Setting up the goal (and links to those previous April outcomes): 30 Days of Biking April 2013: Yes We Can!
First couple of weeks: 30 Days of Biking April 2013: Almost Halfway Ride Report, 34.4 miles
Made it through week 3: 30 Days of Biking: 9 Days to Go, 8.64 miles
Heading to the finish line:
April 22: 1.0–Typical Monday to work and back, heading into a week with more travel just to make it extra tricky to get all the way through 30 days.
April 23: 2.8mi–I loaded my Mary Poppins bike in the car and drove to Vancouver, WA. In planning to get in my bike ride for the day I’d decided I could park my car at the location of meeting #2 and ride to meeting #1 and back again. I discovered location #2 was at the bottom of a hill so I got to ride up the bike lane on 39th to meeting #1 with some local bike leaders at Latte Da Coffee.
This hill business is a good reminder that the ability to read a terrain map comes in handy and you shouldn’t just look at the flat street grid when making bike plans. But the sun shone brightly and the strong headwind I encountered hit me on the downhill, not the uphill, so all was well. After that meeting I drove to Portland, parked, and used the bike again to go in search of a pharmacy for a couple of forgotten items.
A sidebar on the multimodal option that didn’t work: I initially planned this trip with the car, expecting to have several meetings lined up that would require side trips into Chehalis and Olympia. Some of those didn’t come through and the morning I was to leave I had an “Amtrak aha” and jumped online to see if I could switch to the train.
My destinations all had train stations–Vancouver, Portland, Salem, back to Seattle. I loved an earlier train/bike trip to Portland: Reserve a bike check-in with the ticket; roll up; put the bike in the baggage car on a hook; enjoy scenery, read, and do email while I travel; roll off at the end and ride to the destination. What could be more civilized? And so productive, too, since I could make good use of the travel time instead of being one more car clogging up the interstate.
Not to be on this trip, though. Why not? Well, I could have my easy-peasey trip south on Amtrak Cascades, but coming back I couldn’t check the bike the same way on the Coast Starlight. Taking that particular train would have meant taking the bike apart, buying a box from Amtrak, boxing it up, and reassembling it at the end to ride the mile home from the King Street station. This bike has lug nuts, not quick-release, on the wheels, and I am not enough of a mechanic to disassemble and reassemble.
Serious buzz-kill–and bike travelers make up a serious market segment that I hope Amtrak starts planning for on every route, every train. With the rapid growth in active travel and particularly bike tourism, marketing directly to bike travelers is a golden goose Amtrak should be feeding, not starving.
April 24: <.5–After getting up at 5 a.m. to start a full day attending the Oregon Active Transportation Summit, I got back to my host’s home in Portland around 9:30 at night. The great thing about staying at a bike advocate’s home is you can say, “I have to go ride my bike for 30 Days of Biking” without the person thinking you’re crazy. (This is especially true if you spent an entire long day devoted to bicycling without ever actually bicycling.) I wheeled my commuter out of the shed and tooled around for a few blocks, enjoying the mild temperature in the darkness under a full moon.
April 25: 5–Day 2 of the Oregon summit featured the Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership, with great ideas buzzing around the room that we can definitely roll with in Washington too. A long, hot drive from Salem back to Seattle on I-5 reminded me once again how nice it would have been to ride home on the train, especially when the traffic turned into a parking lot thanks to an ugly collision in the HOV lane.
The ride I missed taking: I got off I-5 at Castle Rock, south of Olympia, to get a cup of coffee. Coming into the downtown I spotted a trail alongside the road and briefly considered taking the bike out of the car to check it out. After sitting for a bit with coffee and my Kindle to take a break, I just got back into the car and headed back toward the freeway, thinking I’d rather just get back home.
As I passed that segment of trail again and realized I would have been riding along looking down at the beautiful blue water of the Cowlitz River and enjoying the greenery, I was very sorry I didn’t use a bike ride for part of my recharge. This may call for a return trip, especially since Castle Rock is the gateway to Mt. St. Helens.
After a warm welcome home from Sweet Hubs, dinner, and some unwinding time on the sofa doing that reading I could have done on the train, we took our bikes out to catch the last of the beautiful day. A spin along the Elliott Bay Trail gave us an ocean view with a peach and pink sky on the way out darkening to indigo blue as we came back after stopping to look at the city lights against the water.
April 26: 5.4–What a gorgeous day! After a slightly gray morning ride to work, sunshine and blue skies made it a beautiful spring day. At the end of the day I got to take full advantage of it by riding to Schooner Exact for the first taste of Ale-Liance IPA, a benefit brew for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.
I’m not a big beer drinker (you know, the more beer you drink, the bigger you get) but enjoyed this beer, described by co-owner Matt as being lower in alcohol content than the typical IPA but with all the hops and flavor–good rehydration after a warm ride. It was such a hit last year in its first brewing that they doubled their output this year; ask for it at your favorite Washington watering hole!
Sweet Hubs came down to join the fun with some of the staff, friends, and family. We noshed on some wonderful Macrina Bakery bread with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and shaved Parmesan, then ordered sandwiches for dinner. After a relaxing evening talking bikes, travel, and Seattle neighborhoods, we rode home in the evening air–cooling down from the day but still pretty balmy–through the busy SoDo district crawling with Seattle Mariners fans.
April 27: .6–Today we checked out an apartment we’re considering (which would make my trip to work 3.5 miles instead of .5, an increase I welcome). We went by car because after my nice sleep-in we were a bit pressed for time; we needed to get back for the commencement celebration for Sweet Hubs, who just finished a master’s in engineering/technology management through WSU Online (Go Cougs!).
After his graduation reception I cooked a riff on this Moroccan Vegetarian Spiced Pie recipe that involved serving it over brown rice/quinoa instead of wrapped in puff pastry and making various other adjustments to suit the pantry (add broccoli rabe because it tastes good in your head when you think about it, leave out craisins because you don’t have any, use pine nuts in place of almonds to change it up–that kind of thing). Then we headed out on the bikes for a short ride to Gelatiamo for a sweet celebration of graduation.
April 28: 1.2–The weather was such a tease today! Overcast with high clouds that spit rain on Sweet Hubs when he went out for a team ride, followed by fitful sunshine and breezes and more overcast in alternating bands. When I headed out mid-afternoon for a grocery run I lucked into the good stuff: sunshine with a breeze that mostly didn’t make work.
I ran up to the grocery store (yes, we live close to Pike Place Market, but they don’t stock contact lens solution and other household-y goods), then to Sur La Table for a recharge canister for our Soda Stream (love us some fizzy water!). At one point the wind was strong enough to scoot a good-sized cardboard box across the street in front of me and behind the cyclist just ahead, who had executed a nice evasive maneuver.
Extra thanks to the man on the sidewalk on First between Pike and Union who saw me coming and refrained from pouring the rest of his unwanted soda into the street until after I passed; it would have been a bit splashy for me. And a hearty “Cheerio!” to all those people stuck in cars in the left-hand lane, forlornly circling in search of parking.
April 29: 1.8–Basic day with more fickle weather–sun and sprinkles playing peekaboo with each other. I rode to work, then ran an errand at Uwajimaya Village and the post office, and rode home at the end of the day.
The sprinkles were falling when I left the office. Because we’ve been looking at moving to a place with a little more room and a little more mileage in my day, this ride made me recognize that if I had more mileage to cover I would do a little more planning for wet-weather riding than I have to do now. I can wear just about anything for a couple of miles; if my round trip is more like 7-8 miles I’ll leave a pair of rain pants and jacket at the office.
April 30: 2.4–I did it! And what a very nice way to wrap up the month. After a ride to work on a day that stayed sunny and beautiful, I rode home to meet up with Sweet Hubs and we biked to a belated birthday dinner with one of my 3 older brothers and his wife. Stories, laughter, good food, wine, and a pedal home in the cooling evening air with the sun setting.
Tally for the month:
- 30 days
- 63.74 miles
- Gallons of coffee
- Lots of good food
- Family and friends
- Sunshine, sprinkles, some wind
- Skirts, dresses, pants; boots, high heels, flats
- Seattle, Spokane, Pullman, Lewiston, Vancouver, Portland