I took a long vacation, with a short work stint in the middle. Then took a long weekend. I’ve had a few adventures.

My friend and I went bike camping to Tolt MacDonald Park in Carnation WA. It was a glamping trip really, since we got a Yurt for the two nights (you have to book 2 nights). It was fun and relaxing. We spent time on the river and I rode Stella around the trails a bit. On the way back, as a way to avoid a mile of 10% grade, we took a very flat detour that added a few miles to our ride, then also added miles by using the Burke Gilman Trail rather than the 520 trail. It was very pleasant, although I am pretty sure that I was just as tired as I would have been if we’d done the hills.

A few days later I flew to Reno to visit family, especially my one year old nephew. We had a nice hike and visited a few breweries. I got to spend some quality time with the little one.

I worked for 3 days, then took another 5 days off. During that time, I did some intense Bike Bingo-ing. I often revisited locations with friends as they went around. I got a blackout and some awesome prizes.

I also attended a bike/walk rally for safer streets with a couple of silly bananas. I gave out my thank you notes for a bingo square that day. It would have been cheating, except that everyone was so interested in Bike Bingo that I think it did the job well.

Next time I’ll tell you about hiking around on Mount Shasta!

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I finished up the mud flaps and attached them earlier today. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

 

I also put in some new locking skewers and seat clamps on both Stella and Dark Star. Now I won’t have to worry about my wheels when I’m out and about. The new winter bike also got fenders, so no skunk tail for me! #teamfenders

I’m making some mud flaps for my friend. She saw the ones I made on Instagram and I would certainly benefit from her having them ;) We rode to Capitol Hill together for a birthday celebration and I came home splattered. Luckily it was after the party.

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I decided to make the colors a little bolder on this set. This is before conditioning. More to come.

My friend noted that my bike was spitting at him. I’d totally forgotten that my fenders have no mud flaps anymore. The rubbery ones that came with the fenders had come loose and I’d removed them because they were rubbing on my tires. Time for new mud flaps! Just in time for the drought.

I decided I wanted to make them. I’d made from plastic before, but they didn’t last very well and don’t look especially nice after a few rides. I decided I wanted leather for Stella. She’s a good looking bike and deserves nice looking mud flaps. My roommate had leather that he hadn’t used, and he gave me a good chunk of it. I made a stencil of the shape and size I wanted and cut the leather with heavy shears.

I could have either stained the leather, or just conditioned it and it would have looked great. As I was looking up staining, I realized I’d have to go shopping, and I thought about the permanent markers taking up space in my room. I don’t use them often because the colors bleed on most paper, but they’d be great for this project!

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They are raw cow leather with a snake skin print, which I used to inspire my artwork. I let the ink sit overnight, although it probably wasn’t necessary. Next, I used Kiwi Mink Oil (which I’ve had for years and use on my waterproof leather boots) to condition them. I found that the oil wasn’t absorbing, and on the advice of my roommate, I put them in the oven for just a couple of minutes at around 175°F. That soaked the oil right in and I did that 2 more times. Again, I let it sit overnight.

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The oil did darken the leather, which I expected. I now kind of wish I’d used darker colors. Next time! These are still super cool and I think I could take a better photo of them when the sun is higher.

On Friday, I plan to drill holes in my fender to accommodate these and use some rivets that I have from another project to attach them. I may have to go get some that are longer, which wouldn’t be the end of the world because then I could get some that will match the bike better. The rivets that I have are bronze and everything on my bike is stainless or black.

All this is distracting me nicely from thinking about the biopsy I’m not able to get until early June. My doctor feels confident that the lump is benign, but we still have to check.

 

Sometimes things just pile up and contrive to drive you down.

Everything is great in many ways and I was feeling fine until last week. I had a slow buildup of stress around some outreach for work. Nothing was going wrong, it’s just the party you agree to go to but you can’t cancel on because you aren’t feeling social. And a lot of work goes into outreach and programs, but that’s not a big deal because I could do that in my sleep. And sometimes I do! Stress dreams. I even enjoy outreach. I get to see what my community is up to and interact with people for a short time about something I love. But it’s still a stressor.

Add to that a possible health issue that I went to the doctor for and have to go back because of software failure, wasting both work and personal time.

A person biking was hit by a car driver on 35th, where our illustrious mayor decided that we don’t need bike lanes after a long advocacy fight.

I just want to go ride my bike in the country without any cars around me. Will someone tell me where I can do that?

Vacation starts in 12 days! :)

Here are a few fun things from hiking and biking that I’ve seen lately. Life really isn’t so bad.

Dear 35th Ave NW, you could have been so much more. I know you feel shiny with your new asphalt and your bright yellow and white striping. It must feel great to have those car tires rushing over you smoothly at high speeds, the rumble of a disused muffler punctuating the sunny summer day.

But think of all the people walking and riding who would have graced your surface if only we’d designed you differently. Those streamlined lanes encourage high speeds and make the street feel unfriendly to those souls not wearing 2 tons of steel. The heady speeds dissuades the jockeys of the majestic automobile from interrupting their frolic with the need to stop at cross walks, intent on their next destination. Purposeful or lazy walks and rides will not travel your road, replaced by revving motors and the honks of the entitled.

Can you picture this? A vibrant community of neighbors and businesses united by walkability. Shopping and conversing, the voices of children raised in laughter are just a few of the activities that would happen. Our lovely canopy of trees sheltering your new pavement as families bike to shops and say hello to friends and neighbors.

Now the shops will be limited to customers who will drive and park in the cracked parking lots available at every business. People walking and biking will avoid the noisy, dangerous, and polluted area, taking their hard earned dollars with them. Especially knowing that many of these businesses wanted this dark, barren landscape, despite the voices of their neighbors. I hope there are enough people dedicated to their cars who will sustain those businesses.

Actually, I hope they all fall to dust.

I had a very good day off yesterday. I spent the morning tiding up a few ends and pieces, then went out to the garage and worked on the derailleurs on Stella, the Kona Sutra. My front has been traveling too far–and I didn’t get that fixed, so I will need to take another look at it on Monday. My rear has been skipping and making noise, but still mostly shifted okay. Once I started in on it, things seemed a little more messed up. I realized I didn’t have the full range and that shifting was off by at least one ring. I ended up having to adjust the cable, and since I don’t have a tensioner, I had to push the derailleur to where I thought it should be, hold the cable and bolt in place while turning the allen wrench, then try again over and over until I finally got it. The cable end was pretty frayed by the time I was done. I then realized I was late and couldn’t test it.

So I took Dark Star out for a ride instead. That bike is just so delightful after riding my Kona fully loaded with commute gear for weeks on end. It’s just always ready to go with minimal worry. The brakes are always perfect, things shift just right, it’s light and fast. Add a little air to the tires or lube to the chain and off I go. The frustration of working on the derailleurs drifted away.

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I rode up to Kite Hill at Gas Works Park and met a friend. We sat and watched the people. Someone walked by below with a huge hundred dollar bill under their arm. Someone else had a picture taken in front of the chain link fence.  A young couple with kids argued about their destination, top of the hill or the playground with broad gestures.

We had lunch at the Pacific Inn and then I left him to ride up Stone Way. I had tickets for the Tilth Edible Plant Pre-sale, but that didn’t start for an hour, so I stopped for gelato and socks on the way. I do love socks.

At the plant sale, I met my best friend and we followed each other around to the different areas and chose just a few plants. I got sweet basil, mojito mint, and a variety of tomato called pineapple which is supposed to grow large yellowish orange tomatoes with a sweet flavor. These plants should compliment the seedlings I have popping up in the planters now. More tomatoes, a variety of peppers, lettuces, cucumbers, carrots, green onions and lemon balm. It’s fun seeing their little green heads pushing out of the soil.

I finished off the evening watching Star Trek: Discovery with my roommate.

The best thing is, when I rode Stella to work this morning, my rear derailleur worked like a dream.

I’m a little bit exhausted. I ran a half marathon on Sunday and I haven’t stopped to breathe yet. Strava tells me that I haven’t slowed much on my rides and I was able to go almost 20 miles yesterday. But man, I am tired. I have another 20 mile day tomorrow.

I do love riding though. When I think about busing, I just don’t want to. I can get there faster and happier when I bike. Then again, a little recovery is good. Getting home is a chore though. Over an hour from my main work location to home. My ride takes less than 30 minutes.

Tonight when I got home, my bike parts had come from the Blue Sky Cycling sale. It energized me to install my new pedals on Stella the Kona Sutra–Welgo Platform Pedals with leather toe straps. I also adjusted my manual disc breaks. Then I took a little test ride and realized that riding with toe straps is going to be a learning curve. I’ve done it before, but it’s been years. Hopefully I don’t end up on the ground like I did with clipless shoes the first few times. Maybe I’ll end up removing the straps sometime during the day.

Sleep is calling. See you on the flip side. Here’s a photo from the Seattle Public Library to keep you company. Don’t let the tentacles get you…

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If I don’t ride today, that makes 3 days in a row that I haven’t biked. Throw that goal out the window. But I was talking to my friend about it and she asked me why I wanted to do it anyway. I ride more than anyone she knows. I realized that it was just another popular thing to do. I do want to encourage others to ride more–I don’t have to ride more to do that.

On Sunday, I ran 3 miles, then went with my brother to Marble Mountain Sno-Park to hike Mount Saint Helens on Sunday. We got up at 3am, started up the mountain at 4:15, but turned around by 7am just past the permit point (4800 ft) when it was obvious that the rain was not going to let up. We returned to the parking lot at 9 am with every piece of clothing we were wearing totally soaked. I stayed warm in my ski clothes, but my brother was really cold by then–he’d only worn rain gear and a puffy jacket.

It wasn’t that disappointing not to make it all the way up. It was cloudy enough that there wouldn’t be any views and we made it last year, so I have that summit under my belt.

I didn’t take any pictures up there, but I did take a few of the new day use lodge. It really improves the place.

I’m not as good about posting daily on social media, so I’m just going to have a periodic check in here for #30daysofbiking

I always have a few days that I miss, so this might be* my first successful year.

  • April 1: Rode home from Kitsap Memorial State Park, then again up to Capitol Hill
  • April 2: Cap Hill to City Hall for bike advocacy, then a failed shopping attempt at Macy’s and Westlake Center (fire alarm on the second stop)
  • April 3: Bartell Drugs for an immunization and Stone Hardware for plant seeds and tools

*I have a couple of overnight trips that don’t include biking, so if I can’t muster up the energy to bike around the block after climbing Mount Saint Helens, I could fail this year as well.

I’m going to go out and plant some of those seeds now. I hope I don’t blow away!

I watched the weather and waited, and finally it was close enough to my vacation to call it. We were going bike camping!

It’s barely spring in the Pacific Northwest, so the weather could have been torrential rain–and it’s supposed to be starting tomorrow–but we got our window of partly sunny, highs in the upper 60s.

I’d some some research where I wanted to go. I eliminated two places I’d gone before; Fay Bainbridge and Manchester State Park. The first was too close and would be more crowded. The second I’ve been to 3 times now and I’m ready for something different and a little further away.

Looking at Marley Blonsky’s post, A Non-definative Guide to Bike Overnighters Within an Hour-ish of Seattle, I settled on Kitsap Memorial State Park. A coworker seconded my choice–it was nice to talk to someone I know who’s been there. It’s a 20 mile ride with lots of other options for exploring. A grocery 5 miles away and a convenience store nearby. The hiker biker sites have tables and a fire ring, which isn’t always the case at other places.

We ended up leaving at around noon on Saturday to get there.

The timing was good because the ferry was easy and check in time was 2:30–no problems checking in early, but there was no camp host, so no on site firewood. We got some the second night from the convenience store.

It was hard to find the entrance to the hiker biker sites, but they were nicely secluded from the car sites. They were hidden down an unmarked trail directly to the left at the entrance to the parking lot.

We spent some time at the beach and exploring the park. It’s really small, but the view was nice. We got some camp neighbors that night who were biking around the peninsula, and this was the last night out. We went to bed early, but they stayed up late, chatting by their fire.

The second day we explored by bike, taking a round about way back to Poulsbo for groceries. I do love the Central Market.

We got back, bought wood, enjoyed the beach some more, took a shower (tokens purchased from a vending machine with $1 bills) and made a fire.

The next day we had a leisurely breakfast by the fire and rolled out around noon again.

We rode back through Port Gamble and Kingston. After the ferry, we stopped at Walnut Street Coffee for a caffeine and cookie pick me up, but still the hills in Edmonds almost kicked our ass. We persevered and made it to The Yard for celebratory tacos, and then it was only a few miles home.

A really great weekend. Here are a few more photos.

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