Saturday, December 31, 2011

Biking With Brad Meets Family Ride

Every once in a while, you meet your cycling mirror image, or that is, every once in a while, you meet a cool biker mom who does all the coolest things you like to do. Well Madi Carlson is all of those things plus the December 2011 Cascade Cyclist of the Month (there should be a calendar, amirite?). And in this case, I'm just delighted that she and her boys like to play with me and mine.

Friday, We went out in the windy December weather to find fun for the kids before they get wrapped up in school and work and the drudgery that will accompany them for the rest of their natural-born lives. University of Washington is a giant beautiful ghost town during the breaks and it was looking like rain so a Tour du Structures de Stationnement (Tour of Parking Garages) seemed in the offing.

Before we get to the story line, I must say that Madi's bike is dazzling. She took the time to get the frame, fork, racks, and fenders painted to the same dye lot. She also has it decked out like we would all like to have. Where I have a Wald Paperboy rack for $45, she has a matching European front basket. Where I content myself with moderately functional Sturmey drum front hub scavenged from an earlier, dead-end cruiser build, she has a matching black Shimano dyno with disc brakes. Where I have brake levers scrounged out of a parts bin coming from an old Raleigh city bike, hers ergonomically fit and are machined to high tolerances, giving sure braking feel. Elegant is what she's got in spades. Just look at that jacket! Don't ever let people tell out that cycling is anti-materialist. We sure are, but we have our own aesthetic cues and trust me, I am fully outclassed.

We met up on the Burke and we instantly recognized each other from past playdates and a general Je

ne sais quoi that has to do with neither of us wearing day glo yellow or green nor clippy shoes. We both seem to ride every wheel turn with our lights on. You never can be too careful, well except that our kids ride in traffic with us, but seriously, do you ever have fun driving your kids around? We I sure have a fun time riding with my kids so maybe there's a secret in there somewhere.

We then rode over to UW and into the parking garage under Red Square. This garage featured ramps that the kids could ride up as well as down and very few cars for the kids to have to dodge. It was also warmer than the outside air and we had a great time with it. We cruised around campus, visited the geology department to see cool rocks, rode on the top of Red Square and intimidated a BMX'er with our mad handling skilz and then ventured down through the Medical Center parking garage and on to Pizza at Furhman and Eastlake (excellent pizza, by the way). Next, we moved onto the Colonnade under I-5. Thorvald has grown into the 20 inch bike world and was in need of some gearing to make the hills around here somewhat bearable so St. Nicholas, in the form of a biking enthusiast named Brad, gave him a 2011 Scott Voltage 20 for Christmas. That same philanthropic dad, wanted him to have a good time on it so, well, we just had to try some gnarly drops with it and Thorvald is clearly up to the task. He even rode the rubber bridge and and took the long downhill with aplomb.

Both kids rode up and down and I can now appreciate how useful balance bikes are for any junior mountain biker at least up through 5 years old. Kids love being able to put both feet down and can ride even the most difficult obstacles on balance bikes that were impossible on the larger, more purpose driven mountain bike. Still, Thorvald loves to ride both and Astrid (foreground) is oh so close to pedaling her own 16 inch bike. We just got her out of diapers and here we are almost to the point where the whole family pedals. I couldn't be prouder.

Much has been made recently by Ms. Family Ride as to a genial competition among Seattle cycling parents to either ride the furthest, heaviest, steepest, or most complicated kid/bike contraption and I rather think that she equates me as the Alpha Dog of said city/interest group. I would say no, there will always be one greater.

I don't dismiss a little envy here or there, but I have to say that I have a wonderful time with like minded and frankly first rate minded people. But there are limits:

Upon showing this photo to the boys at Surly Bicycles, they retorted "Brad, Never show that picture to our lawyers. Seriously, though, awesome." It should be noted that my kid is the one going ballistic in that photo.

So when you see Ms. Family Ride out there, buy her a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and by all means, take a photo of her bike. It's the prettiest one you will ever see.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Snoqualmie tunnel with two stylish women and four awesome kids

Blogger is stupid, in fact retarded as it places photos only at the top of a page so I'm going to follow in the stupidity and tell my story backwards, except that videos don't follow these stupid little blogger idiosyncrasies so that will happen out of reverse order:

We ended our trip after seeing the snow tunnel by riding back up the hill and through the tunnel.
Family Ride's R is super fast on his balance bike and I've got to say that wicker baskets totally take our plastic baskets to task.
Here is the mouth of the abyss. We had lights but a new technology employed this time was the hand held "flashlight" which worked great and allowed us to see surface features on the inside of the tunnels, including the doors, spaced every couple of decameters. Here we are also suiting up so to deal with the 50 degree cold and slight wind.
Leggings, sweaters, hats, and pacifiers, the stuff of any serious cycling family.
Here is Madi looking fabulous while all of us played around on the new sign for the tunnel.
Our trip begins this day when we are finally able to get three family bikes with baskets and seats onto an ostensibly three bike rear rack. I'm guessing the weight on the rear to be somewhere around 200 lbs. Madi's bike only slipped off once!

And of course, what do kids like to do during a big bike ride but contribute to soil erosion by throwing rocks off a hill and into a stream. Note the helmet use while playing. We really don't play that safe most of the time.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Val Kleitz Remembered (Labor Day Cargo Bike Ride)

This is just a piece of the many great memories I've had with Val Kleitz. Here we were on January 1st, 2011, perhaps the coldest day of the year, eating Pho and talking transportation politics. It's too bad that I only caught the last part of Val's brilliant edition, but him talking is what prompted me to start recording.

Come ride in his memory on Labor Day, 2011. The ride starts at 1 PM at 20/20 cycles in Seattle and goes more or less up through the U District. Kids are especially welcome and will be applauded if they ride or are towed, or however they come.

Val made me the cyclist I am. Ride on, good friend.

More info here

Monday, June 27, 2011

Crankspedition 2011: Hawkins-Egbert-Schmidt Edition

Traveling light, we the many, the proud, the unfearful of rain, did trudge our ourselves, our families and our bikes out to the wettest spot in all of Washington last weekend. Yes, we were rained on but not as much as I had feared. Above you will find my kiddy stroller-bike hauler-pickup truck loaded light and featuring an extra kid from another family, Schmidt clan, I believe. I'm still loading pictures from the rest of the trip but these somehow loaded so I'll form my narrative structure around the few that I have.

Pictured above is also our attempt at the end of the road in the Suiattle river valley. The deindustrialization of America is great for biking as it tends to close roads and revert rail rights of way into bike trails. You can now go for days traversing the Cascade mountain range and hardly see a car, riding dirt and often asphalted roads that have been closed to cars for want of public funding approval. Keep it up, Tea Partiers. I love biking these roads, now seemingly made just for me and my family.

On the way back, I decided to grab a few snapshots of our load. That is a Coleman double rectangular sleeping bag that weighs, I kid you not, 38 lbs. It's a little unwieldy but it sure it great for snuggling in a tent and the kids just love jumping on it and making forts out of it so we keep dragging it around. I figured out a better way to strap it on the Big Dummy so we will probably keep using it despite the lack of cool factor. Note that I do haul out my trash. What? Do you think I'm some sort of heathen?

The kids here are super tired from a full day riding and digging and playing. Thorvald, pictured right just rode 10 miles on his own bike and is ready for a nap, hopefully he doesn't take one before he gets into the car. It's never fun to have a nap interrupted, at any age. Astrid is working with her baby doll and all of the camping clothing and sundries are stuffed into the two shopping bags in the front basket. This is not the stuff of REI advertising campaigns.

Here's the bored front shot of the kids. "can we go now, dad?" Note also that two kids bikes fit nicely on the outside of a tent and grocery bag, balancing nicely with the sleeping bag on the right.

And so we did, and so we drove home, saw some rodeo, chased some sheep, drove some miles, and eventually we all got to cuddle with mama.
On the whole, it was the nicest camping trip I've ever done with my kids and I will be planning more, even reporting more fully on this one for I seem to have no good pictures as of yet of my dear friends, the Schmidts and the Egberts. That will change!!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Is this the way drivers solve their problems?

War on cars, indeed..........

It looks as though a member of the Tea Party or a regular commenter to a "bicycle accident news story" was visiting down in Brazil over the weekend. Tell me conservatives, when you talk about using 2nd amendment options or about the intrinsic rights as a driver that you may have over all others, do you ever think about the consequences?

From now on, anyone who drives at me, revs their engine, or otherwise threatens me on my bike will be contacted by the police. Zero tolerance. That's another cute little line conservatives and bike haters (one and the same) like to trot out.

Zero tolerance.