Taking a spin with Spin

After running a few errands on foot yesterday afternoon, I wandered my way through the neighborhood on my return trip home. I was making my way past a popular playground park when I spotted this:

Spin bike at park

This, my friends, is a Spin bike.

Spin is one of two private bike share companies (the other is LimeBike) that launched services in Seattle this month. They’re easy to identify: Spin bikes are bright orange and LimeBikes are bright green/yellow. Both bikes are equipped with front baskets, kickstands and locking devices.

You need a smart phone to download an app and a credit/debit card to use either bike share. The apps help you locate nearby bikes, unlock them and pay for your ride ($1 for thirty minutes). This screenshot shows the distribution of Spin bikes in West Seattle at this moment. As you can see, most of them are clustered along the waterfront.

Spin map

I had downloaded both apps earlier this week in anticipation of trying out these bikes, so I was ready to ride when I discovered the Spin bike at the park. I scanned the barcode to unlock the bike, paid for my ride and took off for a test ride. My ride lasted for about twenty minutes and here are my quick observations:

  • The bike is easy to use but the 3-speed gearing isn’t low enough for Seattle hills. Spin is aware of this and promises lower gears on its next round of bikes in the city.
  • I like the convenience of parking the bike almost anywhere at the end of my ride (public bike racks or on the sidewalk out of the way of pedestrian traffic).
  • With good citywide coverage, these bikes will make good options for spontaneous short trips.
  • Downside: Not everyone has smart phones or credit/debit cards in order to use the system.
  • Downside: Unless you travel with bike helmet in tow, you’ll probably violate our local helmet law when you ride of these bikes.

Will I take a spin with Spin again? You bet. I’m also looking forward to trying out a LimeBike soon.

spin bike 2

The perfect pour

soy-latte

Is there anything more satisfying than an expertly poured cup of coffee?

It begins with the whirring of fresh roasted coffee beans in the grinder. The finely ground coffee is tamped down and brewed into two dark, rich shots of espresso. The espresso is mixed with steamed soy milk then poured into a ceramic cup. The barista creatively adds his artful signature in the foam.

I sit by the window and sip this coffee masterpiece, close my eyes and sigh, “Ahhh.”

Satisfaction achieved!

Bike up!

Fremont Bridge

In urban, traffic-gridlocked Seattle many folks (me included) often opt to move around the city by bike.

The Fremont Bridge, a drawbridge spanning the Lake Washington Ship Canal, is a bicycle thoroughfare. It links Fremont and other North Seattle neighborhoods to Queen Anne, South Lake Union and downtown. It connects the Burke-Gilman Trail, which parallels the waterway’s north shoreline, to the South Ship Canal and South Lake Union Trails on the other side.

Yesterday there were 4,525 bike trips across the Fremont Bridge. Yes, you read that number correctly. In 2016, people on bikes crossed this bridge 981,908 times. That’s nearly a million bike trips across this bridge!

An Outside Kind of Day

If you read Outside Magazine, they often feature Outside weekends. These are packed, multi-sport affairs at some awesome destination and include sampling local food and craft beers at some hip joint.

Yesterday, I managed to pack an Outside weekend into a day.

bike-pugetsoundMy morning began with a meeting with my supervisor. The weather was overcast, dry and mild, so I packed my laptop in my pannier and pedaled to a local coffee shop–our meeting spot.

We reviewed this week’s work and discussed upcoming projects over our morning java. My caffeine beverage of choice was a double-shot soy latte. Mmmm!

Our meeting wrapped up a little before noon, so I decided to take the scenic route back home. I pedaled along the shores of Puget Sound, taking in the sounds of ferries, seagulls and passing conversations of pedestrians. The air was fresh and held a hint of saltiness.

I made the climb back up to my neighborhood, stopping at a quiet viewpoint. There was too much cloud cover to see the Olympic Mountains but I did get views of Bainbridge and Blake Islands.

It was back to work for a few hours until Steve arrived home for the day.

“Let’s do something,” he said. “What do you want to do?”

“Let’s go to the mountains,” I announced.

spring skiWe grabbed our nordic skis and packs and took off for Snoqualmie Pass where we were greeted by sunshine and warm temperatures. Excellent choice! I donned my sunglasses but left my jacket and gloves in the pack.

The snow was soft and, in spite of the rain that fell earlier in the week, pleasant to ski. We went swish-gliding down the trail.

We traveled quietly, stopping frequently to take in nature. The air was fresh and scented with trees. Birds entertained us with a chorus of chirps and songs. The sun warmed our faces.

We skied for several hours and only encountered one other couple on the trails. That’s a rare experience in this winter recreation corridor heavily used by residents of Pugetopolis.

In no hurry to return to the city, we swung into The Commonwealth at Snoqualmie Pass. We snagged seats with a window view of Guye Peak and Mount Snoqualmie, chowed on some great pub fare and quaffed some tasty locally brewed Dru-Bru. It was the perfect ending to my Outside day!

bicycle prayer wheel

Riding a bike can be meditative. The rhythmic revolution of each pedal stroke and steady breathing can help clear your mind and put you in the present.

It feels natural then to make a short pilgrimage to the bicycle prayer wheel in Nord Alley. The wheel is mounted outside Back Alley Bike Repair and is available 24/7 for spinning prayers and good thoughts.