It’s Been a Long Time

I guess I haven’t written much. But I’ve been biking a ton! I have over 1800 miles on my Xtracycle. That means 1800 miles I haven’t put on a car. And that feels pretty good.
I am seeing the limitations of the bike though. And there’s a ton of new options on the market, so I think my time with the Xtracycle might be coming to a close. We’ll see. I’ve fallen twice. My daughter has fallen—LOVE the hooptie though, it protected her every time from most any injury, even when I fell with her on the bike.

 

Bikes on Vacation
Bikes on Vacation

It’s a big, clunky bike. It can carry a ton, but it’s hard to maneuver. It won’t travel with us. We picked up a secondhand Weehoo so we could ride with kids on vacation, but it was still really tough to fit in the car–we barely got it in the cargo box all taken apart. I rode my mountain bike. My now 11 year old enjoys it.

My son the mule
My son the mule

He is riding a ton on his own, he rode the RSVP with my husband this summer, from Seattle to Vancouver. He could have kept going! He is full of energy, very fierce.

I’ve been updating my wardrobe for better riding—I’ve found two British websites that actually carry decent-looking commuting gear for women–but that is a wide open market. They are Vulpine and Velovixen. I’ve gotten two new pairs of water-resistant trousers that don’t look like rain pants and have cool features like reflective details and button up legs that don’t get caught in gears. Why don’t any American companies make these?

I’ve ridden the cargo bike into Seattle now, with child and without, and it’s worked pretty well! My son and I rode to University Village, through a ton of downtown construction, to go Back to school shopping. No parking nightmare needed! No ferry lines! That was pretty awesome, except he lost his helmet…oh well, life can’t be perfect.

Yeah, I can carry that.

Recent strange items I have successfully transported on my bicycle:

20 lbs of frozen fish
20 lbs of frozen fish

Bicycle Garden

 

No baby necessary, I got a planter. And it made it. I couldn’t fit my daughter’s dollhouse into the bike, which was a disappointment, but I’ve found the solution to my cake transporting plans, I just have to obtain one:

 

This can carry a layer cake.
This can carry a layer cake.

It’s a Thai motorcycle delivery cooler. I’m sure I could find a way to put it on my bike. It even has a rack inside. Meanwhile, I bought my husband a six-pack holder for his bicycle. He hasn’t tried it out yet, but it’s made from old bike tubes, so I love that! Entertainment, biking, and recycling. What more could you want? It’s made by a company called Bicycle Trash DC. You can find it here.

Happy Fall!

 

Back to School!

Hydrating

And we’re back on the road. My 7 year old daughter is now firmly on her own bicycle and the 2 year old is in the back. Which means…I need to put the cup holder back on the front!
My almost 2 year old is so used to being on a bike that when grandma was playing with her and said “Get your baby stroller and walk to the grocery store,” my daughter said “Bike, bike!” and grabbed her little roll around bike to go instead.
We are a biking family. This weekend my husband took the big kids mountain biking while I took the little hiking and we met up after. Evidently the middle is getting fearless like her big brother. Who has plans not only for the STP, but the Tour de France.
Happy Fall!

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.