Friday, December 26, 2014

Dirty little sneak

      I have a confession. I've been cheating on my bike. Don't get me wrong, I love my little Schwinn, I'm not selling her anytime soon. But... I've been cheating on her, looking at other bikes, ogling different frames, pondering different pedals, gazing on different gears, and even, dare I confess? Yes, dreaming of a riding a different saddle.
     I shouldn't be that ashamed, I know many cyclists who have more than one bike, some bikes are better suited to different things. I, however, have always been true to one ride at a time, making one bike work for all things. Its not a marriage, not exactly, and not like my bike is an animate object to be jealous or angry with me, but those little bells do sound a bit condemning these days.
     You see I've been thinking very hard about getting a folding bike, better suited for my commutes than for grocery runs. Pinkie Pie, my current ride, is great for those. Her frame can stand the weight of the trailer, her basket is lovely for Mac or a smaller bag. However, she's a big girl in terms of weight, and pushing her up Greenwood has begun to strain me, and lifting her onto the bus rack hurts my shoulders. A folding bike makes sense for my commute in many ways, and for my random adventures near and far, should the sun leave me bereft of strength, or the journey too much, resorting to public transit would not become a perilous chance of dice (how many times after an event have you waited and waited for a but with a free rack spot?)
     In fact, it was, on the bus on my way home, where I began looking again at other bikes.
     "Oh, look at her rack," I whispered, not realizing I said it aloud. The mother across from me shot me a nasty look and, conscious of my error, I quickly turned my phone to show her the bike. She smiled, probably feeling better she wasn't sitting across from a pervert.
    The gentlemen to my side inquired as to the bike I was looking at and I showed them.
    "That looks expensive," one of them frowned, "Set you back about two thousand, am I right?"
    "Nope," I smiled, "She's only a hundred sixty four, not counting tax of course,"
    "You're kidding me," he exclaimed.
     "Oh no, folding bikes aren't just for rich folks, more for every day folks," I said. The woman sitting next to the mother craned her head, and I showed her the bike.
    "Oh, I could use that," she said, "Except on the hills, those little wheels," she shook her head. I laughed.
    "Actually, its better to have little wheels if you have a lot of hills," I explained.
    "How's that?"
    "You ever notice how quick a rabbit or a dog goes up a hill?" I asked, "Its because of how they're pushing their weight up. We walk upright, so we're pushing a different fulcrum to achieve momentum,"I showed the motions using my hands, "Smaller wheels keep you close to the ground, and they my make better use of the surface ratio,"
    "Won't it just collapse on you someday?" the other man asked. I showed them a couple videos of folding bikes, showing how they worked, and the conversation moved to electric bikes and the difference between an assist bike and a full electric, and the different bikes we'd all had through our lives.
     The weekend before Christmas Ben took my bike out to help me haul a cat tree home for the kids. Sadly he didn't take any pictures when he brought home our tree that way, but we did get a couple shots of the cat tree.
     Even he agreed, while Pinkie is good for a haul, or a free style ride, she's not really practical the for the length a challenges of my commute. Which means, my dear readers, in the new year I'll be adding a new stead to my stable. Hopefully I'll be able to shake the gnawing sense of guilt.
    In the meantime, am I missing a trick, or does Seattle not have a bike podcast?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

No hands tight turns

Went on just a little ride today, Carkeek Park, a little holiday shopping. Ben came with, but Mac stayed behind, though the weather was nice we wanted to walk trails that dogs aren't allowed on. Normally I'd eschew any path where my dog wasn't welcome, but since we were shopping later anyway, my basket jingled emptily. We went to the park to pick out the spot we'd get married in this coming March, and I think we found the perfect spot. We already knew it was going to be there, we just hadn't found the perfect spot yet.

Oh, and the invitations came (if you like them, I got them on Zazzle, and you can customize your own variation)

On the way back as we rode I did, as I so often do, rode without hands on my handlebars. I steer fairly well, and can go quite a distance without my hands on the bars. I often do, sometimes to dance along to the music I'm listening to, or because I'm fishing something out of a pocket, or to pet my dog, or to perform a series of signals to indicate I'm going to be stopping and going left or right. As a little girl I broke my arm riding no handed so I'm well aware of the danger.

In fact, I was riding no handed, doing the 'V' for victory sign as a 7 yr old miscreant, when a bump in the pavement caused me to snap my left arm on the curb. Fortunately, my step-father can set a bone and the arm has never troubled me much, but I'm very grateful for that break, even if it was a miserable summer with a stinky cast.

The series of crashes and spin-outs taught me how to shift my core center and balance my weight in such a way that I could probably ride a unicycle (though I've no inclination to do so) and take turns barely moving my handlebars, the most hairpin curve doesn't faze me in terms of control. I can even keep pedaling under such conditions. I don't need to grip the mid-bar with my thighs, its a matter of moving your center of gravity to your butt, and using your hindquarters kind of like a rudder. Even with my hands on the bars I'm turning my back wheel just a smidgen before my front wheel. I learned to turn this way because, growing up, there was a spot we nick-named 'Dead Man's Curve' a near guaranteed wipe-out jut in front of the fire-station on the campus. Its since been fixed, but back in the day that turn would send you sprawling and tumbling, if you weren't clutching your breaks. 

I hated loosing speed, I hated riding my breaks down, and often when I was first learning to adjust them they would fail and force me to use my foot (in an emergency you can jam your foot to stop your back wheel by kicking your leg behind the seat and doing a door stop move on the tire*), So I adapted various methods until even Dead Man's curve couldn't kill my speed if I chose. Of course you should still slow down somewhat on turns, there's no need to arrive as a DOA.

Now, I've always been aware Ben is unable to ride no-handed, and I dunno, I guess the idea of committing to someone who can't whistle is one thing, but riding no handed is another. It took a bit of coaxing, and no small amount of courage on his part, but the Interurban trail is a flat and good place to learn the skill. 

After a few tries he was able to to keep going no handed, not long long stretches, but nothing to sneeze at considering. Its hard as well, to explain shifting your weight to the back of the saddle, and far easier to do on an upright bike than a mountain bike (though still easy for me), so it took a few tries, but hey, give the guy credit, he got there. It also highlighted, for me anyway, how long a person can ride without ever needing the things we consider essential, and to never underestimate it. 

With the weather being what its been lately (snow, rain, and then more rain), and after a pretty muddy trek, I think tomorrow is going to be spent cleaning my bike. Its been a few months and Pinkie Pie isn't at her best looking right now, she's more than a little muddy, and I'd be remiss if I didn't grease her chain. Its a shame to miss a rainless day of riding, but who knows, maybe I'll finish early and get a chance to ride out, I mean, I do have to check my work, right?







*Note: This is an EMERGENCY move only, you will wear down the rubber of your shoes super quick this way.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Show me your rack...

You've waited so long, you've been so patient. So here it is:


THE RACK RANT


Shoreline, show me your rack. Not that one! I can see that one at the coffee stands. No, show me your bike rack. Is there a local business with a bike rack? Not many. In fact I can literally name every business in this town with a bike rack because those are the business I frequent the most. And even those racks are woefully inadequate.

For example, the Safeway on Aurora Ave. N, does indeed have a bike rack. However, the rack is not at all in any way shape or form, secured to the cement it stands on. Numerous emails and in-person requests have failed to get this issue addressed. Oh and watch out for rats when you lock up there.

There is not a single coffee establishment in Shoreline with a bike rack. Businesses that do enjoy bike business either didn't install them (came with the property) or rely on customers being willing to lock up to a sign. Have you ever made the horrible mistake of locking up to a handicapped sign because it was the only stable place to lock? I have.

Earth forbid you try to eat at a local establishment. You're definately lockig up to a sign now. Or a post of some kind. This pretty much tells every cyclist passing through Shoreline "Your money isn't good enough," you could be willing to spend hundreds in their establishment, your bike could've cost you thousands. But a place to lock up? Pshaw! Your own fault if you didn't have the luxury of buying a folding bike. Oh, and good luck taking that folding bike inside, as the news has so recently shown, someone could call the cops on you. I once went to that little Greek restaurant and grocery by the Goldie Casino and had to lock up by the dumpster. Talk about unappetizing.

With a critical trail running through Shoreline you'd think there would be bike racks and bike parking aplenty. You would be hilariously mistaken. In spite of the hundreds that pass through our fair city, few stop, few would want to stop, and even fewer would endure such elitist treatment. Never mind that lost business, the cyclists who would rather ride to or live in Seattle, Redmond, etc.. than deal with the crap Shoreline throws at them.

But I'm not just going to tell you what's wrong. Besides our just amazingly stupid bike rack design at City Hall which still has not been fixed in spite of numerous attempts to convince them its dumb as fuck,

No, dear reader, I'm going to give you a solution, nay the most simple equation to fix this problem:


For every 5 car spots there needs to be one bike rail. For every 10 parking spots there needs to be a bike rack.

No exceptions.

Its that simple. Businesses don't want to install them? Then those businesses don't get car parking allotted to them. Think your businesses doesn't need bike parking? Ask your employees. Rent your space of business? Demand the property manager install them.

Until there's a bike rack you can kiss off getting my business or getting my recommendation.

Now, show me your rack, baby.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Participant prize

I'm reluctant to ever say anything negative about the cycling community, we're small and usually under fire already, so saying anything negative feels like betraying "my people," but today I realized that isn't the case.
They aren't my people.

Let me explain, you see the cycling community here is really two communities; the first simply owns a bike, loves to do cycle, knowledge level varies, and is really on their bike because that's their preferred mode, the second community is a horse of a different color. The latest model? The most high end accessories? All of them are necessary to the second group or why don't you just walk you pleb? If you explain you are happy where you are there is subsequent snubbing. Show up in anything less than a $1,000 bike and you might as well be invisible.

 I'm a member of the first community. Speed isn't a priority, seeing the world around me is, the hills take time to go, but so what? You get there. Want to wave? Go for it. Want to stop and say hi to someone? You're going slow enough to have a conversation. I like where I'm at in the community, and its why I'm going to be taking a prolonged break from any cycling events.

No more Mass rides, no more charity events, no more participating for the sake of it. I'm not the sort of person who is welcome, nor would I want to be welcome by that second group.

Two Seattle events later and you know what I see? Cyclists flagrantly discarding signaling, no one using a bell or voice to pass. Oh, and no wonder people hate cyclists, if you blew through lights, neglected to signal in a car, or barreled past vulnerable users in a car you'd be a danger. You know what? Doing that on a bike makes you a danger too. There is an arrogance to the cycling community that I can live without and apparently a lot of others can too.

On my way home from the Cranksgiving event the bus driver, an Austrian man from his accent, though I don't know, commented on how clear it was that I loved my bike. How obvious it was that I was more dedicated than a casual rider, and how much he too loved to just ride. I asked him what he thought of my ride, "oh people will tell you its no good," he said, "but they don't get it. They don't realize you'd have to drive that bike off a cliff to really break it," I laughed, but he continued, "you will run into people here who need to be fast, but they won't be happy even on a bike, they aren't in love with the bike, a bike like yours shows you love to bike more than machine,"

He was right. I do love to bike "more than machine" I don't love the mechanics, I love the sensation. I don't love the gears, I love knowing I'm the engine. I ended up ditched and snubbed by Seattle, but I found something much more important. I found my actual people. I'm so glad to meet them and not be alone.

Update: Just to be clear, even though I didn't finish the ride I did donate to Rainier Valley Food Bank anyway. You can do it too on their website just click on the "Donate" button in orange to give funds. Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fresh eyes

My dad was a cabbie and he had this weird expression, "Keep fresh eyes on the road," by which he meant, "Look at the road like you've never seen it," It sounded weird, I mean, I know 'x' road, I've been down it a million times. I can take this turn like a champ, I always look both ways, why do I need "fresh eyes" when I have this area down pat?
     He nagged the worst in familiar places, even if you didn't make a mistake driving, he repeated the phrase ad nausem so many times I will hear it long after he dies. As an adult I know now why he said it so many times. He was trying to keep us and everyone else on the road alive. Because your brain wants to kill you. No really. Look up how many accidents occur within the driver's residential radius. Too lazy? I don't blame you, here: A government study. Too lazy to read another link. No worries, let me sum it up: More drivers are in accidents in suburban areas, they are less likely to be wearing a seat belt, and further, are more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. And another study which shows you're more likely to die by car than by firearm or poisoning, Also, and old person is more likely to do it.
      Why would you be more likely to be in an accident in the area you live? Why is it more likely to be a car? Well, to answer the second question, because its the easiest, its because we don't think of cars as a loaded gun. While they are a tool of transportation they've been used in murder case, intentionally, (you can look that up on your own, I seriously do not have the heart), and unintentionally (again, your own imputes to look up the cases, but if you do, don't be surprised at how many are recent). I'm not going to decry the usefulness of motorized transportation, but we rarely treat it as seriously as it merits, and a gun is useful as a metaphor because anyone who is really serious about being responsible never looses the respect for its profound damage and fatal impact.
     Now the first question is a little more tricky, it gets back to what I said about your brain wanting you dead. You see our brain is an incredibly lazy organ, its much easier to project the memory of a place to your optic nerves, than take in new input, I mean, why would you need to? You've seen this place before. However, your lazy brain is going to get you or someone else killed. Let's start with inattention blindness which can be hilarious in a study, but not so much when you didn't see a kid and you're in a car. Or when you a hit a neon lit cyclist. This is caused, in some cases, by an overload on your brain which can happen due to accident, age, or because your brain is tired and isn't in the mood. This is part of why learning new things is harder as you get old because it's literally harder, you didn't get dumber, you got old. Happens to everyone if they're lucky.
      This is why my dad said, "fresh eyes on the road," and no, he's never read any study on traffic, (that I know of), and his literary taste are more toward Tom Clancy if I'm to be honest.  He's a literal road scholar because he figured out on his own that his brain was trying to kill him. He realized when he thought the way was clear, that other car or person didn't pop out of nowhere, his brain had deleted them. I know because its happened to me, that person wasn't speed, they weren't breaking the law, my brain was trying to kill me.
     As we move about in our world, no matter what form of transportation we use, we need to have fresh eyes on the road. When you get to a stop sign you've been to a million times, when you stop at a light you've stopped at a million times more, blink. Look at that road like you've never seen it before. Just for an instant. It's kept me safe for a long time. How many times have you heard, just in the news, the phrase, "I didn't see them," or "They came out of nowhere," and bystanders aghast because how could you not see that person?
     The solution is each of us keeping fresh eyes on the road. No matter the hurry, no matter how late. You will not get there faster in a hearse or after a police report. You need to see that road as if you've never been down it, blink, if only for a second. That second could be the one that saves a life. There is of course, the added bonus of seeing things you never saw before, which is how I try to do it, to look for something new every time, because it keeps it interesting and it challenges my brain on what it does know.
    Stay safe out there, and keep fresh eyes on the road.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coffeeneuring Trip #7 and yes, more news!

     Sorry this update is late, the last trip fell on a holiday and I ended up partying, then working, and due to unforeseen circumstances my work has needed more help, and head cold has not cleared. Hooray.
     Anyway! Sunday, November 2nd, I set off on my final coffeeneuring trip. I was sad because it was the last trip, and scattered pumpkin bits still littered the suburban streets. It was however, in good company, as Ben had the day free to join me in my quest for a 'cuppa. After a late start and grey skies we set off. We reached the Interurban Trail letting the natural southern route carry us rather than aiming for speed. 
     I was sad to discover at the end of the Interurban Trail on the Shoreline side, a broken bollard
Fix it any time soon?
 Which is still broken, by the way. Continuing on, I wondered how cycling conditions were holding up. After the joy of Linden Ave. N., a greenway that is a must visit for any city wondering how to do it, I surreptitiously rejoined the trail. Sadly, the Seattle side was less than friendly. Phoenix Security was driving down the trial. I didn't get their plates because at first I thought it was the police, who have every right, I suppose. However, I was enraged that as I passed it was just a rent-a-cop. No doubt there to move along the homeless who frequent the trail.
     Honestly, I cannot feel this is a good solution. I do not currently have a solution, and the city of Seattle is "working on it" which visibly drives the homeless into the outlaying areas instead, and makes it even harder for them to find jobs, and be close to the resources they need. As cyclists we often see the homeless encampments more, and while we often worry about safety and theft, we forget they are people too.
Featured: Imitation bacon
After the trail, however, we turned onto the street calmed 110th street, to Dayton, then Greenwood. Diva Espresso is just past G&O Family Cyclery, which carries beautiful cargo bikes that I stare at, knowing I don't really need a cargo bike, but I think its how car owners look at SUVs. Only without the guilt associated with consuming that much fuel. And really, Diva Espresso is just next to the Greenwood Library, but I don't really register it as its not my own local library. Diva Espresso doesn't really have dedicated bike parking, though there is a rack available. 


Yep, that's adequate parking. 
     I guess they don't feel they get enough bike traffic to justify a rack for their customers in their parking lot. And hey, at least its a bike rail instead of a post. Sadly, humility is not one of my virtues. I honestly felt a bit indigent, I mean, one rail? There were other bikes squeezed around it, in spite of the rain finally splashing down, there was even a parent and kid riding, enjoying the Sunday afternoon. It was, as I said, afternoon, and I couldn't have anymore caffeine since I wake up at 4am for work. So I had a caramel steamer while Ben enjoyed a latte.
It was awesome
    It felt somehow appropriate to end my coffeeneuring with something non-caffeinated, sort of touching my past childhood days where I had a cup of hot chocolate after riding in what constituted an Alaskan fall.

Consumption: the second best part of coffeeneuring
Riding with friends is the best part
The rain started to really come down as we cupped our drinks, we went back inside, deciding that if the weather continued like this we would need serious fuel.

Its a very nice patio though
  Serious fuel acquired, we sat at the quasi-bar at the window, watching people and talking about the podcast we had listened to on our ride. The place was nice, not crowded, the decor a mix of feminine representation.

A cyclist's diet is "oh that looks good"
     Then the conversation moved to what I'd do after coffeeneuring. I told him I didn't really have any challenges coming up, I mean, there's events like Cranksgiving, but nothing else really. Its events like coffeeneuring that remind us cyclists that we're never really alone. Somewhere, be it in England or Mexico, Seattle, or Dubai, there is another cyclist out there. Maybe they're running errands too, or just riding with friends, riding home from work. Its not just in your town that people expect to see a cyclist, its in every town, all over the world. While we only went 10.2 miles (5.1 each way) I sort of got to cycle all over the world. I saw places few have seen, because cyclists make amazing photographers.
     For more on coffeeneuring, stay tuned to Mary's blog and connect to cyclists all over the world. 

Now for news! Alright folks, if you haven't gotten tickets to this Saturday's spectacular, amazing, fun event you are out of luck! Those lucky ticket holders are bidding on some of the most amazing gear, clothes, getaways, and oh-my-gosh! You got tickets, right? Right? Oh you're volunteering? Or want to? There's still time. Maybe. Go, go, go!

And don't forget, Saturday morning you can start the day with a Kidical Mass Candy buy back

Okay, now, in more local news, the Planning Committee will review development regulations for the 185th St. Station, TOMORROW! The meeting is 7-9 at Shoreline City Hall. Light rail. In Shoreline. Let's make this happen! 

Lastly, for all those who followed this blog just for the coffeeneuring challenge, thank you. It was a real pleasure to share my adventure with you and to show you a little bit of my world. Leave the light on steady and ride safe. 

For those sticking around for Shoreline cycling news, and events, I say thank you and officially, welcome! See you at the Gala! 

Cheers!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Coffeeneuring Trip #6

    The day after Halloween always seems a little bit of a let down for me. I'm never quite ready for it to be over, and waking up this morning was no exception. I was feeling a little North nostalgic after last night's adventures, and generally from riding around. I set out to find coffee, not by searching the internet or planning, but just by riding. Splattered pumpkins littered the suburban path, with a true feast for crows, who took to cleaning the streets with alacrity.
     I decided to see if there was any coffee shops near Central Market on Aurora in the set of strip mall type shops there. There didn't seem to be any shops that specifically sold coffee. Still, listening to NPR, I decided to keep riding south, not on the Interurban Trail, following the road behind Marshall's, and then onto Aurora, to see what shops were there up close and to generally just be about on my bike, sure I would eventually find coffee. 
       However, coming dangerously close to the end of my podcast I decided to just stop at the first place that sold place I could get a latte. My headcold hasn't dissipated and noting the lack of bike parking along Aurora made me feel sour and annoyed. At 145th I saw a little espresso stand, purple, and a barely a stand at all. The windows were somewhat frosted and only a florescent sign indicated it was open. 
      The shop didn't seem to have a name, just "Espresso" advertised in bold across the top, its address however, is searchable on Google Maps and you can get a street view: 14507 Aurora Ave N, Shoreline, WA 98133, and the girl behind the counter was in the familiar costume of the street vending coffee girl in Seattle. By that I mean, she was dressed in a bikini, though tasteful, which seems a rather cruel thing to do to a server in the winter months. We chatted over our Halloween night and she asked where I was going. I explained I was heading to the store after and she asked how I planned on managing. I laughed and pointed at my basket, and explained it was only a light trip, or I'd have my trailer too. She marveled at my 'determination' which I always find odd, especially when I think the other person is facing far greater extremes. I'd rather bike in the rain than serve coffee in a bikini. 
      When asked how I was going to carry it, I again laughed, and again, pointed at my basket. She expressed doubt, but I assured her that it was a sound method, and practiced many times. 
Many, many times
The pumpkin spice latte was good, if overpriced, and I set down 145th to the Interurban Trail. I had planned at stopping at the trail head, but the benches were all occupied by groups of people, so I headed a little further down stopping at the nearest bench. It was nice to sit outside without feeling obligated to be inside and locking up, or outside because that's where my bike was, but just to be outside, enjoying the blue sky. A coffee shop without walls.
The sky is way more blue than shown
     Combining my coffeeneuring trip with a grocery run meant that my little dog stayed at home, which he didn't mind in the least, but sitting in the sun, finally peeking out from the clouds, I missed his company. 
Pictured: Not my dog
What my dog was doing when I left, and when I came back
    There was the usual Saturday thoroughfare, a guy with his friend announcing "Their are no life forms detected," before screaming out imaginary coordinates. Marching back and forth down the trail, before heading back south. I felt amused, like I had wandered, unknown, into a Philip K. Dick novel. Though, there is nothing light-hearted about deets. There were other cyclists, one guy, who looked like he was on a folding bike saw me and said hello, and another guy walking his shepherds admired my wheels.
Sun on my saddle
The particular bench I stopped at
     I sipped my drink, enjoying the early afternoon, and flipping over to listen to Sparks Nevada (another Thrilling Adventure Hour production that I enjoy), and mused on the passing October. There's been a lot of exciting bike announcements, and I'm very much looking forward to the Gala, Saturday, Nov. 8th (hope you already have your tickets), and I'm hoping to go to a Dia de Muertos celebration this Sunday It looks like a lot of fun, and you can find more information about it here. On the whole my coffeeneuring trip, after hitting the grocery store on the way home, was 3 miles, a good mile of that made in wandering the streets behind Marshall's and Central Market and just cruising. 
    After this weekend, most of the upcoming events will of course, be Christmas themed, and given it'll be my first year not in retail in...over seven years, and not living next to/in North Pole, Alaska, in four, I might actually enjoy Christmas. I mean, don't bet money on that or anything, but its possible. 
   There's only one more coffeeneuring trip left, and this next one I hope is more sanguine, or at least, more social. 

Cheers! 


Oh, almost forgot, my mother sent me this video which highlights a reason to wear your helmet other than cars. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Coffeeneuring trip #5 and even more Shoreline events!

     After last night's raging windstorm and rolling black outs I'm not too surprised there's been few coffeeneuring posts today. It seems many cyclists are ducking for cover, and who can blame them with the wind calming to a 40mph. However, upon checking my planned coffeeneuring spots I discovered the Starbucks I planned on visiting was just one of those grocery outlet sort of shops. Nice, but not really what I had hoped to focus on for my first coffeeneuring tour. With a little help from my partner we realized that we could hit Cafe Aroma instead, though its only 1.6 miles there, the return would make it more than the requisite 2. I decided that I was also going to try a bike fashion trick.
     I had heard that a "penny in your pants" would turn a skirt into another bikeable outfit, and I'm a big believer in the whole, your-own-wardrobe-is-your-cycling-wardrobe.
Now here's what the video misses. The longer the skirt the bigger the coin you will need, and there is no guarantee when the skirt is longer than your actual legs. However, the theory is absolutely sound otherwise, it made a very cute button in my skirt, but next time I think I'll use a 50 cent piece for the skirts I have that reach beyond my feet Otherwise, as long as you secure the coin at knee-height it totally works.
       By the way, if you're wearing pants and sick of getting the cuff caught the cheap and easy solution is a handkerchief. Seriously. I just fold one into a triangle and wrap the pants using the kerchief. I wrap both legs in a matching set since a kerchief will only set you back about a buck and nine cents. You don't need fancy velcro and you don't need clips. Just a handkerchief. If you're really dedicated I suppose you can always match the kerchiefs to your outfit, but I just use a rotating set of whichever is clean.
     The wind set our pace back a bit setting out, we took a similar route to the one I took yesterday, down Meridian, up 155th, but then turned on 6th. The lanes were littered with debris, but cars seemed to expect we'd want to take the lane. We had to give up on the lane in several spots due to down branches. Now, the reason for turning on 6th instead of 5th has to do with the incline. You can go up 5th, but its rather steep, whereas 6th is residential and a little more flat. I'd been to this particular corner of 5th and 165th before to visit the Crest Theater. I have to admit I kinda like the Crest, sure the seats are dreadfully uncomfortable, but bike parking is secure and the prices for tickets and drinks are more amendable than the big chains.
     Cafe Aroma sits diagonally to the Crest, featuring a drive through, and a patio. We noticed the sign said 'no walkers' through the drive-through and speculated they probably would be okay with bikes driving through. Still, with the weather we wanted to go inside. We circled around and, nope, no bike rack. two lots for cars, but not a single rack. Oh, and only one car ever showed up in the lot.
Bike parking the way you'd tie up your dog, not park your vehicle
    Ben chose to lock up on the wooden fence. I don't like doing that myself, wood is fairly breakable. The sign outside said, 'Under New Management' which told me any previous reviews might not be accurate. The inside was nice, clean, and decorated for Halloween. A faux fireplace, fairly large screen, and a separate play room for kids (seemed very small girl oriented from what I saw). Three of the walls rolled up in good weather, and otherwise made for a very cozy little shop in damp weather. The kid behind the counter seemed fresh to customer service, but the lady working there seemed a bit more savvy. I had a pumpkin spice latte and a spinach artichoke pretzel wrap, while Ben went for a vanilla latte and bagel dog. 


behold your reward for facing the wind! 
     Sadly, with my head-cold I could barely taste the food, but I did taste broccoli which I like. The bulletin board had the line of flyers you'll see on every board across Shoreline, but this one was probably the most family oriented one. The bookshelves were an odd mixture of out-of-date computing books and Beowulf. I'd recommend the place if you have small kids, but on the whole this is another place I doubt I'll return to, nice, but with the customer service and the parking situation I'd just give the place three out of five. Cafe Aroma's facebook page
     The ride back we took 5th, which was for the best considering we had to fight to go downhill. The wind was absolutely unforgiving as we pushed. We should've taken 6th back because 5th doesn't have a bike lane, or sharrow markings (that we saw) and, the hallmark of Shoreline, car parking on both sides of the street. With the parking lane full of debris from last night's storm we had to take the lane and cars on 5th were not at all happy about this. Still we made it to the 155th turn intact, but found we had to get out the bike lane at several points as the debris created dangerous wipe-out zones. The difference is on 155th cars expected us to need to leave the bike lane, and expected our presence, so there was a lot less angst. Overall the trip was about 3 miles (1.6 each way, so roughly, given the way there is longer than the way back).
     On the way back up Meridian we kept getting separated, and I wish someone would make a remote button light system. You'd press a button on your handlebars and a light flashes on the handlebars of other cyclists in the group. Alas, I am not an inventor.
    I only have two coffeeneuring trips left, and with Starbucks off the list and Seattle Gourmet Coffee under debate due to the route, future trips are TBA. I will try to sort out the where and when for the last two in the coming week.

   News and Events! As you know November 8th is going to be huge, but what about Halloween? Well since there's no ride I know of, why not ride to something fabulous? There's a family event at the Lake Forrest Park Commons that is more treat than trick. Special thanks to the KCLS for giving this Halloween a bit of flavor, find more info about An evening of candy, music, and fun! in the hyperlink. There's lots of events listed in the Stranger for those of the more footloose persuasion Seattle's Halloween Events.
    Personally, I have been seriously bummed by the lack of trick or treaters in my neighborhood. In the past three years we've gotten a total of five. I don't get it, its a good neighborhood, and I know lots of kids live in the area, but I've talked to my neighbors and they get the same amount of kids. I guess I'll have plenty of candy for the Kidicle Mass Candy Buy Back, but... *sigh*
  This year we're going as Frank & Sadie Doyle from the Thrilling Adventure Hour, and I'm pleased the penny-makes-your-pants trick will allow me to ride in evening dress for Halloween, oh and to the WAbikes Gala that I will not shut up about.
    Oh! Speaking of cool events, why not make a sculpture for the Solstice Stroll? Free! Pick up the material before Halloween and submit it by December 14th, more info here: Solstice Sculpture (did I already say free?).
    And just for fun, what about all this coffee and biking eh? Its not just your imagination, you are going faster after that cup

And with that, Cheers!
 


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Coffeeneuring trip #4 and more stuff to do on November 8th

     Its fast approaching the end of October, and people here know that means soggy weather and slippery pine needles. I'm currently suffering a nasty head-cold, but with the fever broken, I decide I'm well enough to ride. My dog, Mac, was less than enthusiastic. Being half Chihuahua he's made for sunnier climates and resents the cold and damp. Nevertheless, swathed in sweater, he joined me as we set off for The Bounty in North City.
     North City sits right next to Shoreline, but not quite Mountlake Terrace. It hosts free bluegrass on Tuesday nights, which I might check out sometime, I do get nostalgic for what is easily the most popular music among Alaskans. We set off down Meridian Ave. N, to the ever sketchy 155th. Though Meridian Ave. N boasts of two schools and several parks it only has sharrows, but hey cars get street parking on both sides the entire way. 
     155th is one of my pet crusades. Though emails about its inclusion in the Master Bike plan have gone ignored and I've sort of despaired of its ever being a reasonable passageway for cyclists. There's a bike lane right until you hit 5th Ave., then of course, parking for cars on both sides of the street. I ride in the parking lane. Sure, I could own the lane, but the street parking is rarely ever used. You can pretty much count on it being empty most of the time, but for whatever reason this parking is preserved. 
     We turned left onto 15th Ave. with very little trouble, cars understood via signaling, and no one seemed in a particular hurry. We sailed into the bike lane on 15th with no trouble, but the bike lane on 15th is no picnic either. Branches dipped down dangerously blocking the view. I'm a less than 5'2, if I am ducking branches they need to be clipped! The bike lane vanishes once 15th meets crosses 175th, and you know you're in North City. Four lanes for cars, but no bike lane. It took a lot of courage to make the left turn into the Bounty's lot, but we managed.
    I circled around, confused by the street parking and lots of lower parking for cars, but no rack. Maybe I missed it. The drizzle was dying off and I locked up to head inside.The Bounty's home page

did my best not to block the stairs
   I ordered a 12 oz Americano, and asked if I'd missed the rack. The barista told me "Most guys just lock up to the railing," telling me two things; 1) the expected cyclist is still male and, 2) they are content with locking to railings. The interior of the place was warm and otherwise welcoming. Plenty of comfortable seating, a fireplace. A mixture of antique and modern furnishings. However, with the break in the weather I couldn't resist taking my drink outside on the patio. The seats were metal and easy to dry. Mac and I sat down to enjoy the sun coming out for a brief appearance.
espresso and a friend

cute logo
     The area was full of apartments, shops, and I noticed they all were somewhat situated off the road. Peering at the nearest shops I noticed not one had a bike rack or bike rail. The 347 bus breezed past and I mused how many residents of the nearby apartments must use the bus when they could take one of the most easy to cycle streets in the area. Well, easy in terms of the overall terrain. The way back was filled with lumps of asphalt creating gnarly humps. I sighed, finishing my drink. Overall the Bounty is a nice enough place and I might come back, but much like the other places I've visited the lack of parking makes me reluctant to stop by the actual shops in the area.
snug for traveling
     Clouds resumed their clustering, but the rain held off until we arrived back home, (about 5 miles altogether), and the ride itself wasn't too bad. Oh 155th is no picnic the other way, but as we made out way to the intersection we waved at passing pedestrians, gently pedaling in time to the music in my ears (Susan Justice and Poe if you're curious). We decided through the neighborhood instead of just jumping to Meridian, its less of a climb and always nice to go past JA's Bamboo shop. Birds flock to the area, though its patrolled by numerous cats. Overall just a lovely fall ride.


     Now, news and events! People, volunteers are still needed for Washington Bike's Annual Auction and Gala, all Washington biking folks benefit by supporting this group. I know most of you are wondering if you can still get tickets though, and I'd quit putting it off while they are still available, now is the best time! Here's the info, November 8th at the Seattle Merriott Hotel, doors open at 5:30, and oh my gosh, you totally need to check out the other stuff that's been added to the auction since the last blog update. So much coolness. 
      I haven't found any info on a Halloween ride for Shoreline, if you are leading one please let me know. Unfortunately, I do not have time to organize one myself this year, but next year... Interurban trail down to Darrel's Tavern would be a blast. 
      In the meantime, also on November 8th at 10:30am its the November Kidical Mass Halloween Candy Buy Back and Party! Now you might be confused because its meeting up "at Meridian Park" and there are two Meridian parks at least. The Meridian Park in this case is on Sunnyside Ave N. You don't need to bring candy to participate and its good fun for the whole family. More info here.
     Lastly, there is a little sharing library on the Interurban Trail around the 170th mark. It is badly in need of books, this library is heavily used, but because it is only accessible through biking and walking it is rarely filled. If you would like to donate to the sharing library please contact me and I will bring the books to the library. 

And don't worry, that bike rack rant is still coming, I'm just gathering steam.

Cheers!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Coffeeneuring Trip #3 and bonus Bike Movie review!

    Fall is officially here, but someone forgot to tell the weekend weather. A beautiful Saturday I set out to find the coffee shop we passed a sign for on the way to Bridge Coffee house, but it had evaporated in the space of a weekend. I decided to loop around the neighborhood and head back for home.
    Today I set off again, for the predetermined Highlands Coffee Co, this time with Ben, but to our surprise it turned out to be just a distribution office.We had taken the Interurban trail down and already filled the two mile requirement by the time we reached Bitter Lake area. The greenway down Linden dropped us off nearby a shopping center and we decided to try to find another coffee place. Looking around I saw Aurora Donuts, which is combined with a Baskin Robbins, and parking our bikes at Planet Fitness we walked across the parking lot to the shop.
    Greeted by a delicious aroma we selected pastries and medium coffees. It was a heck of a medium, larger than I'm used to, and the Bavarian Creme doughnut was far superior to Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts.  
Took a lot of will power to take this picture...so good
   We got another, I went for the peanut doughnut, which did not disappoint. The coffee had exactly the right amount of cream, not to bitter with a strong flavor rather than bite. We spoke to the guy behind the counter, he had asked where our bikes were and I explained I had seen his shop before and it didn't have a bike rack, so we parked up the way. He laughed and said we should've parked in front of the windows like most cyclists. I explained I didn't feel safe doing so, and pressing him further, found his own bike had been stolen from his work by someone determined who had jumped the dumpster fence and boosted the bike over. Even caught on the camera from the bank next door the thief was never caught. I pointed out a bike, even inside, is vulnerable if left unlocked and he agreed, the best method was to bring it inside and lock it if you could, but always to a rack.

    Frankly all the businesses on that side of Aurora owe Planet Fitness a huge 'thank you' because greenway or no greenway I wouldn't shop there if I didn't have a place to lock my bike. We finished our doughnuts long before our coffee and decided to sip them as we rode down the greenway. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon and the trail was full of the usual crowd of dog owners, parents and kids, joggers, and cyclists who must be training for a race of some kind. 
    Our laptop was down and so on the way back we stopped by a local shop to inquire about rates. LaptopSwap has a noticeable sign if you're riding the trail and I was pleased to see a bike right by the door, far closer than a car could park. Sadly, if a computer is beyond my repair its usually beyond any repair and my suspicions were confirmed. On the bright side, this post is coming from a new laptop and who knows, the future might hold video posts..... All told our coffeeneuring ride was about five and a half miles, and quite a satisfying start to the day. By the time we got home we ended up riding out again, after all, why not enjoy such a lovely Sunday?

Bonus! Bicycle Movie Review: "Aftermass: Bicycling in a Post-Critical Mass Portland

    I've been cycling since I was a child, but hadn't heard of Critical Mass until only a few years ago. On the world timeline I was learning to ride a bike without training wheels when the first Critical Mass took place in San Francisco. While interested to know the history of Critical Mass, I wasn't necessarily interested in Portland history. We cycled from my work place downtown to the Wallingford neighborhood, Well, we stopped in Myrtle Edwards park first, the view of the Sound in the late afternoon is something special, and I like any excuse to ride that pedestrian cyclist bridge back to third. Traffic was at a peak at this point, bumper to bumper, but we cruised along, occasionally forming a train with other cyclists who breezed with us by the long line of stilled traffic. We arrived at the church hosting the event with plenty of time and spoke to other cyclists as we locked up. Ben and an older gent traded notes on bike seats.
       By the time the film started downstairs the church basement was packed. The director, Joe Biel, introduced the film. A lean man, with one pant leg higher than the other in the fashion of cyclists, he spoke of gratitude to the hosts and to those he interviewed. Then the film began.
      It is hard to say whether or not this film is more important to see as a citizen than a cyclist. Ultimately, you should see it no matter what, but it is more important to see it as a citizen. Its a story of how you build urban planning, a story of how it is never to late, a tale of bravery. And in the end it is the story of how the pedals push the gears forward. I can only say the trailer is far too understating:




I really think the film needed to be shown in a bigger venue, and I hope to at some point try to organize a viewing for Shoreline folks. Sadly, I had to leave shortly after the premier of another film, this one by StreetFilms, and did not get to stay for the panel after. Hopefully someone who reads this blog can fill us in on the after action.  In the meantime, see it as soon as you get the chance, and put the fun between your legs!

Cheers 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Find a place to park your bike and set your calenders

   Whether you're in Shoreline or Seattle or Lynnwood, or... Let's not play name-that-northwest-city, if you're reading this you love bikes, right? And let's face it, without the Seattle Bike Expo your calender is lacking in bike events overall. If you're anything like Frank & Sadie Doyle of Thrilling Adventure Hour fame, you love a good auction, right?
   The Bicycle Alliance of Washington, aka WAbikes, Annual Gala & Silent Auction is November 8th! At the Marriot Waterfront Hotel. Silent auction starts at 5:30pm, dinner and live auction starts at 7:00pm. What's up for auction? How about:
  • A custom weekend bicycle tour for six. 
  • A gourmet vegetarian dinner prepared at a unique location from a VW Campervan. A coveted RAMROD entry. 
  • A flat of organic raspberries picked and cleaned just for you. 
  • A mountain bike vineyard tour and private wine tasting with the winemaker for four.

Find out more at http://wabikes.org/events-rides/auction/

    Of course times are hard, but we can all do what we can to support bicycle advocacy. Especially the effective kind. If you aren't bidding you can volunteer, folks are still needed for all kinds of spots. Find out more by contacting their Auction Volunteer Coordinator.

    If you missed my coffeeneuring update, Bridge Coffee House is talking about installing a bike rack! I contacted them through their Facebook page, and they responded warmly to the idea. Shoreline residents, speak up! Be reasonably polite, but let businesses know if they want to keep you they need to put a rack in. It is perfect that the banners down Aurora depict a cyclist riding in silhouette when that is exactly what people do, they just ride through. Why stop when there's no place to park?
    Have a favorite local business that you'd love to bike to, but can't without parking at another business further away, or worse to some makeshift post? I bet we have a few in common.

  • Gyro House & Grocery, great food, but you end up parking by the dumpster if you arrive by bike, what an appetizer. 
  • Broiler Bay, good burgers sure, but the milkshakes are the best I've found in Shoreline. They do $2 dollar cheeseburgers that beat anyplace else, but I recommend parking at Safeway if you go.
  • Master Hair by Top Tobacco (incidentally, also a good place). Actually all the shops in this area are great, but not a single place to park. Oh sure you can sorta lock up to the railing in front of the watch shop, but the owner really doesn't like that and its thick railing, so large U-locks only.
  • Shoreline City Hall isn't a business, but I went by there the other day and lo and behold it is still the worst. Competition for worst bike rack, anyone?
    What's your favorite local place that doesn't have a rack? 



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Coffeeneuring trip #2 Bridge Coffee House and Shoreline News

    A cloudy Saturday and we set off to coffeeneur to The Bridge Coffee House, near Haller Lake and close to Northacre Park. I'd set off to find this coffee shop before, but because its more or less in the same building as a church, I missed it. The Bridge is only 2.5 miles from our place, and so close to the dog park that I felt another attempt had to be made.
https://www.facebook.com/TheBridgeCoffeeHouse98133
     I set out with my little dog Mac and my best friend Ben, to find this elsuive server of Sumptown coffee, previously sampled at a shop near Nickerson Street Saloon. Or maybe it was in the saloon. That was a crazy day, but I did remember thinking Sumptown coffee was a bit overrated, but so was Alaska Coffee Roasters if I'm going to be completely honest.
    The ride there was a typical 1st Ave. ride, cars in far too much of a hurry for suburban streets raced close by as we made our way up the sloping climb. Meridian has more sharrow markings, but its far steeper than 1st so we prefer it when heading south on the east side. Passing Roosevelt we hit the lovely six way intersection that baffles cars and cyclists with its faded paint. Always a pleasure the guess where you're supposed to stop.
   When we arrived at the shop we circled around searching for a bike rack. Perhaps we missed it, but I doubt it. So we ended up locking up to a rusty fence:
MacCloud Daventry is just as displeased by the lack of rack


     I was disappointed. The building didn't just have a church and a coffee shop, but some other organization attached. I have to admit at this point I wanted to turn around and find another shop, I hate locking up like this. Ben had a hard time getting his U-lock firmly attached, but eventually years of puzzle solving adventure games played off and he was able to secure his ride.
    The Bridge was playing Frank Sinatra when we entered, which I only dislike slightly less than Elvis, but more than Bing Crosby. We ordered, I got a pumpkin spice latte, enchanted by the early morning fall, and examined the available board games. Bonus points for having Settlers of Catan, and watched the passing announcements on the flat screen. 
The latte was exactly how a pumpkin spice latte should be, just enough of everything
"A vanilla latte, and a view"

Nice to have a cup with my little buddy 
    We sat in a corner where the window let us keep an eye on our poorly secured rides. The music abruptly changed to a twany folk country music, completely jarring with the art deco atmosphere the shop otherwise exuded. There was a biscuit cup and a water dish, with fresh water. The sun came out and the barrista, Laurel, opened the doors to let in the air and sunlight.
    Finishing our drinks we didn't linger except to examine the bulletin board. Plenty of community events listed, and the flat screen announced other events at the shop. It seemed a great place for writers to get together, especially in the evenings. I doubt, however, I will ever return without a rack. There was nothing that special about the place to make me endure risking tetanus each time I lock up.  
     With the return of sunshine we couldn't bear to end the ride, so we rolled over to Northacre Park to the off leash area (also, no bike racks, I like to make a statement by locking up on the "NO PARKING" sign). 
     Speaking of Northacre, there's a Volunteer Day next Saturday for those who want to help maintain the park. It starts at 10am. Also, a COLA meeting (www.coladog.org) for those interested in the Off-Leash events and news on October 22nd at 6:30 in the board room of the Seattle Parks and Rec, address 100 Dexter Ave. North. Seattle, WA 98109
    Shoreline also had its Monster Mash Dash today, if you missed it the photos are on City of Shoreline's flicker account. 
    Shoreline also had a meeting recently about the upcoming light rail coming to 145th. If you missed it there's a meeting every 4th Thursday at City Hall (that's on Midvale) In room 301. You can contact 145SCC@gmail.com for more information. I missed the last meeting due to an accident on E line when a car decided it didn't need to yield in the bus lane. Another passenger was injured and it was some time before I made it home. I hope to make it to the next one. 

Riding home from coffeeneuring and dog park fun, we encountered someone on a motorcycle angrily screaming. He didn't know the rules for cyclists on the road and became enraged. This happens, there's quite the education gap in what it takes to operate a motor vehicle vs a non motor vehicle on the road. Before you yell at someone for what they are doing on the road please consult the laws governing your state, city, or county regarding cycling and operating a motor vehicle. Even if your motor is electric you should know the laws about operation. I'm not going to link it here because I have faith you know how to operate a search engine. 

Next update will include communication with myself and SDOT regarding the 3rd and Union intersection (notoriously an unsafe place) and won't have as much Shoreline news, but I promise a full blown rack attack rant is coming. If you're interested in seeing bike racks in more places in Shoreline I'd love to talk to you, shoot me an email or message me via the usual social media places (twitter @hyperboreanwolf,sorry not on ello yet). 

The next coffeeneuring stop is The Highlands Coffee Co, watch twitter for specific day and time announcement. 

Until then, keep drinking coffee and keep riding. Cheers!


UPDATE! I contacted Bridge House Coffee and they are talking about installing a bike rack! I hope this means one is installed soon as I would come back if I didn't have to lock up on a fence.

Friday, October 10, 2014

An hour of freedom

     My commute to work is about an hour long by bike. The trip is only 11 miles, and if you can do math, you know I roughly travel at 10mph. Yup, I'm slow, also downtown eats time like crazy, making up a good 20 minutes of my commute, so maybe I'm not that slow. In fact, to non-cyclists, I'm insanely fast.
    Coworkers and friends are constantly marveling at my speed. Other cyclists seem to have no patience with my pace and race to pass me. Its cool, I left with plenty of time, because there's so much to see. There's wildlife on the trail, art in the city, the smell of coffee just brewing in every little shop along the way. Bakeries are just venting out the scent of their first loaves when I make my commute. Geese are squawking, waking up to the dawn and as anxious as a human commuter.
    But non-cyclists remain awed by my "endurance" for going 11 miles. Its not like I bike the way back, I'm not a kid anymore by any stretch of the imagination, and I suspect most of the awe comes from the well known fact that I'm not exactly the most healthy person in the world. Its 11 miles, but its one of the best hours in my day.
    For an hour I am free of the oncoming bus ride (I have a somewhat antagonistic relationship to my afternoon commute, that's another post), for an hour I am in another world entirely. For an hour I am listening to a podcast, for an hour I am listening to a book*. For an hour I am dancing to music, yes, dancing on my bike, its not hard on a steady stretch. For an hour I am watching the sky change, for an hour I am enveloped in mist that gives an eerie glow to the rising sun.
   Its only 11 miles. Its only an hour. But that hour could not be more mine if I was at home reading a book. I could not tell you the times I have traveled with a character in body and spirit across worlds spanning time immemorial. My bike has been a horse, a ship, a spaceship, and countless other modes of transportation. Its only 11 miles, but I travel galaxies in those 11 miles.
    I used to bike 24 miles a day, back in Alaska, because I made the returning commute. Here, in Shoreline and Seattle, you can opt out of one way of commuting, whether you choose the way there or the way back. Which is nice considering the way back is uphill for me and I'm not terribly eager to go the other way up Greenwood having done it a few times. Its just my opinion, but you can only go uphill so long before its a slog, and to be honest I don't find the north parts of Greenwood all that fabulous a vista. Oh sure, sometimes I just get off the bus on Northgate and ride my bike the rest of the way, compelled by forces within and without, but not that often.
    Moreover, it makes that morning something special. Those 11 miles can be beautiful, scary, ethereal, and absorbing. Pretty much the definition of sublime. That hour could be the only one I get to myself some days, and given my druthers I wouldn't spend it any other way.






*I do not have the sound up as loud as it could be, I need to be able to hear horns, bells, and calls to pass. So do you.
 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

First Coffeeneuring Ride-Zoka's Coffee & Tea House

A gorgeous Sunday morning set the tone for my first coffeeneuring ride. After rounding up the animals my best friend and I set out to Zoka's, the first destination. Conditions were perfect, only a faint breeze whisked the air and scattered leaves darted. The Interurban Trail was full of folks jogging and walking their dogs. I gave a cheery twang to my bell as we made our way to the Linden Ave Greenway. There, a family teaching their son to ride a bike for the first time, being passed by a trio of Lycra clad warriors. We wave hello, and making our way, spot a grandma giving her grandchild a lift in her wheelchair.

In little time we turned onto Dayton, but instead of riding it down to Greenwood, then Phinny, as is my habit on my commute. As any rider can tell you Dayton Ave. has some lovely axle snapping pavement ridges and dips. We invented a hand signal between us to let us know if something hinky is ahead. One of us raises our right hand, makes a fist, then spread open hand, then a fist. The other is able to swerve around. Its a nice down hill, in spite of the pavement, and we glide, roughly down to Woodlawn, and from there it was only a minor jaunt around Green Lake. While Dayton Ave is a traffic calmed roadway, its not exactly in the best condition. From Green Lake it was only a short stretch up to Zoka's Coffee & Tea House http://www.zokacoffee.com/about-zoka/zoka-locations-3/ but coming down Green Lake a car that was parked next to the bike lane started, the swerved into the lane, nearly hitting me and my companion. The driver wasn't going fast, and seemed lost, and seeing him so close anyway, giving space. it was merely a brief exciting moment than a tragedy.

Locking up we laughed, realizing that coffeeneuring and a lovely day, had ensured the bike rack was once again full:
bike rack outside Zoka's

Having already had two cups of coffee before I left I opted to get an iced chai and a ham and cheese croissant, which I chose to enjoy on the deck outside: 

  



My partner got the same snack, but an iced Americano. Both of us agreed the drinks and snack were lovely. The croissant a bit unevenly spiced, but the chai had t  full flavor without have that sickening over biting flavor that can accompany the lesser chai teas. A water dish for dogs sat on the pavement outside, and a few passing mutts found refreshment. A fellow coffeeneuring cyclist came by and said 'hello' and we wished each other well on the road ahead.

Like a gentleman, my companion offered dessert at Mighty-O's Doughnuts and we enjoyed french toast doughnuts (very good) in the sun.

Coming back the map app decided to crap out, but I noticed the street sign said the 44 and the 16 ran through, I told my undaunted companion that, logically, Aurora would run this way. He agreed, I reached out and put my hand over his on the bars, we smiled. An intimate moment you can only really have on a bike, with the change of the light we set down Green Lake again. You could see where they'd moved bike lanes and when the bike lane brought us between cars I felt a bit nervous. My companion admitted much the same.  However, we reached Aurora Ave N. with nothing more exciting than passing numerous cars stopped as we floated on, the bus lane clear.

We walked our bikes up the pedestrian accessway, carrying our bikes, then rolling them along the edges as we could. Taking the E line back was a relief. As much as we wanted to circle Green Lake all the way back, my companion works the night shift and had to be back to head to work. Riding down the driveway we agreed our first coffeeneuring ride was totally a success!

Want to read more about bikes?

Hey, that's like MY bike! http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/brent-toderian/upright-bike-vancouver_b_5831752.html

Want to read more about coffee?

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/20/340154271/no-1-most-expensive-coffee-comes-from-elephants-no-2

Next Coffeeneuring destination, The Bridge Coffee House! See you there

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Getting Ready for Coffeeneuring

Its the 4th annual Coffeeneuring Challenge, but this year will be my first attempt. For me this is an exciting opportunity to visit places I've never been, to go to places I've never seen, even along familiar routes. My friends have all chimed in support, and laughed because I'm not known for athletic challenges. This is, if you know of coffeeneuring, hardly an athletic challenge. You only need to go two miles.

Being a caffeine consumer I've hit the places close to me already, Java Jane's on 15th and 145th and Bareistas on Aurora are well known haunts. Sadly, both are too close to count for the coffeeneuring rides. I don't recommend Java Jane's if you're on a bike. Its in the Goodwill parking lot and cars will not be shy about either cutting you in line, or choking you with their exhaust. Bareistas is nicer, surrounded by smaller shops, and my favorite tobacco shop, the coffee is better than Jane's and the girls are obviously quite charming*

At the end of this post I'll give a list of the Shoreline area coffee shops I'll be visiting for my challenge, and the projected days. If you'd like to meet up send me a message and I'll do my best to ride with you and have a cup, I enjoy helping new riders and meeting other cyclists.

Today, however, I took my coffee the usual way. I started with a ride with my friends R. and D. (names redacted for privacy). R hadn't ridden in a long time, he's an older gent, not quite a young buck anymore, but not old enough yet to be anyone's dad. D is a bit younger, and had been wanting back in the saddle for a while. This was their first ride with another friend in a long time, and I chose a route that wasn't too long, starting on N 160th and riding to the end of the Linden Ave. Greenway, where it hooks back up to the Interurban Trail.

Densmore, as always, gives new riders a bit of push on this side, its a near 180 degree climb, and for me at least, there's no shame in walking up it if you've got any weight. D. was envious of my little basket, because, as usual, my little dog rode in it, jaunty little head poked up. I lent her my Sherpa bag (cannot recommend that brand enough), so she could take her Pom.

The trail was a wonderful experience for these almost-new riders. D. had expressed concerns because they didn't have helmets, and they were scared of riding near cars. I wisely steered us down suburban streets until we hit the Interurban trail. D. marveled at the infrastructure, the trail was full of families enjoying their evening. When we got to the greenway she was a bit nervous at first, it being a street, but within minutes she was riding as confidently as if she owned the street. R. is usually a driver and, frankly, usually a bit grumpy about sharing the streets behind the wheel. Yet this evening he spoke at great length how wise the greenway investment was, how expanding it could change how often he drove, and how much he would like that. D. mourned her job required a car, because she used to ride from Lynnwood to the Seattle Center and back as a teenager. We settled down for a picnic as the sun set, sipping from water bottles and bemoaning the need to go back.  We watched others speed down the trail and D. asked if I minded going so slow. I shook my head, its nice to ride with new folks, to take a slower place and really look at what's around you. When you go slow because you can't go fast you don't look around, you're powering through. When you go fast you're looking out for danger. But when you're riding with novices you can point out the art along the way, and immerse in the beauty around you.

On our return I made cups of hot cocco and asked what it would take to make this a regular thing, D. wanted to go every weekend. I call this "new rider glow" you realize it doesn't take much to get in the saddle and you want to go crazy go nuts. R. was more realistic, work and school for him was going to make these rides something to schedule. So we pledged to ride together every other weekend. And you can bet I'm going to drag them to some pretty out there places.

Shoreline is bikeable, but we need more riders to prove it. I saw so many riders out there on the trails tonight, and it warmed that cold vestigial organ I call my heart. I wondered how many of them became riders because of the greenway nearby. I wondered how many started because a friend just ceaselessly harassed them to go riding with them. I wonder how many got in the saddle as adults because they never stopped riding as kids.

And Shoreline needs those riders, there's safety in numbers. As I rode the Interurban there was one...person of questionable character, who chimed how much he'd love my bike, making R. nervous. He's quite capable of laying down the beats, he just really doesn't like doing it (like any good man). While D. and I rode fearlessly (I can and have used my bike as a weapon of  self-defense) we did because we knew as a group we were safe. D. expressed concern that I rode this trail every morning, asking if it bothered me, and I answered truthfully, yes it does. There should be a way to help the people along the trail, but I'll be darned if I know where to begin.

As a rider, I do know this; we're safer from attacks. We're safer from traffic. We're safer when we ride together. And we need to ride together. Here's the places I'll be visiting for the cofeeneuring challange:

10/5 @ 11am Tomorrow!
Zoka's
2200 N 56th St.
Seattle, WA 98103

10/11 or 10/12 (time TBA)
The Bridge Coffee House
2150 N 122nd St
Shoreline, WA 98133

10/18 or 10/19 (time TBA)
Highlands Coffee Co.
14508 Whitman Ave. N
Shoreline, WA 98133

10/25 or 10/26 (time TBA)
The Bounty-North City
17551 15th Ave NE
Shoreline, WA 98133

11/1 or 11/2 (time TBA)
Seattle Gourmet Coffee
17565 15th Ave. NE
Shoreline, WA 98133

11/8 or 11/9 (time TBA)
Diva Expresso Bar
14419 Greenwood Ave N.
Seattle, (technically) WA 98177

11/15 or 11/16  (time TBA)
Starbucks
17202 15th Ave NE
WA 98155


This would be a perfect time to start organizing trains. If you're unfamiliar with the idea, a train in the non-machine sense, is the term for a group of cyclists who ride together to complete their commute. For example as a group they stop and pick up each rider, and as a group, drop each rider off at their destination. A conductor makes sure everyone knows the route and helps keep the group together.

Let's get together and start some trains. You can contact me via e-mail (vanwolf "at" gmail dot com) or on twitter @HyperboreanWolf. Pick a weekend and a time and I'll help you get started. Or if you just want to meet up and get a cup of something sweet with another rider. .

Want to know more? Here's where you can sign up to coffeeneur officially:
http://chasingmailboxes.com/2014/09/17/fourth-annual-chasing-mailboxes-coffeeneuring-challenge/

Special thanks to Mary who started this wonderful tradition! If you can, please consider kicking more than just the required $4, she does this out of pocket you guys.

If you want to find other local riders participating:
http://wabikes.org/2014/10/01/coffeeneuring-bike-challenge-everyone-can-love/

Cheers and safe travels my friends.

*note: Bareistas baristas dress is a manner that is..risque. It is always tasteful, but do be respectful when you visit them. They are beautiful women, but they are still human beings who be deserved to be treated as such.