On having bikes that work…

Soooo, we bought another bike. Two, actually!

Once we moved to Seattle, it became immediately clear that the bikes we already owned would not work here. The hills are far steeper than we imagined, and on the off chance that we got overly ambitious and tried to go for a bike ride, we ended up walking our single speed bikes up the hills and arrived at the top sweaty and exhausted. We didn’t realize how lucky we were to have lived in one of the flattest cities ever, where a single speed was more than enough for a comfortable ride. Here, the terrain is our #1 barrier against riding, and we were choosing walking over riding for almost every trip.

Tax return season came at just the right time, and Brian decided to make the jump and buy the Surly Long Haul Trucker he’s always wanted. It has a great gear ratio, the best reviews in the industry, and the only hard choice was whether or not to disc brake. (He chose not). I didn’t have a dream bike in mind, so I decided to keep riding my vintage 3-speed until the right bike came along.

As the weather got warmer, I got increasingly bitter anytime we rode our bikes. It’s absolutely miserable when something that’s been a part of your life every single day for the past 4 years becomes so depressingly hard. It would be the same if a runner had to run in two left shoes, or a writer could only write with their left hand. I knew subconsciously that my negative attitude was being caused by the bike, so I told Brian I was done riding until I found a new bike. I walked to work by myself while Brian rode, and started searching Craigslist for a vintage steel bike that I could start building up.

I contacted three different people about bikes on Craigslist, and scheduled a test ride for a 2006 Soma Double Cross not far from our apartment. It wasn’t the vintage lugged steel I was looking for, and instead it was a new-ish cyclocross style steel bike with high quality new parts. Β I wasn’t totally sold on the bike until I threw my leg over the bike and it just fit. It was perfect. It fit me better than any bike I’d ever ridden in my entire life, and it didn’t hurt that it shifted and rode like butter too.

We’ve had our new bikes for 2 weeks, and what a glorious 2 weeks they have been. We have been riding everywhere, and it seems like the city has gotten bigger and more exciting overnight. All of the places that used to be too far, too difficult of a ride, or at the top of a too-tall hill are all of a sudden totally accessible to us.

I’ve wanted to write this type of post for awhile, because I know a lot of people in our lives probably don’t totally understand why we ride like we do. We don’t own a car, and honestly don’t really want to. When we lived in Chicago, everything was completely accessible by foot, bike, or public transit. Grocery stores were 1/2 mile away tops, and work was a (flat) 4 mile bike ride each way. We didn’t start biking as a challenge to be carless, or to prove anything, we just enjoy riding our bikes and it also happens to be the best way for us to get around.

Now that we’re in Seattle, we’ve definitely had to make some adjustments to the lifestyle we’d gotten used to, but not as many as we thought. We chose to live in one of the most accessible neighborhoods in the city, along the only light-rail line, near multiple buses and streetcar routes, and only a mile from our offices. We’d like to move to a different neighborhood once our lease is up, but we’ll definitely be keeping in mind the proximity to transit that allows us to live without a car.

To us, owning a car would be a constant pain. Worrying about where to park it, how much we have to pay to park, paying insurance, paying for gas, etc. When we go to leave the house, it’s easier for us to grab our bikes and go than it would be for us to remember where we parked the car, walk to it, drive, and then pay to park on the other end. If we were to walk instead, it would take us about 3 times as long to get to our destination, and we wouldn’t be able to carry as many groceries or bags, though our transportation would be free.

To most of our friends and family, a car is the first choice for transportation, and bikes are more of a chore. To ride a bike in the suburbs for errands would require pulling the bike out of storage, pumping the tires, changing your outfit to be acceptable for biking, riding a long distance to your destination, and (god forbid) having to wear a helmet. Modes of transport are much different depending on where you live, and choosing to live in a less urban area allows for a much more limited means of commute.

We get it, and 100% understand the differences in lifestyles that allow us to all choose our preferred means of transportation. We actively choose to live in a neighborhood that makes riding a bike an easy choice, instead of living in a suburb where our daily destinations would be out of reach by bike. Being able to hop on our bikes whenever we want is a massive luxury for us, and one that we would be hard pressed to give up. I love writing about this, because I truly want people to understand the freedom that we feel when we ride our bikes. There are obviously monetary benefits that go with, and I’ll attempt to write about those in another post because they extend far beyond what most people would assume. For now, we ride because we love it.

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Day Trip to Deception Pass

Deception Pass

Margaret came to visit this weekend, so Brian and I asked around our offices to see what our coworkers recommended for cool day trips. Everyone had their own favorite places to go, but we decided on Deception Pass since it was semi-close, not closed from snow or a landslide, and didn’t involve an hour long ferry ride. The weather was sunny and bright in Seattle, but turned super rainy after we got half an hour outside Seattle.

We stopped at Shrimp Shack for lunch… BEST IDEA EVER. We had our doubts pulling up, but I’m so glad we stopped in, because we all LOVED our lunches. We’ll definitely be back.

Just a couple minutes down the road, we saw these fisherman floating around in tiny little blow-up single person raft/boats and pulled over to get a closer look. There was a sign to go down to a waterfront, so naturally we followed the road and ended up at an awesome park. We wandered around the beach, and then climbed up to one of the trails nearby. It was absolutely beautiful.

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one month in Seattle

Seattle Day Trip to Bainbridge Island

It’s been a month?! nuts. Brian’s been begging me to write a new post, and it really is overdue. I feel like I have so much to write about but so little to say!

It simultaneously feels like we’ve been here for 2 days, and also 2 years. So so so much has happened in this month, and I feel like Brian and I are still playing catch up every day, trying to keep up with everything.

Our apartment is starting to feel more homey, especially after our first fire in the fireplace this past weekend! My mom came to visit during our first week here, and helped us clean the apartment from top to bottom, and paint every single surface. It’s amazing what a coat of paint will do….
Everything is unpacked and almost completely put away, and we’re finally able to relax instead of always cleaning and organizing. We’re extremely thankful for the location we chose to live in, being surrounded by the best transit in the city and having access to everything. We can walk to work in 30 minutes, ride to work in 8 minutes, or take a bus or train. We’ve found our favorite coffee shops and corner stores, and fell in love with Volunteer Park which is only a few blocks from our apartment.

We took our first ferry a few weeks ago…. AND LOVED IT. I cannot believe we live so close to the water, and we have access to so many beautiful places. We loved Bainbridge Island so much, that we’re getting married there!!! (more on that later)

 

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Our first impressions of Seattle were pretty spot on. The rain can be overwhelming, the dogs are EVERYWHERE, the hills are still huge but getting easier to handle, and the food is just as good as we originally thought. It rained for about 10 days straight last week, which got to be almost humorous to us, but then we had a few sunny days in a row which made up for it. We have both been hearing nonstop from literally every single person we talk to that Seattle’s summers are just the most incredibly beautiful summers ever, and make the rainy season worth it. We’re hoping that’s true, especially this year since we’re having our ceremony outside in the middle of July!

Some things we LOVE about Seattle:

Paper Hammer, Stitches, Drygoods, Glasswing

Mountains – we have a really cool view of the mountains when we walk to work, but sometimes it’s too overcast or cloudy to see them. On the days when it’s bright and clear, we joke that ‘the mountains are out today!’

Biking – the hills suck. We can coast downhill to work in the mornings in about 8 minutes, but riding back uphill on the way home is another story. We got totally rocked and had to walk partway the first time, but then made it up on our second try. We’re still figuring things out. We dragged home a bike from the trash for me last week which is going to need some serious aesthetic work, but it has gears and that’s what matters.

FISH – OMG THE FISH HERE IS SO GOOD. Brian has found his happy place in the PNW, and it thankfully involves homemade seafood chowder and fires in our fireplace.Homemade Seafood Chowder in the Pacific Northwest

Volunteer Park – IΒ can barely find the words to describe how wonderful and magical and beautiful this park is, so here’s two sentences and a few photos from our first time visiting.
Brian – “I think I need to start carrying a brass pocket telescope.”
Veronica – “This place is SO Hogwarts”
Volunteer Park Seattle
Volunteer Park Seattle

Volunteer Park Seattle