First ride of the season!

Betsy at discovery park

At the lighthouse in Discovery Park

Justin at Discovery Park

Justin and the Lighthouse

We took an amazing 30+ mile ride to Discovery Park and back this weekend. The weather was perfect, and since we had Friday off, there was minimal traffic! We started on the Burke Gilman, went across the University Bridge, around South Lake Union (past all the cool houseboats), up to the Ship Canal Trail, down Emerson and around the bottom of Magnolia (which is like being in another country), then up the “coast” of Elliott Bay to Discovery Park. There were a few good hills in Magnolia, but nothing our winter legs couldn’t handle. We ate our picnic lunch at the Discovery Park lighthouse right at the far western tip. Going home we skipped the gravel trails in the park and found a nice bike route/road (after climbing a massive hill!). We crossed at the Ballard Locks, and rode back along the Burke Gilman. It was a great relaxed ride, and made me anxious for more more more!


New Bike Wall Hangers



Last Saturday Justin and I assembled a couple of awesome and cheap bike wall mounts. The bikes have been standing against the wall in our bedroom for a few weeks since we took them off the living room wall vertical mounts. We thought it would be a cool idea to take up the whole empty wall in our bedroom and hang the bikes horizontally. I found some instructions on making a bike wall hanger using metal pipe, a wall flange, and an old pair of handlebars with stem. The most difficult part was fitting the handlebars into the stems that weren’t quite an exact fit. But we did it! The other creative part was getting the stems to fit tight inside the metal pipe. Since the pipe is a bit bigger than it could be for a great fit, we just wrapped some fabric around the stem’s wedge and tightened it after inserting the stem. That way the wedge pressed against the fabric for a great fit!

The whole project ended up costing about $50 for both mounts, a heck of a lot cheaper than the cool shelf-hangers we were thinking about buying! It was a fun project to work together on, after some minor arguments at the hardware store concerning math and measurements. Anyway, we really like the way they turned out, and it gets the bikes off the floor with extra storage “hangers” included!

Winter jacket design for biking

I love wearing sweaters and sweatshirts, which is one of the reasons I love living in the Northwest. Fall is my favorite season, and it makes me so happy to ride outside in the crisp air, getting to work with my cheeks flushed from the chill (not to mention a whole lot less sweaty from the hilly climbs!).

A lot of my “technical” bike gear has gotten some holes in it from wear and accidents over the years, but it’s actually been nice to somewhat retire it and switch to more “normal” clothing. Like I wrote before, I feel more comfortable now after about four years of commuting, to ride in street clothes as opposed to bicycle-specific spandex, and the winter will bring more options for creativity in commute clothing. For instance, since I walk around outside a lot for my job, I need to have a heavier coat than a bike jacket at work, so finding (or making) a stylish winter jacket that I can also be comfy riding in will be a great challenge this season!

I am currently working on a Sew-Along with the Colette Patterns Anise jacket. It’s fun to go slow and spend so much time perfecting the pretty simple pattern. I think with some stretchier wool (or maybe something cut on the bias?) I could make this pattern work for biking. The length would have to be adjusted to accommodate leaning over on the bike, and maybe a stretchy armscye gusset will help with breathability. Here are some sketches and notes for my dream-winter-bike-jacket.

Fall commute changes

Summer ride in shorts, no gloves!

I’ve started to notice the mornings getting chillier on my commutes. So far I’ve had to add a bandana under my helmet to keep my ears warm, leggings under my shorts, and a long sleeve shirt/sweatshirt. It hasn’t been cold enough yet to change gloves or get out the long underwear, but it will soon! The temperature is changing but it’s more of an air quality that seems thinner, crisper, and more clear. That’s my favorite part about Fall! (and the squash soup)

Besides the added clothing layers, I’ll have to dig out another couple of lights for my bike since it won’t be long before I’m leaving the house (and work, ugh) in the dark. Our “bike box” of extra supplies is stuffed with pedals, inner tubes, rags, but mostly lights and reflectors. It’s hard to find a good light that fits in the place on your bike where you need it. Currently I have a blinky red light on my helmet and a blinky white light on my handlebars. I’ll be adding another “headlight” type to my bike and another blinky red light to my rear rack.

Soon I’ll also start having to carry an extra bag for my rain gear (you never know when it’ll rain in the Seattle winter!) and I’ll probably stash my tire patch kit and tools in there too. My seat post bag with tool kit was stolen off my bike at work last week so I had to put together a new one, but it’s easier to just throw it all in my rack’s “trunk” bag in the winter instead of having a separate small bag – less fumbling with zippers and cold fingers.

I’m kind of looking forward to the challenges of winter riding, and luckily I spent last weekend fixing up Suzy so she’s all battened down for whatever Seattle will throw at us!

Bike maintenance Saturday

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On Saturday we took a much needed trip to Recycled Cycles to pick up some bike maintenance stuff. We’re going to be putting together some wall bike-mounts in our house for holding our bikes parallel to the wall, using old handlebars and some pipe and wall flanges. Should be cheap and fun to put together!

I also desperately needed some new clip-in shoes since the ones I currently have are over three years old and not very safe in the rain. I got a pair of high-top Chromes that I love! I waterproofed the canvas and screwed in my cleats, they are so much more comfortable than the old shoes! We also did some monthly maintenance on our bikes since it was such a nice day – cleaned, oiled, and adjusted everything.

Justin put on new brake pads and adjusted his brake cables. I picked up some new aero brake levers and installed them, adjusted my brake cables, re-wrapped my handlebars (in bright red this time!) and changed out my rear brake pads. Suzy is now clean, shiny, and well oiled. I love seeing our bikes all spiffy and ready for a new season!


Another sad day for cyclists

Sad as always…

Jim's Bike Blog

It’s a sad task to write again about a local bicyclist hit by a vehicle. This time the cyclist was killed.
Iris Stagner, 54, of Mineral Wells, about 45 miles west of Fort Worth, died shortly after 5:30 p.m. on Monday on U.S. 180 about two miles west of Mineral Wells, said an online report by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
She was hit from behind by a pickup as she was headed west on a bridge over the Brazos River, said a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper quoted by the Star-Telegram. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Stagner, an avid cyclist and runner, was an administrative assistant for the Palo Pinto County Commissioners’ Court in nearby Palo Pinto. She had worked with the Texas Department of Transportation on various county projects to improve conditions for cyclists in the area, including successfully petitioning TXDOT to have bike…

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Bike Ride to the Museum

Saturday I met some friends at the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. It’s one of three locations for the Seattle Art Museum (SAM, Asian Art Museum, Olympic Sculpture Park), and one I’d never been to yet. The special exhibit was Indian Miniatures of the Ramayana “Folk Tale”, and it was incredible! Also incredible was the bike ride to the museum. Incredibly adventurous that is.

It was such a beautiful day that I knew I wanted to ride to the museum, which is about 7 miles from my house and pretty much on the same route as my commute to work. I figured that taking a slightly different route which would lead me more directly to the museum entrance would be best, despite being unfamiliar with it. I happily hopped on my bike and zoomed down the few hills to the Burke Gilman Trail, rode over the University Bridge, and stopped at Le Fournil Ltd. Cafe on Eastlake, right before going up the first big hill. I pass this bakery/cafe every day on my commute, and it always smells amazing but I’d never been there. Since I needed a sandwich for our park/art museum excursion I figured it would be a great time to try out this place. The wait was long, but it was right at noon, so that didn’t surprise me. Prices were reasonable, I got the tuna sandwich with a little chocolate shortbread cookie. The sandwich ended up being amazingly good and too big for one person so I shared it with my friend.

After the sandwich pickup I was rested and ready to hit the hill. This is the same hill I climb on my way to work, but somehow on a weekend, with a place to go where I wasn’t going to change clothes after, it seemed a little more daunting. Anyway I made it up the hill with minimal exertion, then it was time for my route diversion. I stupidly didn’t look at a map before leaving so that I at least had an idea of where to go, but instead trusted my instincts, which of course ended up being wrong. As I started to descend a hill (the exact opposite of what I should have been doing) I was having panicky thoughts in my head of climbing massive hills I didn’t know and getting totally lost. Which is what happened. But thank goodness for GPS. I righted myself after a few wrong turns, had a little pity party as I was pushing my bike up a 20% grade, and finally accepted the fact that I was going to climb a few more hills and arrive at the museum pretty sweaty. Oh well! When I got there my friends were having a great time munching in the sun, and they were sympathetic when I told them about my journey. Which really wasn’t that much of a journey, just a lot of big hills!

The museum was great (and air conditioned!), the lunch was spectacular (especially since I earned it!), and spending the afternoon with friends talking about art was the best. The ride home seemed sooooo easy too!


Port Townsend, here we come!

A cycle/pedestrian ferry from Seattle to Port Townsend? Yes please!!

From Seattle Bike Blog:

New Seattle-Port Townsend walk/bike ferry in the works

The Seattle-Port Townsend bike+ferry route today. Google Maps bike directions.

Getting to Port Townsend with your bike could get a whole lot easier when plans for a new passenger ferry come to fruition as early as spring 2013. The PTLeader has the story:

According to the draft plan, the terminals would be located at the Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend and the Bell Harbor Marina, the heart of Seattle cruise ship operations. In order to compete with traditional ferry routes and other passenger-only ferries, the 42-mile crossing is planned to take 70-80 minutes.

Eric Toews, planning analyst for the port, said the high interest in both Port Townsend and Seattle as recreation and business destinations should ensure customer interest.

“This is distinguished because it really is two very popular destination towns,” Toews said.

As Seattle Transit Blog points out, the seemingly weird location in the cruise ship terminal makes sense because the state’s plans for Colman Dock do not include passenger ferries, which is very unfortunate (Is there a movement to get this changed? Should bike advocates be pushing for this?).

Current transit and biking routes between the two cities are very long—not necessarily a bad thing if you’re just out to ride your bike, but not good for transportation purposes. Another bonus for people on bike: Work on the Olympic Discovery Trail keeps getting more complete, providing a fantastic non-highway route for recreation cycling and for getting to Port Angeles. From STB:

[R]egarding bikes on board: any boat would include room for bikes, although as no boat has yet been leased or purchased, the precise capacity is unknown. As a bike-friendly town, and the gateway to the growing Olympic Discovery Trail, Port Townsend is a great place to take a bike, so this is a smart decision. Once the ODT is complete enough to ride between Port Townsend and Port Angeles without riding on the 101, this could be a component of some amazing bike plus ferry (plus train) loops.

The Port Townsend/Seattle bike cultures often try to be more connected, and this ferry could be a boon for bike tourism on the Peninsula. With the planned improvements to the Hood Canal Bridge also coming soon, the Seattle-to-Port Townsend ride might just become even more popular.

The ferry will not be subsidized, so tickets will probably be a little pricey (at least compared to state-run ferries). But just thinking about the new possibilities it will open up is cause for excitement.

Would you use this ferry?

Cycling clothes

On our way home from the Maple Leaf Neighborhood Ice Cream Social!

I feel like I’ve been migrating steadily away from jerseys and spandex shorts and into cycling in street clothes. When I moved to Seattle and started commuting by bike, I wore the most comfortable clothes that I could also go to work in because that’s all I had. Then I wanted to fit in with other cyclists and thought that lycra and tight aerodynamic clothes were the way to go. I started wearing these cycling-specific clothes mostly to fit in with other cyclists in Seattle and to look the part while riding around.

However after a few years now of daily commuting (and getting tired of changing clothes for simple trips or standing out at the grocery store) I’m finding that I’m actually more comfortable on my bike seat, or out in the breeze, or in various types of weather in more “normal” clothes. I’m continually surprised at what kinds of clothes I can wear on my bike (like jeans) and still be comfortable, when I used to be so fearful of not being able to pedal correctly or having my lower back exposed, or what have you. Maybe I’ve just been riding so much that my seat is used to it, but maybe not. Here is a cool study done for one woman’s graduate thesis on “bike” clothes for women in Portland.

I want to make it clear that I’ve come to this change in bicycle clothes based on years of riding my bike and actually figuring out what is most comfortable and workable for me. I am not trying to put down people who ride their bike in cycling-specific gear or anything. I’m more surprised at the realization in my own life that I really like riding in dresses and jeans and button up shirts.


Weekend ride

This past weekend the weather was finally awesome in Seattle. Justin and I rode to the bottle shop on Saturday and got a growler filled for one of the three barbeques we had this weekend. He carried the growler back in this ingenious backpack within a backpack solution. I didn’t carry anything. I even forgot my wallet. It wasn’t far but surprisingly warm so we sweated up an appetite for the amazingly relaxing afternoon of drinking and eating, which included grilled veggie sandwiches and cookie cups with grilled peaches and homemade whipped cream!

On Sunday we went to a barbeque at a friend’s house and I rode my bike the long way there along the Burke Gilman Trail and through Fremont. It was awesome! I wore my new plaid flannel shirt, and looked for the Fremont bridge bike counter but didn’t see it. It was still a good ride on a sunny, but breezy cool day.

When we were heading home, even though Justin drove earlier with the BBQ groceries and could have given me a lift, I wanted to ride my bike! And then as I was carrying my bike down the apartment building staircase with my stupid clippy shoes I slipped and fell down the stairs! Wah. Scraped and bruised my knee/leg and wrenched the bike’s handlebars out of position as it hit the railing at the bottom (see above, woops!). So I took the car ride after all. Lots of ice and chocolate that night, and I skipped riding on Monday, but everything’s pretty much better and I’m back to my usual commute. I have been taking it slow up the massive hill but it’s a nice excuse I tell myself as other bikers whiz by me. I’m really liking the “new” route to work – I get the hill parts out of the way first and can coast the last couple miles!