Mark’s 2016 Errundonnee #1 – Running with a chair?!?

After my inaugural Errundonnee last year and the realization that I could do more by running that I originally thought, I’ve further embraced transportation running and sought out new, err, opportunities.  It has fit in quite well with training because, outside of a few key workouts per week, there’s a lot of benefit to simply putting in the miles.  Another thing that I’ve learned in the last year is that a second run in a day can be less stressful than the same mileage crammed into one run.  So all of a sudden the oft-dreaded two-a-day became the opportunistic double commute (with possible stops, of course).  I’ve double-commuted a bit in the past, but I’ve tried to do more of it recently.

A year has rolled around, and this year’s rules unsurprisingly still have the ever-fun “You carried WHAT on your bike (or back)?!” category/control.  I’ve been thinking about this one and looking forward to it.  After my initial Errundonnee, I’ve felt a little pressure to, no, wait, that might disqualify me via rule 12.  I’ve felt encouraged (yes, that’s it!) to come up with something good for this year.

Enter the failing upholstery on our gliding chair.

I might have sat on this one for a bit waiting for this day.  I’d say no pun intended, but I’m already talking about running errands here so no one will believe me anyway.

The first lesson was kind of an obvious one except that it’s not the sort of thing anyone would ever think about.  Upholstery shops, being light industrial, don’t tend to be in walkable (or runnable) locations.  I’m going to do this with a stroller, so I won’t exactly be nimble.  A trip to Redmond would be ok; I could use a few neighborhood streets, get past a rough stretch, and then have the 520 Trail, Sammamish River Trail, and Redmond Connector at my disposal.  Alas, my first target turned out to “only” do woodwork.  (Hmm… the possibilities…)  Then I found three in Bellevue in the Northup/Bel-Red area.  They wouldn’t work because, well, Bellevue.  (See here or here though much is afoot (sorry!) so maybe someday.)  Then I found addresses for three more in Redmond, but none existed.  Finally, I found one:


The Cross Kirkland Corridor’s main problem is that, being an old rail line, it avoids most places (like downtown Kirkland), which turns out to be perfect for this kind of destination.  I can get to the CKC via neighborhood streets and a ped/bike bridge over I-405.  So now to figure out how to actually bring the chair.  It turns out that it fit really well in both the single and double Bob strollers.  The double seemed more stable, so I went with that:WP_20160304_15_20_13_Pro.jpg

Of course it was raining, so it also needed a cover:


The obvious question in all of this is why I would even do this.  And I could blah blah like running more than biking blah blah don’t know how I’d attach it to any of our bikes blah blah could drive blah blah Errandonnee, but really here’s the answer.  Who’s having the most fun here?


The run itself turned out to be surprisingly easy.  I bungeed it to the stroller, but it settled into the seats so nicely that even that might not have been needed.  The weight balance was really good; it took very little pressure to lift the front wheel for turning (the front wheel on jogging strollers generally locks straight forward for stability).  In fact, it was easier than pushing the twins around both because of that and because it weighed less than them.  The weight might have tipped backwards on an uphill, a problem we’ve cleverly solved by living on the top of a hill.

Four miles later, I was there (the chair is already inside).  The return trip was lighter.


Possible categories: You carried WHAT, non-store errand (pretty clearly going to be the former)

Side note: The category is officially “You carried WHAT on your bike (or back)?!”, which I’m going to claim is an oversight of the tools available to transportation runners 🙂

Miles: 8

Anatomy of a Farmer’s Market Trip (by Bike, of course)

Saturday was my first trip to the Farmer’s Market this year. Here’s the haul, and how I packed it.

In the basket is a half-flat of strawberries, next to my purse and a baby sweater (because we came down the big hill to get here).

In one bag is two pepper plants. I tucked my sweatshirt in on one end and a random fleece I found in the bag (because it wasn’t summer yet when we left for Europe) on the other side to keep them upright.

Fastening the center buckle on the bag supports the pepper plants better. I was going to buy tomato plants too, but I didn’t think I could get them safely home, they were so tall! So we went by car to the nursery the next day. The peppers, though, were easy.

In the other bag is two bags of fruit and vegetables, plus my diaper bag (the orange stuff sack) (why yes, I use a stuff sack as a diaper bag) and a bag of library books (the tan bag peeking over the top) because the library is not far from the farmer’s market.

Note that the deck is free, so there would be space for kids there if I’d brought them. They’d need to be careful with their legs, though, so they don’t crush the cherries or plants. Or I’d need to pack them out of the way of the legs.

And here’s the whole thing. Including a baby, because there’s always a baby.

The Errandonnee is never over

While the actual event might be done, the errands definitely are not.  One of the things that I really liked about the Errandonnee was that the categories forced most people into doing something new.  Or the Errundonnee is my case.  Sure, I ran to work and for the odd errand, but it’s pretty easy to settle into a routine, for better or worse.  The Errandonnee forces you to seek out new destinations.

So on Saturday I found myself with two tasks: drop off four baby carriers in the Crossroads area of Bellevue and pick up a book at the Bellevue library.  So, in the backpack went the carriers and I was off.  The first route was known, and it was pleasant.  I was actually going a bit further than the Mall, and I hadn’t realized that NE 8th St drops to three lanes over to the east.  It’s just amazing how much more pleasant it is there.  With the drop-off done, I then needed to go to the library, which is on the north end of downtown.  I could have gotten partway there reasonably by staying south of 8th, but the overall trip would have been a bit too much anyway, so I decided to grab a bus to downtown.  This worked, though I fell victim to the car-centric design as is too often the case.  I was at 8th and 156th looking for the RapidRide B.  One Bus Away (a local bus app) reported that the next bus was three minutes away from 10th and 156th.  That seemed tight, especially with the crossing of 8th.  Instead I headed towards 8th and 148th, a half mile to the west.  It was downhill, so I figured I could get there in 3-4 minutes.  The bus would have to navigate the turn and that distance as well.  Unfortunately, I didn’t fully think through getting to the actual stop:

I made it to the SE corner with some time, but I missed the pedestrian crossing to the north, and by time the next one rolled around, the bus was gone.  It turned out if I had made this first crossing, then the ensuing left turn cycles (both for N/S and then E/W) would have provided cover for the two half crossings to the west.  A mid-block crossing of 8th would have been enough, but it’s 5 lanes.  Alas, such is the life of a pedestrian.

Then I started thinking about the bus, which was also stopped at the intersection for a while.  How much time does this one intersection contribute to the schedule?  And while on one hand they are both large streets (just look at that intersection!), it’s just a random intersection of roads without a whole lot nearby.  If the B could make its trip unencumbered, would it halve the time between buses?  Or reduce the number the buses needed?  I wonder if some fancy signal prioritization and dedicated space could make buses much more practical even in a suburb.

The Bellevue library is nice – big and new and shiny.  It’s about twice as far as Kirkland for us, and definitely further than Redmond as well.  While it has almost the same elevation change, it’s spread out much more nicely.  In fact, I could see choosing to go there for this reason.  Unfortunately, it isn’t going to happen anytime soon by bike for us.  There is a brief stretch of downtown that would be uncomfortable.  I suppose the sidewalks would work for that distance but only if they were pretty much empty.  The 12th St bridge has a wide pathway on the north.  Going home, we could use the crosswalk and turn left onto 116th.  Going to the library, supposedly they are going to improve the turn onto the path.  116th itself is currently scary (no bike facilities at all), but there is a project to change that.  Unfortunately, the idea of affecting the level of service (LOS – a vehicle-only measure) is a blocker to doing anything in Bellevue, so there will be mid-block bike lanes with scary intersections at both ends.  Then there’s a short stretch of Northup, which is also scary but has a project.  This is a major project, not just a restriping, and unfortunately it will only be (unprotected) bike lanes on a busy road.  And since it is major, it won’t be further improved for a long time.  Opportunity lost!  116th Ave on our side of Northup is mixed.  Southbound (downhill), there are no bike facilities, which works for racers, but not a family ride.  Northbound (uphill) has a bike lane.  The Bellevue portion has a gravel path which is nice for running; the Kirkland half is sketchy for pedestrians.  After that we can get home on residential streets.

It was a pleasant enough run back home.  With some material for a future post…

Michelle’s errandonnee #12-13

My last errand was the most exciting, but first, another trip to the barn.

Errand #12: going for a ride (on my horse)

Possible category: personal care

Distance: 2 miles (cumulative: enough)

Kids toted: 0

Observations: I don’t usually ride on Saturday morning, but when I do, I find it interesting that I see some of my same regulars as during the week. Also, I forgot to take a picture, but it would have looked just like the first errand.

Errand #13: New bike day!

Possible categories: store, “you carried what?”

Distance: 7.5 miles (cumulative: enough)

Kids toted: 1, and zero for part of it

Observations: I took our 6yo down to the bike shop to pick up her new bike, complete with hand brakes and gears! We are hoping the gears will expand her range, and so far so good. She rode it on the flat trails around Redmond, then I towed her bike up the steepest and most car-heavy parts of the trip. When we got closer to home where the rest of the trip was on neighborhood streets, she got back on her bike and rode it the rest of the way home, including up a pretty steep hill by the middle school. I am so proud 🙂

We got these last two errands in just in time, as the stomach flu ended our errandonnee, yuck.

Mark’s #errundonnee Day 12

[Day 10 errand-less run, Day 11 off]

For the final day of the 2015 Errandonnee, I decided that one trip to the library wasn’t enough so I did it again.  There were fewer books to return this time:

The return load, which is more important since it goes up the hill, was about the same.  This was a much easier run, however, and taking the pile of books home with relatively fresh legs was much better:

In between, however, I went across the street to The French Bakery for a chocolate croissant then I ran down to Marina Park (with pictures of some bike racks for the twitter feed).  It was a beautiful day:

and the croissant handled the jog down the street just fine:

And that closes my Erunndonnee.  Now I just need to put a control card together.

Mark’s #errundonnee Day 9

[Day 7 errand-less workout, Day 8 off]

After a few days away from running errands, I’m back.  I started with yet another pass by the 520 trail crossing of NE 40th St.  Yesterday (March 12th), I arrived by bike to find the crossing just flat-out closed.  The only options were to hop the plants and curb around the construction and kind of near the crosswalk or to head down the sidewalk.  At the next intersection, there isn’t even a crosswalk to support getting back to the 520 trail, so it’s either 3 crosswalks or some kind of crosswalk to vehicle transition.  Or keep going and take roads.  None of these are real alternatives.  If people are to depend on protected infrastructure, then it’s got to be something like this: convert the southern-most lane of 51st into a protected route to 150th and convert a lane down it as well.  Or find a way to support the trail crossing at all stages of construction.

Today I was pleasantly surprised to see the trail back open.  However, curb openings were in the wrong places for crossing, so part of the road was closed to support walking/biking back to the crosswalk.  On the south side, this meant the right turn lane was closed and the 3 lane wide on-ramp was reduced to 2 lanes, which provided enough space for the 2 lanes of traffic that use it.  (Shortly after the entrance it widens to 3 and 4 lanes for the HOV lane and bus stop, but none of the directions feed the on-ramp with 3 lanes.)  While crossing 6 lanes of 40th is still a lot, the sharper turns due to the closures made for a remarkable difference from 8 higher-speed lanes, both on foot and then on my return commute by bike.

Next I ran to the Uwajimaya in Bellevue.  Yes, unfortunately it’s in Bellevue and designed for cars, so driving would be miserable and biking dangerous.  In fact, not only is it near NE 8th St., but 120th Ave. NE is much worse than it used to be due to widening which probably now qualifies it as a stroad:

They did provide a bike lane, but as it approaches 8th, poof:

which is the same mistake that is being made in the 116th rechannelization.  Of course, this area would need significant changes to the intersection at 8th (and 8th itself), and without those, there probably aren’t any options.

Back to the errands: I had crossed 8th a bit to the east where it’s a little calmer and looped around to approach from the south.  This wasn’t too bad (on foot).  Crossing the parking lot was ok.  And then I had my soy sauce.  Coming back out of the parking lot, I noticed the Big Apple Bagels and picked up a chocolate muffin.  As with a previous trip, I probably wouldn’t have made this stop by car since I wouldn’t have noticed it until I had given up my parking spot.  Sadly, the run with all of these goods was only a block as I picked up a bus ride to complete the trip.  But, the obligatory “after-transport” photo:

The intersection with 8th was also under construction, and it was done well:

In the end, running to the store and busing away worked quite well for this one.

Mark’s #errundonnee Day 3

Saturday morning is often my chance for a longer run, and that held true today.  Conveniently (or not, depending on how one looks at these things), we were also due for a library stop.  So I hatched the plan of a run to the library with a drop-off, some miles unencumbered by books, another stop at the library for a pick-up, and a last segment back home.

First sight on the way:

This has actually been a recent topic of conversation here.  It turns out that without an explicit “no parking” sign, there is no Washington state or city of Kirkland law prohibiting parking in a bike lane.  I’ve been told that Washington Bikes has been looking into the effects of a new state law declaring bike lanes as actual lanes.  One good effect is that it should automatically take care of this case.

Other than that, it’s an easy downhill run to the library (hmm, where is this going) for the drop-off:

I headed north from downtown Kirkland because it’s further away from home.  Also, I generally avoid downtown Kirkland, so this let me get to Juanita more directly than usual, which meant an easier opportunity for some running Strava segments up there (which is completely Michelle’s fault for suggesting it a few months ago, though it has been a mixed experience).  However, this gives me an excuse to claim “personal care”.  Yeah, that’s it.

Unfortunately, Juanita Village always makes me a bit sad.  It’s one of these (sub)urban villages.  Or perhaps a “European Village setting“?  It doesn’t have a grocery store.  So it’s great that it has several shops close together, including a bunch of restaurants, but it doesn’t have the most important thing.  I guess the Walgreen’s carries some food, and who doesn’t like crossing five lanes to a convenience store:

even with the off-photo mid-block crossing.  Of course people are always complaining about parking there, but it’s not a surprise when the businesses aren’t covering the local needs and everyone needs to drive to/from there.  But hey, it has two banks.  Anyways, after a solid effort partway up Juanita Drive, which would be a nice climb if it weren’t a terrible road, it was time to go back to the library, where this awaited me:

17 books, 16 pounds, 2 miles, and 400 feet of elevation gain.  About halfway back, I saw two long-abandoned campaign signs in a ditch.  Since (1) they’re now garbage needing to be cleared, (2) I might soon need materials for bike fenders, and (3) why the heck not since I already had 17 books on my back, I brought them home too:

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Off-day tomorrow (probably some walking and biking) and back at it on Monday.

More strange cargo

I transport most things to/from my office by bicycle and only a minimal set of things when I run.  What goes in the running belt?  On this day: my phone, trusty commute wallet:

and of course some lettuce:

Cargo Bike as Cargo

We won’t have much in the way of bike adventures this week, because the big bike is in the shop getting a custom chain guard for the Stokemonkey. I’ve wanted one from the beginning, but we got the bike in the early summer (after the nicest spring I can remember) and didn’t want to wait any longer. So I figured we could take it in during the dead of winter. Of course it’s been the warmest and driest winter I can remember, so it’s been plenty nice enough for biking.

One drawback of being in the suburbs is that the bike stuff is all in Seattle. So if the bike needs work that our local recreationally-focused shops can’t provide (for example, custom metalwork!), it’s either a very long ride or car transport. The last time the bike went somewhere, we borrowed a pickup. This time, I really wanted to make a rack on our car work.

We own a regular hitch-mounted rack. I’ve heard of people putting longtail cargo bikes on those, but I’ve also heard not to do it. We figured we might as well try it. Is it really longer than the car is wide? First we compared the bike to the garage door. Our family-hauler truck is nearly as wide as the door. We have to fold the mirrors in to clear it. And you thought power-folding mirrors were a silly feature! (we did too…)


So we tried the bike on the rack, and indeed, it sticks out past the car. Worse, it’s so back-heavy with the motor that it wouldn’t balance on the rack. So that won’t work.


Mark is holding the front end down


We borrowed a vertical tandem rack made by Draftmaster. This particular rack holds a tandem by the fork in the middle, and can also hold two regular bikes on the sides. The tandem that it regularly carries is 60-70 lb, so we figured the one electric cargo bike would be okay. You can lower the whole rack to mount the bike, and then raise it to be closer to the car. In the lower position, I (at 5’2″) can just reach the fork mount while standing on a stool.

And… it worked! We wheeled the bike right up to the rack before taking off the front wheel (ripping the wires out of the dynamo hub in the process, argh). We lifted the front end of the bike up and set it on its rear rack. Mark lifted the bike (a second person to lift would have helped tremendously) and I guided the fork in place and screwed the skewer down. It took a few tries because I’m terrible with screws (sorry, Mark!). We lifted the bike + rack into place and gazed at it.


are we nuts?

Would this really work? Can we really drive on the freeway this way? We took some measurements, and the highest point was just less than 10′. You see low clearance signs for 13′ and 14’… which implies that regular clearance must be higher than that. This doesn’t even really look much higher than a bike mounted to a roof rack.

The other option was to get the bike down, and for Mark to start riding. It was around 16 miles to Cyclefab, and involved riding through Bellevue, across the I-90 bridge (which does have a bike/pedestrian path), and through unfamiliar parts of Seattle. And I’d have to drive over to pick him up anyway.

So we took a break, walked to the hardware store for some ratchet straps, the grocery store for groceries, and then home for lunch. And the bike didn’t fall off, so we went back out to strap it down.


strap is bolted to the tray and looped around the downtube


Blue ratchet strap is wrapped around the attachments for regular bikes on both sides, and looped under another vertical part of the frame.


I took a slow cruise around the block, and headed off to Seattle.


crazy contraption got even crazier

It stuck out 4.5′ past the end of the car, so we strapped a reflective vest to the rearmost point.

I took surface streets to Bellevue, because I was still nervous. I’m sure cargo bikes don’t have guardian angels, but I was sure asking for help from mine! Through the rear window I could see the rack move with every bump in the road. The first potential obstacle was the overhead wires near Bridle Trails State Park, but the wires looked about twice as high as the SUVs around, so I would be fine. Then we went under SR-520, which looked about triple the height of the other SUVs. In Bellevue, I got on I-405. In the exit lane for I-90 a cement mixer truck pulled up behind me – clearly higher than my load. Okay, I got this!

Even so, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to get off the freeway.

For an unassisted cargo bike without a big basket, this rack would be a totally reasonable way to go. I’m sure we’ll end up transporting our bike again this way, but probably not often.

units of rationalization

Last week we had some sick kids, so Mark and I went to Mass separately. As I was gathering my things to ride my little bike to church, Mark told me that they were selling wreaths there. We’d been meaning to buy one for a few weeks, but given that we’d had only $9 cash between us for months, hadn’t managed to yet. And the conversation went something like this:

“How am I going to carry a wreath on my bike? I need some bungee cords. Where are the bungee cords? Oh, this is ridiculous, I’m going to be late, I’ll just take the big bike.”

“They are selling units of rationalization at church today.”

“Hey, you saw me! I really was going to take my little bike!”


a wreath fits perfectly in the bag