Saturday, April 30, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: Here, Now

Today marks the 30th day of the #30daysofbiking. Imposing a constraint, like riding every day or pledging to post a daily blog entry and picture, imposes a certain structure. These are not epic journeys or novel-length meditations on the meaning of travel.

I have made something in these past thirty days, something that a GPS would render as a series of small squiggles, never moving farther than 18 miles from a spot in a valley, at the base of some mountain, with a lake to the north. The map calls that dot Issaquah. I call it home.

Add up all the squiggly lines and the number in miles in this month and call it 257. Measure it in terms of speed and you find a lot more stopping than going, a lot more "hey look at this" than "hey let's go there." What I stop to photograph or remember is probably not the same as what someone else would notice, even if that someone else is me and the day is tomorrow or yesterday. But here, now, it's the me that's here and now.

And so I roll and stop and take some pictures.

Tomorrow is another day, another month. Tomorrow will be different but today I do not know what that difference will be.

Today I ride my bike, take my pictures and post this very small story.

Tomorrow I will find out what tomorrow is.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Friday, April 29, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: Will You Ride With Sophie?

I'm headed out soon to do my daily ride. Today I'm going to the bank and the grocery store because I need money & groceries (duh!). Since this is part of the 30 days of biking, I'll take my camera since I've been documenting each day's ride. Maybe I'll see something cool but it probably won't be as cool as this awesome campaign that the Cascade Bicycle Club just launched. Check it out at:

Huge kudos to the folks at Cascade for coming up with and creating the "Will You Ride With Sophie?" video. It is brilliant and the "your movement is our movement" tagline is also spot on. It's fun, it's positive, it's joyful. It's positively joyful!

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Thursday, April 28, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: Urbana, Hauler of Maps

I had a U.S. Bike Routes meeting this afternoon with my friends Barb and Louise at the Bicycle Alliance in Seattle so I rode the Urbana into Seattle. One of the things I do in my various bike advocate roles is give various people King County bike maps, so I took advantage of the hauling capacity of the Urbana to lug 300 bike maps back to Issaquah. When I got home, I weighed the two boxes. It turns out 300 bike maps weigh about 34 pounds. I guess that explains why it took longer to get back to Issaquah than it did to ride to Seattle.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: Urbana, Eater of Potholes

The single best word to describe the Urbana is "tough". This isn't a bike you pamper, this is a bike you use. The big tires handle smooth pavement, rough pavement or no pavement with casual indifference. In rain & mud, the bike keeps going. With a big load on the back the bike handles basically the same as it does unloaded. In weeks of riding, I've never had to adjust the brakes or the shifting. This is a bike you just hop on and ride.

The 26*2.6" Niddepoule tires are the key to this bike, it was designed with the clearances needed to handle such big tires and fenders. When my friend Hughie rode the bike he commented that it "rode like a 29er!" Indeed those massive tires make the Urbana eat up terrain in much the same way a 29 inch wheeled mountain bike does. In fact, the tires on the Urbana are even fatter than those on my Octocog. And the Urbana is just as tough (possibly tougher) than any mountain bike I've ridden.

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: Stopping in the Swampland

It's misty and damp, but not raining. The mountains hold the fog and rather than go up I stay low, rolling where the streets and sidewalks shine in grey light. I could say I have nowhere I need to go but because of odd rules I've imposed on myself, I need to go somewhere.

I turn from street to path to trail and onto the wooden path across the swampland, the drainage less defined than the creek. Water seeps and soaks here and life is thick and tangled. On warmer days there would be a buzz of insects, a croaking of frogs, a chirping of birds, but this morning it is cool and quiet as moss.

I think about being a plant, rooted for a lifetime in a single spot. I wonder if insects think their lives are brief. I think how water flows, slow or fast, down as it accumulates, up as it evaporates.

I think about how I accumulate inertia until it becomes a critical mass that must manifest itself in momentum, how motion rolls me until I find someplace else to rest.

I do not linger long here, but the stop this morning is long enough.

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Monday, April 25, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: So what's your hurry?

The rain is falling lightly and this morning's mission is a mere meander. I don't go very far or fast but there is no where else that I need to be, so I have time to look around. I like what I see.

Willie Nelson is one of my favorite philosophers and I think he makes a lot of sense when he writes:
"If your life in this modern world seems to pass you by at the speed of light, perhaps you should consult Einstein, that the faster we travel, the more time is compressed. That's right, the faster we go, the less time we have. So what's your hurry?"
Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Sunday, April 24, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: Upper Grand Ridge Trail

Grand Ridge Park is a wonderful bit of green land that is just a few pedal strokes from my door. This morning I ride the Octocog up the Issaquah-Fall City Road and turn right at the upper portion of the Grand Ridge Trail.

Great trails like this don't just happen, people work hard to make them. The Washington Trails Association has work parties where you can get involved and make a difference. The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance has work parties as well. Trail work is fun and as I've noted before, quite rewarding. Trails like Grand Ridge are one of the many rewards of such work.

Of course, there's still some work to be done.

I tend to be the guy who has to see where the smaller trail goes, so I check out the less-improved spur trail that winds up popping me out on the pavement at 280th Drive.

I point the Octocog down the hill and head for home. I'll ride the lower part of the Grand Ridge Trail another day.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Saturday, April 23, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: Issaquah Farmers Market

I work on the weekends, so I usually miss the Issaquah Farmers Market but I rode over to the Pickering Barn this early this morning and saw the various vendors setting up. Riding back by the creek, I saw three deer grazing.

It's a great, blue sky day in the Pacific Northwest. I hope everybody gets out to enjoy the sun.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Friday, April 22, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: Don't you care about the planet?

Today is Earth Day and Starbucks is giving free drip coffee or tea to folks who bring their own reusable mugs, so I hopped on my little red bike with my reusable mug and rode over to Starbucks. Now you can say this is a cynical ploy on the part of Starbucks to sell pumpkin bread & donuts & reusable mugs and other stuff while greenwashing their image or you can view it as a little bit that maybe makes a little bit of difference. I'm honestly not sure which is true. All I know is I'm drinking their coffee & eating their pumpkin bread as I type this.

There are certainly people who are far better environmental stewards of the planet than I am and I'm also sure there are some that are making a far greater impact, for good or ill, than I will. Does my riding a bike instead of driving make a difference? A bit. Does my drinking from a reusable mug (that I don't remember to take every day) make a difference? Maybe another bit.

Often, when I look at my reusable mug, I think of Aaron Goss. A lot of words can and have been used to describe Aaron and one of the more printable ones is "intense". You don't have to be around Aaron very long to know what he thinks. I first met Aaron and wound up working with him back when we both got involved with the opening of the Seattle Bike Station (now the Seattle Bike Port). In one of our early (perhaps first) conversations Aaron spotted a disposable coffee cup in my hand. "Man, don't you care about the planet?" he asked very loudly and pointedly. I soon learned this was kind of Aaron's signature style. God help the customer who comes into his shop and says something like "I'm looking for a bike rack for the back of my Ford Excursion."

Aaron and I agree on many things and one of the things we wound up agreeing on after a short time was that we shouldn't be working together. We may have similar goals, but our paths are quite different. I tend to believe that helping the Excursion owner get a rack is a better approach than berating their vehicle choice.

While I like to think my approach to advocacy is effective, I have to grant that Aaron does make an impact. Looking back at it, I think Aaron was the catalyst that led me to reusable mug ownership. And there are times when a little rant just feels great.

A few years ago, I was at the Seattle Bike Swap. This is one of the premier events for bike nerds in Seattle. Everybody was there with old frames and parts and boxes of stuff. We'd orbit around, seeing what everybody had and catch up with old friends. As I'm walking past the crowded tables, I see a familiar face. But something is wrong, very wrong. "Aaron," I yell very loudly, "what the hell are you doing?" Aaron Goss is there, drinking coffee from a disposable cup. Everybody stares at me like I'm insane and then looks at Aaron. I continue "Don't you care about the planet?" "I...I...I forgot my cup," Aaron explains, looking at the paper cup with shame. I keep the rant up for a few more seconds, "you can't remember a cup to save the planet..." and then we both wind up laughing.

Does one mug or one bike ride make a difference to the planet? Well, we are all connected so everything does make a difference. Do what you can to keep things rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Thursday, April 21, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: African Bike Ambulance

My own day 21 of #30DaysofBiking story was a pleasant, albeit uneventful, trip to the grocery store. Rather than bore you with that, I present you with this little bit of email, forwarded to me by my friends at the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.


From: JoAnn Yoshimoto
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 8:08 AM
To: All Staff
Subject: New Purpose for Unclaimed Bikes

Here is what an ambitious healthcare worker was able to do with one of the abandoned bikes that was shipped to South Africa by Bicycle for Humanity – Seattle Chapter.


From: Gail Pohlman
Sent: Sunday, April 17, 2011 8:23 AM
To: Fulvio Pace; Pat Montani; Frank Finneran
Subject: Ndumo ambulance

In addition to helping with the BE program in Ndumo I am a volunteer (nurse) at the public clinic. Earlier this week I noticed that someone had converted their bicycle into an ambulance in order to bring someone into the clinic that was unable to walk the distance to the clinic. Just thought you would enjoy the photos.

Gail Pohlman
United States Peace Corps Volunteer
Ndumo Community
KZN, South Africa



**** UPDATE. See MzunguEriki's excellent comment. It is almost certain that this particular bike didn't come from Seattle. Hundreds are shipped over there, but this one looks like it came from India. ****

Bicycles can and do change lives.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: Along the Lake & the River

Today I rode north to the Totem Lake area of Kirkland to have lunch with my old friend from my software days, Matt Campbell. As I worked my way toward Redmond, I saw a deer headed down to the lake for a drink.

Lunch and conversation at the Brown Bag Cafe were great, but the Brown Bag is located in probably the least photogenic part of Kirkland, the auto-centric strip-malled area known as Totem Lake, so I don't take any pictures and instead navigate the traffic doing my impersonation of a Portlandian going "cars, man, why?"

On the way back home, I detour off the river trail to stop at the Redmond Library and score a couple of books for a grand total of $2.50 from the Friends of the Library sale shelf.

I'll enjoy the trail while I can, but signs inform me that portions of it will be closed for much of the year. I know there is also construction planned for the Issaquah end of the trail as well.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: More Pictures from the Issaquah Trails

I'm having fun showing off my town in these pictures. The red caboose on Gilman Boulevard has has been the home to several businesses over the years. It is currently a barber shop but I've sometimes thought it would be a good location for little bike rental business since it is at the southern end of the Lake Sammamish Trail.

Whenever somebody tells me I'm lucky to live here I agree with them, but I also point out that a lot of work goes into that luck. A few years ago, I was asked to speak at the dedication of one of these trails. I closed my remarks by paraphrasing Bruce Springsteen:
"When it comes to luck, we make our own
we've got dirt on our hands, but we're building a home."
I think Issaquah is a pretty damn nice home.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Monday, April 18, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: Boehm's Candies and Dean's Sweets

My commitment to the #30DaysofBiking has renewed my sense of wonder and I've been using these daily mini-missions to head out and document some of the the interesting things that are only a short bike ride away. This morning I hop on my trusty red Dahon and ride over to my local candy factory, Boehm's Candies. Yes, I live in a town with a candy factory. Yes, that is as cool as it sounds.

The factory is amazing. Julius Boehm built the chalet and gardens here because the Issaquah foothills reminded him of Switzerland. The factory is a small chalet and the factory grounds are a small park with statues, gardens and a chapel.

You can take a self-guided window tour of the factory anytime during business hours and guided tours are available in the summer. It's an interesting place to visit anytime and early in the morning before things open up, the gardens are quiet and peaceful.

The art and the greenery and all the rest is are nice but it is the chocolates and the other confections that make the whole place possible. And they are wonderful. If chocolate holds any place in your heart, sometime you should follow your heart to Boehm's in Issaquah.

Disclaimer: I get absolutely no kick-back or free chocolate from Boehm's. This glowing review is heartfelt. However, if they want to give me some chocolate at any time, I sure won't turn them down!

And that reminds me, there is a great chocolatier on the other side of the country (Portland ME) and he did send me some awesome chocolates. Dean Bingham is a fellow cyclist and chocolater who raises money for the M.S. Society. Dean sent me a sample box of his truffles and some chocolate-covered bacon buttercrunch and they were awesome. The maple and the salt-caramel truffles were extra-special awesome.

So, to recap, if you're anywhere near Issaquah, go to Boehm's. If you're in Portland Maine, go to Deans Sweets. And if you're near a computer the websites are:


And if you worry about the calories in those chocolates, you can burn them off by riding your bike.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA