New Phase

Daddy takes a spin
Daddy takes a spin

Well, child #3 was just getting too big for the front seat! She was pushing buttons, kicking her feet out of the stirrups, grabbing my handle bars. It was time to move her back!

Installing the Yepp Maxi was surprisingly easy, I had to cut out a section of my cycle’s baseboard and the seat fit in. Getting the clips that hold the baseboard on to fasten tightly was the hardest part and took some pressure and holding by the 7 year old. But there they are, smiling. The base of the seat does mean that the bags hold less cargo, but I can use the seat for stuff when it’s not in use–even buckle in a grocery bag!

Now child #3 is finding ways to annoy her older sister, by tugging on her helmet or pulling her hair so we figured out that sister can sit backwards. Plus, it’s more encouragement to get her on her own bike. I’m already contemplating a time when the kids all bike themselves and I can turn the rear into full on cargo.

But that’s a ways away.

Bike Everywhere Month

Which makes this month just the same as every month for me, but hey, that’s the Cascade Slogan.

I did get to lead a school train of cyclists, which made a fun morning, and we’ve got family friends who are biking to school more often, so that’s exciting.

I know you can see me!
I know you can see me!
Ready to Ride!
Ready to Ride!

My son is such a cycling pro that he rode ahead, not wanting to embarrass himself riding in a cycle train. Huh. Anyway, I would lead one of these everyday if there was interest. Read here about how starting the day with a ride/walk/movement is better than riding the bus (or being driven, obviously). =)

http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/program-tools/what-are-health-benefits-children-who-walk-or-bicycle-school

Do your kids have a safe route to school?

Anyway, I wanted to mention that I wore my Vespertine Cinnabar Riding Dress, which has always been a Riding Jacket to me–and you will not miss me to the road–between that bike and that jacket, I am covered under conditions other than complete night, and I like that.

Plus, it’s actually a good looking piece of clothing that doesn’t scream “Riding a Bike!” and it’s made in the USA by an independent designer. All things I love. It took a bit of a beating back in February in my crash (broken buttons, torn fabric) but hey, better than more skin off! I still need to fix it. I think I’ll go work on that. Added bonus with buying from a small company? Sarah from Vespertine sent me spare fabric to fix it. I love actual customer service with real people.

Next agenda item: Get my daughter (the 7 year old) to believe in bike safety. She is still a crazy rash rider who has to be watched at all times and believes Stop Signs are optional. Not a rider I can let ride home from school on her own. Any ideas for me?

Emerald City and Beyond

Do we need a sippy cup?
Do we need a sippy cup?

Emerald City Shirt

This afternoon I was speeding on the XtraCycle to get to school in time to meet my kids and I rode up behind a hipster wearing jeans and a white blazer. I passed him on the hill and he called out “How are you doing that?” I replied “I’ve got a motor. And I’m late to get my kids!” He responded “Great bike!” and I rode off with a smile. And made it to school just in time.
It’s been a beautiful few weeks on the bike and my cyclocross bike as well. The weather’s great, and I’m cycling as much as possible. This morning, I picked up a case of wine and put it on the bike, to upraised eyebrows and smirks. Of course, that could have been due to the toddler on the bike as well. Don’t worry, I didn’t have a straw or anything.
And, a few weeks ago, Jacob and I rode the Emerald City ride in downtown Seattle, which was just pure joy. A cool, overcast morning meant we weren’t hot, and we grabbed the light rail to the university with a crowd of other cyclists who took over the train cars.

Mother and Son
Mother and Son
We Own this Train
We Own this Train

The Cascade emails had reminded us that only 2 bikes were allowed per car and I duly notified my son. However, everyone just ignored this rule for the morning and even the plentiful station security said nothing.

There were many great things about this ride.

  1. I got to do a 21 mile ride with my 9 year old! At the end, he said “Mom, can I do this ride by myself next year? So you don’t slow me down?” I wasn’t slowing him down. But soon enough, I’m sure I will be. Stick with me just a bit longer, kiddo.
  2. The bridge-we rode with a huge crowd across the not quite finished 520 bridge. Super cool. Ditto on the express lanes of the 5. Impressive and a dream with only bikes!
    Look ma, no cars!
    Look ma, no cars!.

    3. The snacks! We stopped in the International District for fresh spring rolls and dumplings. Best break food ever.

     

    You will never eat another cliff bar if this keeps up.
    You will never eat another cliff bar if this keeps up.

    There were even fortune cookies with bike fortunes.

  3. Again. Spring rolls! Fortune cookies!
  4. After the ride, we met up with friends at Ravenna Park-more riding, no problem. And then, Jacob wanted to ride back downtown, not take the Light Rail. He wasn’t even tired. We found a convoluted way with part of the Burke Gilman closed. I’ll have to do better on that, because it wasn’t very picturesque. But the actual ride was stunning–water views, tree views, riding through parks and neighborhoods, bridges, tunnels, highways. What a great city. Jacob admitted some parts were as pretty as Bainbridge Island. But he still doesn’t like downtown. My kids are country kids.

We got back downtown and the kid still wasn’t tired. He’s nonstop.

I’m sure in a few years he’ll be off and speeding without me, but I’m glad to get this in. Sure beats driving on those roads in a car. I’m looking forward to the summer.

Up Next: Sara from Vespertine sent me fabric to repair my riding jacket dress that ripped in the accident. So I’ll post about that when it’s fixed. She said if I get a good picture, she’ll feature me on their website! Stay tuned.

 

And We’re Back

Well, I’ve been back on the bike for a few weeks now, feeling a bit shaky, but riding anyway. It seems to be stable. Here’s the deal:

The amazing Tom from B.I. Cycle (if you live on Bainbridge, you must go here!) picked up my bicycle from my house (!) when I’d told him I’d had an accident on my cargo bike. Then, both Gabriel and Tom were my advocates with XtraCycle, –they called Xtracycle, they got them to send a new fork and new fenders absolutely free. They discussed the issue and encouraged XtraCycle to fix it.  I believe in Xtracycle and I want them to succeed. I’m glad they responded well. I’m glad I wasn’t more hurt and neither were my kids. I know they’re a small company. This was really scary. Should I have trusted my bike? Should I trust it now?

The issue? The quick release bike wheel came off with very little warning (besides a horrible scraping sound right before I fell). It should not have done that. It has something to do with the way the parts are built and the weight of the bike–and it’s happened to their bikes before! Tom and Gabriel showed me the different parts of a quick release wheel and fork and how it could have been built safer and better. They offered me a stronger skewer with more safety features that they felt would not fail. XtraCycle is working on a different system but it is not ready yet. They will let me know when it is.

So now what? I am checking the quick release very frequently. I am more cautious. Which I should have been to begin with. I am still riding with my kids on the bike, after checking. Accidents happen, and I was lucky.

Is this smart? I love my bike and the way I feel on my bike and my kids love it too. Is it smart? Is it safe parenting? Is it worse than a car?Baby on Board

Crash!

No picture today. Because when you are sprawled on the pavement and your bike is in pieces, you just don’t think of taking pictures.
Luckily, I was on the road LESS traveled.
So, yesterday afternoon I biked to a quilter to drop off a quilt I had pieced to get quilted. It was a lot of uphill and I was glad to be getting the exercise because piecing a quilt is just not that much physical output but I wanted to get it done.

I got done with the drop off, talking to the lovely woman and her husband about how much I loved my bike. They were amused because no one had ever dropped off a quilt by bike and they were looking for a car.

Then, maybe a minute into my downhill ride, the bike starts making a scraping sound and before I can think about it I am sprawled on the pavement, screaming and checking that I can move my body. My helmet is off and the bike is lying at strange angles on the pavement.
A woman with an SUV stops her car and helps me move my bike and myself to the side of the road (I never got her name, so thank you kind neighbor!!) She is about to load me in but she has her young son with her and ANOTHER neighbor with an empty minivan pulls up and offers to take me home. Her name is Chris and I am so appreciative for her and her minivan. The wheel of the bike is separate from the rest of the bike, and the hooptie is loose. I’m sure something is shorn off the front fork. She and the other woman help load in the bike and me and she takes me home.
I am ok. I have many colorful bruises but I am so so thankful a car didn’t crash into me and I didn’t have any children on the bicycle with me. And I’m so thankful for kind people who helped. Even Jeff, from BI Cycle came and picked up my bicycle to take to the shop. So I’ll be able to see what happened, hopefully. At least how bad the bike is. And just about when I was going to sign up for Chilly Hilly and Emerald City Ride!
Ok, time to start healing. Argh.

Holidays with Cargo Bike

I haven’t written in a while. This is becoming a refrain. Ok, well I’ve been meaning to post these pictures for a while, so it’s going to be a quick post.

One of the reasons I bought my bike was that I was always taking short trips in the car to carry bulky stuff that wouldn’t fit well on a bike or backpack.

So, I’m proud to show off, in the category of

Things that Are Not Usually Transported by Bike (Please tell me if you have…)

  1. A 20-lb Thanksgiving Turkey
    I'm sure glad this wasn't a live turkey.
    I’m sure glad this wasn’t a live turkey.

    So, we are very “Northwest” which could be taken to mean in this context that we buy our Thanksgiving turkey from a local farm, about five miles away. So off I cycled (you could say “killing two birds with one stone” as in it was also my exercise for the day) to pick out our turkey from Heyday Farm on the south end of Bainbridge Island. I got veggies and lots of stares and the farm helpers also took pictures. It was loads of fun.

  2.  A Disco Ball and Accompanying Lights
    Party on Wheels
    Party on Wheels

    We had a kid dance party at noon on New Year’s Day just because. Because none of us were going to stay awake for New Year’s. Because we have a local Buy Nothing group where we sent out a call to borrow a Disco Ball and a neighbor lent us one. Because who doesn’t love a dress up dance party? It was a small party, but the disco ball made it rockin’. We called it New Year’s in Dubai, which is where it was midnight at the time. And we brought it by bike. Here is what our living room looked like:

    Add Lights, Will Dance
    Add Lights, Will Dance

    Happy New Year All! Happy Cycling.

Yeah, I Got This

It's our homemade tricycle.
It’s our homemade tricycle.

Ok, so I haven’t written as much as I’ve thought of writing. I guess that’s life right now. But I’m putting this one down quickly.

A few weeks ago now, my son was having a rough day. He was having a hard day, then we went to soccer and he worked it out except right when we were ready to leave, he got hit in the stomach with a ball. Oooof. And then he was supposed to ride home with me? Not going to work. He was exhausted, hurt, and just done.
Well, lucky me because I have an XtraCycle!
And, thanks to Madi Carlson (a Seattle Family Biking regular and family biking advocate), we always keep bungee cords in it, just in case. So, I could not have fit Jacob’s bike in my Prius without a bike rack, but I fit it on my bike, put him on the seat, and we were golden. He rested, we got everything home, we laughed about it. Thank you, Seattle Family Biking.
We were quite the sight! But we made it home with smiles. Again, I love my bike.

Me Vs. The Street

 

Birthday Biker
Birthday Biker

Well, I’m getting that at least one post per month in just under the wire. I think the baby is eating books right now, but hey, they’re fiber!

We’ve been cycling along almost every day now-here is Lilah on her birthday in the seat. She’s pretty happy with it, only resists her helmet occasionally, and often turns back to smile at me while riding, which makes me laugh. She doesn’t keep her feet in the the foot straps of the Yepp seat, shoes or not–I’m not sure that’s a product fault or just my wily baby. Still, she is strapped in safely on the top.

Lately, I’ve been noticing some of the darker side of cycling in our small town. Twice in the past week, I’ve been yelled at-once by a pedestrian with a stroller, once by a motorist. In the first case, the 6 year old was in the cargo area without a helmet. I was picking her up from school to deliver her to her grandparent’s house, less than a mile away and I forgot her helmet. Now we usually wear helmets. But we were going fairly slowly on a big road and it was less than a mile. The woman with the baby in the stroller yelled at me (causing me to turn my head at her) that the child needs a helmet and that she couldn’t believe the danger I was putting her in. She proceeded to yell as the light turned green and I finished the drop off. As I processed this (and it scared my daughter) I wondered if I would yell at anyone from the side of the road. Would you? Do you? Do you think it helps?

The second time was one the way to school today. The two older children were holding hands on the road–my son was helping to pull my daughter up the hill.  I thought it was adorable, especially since they weren’t fighting or cutting each other off. They were taking up a fair amount of the road. It is a small, not heavily trafficked road without much of a bike lane, and I thought taking up the lane is ok–cars see us and know we are there.  Most cars slowed and pulled around us. Or gave us plenty of room. A woman in a minivan rolled down her window to yell “That’s dangerous! She’s in the middle of the road!” I said “Thank you!” and thought-On the side of the road, you would have sped by without seeing her. Again, I second guessed myself. Are we doing something wrong here? We mostly go single file, but didn’t in this case. Again, the kids were upset and yelled-“She’s mean!” I just told them she was trying to think of their safety. And I wondered if I can keep them safe enough on bikes.

So, things are not always beauty and sunshine in cycling land, although I still think it’s more pleasant to be on my bike than in the car, and the kids agree.

Another Year, Another Pie

We made it back to the Bike for Pie this year! With the baby in the front seat (Yepp Mini)  instead of in me, it was a lot easier! In fact, Mirit biked the first 2 miles out of 8 by herself on her own bicycle, then left the bike at grandma and Zayde’s house and rode with me the rest of the way. Biking 8 miles on the Xtracycle with the kids was almost too easy, I was not even tired at the end (but I ate pie anyway, and so did they). I may attempt to ride it on my own bike next year, on the challenge route, with no kids. But we’ll see. Lilah fell asleep in the seat for the second half, so I guess she was pretty comfortable. Mirit was riding pretty with her blanket and snacks. We got lots of cheers.

Over the past year, using the cargo bike has become our standard, and I think there may have been only one day in the whole year when it was absolutely out of the question–the full day of thunderstorms.

It actually rains in Seattle.
It actually rains in Seattle.

 

After Bike for Pie, I asked our local bike shops if they would sell the Xtracycle, and they said they didn’t see a big demand. I hope that changes. Meanwhile, more business for G and O Cyclery. =)

Moving, moving moving.

Baking Class
Baking Class

Lately, I have been pushing the capabilities of my Xtracycle, trying to get in as many miles as I can. This is a picture of all the materials I needed to teach a baking/science class at my son’s school at the end of the year including bags of flour, cookie sheets, and all the tools for making banana bread. Success!

Then, and the reason I haven’t written much lately, we moved. NO, I’m not one of those amazing people who completed the entire move on bicycle. BUT, I did carry a few loads the mile between our last and current home.

And three more boxes and three more boxes and three more boxes...
And three more boxes and three more boxes and three more boxes…

And I did move a Pack N Play…

Baby Not Included
Baby Not Included

And I did drop off a load at the Rotary Auction (the largest rummage sale in the world, as far as I know). As far as they know, I was the first cargo bike delivery they’d had–so there’s definitely room for improvement.

At Home and at the Drop Off Site
At Home and at the Drop Off Site

IMG_8096I

I was not successful at obtaining a bicycle for my daughter at said auction, but better luck next time. Then, I headed to the fabric store to pick up the foam piece I needed to make a new window seat.

Steady...
Steady…

I got some funny looks for this one. But I got it home. I haven’t made the seat yet, so I’d better get to that. All in all, a glorious success in reducing car trips and increasing fun. And proving that you (often) don’t need a car.

In other news, we had a lovely 4th of July weekend, and next year I would love to have a family biking float in our home town parade-I’m starting to recruit now-come and join me!

Your bike Ambassador,

Naomi