Take the Day UFF
March 19, 2010
Julian / Totcycle in Better by Bike, Kidical Mass, Local

My wife's been either ill with norovirus or busy with work these past few weekends, so the kids and I have had some days to fill. Naturally, bikes were involved. 

So we've been taking the day UFF. UFF? Urban Family Flâneurs. Flâ-whâh? I warned you I was half-Gallic. A flâneur, in the words of Charles Baudelaire (via wikipedia, not my own erudition) is "someone who walks [bikes] the city in order to experience it." A way to stroll about Seattle by bike, at the speed of discovery, with the freedom to stop and jump out whenever fancy or boredom strike.

For the bike nuts, an UFF day is like Grant Petersen's S24O. But with kids. And cargo bikes. And no overnight. Yet.

After breakfast, I grab diapers, wipes, water bottles, sundry kid snacks (booty, fruit, and whatnot), load up the MADSEN, and off we go. We often have at least one destination in mind, but the rest is improvised. Pass a park? Stop and romp. Discover a pocket beach? Why not. Hungry/thirsty? Stop for a treat. It's like credit card touring, without the touring. Sculpture Park or Aquarium? Disturbing the peace at the Sculpture Park it is:

Inside at the Sculpture Park

Naptime? Seat the kids in sleep mode and off we go. The bike gets them to synchronized sleep like nothing else. Arrive at a picturesque location or favorite cafe, park the bike near an outdoor table or window seat, and enjoy some precious grownup time (just don't get arrested, like this poor Danish mom). Come home by bedtime after a day of bike serendipity

A "Hemingway" at Miro Tea (Rooibos tea, grapefruit, strawberry, mint, ice, seltzer) & Sleeping Children (Sugar, spice, everything nice)
For UFF days with young children, a bike with multiple seating positions and nap capability is really nice to have. On our MADSEN with front Bobike Mini seat, Luc can be up front when awake, telling me about "dat, a-dat, and dat," and in his DIY baby seat when it's nap time, reasonably protected from sun/drizzle. Drew can sit on the back bench when awake, or "get cozy" down in the bucket on cushions when it's her naptime. 

A bakfiets would also work well for UFF days (especially with rain cover), or maybe a bike with trailer and bike-mounted child seats (for varied seating positions). Longtails (xtracycle, Yuba Mundo) could do well for older children that don't nap, or young children that nap well in child seats (mine don't). You'll want a stable centerstand, so you can walk away from the bike during the nap. 

Kidical Mass at the LocksLast weekend, our UFF day started with a trip to Kinko's to laminate some Kidical Mass spoke cards, then a lovely KM ride to the bike expo, via the Locks and trainyard. We saw a bit of Ryan Leech's trials demo, and the German artistic cycling whiz kids (they're youtube-bike-blog-famous). Luc was a particular fan of the latter. Lots of clapping and "so big" gestures. 

Zigo TrikeWe ate and drank our fill of electrolytes and energy bars (Larabars are seriously delicious, "Lance juice" is not), drooled over some folding bikes and Metrofietsen, took a spin in a Zigo trike, and headed off by naptime. OK, a bit late for naptime. Drew had a meltdown in the bike parking lot. Pilot error. 

They both fell asleep in minutes, leaving me with a picturesque ride by the Sound, through the downtown waterfront, over to West Seattle, around Alki Beach to our friends' house for an early St Patrick's day stew. The ride ended with an uphill that put the uff da in UFF day. 

Sculpture Park at SunsetAfter imbibing many green drinks, stew, and cupcakes, it was getting late, so the twin-in-law graciously brought the kids home in her car, and I rode the bike home solo, catching Aaron from Aaron's Bike Repair on his way home from the shop on his Big Dummy, who showed me a killer downhill past the new mixed-income housing "projects", and told me of a stokemonkey install on a customer's MADSEN, in the rear rectangle behind the seatpost (tempting!). Rode back on what is, temporarily at least, a protected cycletrack by the container ship docks, and stopped at the Sculpture Park to enjoy the sunset. 

More epic than typical UFF day (35 miles, which is a cargo bike "century")

So take the day UFF. No plans necessary. You can cover some distance during the naps, or experience your own neighborhood in a new way. See where you wind up, and come home by bedtime (or after). In a similar mode, here's a Dutch "papa day" by bike. How do you st/roll?

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