Everybody wants you to win their bike stuff

by Jessie Kwak

It turns out everyone, including me, wants to give you cool bike shit right now.

Must be spring, right?

I just found out about two contests from Snapguide and Torker bicycles that feature some pretty awesome prizes, and I’m still running a comment contest to give away Cycling Sojourner’s Washington Guidebook.

Feeling lucky?

Win goodies from Walnut Studiolo and Portland Design Works

Contest runs May 7-June 6

Screenshot 2014-04-30 15.33.02

From Walnut Studiolo:

Walnut is teaming up with PDW and Snapguide to do a “bike hacks” promotion.

Snapguide is an app that lets you make “how-tos” easily using photos and videos on your smartphone. We use it to make our installation guides, like this. Snapguide will be offering elaborate prize packages filled with lots of awesome Walnut and PDW goodies to the best “bike hacks” (bicycle-themed how-to guides) added to the site as part of the contest for a couple weeks starting on May 7th. It could be technical, crafty, or anything. For example, how to plan a bike tour, how to make earrings out of bicycle tires, or how to true a wheel. It would be great to see some bike guides out there for women and by women!

You can enter as many times as you want, so get planning! I know there are quite a few crafty folks out there reading my blog, and I’d love to see some great tutorials! You can bet I’ll be joining in the fun.

Enter the contest here.

Win a Torker Interurban

Contest is on now, deadline is May 18

Torker Bicycles* is giving away a ton of stuff in a Pinterest contest, including a Torker Interurban Flat bike** and Betabrand clothes.

The instructions are in the flier below (click to embiggen).


* A disclaimer – my husband works for Seattle Bike Supply, which owns Torker.

**Sparkle Kraken is a Torker Interurban Mixte.

Win a copy of Cycling Sojourner’s Washington guide

Contest is running through May 7

Want a copy of Cycling Sojourner’s Washington guidebook? Go leave a comment here.


Review and giveaway: Cycling Sojourner’s guide to the best multi-day tours in Washington

by Jessie Kwak


UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for all your comments!

I was so excited when I heard that Ellee Thalheimer of Cycling Sojourner was writing a Washington version of her awesome bike touring guide. I’d snagged a copy of the Oregon version, but since I lived in Seattle I’d never gotten a chance to try any of them out.

Well, as the world turns, by the time the Washington book was released, I’d moved to Portland. :)

I got my sneaky Oregonian hands on a review copy, though, and let me say it looks fantastic! Keep reading to find out why, and to see how you can win your very own copy.

The book features nine routes throughout Washington State, from an easy overnighter from Seattle to multi-day epics in the Okanogan and Palouse. I was drooling as I read through the descriptions of the John Wayne Trail and a wine tasting loop in Walla Walla.

(I’m quite the fan of wine tasting trips with bikes in.)

This guidebook does a great job of making bike touring seem accessible to riders of all levels and budgets. In the introduction, you’ll find a shoestring guide to bike gear, advice on choosing touring companions, and a nice discussion on how to carry all your stuff. There’s even a handy packing guide at the back.

Many of the trips are contributed by local riders, which means that you can count on a knowledgeable guide to camp sites, lodging, and places to chow down. I loved the attention to tasty restaurants and breweries along the way. Ellee was one of the coauthors of Hop in the Saddle, so you know the woman is a fan of good living.

The maps and cue sheets are top-notch, and the attention to detail in the route descriptions is really superb. All in all, it’s a beautifully-produced book and I can’t wait to go try one of the routes!


As I mentioned above, I’ve got a copy to giveaway to one of you folks. I picked up two through the Kickstarter ages ago, and one of them could be yours!

To win, just leave a comment below. Tell me either: 1) In your opinion, what’s the most beautiful bike ride in Washington State? or 2) Where in Washington do you dream of riding?

The contest will be open through next Wednesday (May 7), and then I’ll pick one comment at random.

Fire away!

If you’re in Seattle tomorrow, you should definitely check out the release party at the Bicycle Alliance of Washington’s headquarters in Pioneer Square. There will be beer, book signings, and all sorts of fun!

Read more about it and order your copy on the Bike Alliance website

Order a copy on Ellee’s website


Pedaler’s Fair crafty fun time

by Jessie Kwak

Hey, Seattle gang! What are you up to this Saturday?

Are you going to Pedaler’s Fair?


Pedaler’s Fair is a marketplace of Washington based, bicycle-inspired small businesses – but it’s way more than that! There will also be live music, workshops, presentations, and a Bicitoro Craft Table for your crafty pleasure.

Check out the schedule of events for everything that will be happening, including Bicycle Yoga, a camp cooking presentation, and a film screening.

I’ll be there from 11-5, hosting a table where you can come get your bike craft on. Come say hello!

If you’re planning on biking there, consider joining up with the Critical Lass Ride, which will be starting at Fuel Coffee in Montlake at 9:30. I’ll be riding along.

Hope to see you there!


Will someone please make this for me?

by Jessie Kwak

And once someone has made this for me, will someone please lend me their children and man friend* so that I can sew while they pedal?

*Mine doesn’t like tandems**.

**Are we calling this a tandem?


Bike Keeps Family in Stitches

CARRYING four persons and a sewing machine, the world’s weirdest bicycle recently had a tryout in Chicago, Ill. The two-story vehicle, known as the “Goofybike,” is the creation of Charles Steinlauf. It carries the whole Steinlauf family. The inventor rides at the top and guides the contraption by means of a huge automobile steering wheel. Mrs. Steinlauf sits below, operating a sewing machine, while her son pedals behind and her daughter rides on the handlebars in front. When the odd vehicle is at rest, the projecting legs of the sewing machine prevent the lofty cycle from tipping over.

Via Modern Mechanix.

I wasn’t able to find much more info on this contraption, though admittedly I left it at a Google search. I saw it originally here, a Distractify photo roundup where pretty much every photo is an awesome short story prompt.

And speaking of old timey contraptions I want, the Distractify post also featured this Whisky vending machine:


I’ll take two.


On making friends in the Pacific Northwest, or, Hey Kwak! How’re you liking Portland so far?

by Jessie Kwak

The first rule about making friends in the rain belt of the Pacific Northwest is this: the warmer the weather, the friendlier the people. We’re a hibernating folk, and I’m absolutely no exception.

Warm, sunny days will find every Seattleite (and Portlander, apparently) drinking cocktails on a patio. You’ll suddenly discover that a family of five lives in the apartment next to yours. You’ll be invited over for a barbecue.


Rainy winter days are a good time to walk briskly, and put your collar up as a ward against the sleet and the stranger.

This cultural hibernation couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I was so burned out by the time we moved that I have basically spent the last four months staring at text messages with suspicion and inventing excuses not to leave the house. Like the rest of Portland, however, I’m starting to thaw.

So how do I like Portland?

For one, even during the Great Winter Hibernation it’s been way easy to make friends. Say you meet someone at a party in Seattle. You have an awesome conversation, you exchange phone numbers, and agree that you should totally hang out again.

The follow-up email/text exchange may go something like this.

You: “It was so great to meet you last night at the party. I’d love to grab a cup of coffee if you’re free in the next couple weeks!”

Potential Friend: “Definitely! I’d love to hang out!”

You: “Awesome. What’s your schedule like this week? I’m free Monday and Wednesday after 3.”

Potential Friend: *radio silence for 3 months until you awkwardly meet at another party and they gush that you should totally hang out but then don’t answer your next texts.*

In Portland, in my experience, that frustrating radio silence has been replaced almost universally with the prompt finalization of a coffee date. I’m not sure if people in Portland are less busy, more unemployed, or just friendlier, but it’s made it way less frustrating to meet people.

I’ve also been taking advantage of Meetup to connect with other writers and cyclists, and have met some fantastic people through groups like Women on Wheels. The Portland Society has been another great source of awesome like-minded folk to hang out with.

Last Saturday's Women on Wheels ride to Lake Oswego.

Last Saturday’s Women on Wheels ride to Lake Oswego.

I feel like I’m almost done with my hibernation period. Maybe by the time May rolls around I won’t freak out if I have more than one event on my calendar in a single week. (I’m serious. I’ve been a total shut-in.)

I like Portland, though. I can’t deny that.

I thought you could fly your freak flag in Seattle, but it turns out that Portland is trying to win some sort of championship in freak flag flymanship. It’s kind of amazing. As I write this, the dude sitting across the bar from me is wearing full on purple pajamas with rainbows on them and a chullo hat.

Anyway, if you’re still reading, that’s how I like Portland so far.

It seems like everywhere I turn people are moving new places. Did you? How are you coping? How have you created a new community from scratch?