A few months ago, changes were finally made. See if you can spot the difference.
Almost exactly four years ago, I wrote this post about being bike friendly. It turned out to be one of the most popular posts I've written because it resonates with all the everyday bike riders just trying to get around. Yes, you have a bike rack. No, I can't use it. After the post was published, our local Trader Joes received over 70 phone calls from other customers asking for better bike parking to address the lack of safety and encourage more bike riding. This shop is in a pretty bikeable and walkable location and having a crappy, ineffective rack in a dangerous location does nothing to support their bike riding patrons. We were given the same responses: "We're working on it, there are plans for changes, the property manager doesn't support it, we hear you, etc."
A few months ago, changes were finally made. See if you can spot the difference.
Yep, a canopy to cover their carts that somehow couldn't be designed to cover the bike racks as well. I'm sure they could have built 1000s of curb cuts for the amount of money they spent on this. Do dry carts keep their customers safe? Nope. The carts get left in the parking lot corrals in the rain anyway. That's what the paper towel dispensers are there for. It is so frustrating because it is such a simple matter that keeps getting overlooked. There is so much potential but nothing changes. I spend as much money at that store as any SUV driver and that lot is dangerous and inconvenient for everyone. I just don't get it.
2016 was an interesting year. We passed our 4th year of car-freedom without any fanfare. The added workload and scheduling constraints of being a full-time student on top of work and home life made things more complicated but having our new electric Juiced Rider ODK really helped us maintain our minimal car use and keep focused on biking for transportation. My super cool bikey best friend Neil introduced me to mountain biking and bikepacking, which I've fallen in love with (a post on our recent trip to Point Reyes to follow). Work as a League Cycling Instructor has kept me busier than ever with a career that I love. Thankfully, winter is a time when things calm down a bit and I have a lull between work and my next semester of school. I've been home with my monsters but we've been slowed down by illness and rainy weather.
Luckily, I was somehow able to squeak out some solo vacation time (thank you, grandma and grandpa!) and took an amazing trip up to Humboldt to catch up with a couple of friends and reinact my favorite bike tour. Humboldt county is where I fell in love with biking and started using bikes as my main form of transportation. I used to ride from my dorm at HSU up to Elk Prairie for a quick overnight recharge trip. The last time I'd been up there was six years ago for a short trip with friends to share my love of bike travel in one of my favorite places with two of my favorite people.
This time, I drove up to Arcata, stopping to camp along the Avenue Of The Giants and found some great trail and road riding there.
I spent a couple days with friends and stopping in at my favorite hangouts (Redwood Yogurt!). On Wednesday evening, I decided to pack up and roll out to Clam Beach. It was only about a 10-mile ride but it was already dark by the time I left and the forecast was heavy rain all night and the next day. I knew that if I didn't leave then, I'd miss my opportunity for the trip. Riding around the Arcata Bottoms was just like old times. More than ten years ago, we used to ride that way to the beach, day or night, rain or shine. I rolled through, finding the turns engrained in my memory.
I made it to camp before the rain and set up my tent, bringing all my gear inside to repack and organize. Thankfully, my friends loaned me their 0 degree sleeping bag because mine hadn't been warm enough the past couple of trips. Snuggled into my tent and listening to the rain falling was incredible. I was able to pack up and head out in the morning during a break in the storm.
However, less than a mile down the road and the rains started up again. I realized very quickly that the jacket I had packed was useless. It wasn't even water resistent. Rain drops immediatly started running down my arms, soaking the down jacket I had underneath. My gear was all stashed nicely in dry bags and lined with garbage bags so I knew I'd have dry clothes and gear when I got to camp. My wool leggings and gloves were keeping me mostly warm but I was drenched by the time I got to my second breakfast stop in Trinidad.
There was one more break in the storm while I ate and got a couple of photos at the lighthouse but as soon as I was riding again, it poured the rest of the 30 miles to Elk Prairie. There is a section on this route along Highway 101 from Big Lagoon to Stone Lagoon where you lose your shoulder on the road, get into blind curves and start climbing up hills. This area also happened to be flooded and during the worst weather of the day. At this point, even my boots had filled up with water. It was a stressful 15 miles but once I was passed it, I knew I was almost at camp.
I rolled into the visitors center to use their wifi and wring out my clothes. My plan was to stay at the hike and bike spot for $5 but I had waited too long and was starting to get cold and miserable. When I paid for my site, I learned that there was one unreserved cabin (those were new since I last visited). It was $80 but included a space heater and little else. I was sold! The cabins are beautiful but very poorly designed. There were no benches to sit on, mattresses, or hooks to hang anything up. I draped all my wet gear and clothes around to room and cranked up the heater. It wasn't perfect but it was exactly what I needed after that long, wet ride.
The next morning was gorgeous, as usual. I was reminded as to why I love this place. There was frost on everything which made me extra happy to have splurged on the cabin.
The ride out was beautiful. Everything was bright and green. I chatted with a few Elk along the way and stopped for a big breakfast in Orick at the Palm Cafe, a tradition of mine going back more than 10 years.
It was Christmas Eve and my stop for the night was at Patrick's Point, only 20 miles away. The tough section wasn't nearly as difficult on the way back as it's more downhill and had clear skies. I arrived at camp early enough to have plenty of time to go for a hike, set up camp, cook dinner, and watch the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. The $5 hike and bike site helped balance out my expenses from the day before.
Christmas morning, I woke up and made a hearty (but maybe not so healthy) bowl of oatmeal and candy.
I was getting really good at packing up the bike quickly. I had another 20 miles to go to get back to my friend's house in Arcata. Traffic was minimal and the weather was gorgeous again but chilly. I stopped along the road to listen to sea lions on the rocks below. The scenery got more and more beautiful with every turn so I couldn't resist taking plenty of photos.
I was pretty pleased with my packing. I had had plenty of food but not too much, enough clothes, even with the soaking rain, although I am in desperate need of new rain gear. My old tent and new, cushy sleeping pad worked well but even in the borrowed 0 degree bag, I was still a little chilly. I wished many times that I had brought an extra pair of shoes as my boots didn't dry for the rest of the trip. Thankfully, I had lots of wool socks to change out of after they'd absorb the water from my boots. I was really glad I had decided to bring my stove because the warm meals were extra delicious on these chilly days. The Troll was the perfect bike to have as I was able to ride the rougher sections of the road without worry and my Carsick Designs bikepacking bags carried most of my gear easily. On my fork, the Salsa Anything Cages held my sleeping back and tent, which was a new system for me but was really stable and easy.
Once I got back into town, I was able to take a long, hot shower and change into clean, dry clothes. I visited a bit more with my friend before making the drive home that evening. It wasn't a very long trip but it was so rejeuvinating! My heart felt lighter and richer than it had in awhile. I need to make it a priority to visit more often.
Hi! We're still around. It's been awhile. This semester I started at Sac State to finish a degree that I kinda started about 13 years ago when I was young and directionless. Now I am (relatively) old and focused but my life is crazy busy. So, it seemed like as good a time as ever to add a full class load to my full-time work and parenting schedule. Needless to say, I'm tapped out. Luckily, work is almost done for the season, classes are starting to wrap up, and it has been mostly manageable thanks to lots of help and support from my wonderful family and friends and our newest addition to the fleet, a Juiced Rider ODK!
I was struggling with the idea of adding one more big thing to my already full plate and many of my transition times between work and classes and picking up kids were really tight. Driving isn't always the best solution, especially when it comes to the unknowns like traffic, crashes, and parking. Many of my routes have great bike paths but then I would have to deal with long rides, headwinds, and being more exhausted than I could probably manage. That brought me to the JR. It has the longest range battery available, 32aH, 48volts, a real-world range of 65+ miles (seriously, I rode that in one day and still had a bit of charge leftover). I had hesitated getting another electric bike after our experience with BionX. I liked the BionX system but it didn't have enough distance for me. This bike also doubles as a cargo bike so I could take the kids in a pinch. It's not as comfortable for them as the HaulaDay but it works well enough. I'll do a more thorough review soon but I've already put hundreds of miles on this bike and while it's not perfect, it is exactly what I needed to keep our bike-centric lifestyle and avoid using cars as much as possible.
I've also been trying to get more into mountain biking. After more than four years of riding for transportation, everyday biking just wasn't giving me the added excitement and adventure I needed. Plus, it wasn't really feeling like exercise anymore because my body was so used to it (and it's flat around here). Thankfully, I have friends who help push me to try new things. On a recent trip up to Tahoe with Neil, we rode 24 miles with about 2000' of climbing. It kicked my butt and was incredible! I now have a goal for next year to try to race at the Downieville Classic. That means more training, climbing, practicing new skills, and finally learning how to bunny hop. This gives me something exciting to work towards with both physical and emotional accomplishments.
This past weekend was our annual Kidical Mass Overnight Extravaganza to Gibson Ranch and #BikeYourPark day for Adventure Cycling. It was quite an adventure, as always. Our group was small, just 13 of us total, six adults and seven kids. Both Big and Little Brother were able to join us this year. We met up with Neil and his kiddo with their Nihola packed up and rode to the meeting spot. It's so great to be able to load up the HaulaDay without kids on board, although I had planned to save room for Little Brother in case he bonked toward the end. This would be his longest ride, yet, at 17 miles. Little Brother doesn't have a rack on his bike and I decided it would be better for him to just concentrate on the ride but Big Brother was carrying all three of our sleeping bags and all our clothes for the trip.
It was a hot day to ride. Our route was mostly along bike trails so the kids had a great time pedaling along a relatively peaceful path. We had a nice stop for lunch at a big playground where the kids somehow had energy to continue running around.
The last section of the ride is in traffic on quiet rural roads until the last 1/4 mile where we are on a busy narrow stretch. Little Brother started to ask to go on "someone else's" bike (Neil's, in fact) but I told him if he finished riding to Gibson Ranch, we could talk about him hitching a ride back the next day. He managed to pedal the entire route without any problems, including the final part on Elverta as he proved to be a great rider and listened to all my instructions while navigating the busier section.
We had a large grassy (and soggy) spot to ourselves to set up camp. There was a wedding party next to us and a Boy Scout group on the other side of the lake. We knew this meant it would be a noisy night, unfortunately. Next time, remind me to pack extra ear plugs. The kids loved playing with Melissa's kids' bow and arrow and the stomp rockets (as always). They ran around, checked out the playgrounds, and kept moving all afternoon. I don't know how they had the energy after all the riding!
Sadly, nighttime was a mess (literally and figuratively). The wedding was noisy, the staff rode around on gas-powered carts throughout the night, and Big Brother ended up throwing up multiple times all over the tent. Luckily, our wonderful friends helped me clean up and gave him a blanket and towel to sleep on. I had to give up my sleeping pad and his sleeping bag was unusable. Little Brother slept peacefully through it all. In the morning, Big Brother still wasn't feeling well so I called their dad to pick them up. That left me with all the gear (minus a bag of barfy stuff Jose took home for me, thank goodness!). I packed up the rest of the camping gear, food, and both bikes, probably my biggest load on the HaulaDay, yet.
The ride back was nice but a bit sad without the boys. The bike was really stable and easy to ride. I'm looking forward to next year, hopefully with healthy kiddos and possibly to a new wedding-free location. It was great to see Little Brother break his riding record and Big Brother loved riding a loaded up bike. We're getting closer to doing more family touring!
Always good to start the school year off with a bike ride! Kiddos on their own Islabikes, even though jose was picking them up after school. No need for a minivan, Babe the Blue HaulaDay did a double bag-and-drag to take the bikes back home.
This summer has been spectacularly busy and yet, like always, we never quite get to everything we'd like to. After an awesome trip to the Columbia River Gorge with Adventure Cycling Association, an amazing two weeks in Portland at the United Bicycle Institute, and another wonderful Paul Bunyan tour (again with Adventure Cycling Association, I have to admit that I'm ready for school and work to start!
I had a ton of fun exploring Portland's bike infrastructure, both the good and the not-so-good. Despite its status as one of the top bicycle-friendly cities in the US, there are many areas in which Portland still fails its bike riders. On the last day I was in town, a bike rider was killed by a car driver just a couple miles from where I was staying. I had a difficult time with the route Google suggested I take on my daily commute as it was fraught with impatient, aggressive drivers but I was able to find a better route after a couple days of stressful riding. In one of the more poorly designed separated bike stretches, we were almost creamed by a speeding and scary driver. Still, what they do have available is incredible compared to the typical US city, including Sacramento.
I only had two weeks getting to know the routes and city, I'm sure people who have lived in Portland have many strong opinions about the bicycling culture and support. I welcome all to share their experiences as these are just a small sample of some of the things I got to explore in my PDX travels.
So far, bottom brackets, chains, and cassettes have been added to the week's instruction. There's been lots of hands on practice and this evening, actually took apart Oscar's hubs and cassette to overhaul. Surprisingly enough, it actually wasn't as bad as I had expected. There was some pitting in the front hub and it was all in desparate need of a good scrub and lube but everything was still usable. On my commute each morning, I had been having more and more trouble with the drivetrain skipping, leaving me unable to ride in 2/3 of my gears. Not fun in a town with real hills. Tonight's ride home was like flying! I couldn't believe how smoothly Oscar rode with just those simple maintanance skills (and lots of help from my awesome instructors). Still so much to learn and practice but I can tell that Oscar is going to be such a happy bike by the end of this class!
After an incredibly frustrating 18 hour long train trip, I finally made it up to Portland to take UBI's mechanic course. I had applied numerous times through their women's scholarship but decided to go ahead at sign up. The mechanic portion of the bike world has always mystified me. Although I had gotten to a point that I could do basic repairs and change flats pretty comfortably, there was still so much I felt useless at fixing. I'm excited to get a chance to get more confidence in wrenching and also build in a new set of knowledge and self-sufficiency into my bike work.
Day one had us already overhauling hubs and I was grateful to have had Neil's help already with the Troll's hub. Today, we used our hubs to build a set of wheels! I can't believe how much I've learned already!
Summer is officially here with both kiddos out of school! We celebrated by taking both boys on our river trail ride. Big Brother was an old hat at it, already riding the route once before but this was Little Brother's first try. Although LB has been getting mch better at riding predictibly and cautiously while being a good listener, getting him in the gravel was difficult. After the first 5 miles or so, he started getting tired and frustrsted. There were some crashes and tears but mostly smiles. I have to remember to stay alert to their energy levels and patience so we can head off the major meltdowns. After all, the whole point of these adventures is to instill a lifelong love of cycling. For me, riding a bike is my stress relief so as soon as it stops being fun, it's time to reevaluate and pull out the emergency lollipops. Thankfully, by the time we were done, the boys were full of sticky smiles and happy memories (with some proud crashing stories).
This weekend was also my kid-free time and I got in some great rides with friends.
Rolling back into real life was difficult after my work-ation. It's never easy to sleep on the overnight train even though it's so much more relaxing than driving. Big Brother finished up first grade last week and Little Brother still had a few days before he graduated preschool (today!). Biking has always been the way I'm able to find my balance again after busy times so I was really excited to have some fun bikey adventures with my biggest monster this week.
Tomorrow, we're celebrating having Little Brother join our silly summer by taking him on his first dirt ride. It'll be one of his longest rides so far as well so I'm a little nervous about taking them both on my own, but I can't wait!
This is us. We're fun.