Friday, January 01, 2010

Seattle Cargo Bike Ride


Some cyclists are pure minimalists, their machines are stripped of every extraneous gram. And then there are the cargo folks, whose motto is "sure, bring it along, we've got room."

On the first morning of the new year, I ride north out of Issaquah as the morning light comes over the Cascades. I take the long way to Seattle, up through Redmond and along the north end of the lake. It's a damp, breezy day and there aren't a lot of cyclists out, even though it's what Aaron Goss calls "the first day of biking season." There are a lot of runners on the trail north of Marymoor and a lot of them have numbers on. I figure they are running some kind of New Year's Day event.

I'm headed for another event, the Seattle Cargo Bike Ride. When both Val and Aaron made sure to invite me, I knew I had to go even though my own philosophy these days is something like "if I can't haul it up a mountain on a single speed bike, I can probably do without it." Val assured me I'd fit right in with the cargo crowd and have a great time.

It turns out that, as usual, Val is right. I tend to be overly punctual for these things, so I do a quick orbit of Green Lake, something I realize I'd never actually done in all my years of living in the Seattle area. As I come back around to the basketball courts, I see Val pulling up on his Fuji. The Fuji is Val's "light" bike, where light is a relative term and that relativity is distorted by the massive gravitational pull of his "heavy" bike, the Dread Nought. By the standards of this day, Val's bike and mine are bantam-weights.

I can't even try to list everybody and their bikes and in many ways the pictures speak for themselves. Carl's rig gets the most comments. It's an old Swiss Army bike (there's more to the Swiss than just fine watches and clever red knives) and he's towing a long trailer originally designed to carry casualties from the battlefield. Today he's carrying wood, an ax and a collapsible pot-bellied stove. Other folks have more conventional trailers with more conventional cargo, carrying things like children.

We roll slowly from Green Lake to Golden Gardens and I do mean slowly. At one point a jogger passes us but today is about fun and carrying capacity, not speed. We stop for even more supplies at the Ballard Fred Meyer store and roll into the deteriorating weather.

The wind at the beach at Golden Gardens is fierce but once Val and Carl get the charcoal grill and wood-stove going, we have a fighting chance against the chill. And we have huge amounts of food. I'd brought things that could be eaten cold, things like summer sausage, cheese, crackers and Peanut Butter Cups. The others brought things like bacon and eggs, clam chowder, hot cider and coffee. Of course, even traveling relatively light, I did have the good sense to bring my own mug of coffee.


photo courtesy of Val Kleitz

Despite (or perhaps because of) the weather, the picnic is extremely fun. We all get to gawk at the woman who polar bear swims in the sound and watch the sailboat captains realize this is a better day to be in port. Megan explains the vegan fake-bacon cooked in real bacon fat is really, really good and still vegan in some homeopathic sort of way. We get to find out that if a tree falls in the forest and there's a bunch of cyclists around to hear it, it makes one heck of a racket.

Val's pictures from the day are here and I've included a slide show of my photos at the bottom of this post.




Keep 'em rolling,

Kent
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