Thursday, April 29, 2010


There's something really lovely about being ridiculously backlogged in a blog that is about active living.  "Get outside!" I say.  "Go ride your bike!"  And then I do, and then I eat, nurse, and sleep.  And then the blog gets neglected.  No apologies, but as I sit here and tickle Jasper and stretch my aching hamstrings, I'll try to tell you a story.

About a month ago, before Tacoma, we took advantage of some beautiful weather to have an adventure.  We could have just gone exploring, but we like trips with destinations (and needed an excuse to get it together) so we set our sights on that great Scandinavian edifice to the north, Ikea.

We actually started the morning with a smaller trip: out for brunch at Zell's, by F. H. Steinbart for some brewing equipment and some hop rhizomes, and then by the Urban Farm Store to pick up some seeds for the garden and contemplate tomato staking methods.  Before we headed home from there, we had to change the baby:


Next, I did some planting and some weeding, and then, later than we should have, we restocked the diaper bag, grabbed the cargo straps, and rolled out for Ikea.

Now, it is possible to get nearly all the way from our place to Ikea via off-street trails, but it adds a significant amount of milage to the trip-- increasing from 10 to 17 miles each way, or from a 20-mile to a 34-mile roundtrip.  So we opted to ride the first half of our adventure on bike boulevard, a trip that took us farther east than we'd ever biked in town before.

I was surprised by how rapidly the infrastructure deteriorates as you head east: roads badly in need of maintenance, poorly-designed crossings, and above all, an increase in scary large vehicles driven by people who either don't know or don't care about our right to the road.  But that said, it's still Portland, and we didn't have any particularly ugly run-ins on the trip.  And I was reminded of how much I love being in the parts of the city where you can see Mt. Hood:


We made it safely to the highway 205 bike path and headed north. We'd not yet been on that path, and were surprised to learn that while it looks pretty smooth on the maps, it in fact zigs and zags a bit, and is less well-labeled than one might hope for... and eventually, we missed our turn entirely and could see, but not seem to reach, the big blue-and-yellow box that was our destination.

We also found the Columbia River and a nice view of Mt. St. Helens, and so took some pictures before stopping to regroup, nurse, and get our bearings:

P1010925 P1010928

It was at this point that the previously-sleeping Jasper awoke and announced his need for immediate attention, and I snatched him up rather abruptly and took off down an embankment to nurse with some shelter from the highway noise. Dave creatively solved the problem of joining us without abandoning either bike on the trail:


After everyone had a snack and Jasper had his second outdoor diaper change of the day, we re-re-checked the map and figured out how to get from the river to Ikea, along a road that cut along the back edge of the airport.


We were the only bike there, but there was no shortage of bike parking should anyone, or a hundred anyones, suddenly decide to join us.



Creative bench placement:

Shopping carts impersonating bikes:

And with that, we locked up the bike and engaged in a bit of mainstream consumerism.

I try to be very specific about the stuff that we bring into the house.  I'm uncomfortable with the assumed disposable-ness of things, and I try to buy only what we need, and of a quality that will last.  I spend a lot of time on craigslist and in second-hand stores trying to buy the things we want used so that new materials don't need to go into them.


Sometimes, even a quasi-minimalist lifestyle needs stuff; with a baby in the house doubly so.  What did we pick up on our Ikea quest?  Mirror tiles, art, and a rug for Jasper's play spaces.  Some child-proofing gear for the toddling phase to come.  And some new canisters for the kitchen.  So: lots of glass, and some hefty cotton.  You know: dense, heavy things.

The bike was notably harder to move when we loaded and started back.  And a stiff headwind had blown up.

Jasper was fussy as we started home.  A change and nurse didn't fix it.


Singing loudly and continuously helped a bit, but was hard to sustain with the exertion.

I was really, really tired, and after a few miles Dave and I switched bikes so that he could haul for a bit and I could rest.  (Note to self: I am not a single speed sort of girl.)

Jasper continued to fuss and cry as his bedtime came and went, and the gathering darkness was also raising our stress level.

And then I crashed.  But that's a whole other story, really.


Jim said...

Nice story with great photos.

I like posting about everyday trips on bikes because although sometimes I hesitate to post my stories as it is so ordinary to me, most people would never consider doing the same thing because of their unfounded anti bike prejudices - Too far, too dangerous, too difficult.... at least they can see that it is possible.

And thanks, it is great to see that I am not the only nutcase hauling their kids around the county by bike. Makes me feel less lonely !

Mr Colostomy said...

I have done the old IKEA run a few times on the Mundo. Luck for me it is uphill from where I live so when I came back one time with a pair of Billy bookcases the journey was far from slow. It made me glad I put disc brakes on the Yuba though.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Your blog is wonderful.
Are there many electric assist bikes in Portland, and what do you think about them?
I have a company provided car as I am in sales. I am required to pay $100 per month for personal use whether I use it or not. My husband has a car, and a 20 mile each way work commute, plus he uses his car to drive our 15 and 17 year olds to wherever.
When our oldest got her license, we told her she could use her dad's car (she is not allowed by my company to use the company car, although my husband can) on the weekends, etc. We wanted to avoid the cost of buying another car.
Part of this plan involves me using my Brompton to get around on the weekends so both cars are available and no one will complain. I have a cycle-tote bare trailer that I use for groceries or other shopping.
I am 51 and not in great shape, but I hope my non-work time biking will help me lose weight and get stronger over time.
There is one hill in my neighborhood I have to tackle to make it to shopping or the library, and at this time I just walk up it as I can't ride up it.
I saw that there is is now an option to add an electric assist to the Brompton. At this time I don't need it, but my company will be reorganizing and I think there is a 50% chance I will lose my job/company car in the next 18 months. At that point I would try to make it totally with the Brompton, and for me to get to a bus stop is 6 miles, almost all uphill.
I absolutely love my Brompton. The reason I got it originally was because my oldest got tall enough to take over my bike, so we needed to buy another adult bike. We usually take our bikes to Maine every other year on vacation, and 4 adult bikes won't fit on the back of our Prius, only 3 will. The Brompton just rides in the hatchback.
The Brompton is very comfortable to ride, and I fold it up and take it into stores with me. I find biking is just so relaxing. It takes my hectic life and turns it upside down and puts it into a slower motion that I absolutely love.
I would like to know what you wear when biking in the rain. I see rain capes on the internet, and I am thinking about going with that.
Keep updating as your time allows, and you have a beautiful baby.
Lynne in MD

centrallyisolated said...

Cute pics! I did the Ikea run a few times on my bike as well, although only for little stuff -- I have unhappy memories of this trip, though, because I managed to pop a tire both times I went out there! I hope the twisty path bits by the highway are less glassy than they were a few years back :) The trail that runs behind the airport was one of my favorite to bike, though. Airplanes on one side, water on the other, me on my bike!

She Rides a Bike said...

I try not be a super consumer but if we had an Ikea it would be a struggle. Now that is is front porch season Bob and I will be heading to World Market to stock up on wine and exotic goodies from the gourmet section.

Jasper is such a cutie, BTW. How natural he going to feel on two wheels once he old enough.