27 August 2010

Fiets of Parenthood - Seattle Style!

We finally made it to one of the many community bike events in Seattle!  The good folks at Car Free Days and Totcycle organized Fiets of Parenthood, a huge gathering of family cyclists of every age who rode in on nearly every kind of bike and bike-combo you could imagine. The Xtracycle went in the minivan for the first time and we still had plenty of room for my sister and her borrowed Peugeot folder.

FoP was nothing short of awesome!  There was something for everyone and we stayed busy for a solid three hours with the bicycle decoration station, a huge walk-thru/bike-thru sprinkler, slow bike race, family bike obstacle course, helmet fitters, and the kids' favorite: a Madsen bucket bike full of free gelato.  The playground was a cargo bike explosion of Xtracycles, Big Dummies, tandems, trail-a-bikes, kick bikes, trailers, bakfietsen, a tall bike and even a Larry vs. Harry Bullitt.  One lucky attendee won a Globe Haul 1 through a raffle benefitting Bike Works.

Not only were there tons of cool bikes, but there were many enthusiastic parents and kids, eager to show off their cycling skills and talk about how they use these bikes in their daily lives.  Many thanks to Julian, Tim, Anne, Chris and everyone else who helped to make this event a fun time for the rest of us.

If you'd like to see more, there's another write-up here, a great video here, a bit of press here, and a Flickr group here.  The wheels are already in motion for a TBR Family Fiets event in Tacoma next summer.  Who wants to help?!

23 August 2010

MOB Ride: Pedal to Peril

Via lordrocktober

Bicycle Booze Cruz
Saturday, August 28th
Meet up at: THE RED HOT
We'll be stopping at various watering holes throughout the night. 
We'll be there wet stuff or dry and clear. 
21+ and biking is at your own risk so don't fall down
Spread the word!  -  We Own the Streets!!!

20 August 2010

Free Bike Parking in Downtown Tacoma!

Today I saw this advertisement for the soon-to-be-installed parking meters in downtown Tacoma.

It compelled me to ride down to the Frost Park Chalk Challenge and draw this response:

If you like it, you can vote for Matt and I might win something!  

I'm actually a supporter of metered street parking in downtown.  As it is, most street parking is free, but limited to one hour.  I don't find this enough time to get lunch or shop, especially when I have kids in tow. We often park at the T-Dome P&R and take the Link Rail, or ride a bike.  Either way, the parking is free.  And for those times when I need to feed the meter, I'm happy to pay for the right-of-way for my vehicle.

More info at http://downtowntacomaparking.com

13 August 2010

Courage Classic Weekend Redux

My Courage Classic weekend actually started on Friday when I took the whole family to the weekly Frost Park Chalk-Off to do a little shameless self-promotion.  It took the rest of the day to ready the van and assemble my gear.  Getting three guys, their bikes, their camping gear and their driver into one minivan required some planning, but worked well.

Ready to Roll!
We rendezvoused early Saturday morning in the town of Snoqualmie, WA, with some other friends from the Harmon Bike Club.  After loading our overnight gear on the UPS delivery trucks bound for the campsite at the Suncadia Resort, we hit the road.  Just a few miles later, John had what would be the only flat of the 3-day ride.

We gradually broke up into smaller groups as we climbed through the Denny Creek area and approached the summit of Snoqualmie Pass, where the temperature was a balmy 54°F.  Gig Harbor Rotary put on an excellent spaghetti feed for lunch, then we were shuttled by coach bus and moving truck (riders and bikes, respectively) through the I-90 construction around Lake Kaches which is currently off-limits to bicycle traffic.
Denny Creek Switchback Panda

For me, the biggest change this year was that I rode a road bike instead of my 50 pound Xtracycle, which allowed me to complete each day's course about two hours faster than in previous years.  We finished Day 1 in Cle Elum around 1:30pm, giving us plenty of time to setup tents, clean-up in the mobile shower trailer, and enjoy a few cold-ones in the Redhook beer garden.  A huge buffet dinner was held later in a light rain, but those of us who weathered the heat of last year's event knew better than to complain.

Rotarians at Work!
After riding this event three times, I can positively say that the ride from Suncadia to the Blewitt Pass summit is my favorite part.  You break camp and ride a few miles into Cle Elum, eat a great breakfast at the Sunrise Cafe, then traverse the countryside with the sun coming up over the mountains.  It's a quiet and breathtakingly beautiful ride with very little traffic, other than your fellow riders.  I always linger at the Tacoma North Rotary rest stop because it seems everyone is always there.  I spend time catching up with riders and volunteers I've met in years past, and meeting plenty of new folks as well.  It's great to see so many people having fun together.

The Blewitt Paceline Crew
As a group of us left the rest stop, someone shouted out "9:03!" and we soon realized that there was a friendly time-trial taking place en route to the summit.  We charged our five-man pace-line up the mountain at a strong clip and stayed together for most of the 7 mile climb, each finishing about 1 minute apart.  It was awesome!  I enjoyed a light brunch of tomato basil soup, a turkey sandwich, and fresh fruit.  The food stops are great, especially when you consider that these Rotarians are feeding nearly 800 riders and volunteers every meal and snack.

Once camped in Leavenworth, we headed for the Icicle River to soak our legs before a bbq dinner in the park.  Too much fun was had in Redhook beer garden, where DJ Shelda played some great tunes and we all enjoyed each others company.

Are we having fun yet?
Photo courtesy of Kimi. Taken by one
of the many enthusiastic Rotarians.

Monday brings the longest climbing route of the weekend.  After a brisk ride along the Chumstick Highway to the first rest stop in Plain, WA, the route hooks up with WA-2 and heads up Stevens Pass.  There are actually 4 or 5 separate climbs on the way to the summit, each with its own small descent, necessitating that the dessert stop (that is reserved for after lunch on Days 1 and 2) needs to be located pre-lunch.  It's Hawaiian themed and features root beer floats, Oreos, fig bars, beef jerkey, organic bunny grahams, and a hula hoop competition.  I bested three others with the hoop and won a sweet "Rotary Rest-Stop Survivor" t-shirt that I'm sporting as I type.  

Iron Goat Trail
All of this food and fun prepares you mentally and physically for the last 10-15 challenging miles of climbing.  Even so, the potato bar at the summit was exactly what I needed to perk me back up for the descent down the west side of Stevens.  The low clouds and damp wind combined for a fast and freezing run down the mountain.  The main highway portion of the descent is a nailbiter at high speed and lots of crosswinds, but near the bottom is the turn-off for the Iron Goat Trail, a refurbished section of the Old Stevens Highway that is smooth, lively, stunning, and magical.  My friend Mike, a Courage Classic rookie, said that "it might be the best 15 minutes I've ever spent on a bike."     

The finish line was busy, but still full of all the amenities we'd seen along the way: snacks, showers, massage tables, smiling Rotarians, and even a piece of commemorative hardware.  I've heard many folks joke about how it's very possible to gain weight on this ride, despite all of the miles and elevation.  After my fourth or fifth slice of bread pudding at the Day 1 dinner, I can understand why some would think that.  This year, I weighed myself before and after.  The result: -1 pound.  Maybe I didn't drink my fair share of ESB?  I promise to try harder next year!

There simply aren't many supported rides out there that leave you feeling like you've been on a vacation rather than just a bike ride.  If you're thinking about doing your first organized tour, I'd certainly recommend that you start with this one.  Helping a great cause while having a great time?  It's hard to top that.

Thanks again to everyone who sponsored me and my ride to Stop the Cycle of Child Abuse!

I'm keeping this swag!

11 August 2010

We Have a Courage Classic Swag Giveaway Winner!

Firstly, to everyone who supported my Courage Classic fundraising campaign: Thank you. Your combined efforts are helping to stop the cycle of child abuse and neglect in Pierce County. This year I was 1 of 698 riders in theCourage Classic who together raised nearly $750,000 for the Rotary Endowment that supports the Child Abuse Intervention Department at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. The Courage Classic is the largest, single source of funding for this program. Every donor and dollar is important.

As promised, one of my generous donors is going to win this Three Reasons Swag Bag Prize Package!

And, because I scored some more swag, I'm going to draw a second winner for this stuff:
Each donor has been allocated one raffle ticket for every $5 that they donated. Ticket numbers were allocated sequentially in the order that donations were received (e.g. donor #1 gave $25 and holds tickets 1-5.)  My Little Sister from Church of the Granny Bike flew in all the way from Philly to draw a winner (and boy are her arms tired!)  She gave the tickets a good swirl and chose the lucky winner: 
Congrats to Heather, our Grand Prize Winner!  I'll be contacting you so I can deliver all of your premium swag.  Our runner up is Anonymous, who is actually an old friend that enjoys cycling near her Seattle home.  Congrats to our winners and thanks again to everyone for supporting this important cause.

I'll have a full ride report post coming soon.


-Matt in Tacoma

06 August 2010

Pedal For the Kids (and then with the kids!)

The end of my Three Reasons summer is in sight!  I'm finally getting everything packed and loaded today for my Courage Classic ride this weekend.  With over 1,600 cycling miles on my legs this year, I feel ready.  I'm still second guessing my lack of fenders and my choice to ride a road bike instead of my Xtracycle, but I know that once I get on course everything will work itself out.

The Road Cone!
Thanks to the generosity of others, I've earned the chance to take this 3-day cycling vacation.  I'll be riding with many friends from the Harmon Bike Club and Pierce County Rotary clubs, and taking in some beautiful Cascade mountain scenery.  There's even going to be an outdoor movie screening and Red Hook beer gardens in the evenings.

And, it's not too late to contribute to my effort to Stop the Cycle of Child Abuse and be entered to win a sweet Swag Bag from TBR.  You can donate here through Monday evening and we'll announce a winner on Tuesday.  Just $5 gets your name in the hat.  Good luck!

TBR will be offline until then, but meanwhile you should be making plans to attend Fiets of Parenthood in Seattle August 15.  For me, the biggest challenge will be getting my kids and cargo bike up north, but we're hoping to represent Tacoma in this super fun event.

Now go ride your bike!

02 August 2010

Hills, Glorious Hills

There's an article in The News Tribune today about the benefits of training on hills.  I found the article interesting because I absolutely love riding hilly routes.

One of my favorite hills to climb in Tacoma is North Carr Street.  The view from the top looks like this:

View Larger Map

It's a short climb, but quite steep.  (Turn sideways with streetview above and you can get an idea of the pitch.)  The road surface has a brick pattern which gives it an Old World feel.  It's a total lung-buster on any bike, especially this one:

Yes, I really did it and I had a witness.  This is a recently-acquired Worksman Cycles Industrial Newsboy that's maybe a few decades old.  You can stand up and pump the pedals really well with those tall bars.  Admittedly, it's not the best bike for climbing hills, but the feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top on a simple machine like this is one comparable to climbing Everest (I'm guessing.)  

[I might have been on my way home from a Tacoma MOB Ride when I did this and I might have Yahoo!'d loud enough at the top to wake a few neighbors.  Beer is a very powerful bicycle fuel.]

Speaking of conquering mountains, I'm riding the Courage Classic Bicycle Tour this weekend to raise money for child abuse intervention.  You can DONATE HERE and be entered to win some sweet Tacoma swag.  Just a $5 donation gets your name in the hat.