normal bike and I happen to have a box on the front rack. 

I made it home in record time to eat tacos, nurse a kid and go to sleep. Note to self, fix that kickstand.

The toddler didn't know what to think about it but he enjoyed eating his taco in here.

A week later I biked the box the complete 7 hilly miles to meet the frame. Hello Lake Washington. This might be the first Metrofiets box ever to get a grand tour of Seattle.

There you have it, the whole saga of the Metrofiets box and how it got to Seattle. Part 2 will be coming soon, including the parts about how the frame got to the shop. 

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 ...