After following the Totcycle
blog for a couple of years, I finally had a chance to join his Kidical Mass ride last week. The occasion was the grand opening of the Ship Canal Trial
. It’s a great piece of bike infrastructure as it lets people get from Magnolia and the Ballard Locks to the Fremont bridge, without having to take a confusing and not-particularly friendly interchange near the Ballard Bridge.
The forcast was for chilly, with a possibility of rain and/or snow. Chilly by Seattle standards, of course, which translates to 35-40F (2-4C). I hadn’t taken Spencer for a winter ride before, and I was a little concerned about how to dress him. I started digging through the closet to find last year’s winter gear. The snow pants fit great, but were probably unnecessary. Tried to find toques without pompom that would fit under bike helmets. The good mitts were left at karate class. And Spencer’s winter coat looked awfully short in the sleeves. This is when I began to feel like a lousy mother and a lousy Canadian. Didn’t I know that winter was coming? Has it ever skipped a year? In the end, the best solution was to wear last year’s coat and a warm pair of my mitts that were long enough to cover his wrist, even with the somewhat too short sleeves. Extra sweaters, scarfs and toques were added, I packed the pannier, and we were ready to roll.
When we got to the end of the driveway, it became clear that I had overreacted and we were both terribly overdressed. So, we stopped to strip off layers, and my pannier was then stuffed with fleece for the rest of the day. Still, I’m glad we had the mitts and scarf – little bodies get cold quickly. Especially, when they don’t help much with the pedaling. Finally, we were on our way and were only a little bit late to our meeting place at the Ballard Library.
|Spencer was ready to go.
Despite the chilly weather, there was a great turnout. I didn’t get a complete head count, but suspect it must have been about 40 people. And the bikes! There were at least three Madsens, one Bakfiet, a couple of trailers and two trail-a-bikes. Clearly, this was a very bikey crowd.
We rode west on NW 57th St., one of our candidates for a neighborhood greenway. It’s always fun riding with such a big group. We can chat with folks, admire the different bikes and swap stories. Of course we’re still careful about traffic, but we don’t really have to worry about visibility with a group of this size! We took 28th Ave NW and then Market St. to the Ballard Locks, where we had to dismount to cross the canal. There is no denying that this was a production. The walkways across the locks are relatively narrow – there’s just enough room for a bike and pedestrian to cross each other. A group of cargo and family bikes takes a long time to cross. Fortunately, traffic was very light – there aren’t many tourists out on a chilly November morning.
The locks were still pumped dry for their annual maintenance. We could see a few folks working away at the bottom, which gives a sense of how big it really is. The barnacles clinging to the wall were starting to get rather stinky by this point. It didn’t seem to bother the crows and gulls, though – they were still enjoying their sushi.
|See the three white dots? Those are the workers in their white hard hats.
After many photos and three separate bathroom breaks, we were finally ready to continue on our way. We rode along Commodore Way and through Fisherman’s Terminal. It’s a light industrial area without a bike lane, but the road is relatively wide and there was hardly any traffic. We arrived under the Ballard Bridge just in time for the opening ceremony. A good sized crowd of cyclists and walkers had gathered by this time.
Peter Hahn, the head of SDOT, gave a speech and cut the ribbon with very big pair of scissors.
However, for our group, the big attraction was Julian’s thermos of hot apple cider to warm those chilly fingers.
Before too long, we were on our way. I don’t have any photos of the new trail, yet, but there’s a nice one here. It’s a pleasant ride that I’ll definitely check out again and will be my preferred route between the Pier 91 trail and the Fremont Bridge. However, there is a rather annoying double 2-curve to cross the train tracks. I know they need to slow bike traffic down and direct folks to cross at a right angle, but this really seems excessive. Still, it’s a minor flaw in an otherwise great trail.
After crossing back across the Fremont Bridge, we split up to get food and then met again at the Fremont Brewery. This was my first time there, and I’m delighted to discover such a cool place. It’s a local microbrewery which makes absolutely delicious beer. It’s a tasting room, not a full-fledged bar and they don’t sell food, but allow you to bring your own it. It’s really a big room with picnic tables at one end and big, shiny vats at the other, but seemed cosy and friendly. It’s also remarkably family-friendly – they even have a couple of baskets of toys! Only in Seattle. Sadly, I have no good photos from this part of the trip, so you’ll have to take my word for it until you can go there yourself.
After food, a beer and lots of chatting and tracking down stray children, it was time to go. We’d had a full day and I knew we were in the pre-melt down phase. Plus, Spencer was getting tired too. We weren’t the only ones who’d had enough. Thirty seconds earlier, this little guy had been flopped over the edge of his bucket seat. If only I’d been able to get my camera out earlier…..
It was a great group and a terrific ride. I hope we can do it again soon! And I did buy my son a new winter coat the next day.