Art on the Go

Today, I delivered three finished glass tiles to friends of my 8 year old, who had made them at his birthday party. I also delivered the proceeds from our Owen’s Playground lemonade stand.

Will not break in cargo bag =)
Will not break in cargo bag =)

I wrapped them in paper and bubble wrap and set off a bit further than town, through a high school path and several gravel trails–I’m 36 weeks pregnant as of tomorrow and it was a lovely ride! I went to two neighborhoods within 2 miles of my house, smiling all the while.

I am still getting used to the upright position of the bike–it’s like a beach cruiser and I’ve never spent any time riding one of those. I still can’t get off sideways or before stopping–although that could be more of a belly issue than a bike issue. Also, I’m a bit of a wimp since I learned to ride so late (at least that’s how I think of it, I was 11) but I try not to let it stop me.

Anyway, that’s the report for today—just using the bike as my primary vehicle. It feels great!

Peaches for Me!

My kids are out of town this week, thanks to my parents–who took them to Southern California (Disney post to follow, I’m sure) but I’m still using the bike for cargo and because it’s the only bike I own that’s comfortable enough for me to ride now, at 35+ weeks pregnant. Just writing that sentence was very strange for me as I used to laugh at people who owned multiple bikes. Now, between my husband, the kids, and myself, we own 8 bikes and a trail-a-bike. And I sold my racing bike last year. So we’ve built up quite the bike barn. Until I was pregnant, we used them all fairly frequently, although I bought my Cyclocross as my around town everything bike before I knew about long tail bikes. So we’ll see what happens after the new baby comes.

David was working on his cyclocross bike and my Xtracycle, so they're not pictured here. Plus, the Xtracycle doesn't fit in the rack.
David was working on his cyclocross bike and my Xtracycle, so they’re not pictured here. Plus, the Xtracycle doesn’t fit in the rack.

Anyway, that was a long diversion from today’s trip–5 miles roundtrip to the Beach House restaurant for breakfast (Yay, Staycation!), the bakery, and Farmers’ Market at Lynwood Center.

Look at all we fit in the carriers–plus my purse. And there was an easy rack for locking the bikes.

Local peaches, nectarines, bread, and honey
Local peaches, nectarines, bread, and honey

 

No problem with the pedaling all the weight, as usual, but I should have remembered to bring cloth bags for the produce so we didn’t have to use plastic. My husband, riding behind me, was impressed with the bike’s low gearing and how easy it was for me to pedal. He was a bit worried before we left that I’d be too tired to make the trip (that’s how tired I’ve been lately!) but it ended up just fine. And now I’m over 25 miles on the bike’s odometer! So 25 miles not spent in a car–those are good miles.

Goals for future cargo-heavy rides? Bring straps so I can bring home a whole case of peaches! They would have fit on the kid platform just fine if I’d brought straps. And I’d love to see the look on people’s faces when I rode past them with a case of fruit. Just out there changing our mindset, one ride at a time.

IMG_4367
Bet I could fit some plums and a bouquet of flowers in there too…

Special Delivery

On Friday, I delivered fresh challah to our congregation’s new Rabbi on the island, Paul Strasko.  It was only a mile away, but I put it in the (Carsick!) cargo bags and it arrived just fine. It was so much nicer than jumping in my car to drive a mile, and no squished bread in a backpack!

 

IMG_0007
Challah baked and ready to go

Years ago I made and sold baby clothes and I dreamed of a biking delivery service for local orders. Now it seems I could actually made that happen, but I’m not making that many clothes these days. But, I think I will start a family bike design when I do make outfits. IMG_4080

Baby Outfits, soon available with bikes.
Baby Outfits, soon available with bikes.

The extra bonus of bike delivery is that I could go right up to the door, since Rabbi Paul lives in a neighborhood of little cottages.

Sunday, Jacob and I biked to the grocery store to grab last minute party supplies for his birthday party, and we fit 2 lbs of carrots, 2 lbs of grapes, crackers, dips, and candy easily into the bags. Plus we exited the store to a mother and son ogling the bike and asking lots of questions. We haven’t  figured out how to lock the bike around the grocery store yet as we live in a fairly safe area and haven’t gone for an extended shopping yet, but I think I’ll have to work on that.

The pregnancy has brought me many leg and foot cramps and unfortunately I got one of those on the way back from the store, but I was able to stretch and peddle it out. Hopefully, those will go away when the baby comes.

My one bike regret yesterday was imagining bringing the cake and beverage dispenser with lemonade in it to the party place (paint your own pottery) on the bike and not having a good solution. We drove the half mile instead. Anyone have a good idea (short of frosting at the venue)?

Anyone make a cake transporter bike box?
Anyone make a cake transporter bike box?

 

 

Keep Your Eyes on the Pies

Well, we did it–The 8 mile Family Ride of the Bike for Pie yesterday-my longest ride on this bike so far. It went really well with Mirit on the back of the bike–with pillow, blanket, books, and water, and of course, the motor assist.

Jacob and David attempted the 33 mile Challenge Route, but as they climbed Mt. Townsend the day before, Jacob was  a bit tired.

image-2
A few strange shadows and a dramatic son, all ready to ride.

The hardest part as usual was starting the loaded bike from the kickstand. Once that was done, we were off on the lovely day–very slowly. I probably averaged 5 miles an hour. But I didn’t mind because I was moving and there were lots of happy and encouraging cyclists (we got lots of positive comments on the bike). And it was a gorgeous day. The route took us by the water on one of my favorite parts of the island, and the hills were rolling.

About 5 miles in I started having the side of the knee pain I used to get on really long rides. That wasn’t that surprising considering my condition and the load I was pulling, but it was annoying and I thought the position of the bike might prevent it. No such luck. I still made it back though.

Mirit got tired of riding about half way in, but I kept her occupied finding all the yellow pie markings on the road that told us where we were going. She was also excited to  see all the other children on the ride–in a large variety of contraptions, from trail-a-bikes to attached seats to cargo bikes of all variety. Some Seattle Family Bikers had camped out the night before on the island and were all loaded up with camping gear.  We haven’t tried that yet–maybe after the baby. It was fun to meet other families though!

And at the end, there was Pane d’Amore pie. And lots of friends. So a good time was had by all. And I spent much of the rest of the day with an ice pack on my knee. It was worth it.

 

To Market to Market!

Our first trip to the grocery store. The almost-8 year old rode his own bike, and I took the 5 year old on the XtraCycle.

A big bonus of biking to the grocery store is we don’t need a parking space–our island is a major tourist destination in the summer and often the parking gets really crowded. This morning that wasn’t as issue, but we were still happy to be out rather than in a car.

A little too comfortable on the bike.
A little too comfortable on the bike.

 

Mirit has decided that the bike is her personal rolling bed, so she did fine. She brought a pillow, a blanket, and two books which she stowed in the bags.

At the grocery store we got 2 five-lb bags of flour, a bottle of lemon juice, lemons (for the Owen’s Playground fundraiser lemonade and cookie stand we plan for tomorrow!), 2 jars of apricot jam and 2 pints of cream to make peach ice cream. It all fit in the cargo bags, no problem–and Jacob decided to carry another bag on his bike as well.

The only difficult part was getting the kickstand up when the bike was so rear loaded with groceries and child. We bought  the sturdiest kickstand (A Rolling Jackass!) and it is tough to start–we almost fell over. A lovely passerby helped us though, and we got started. The rest of the way home was a breeze–assist up the hills, and a smooth downhill. I even took the unpaved trail for the first time and it was easy–although Jacob went too fast around a curve and skidded and crashed on his bike. Ah, active kids.

Me and my cargo
Me and my cargo

Hey look, I match the bike! This trip was a total success–all those heavy groceries home on a bike. Yay!

 

Nope, too tired

Yesterday afternoon the kids wanted to go over to see the progress on our house that is being renovated. Although it’s less than a mile away, I just wasn’t rested enough to contemplate taking them on the bike. So we drove. -1 for Mama. We did bring back a number of wood scraps for Jacob’s projects, but I wondered how much of that we could have fit in the cargo bags. Anyway, this morning Mirit is whirling around on her bike, so at least someone is on a bike. Just thought I’d share the unsuccessful days too. =)

The family not riding bikes. I took Jacob to see Maleficent though, not featured. =)
The family not riding bikes. I took Jacob to see Maleficent though, not featured. =)

On My Own

The BionX manual for my motor lists the four offered speeds as follows:
Level1: Riding on Level Ground
Level 2: Slight Inclines, head wind
Level 3: Steep hills, strong head wind
Level 4: Very steep roads

My experience as a 32 1/2 week pregnant woman on the Xtracycle has been:
No Assist: Riding on Level Ground
Level 4: Riding up any slight hill whatsoever and I’m still breathing hard. (And I’m using the Extra Boost button)

Oh well, I’ll report back after I have the baby. Today I rode up to town on my own with the bike and only experienced a bit of saddle soreness afterwards. My purse and water bottle in the cargo bags meant no backpack for me, a definite bonus.

My next challenge: The Family Course of the Bike for Pie on the island this Sunday. It’s an 8 mile course–think I can do it with the 5 year old?

Biking with Child Day One!

Yesterday, I went to Greenwood to pick up my bicycle! Actually, I didn’t want to bike it all the way back to the ferry (8 miles on back roads) so I just checked it out and paid for it. Later, my friend Angela and her friend came with a Suburban and loaded it up and brought it back to Bainbridge. Thank you a million times Angela!

 

My bike in the store. Note the baby seat on front!
My bike in the store. Note the baby seat on front!

This morning, I showed it to my screaming, crying almost 8 year old who was having a fit because he’d spent his savings on a toy that didn’t work while he meant to be saving for a scooter which I just found on the classifieds for $10.  IMG_4315

Anyway, the bike cheered him up. =). He immediately wanted to get on it.
Now the back of my Edgerunner can technically hold 2 children, but I hadn’t planned on the 62 pounder being one of them. But hey, let’s try it! First, I rode around the neighborhood on my own figuring out the geometry of the bike–by the way, I’m 32 weeks pregnant–and it was very comfortable! Upright, easy to pedal, and the secret weapon-a BionX motor–power assist! So I made it around easily! Then Jacob hopped on and it was a bit hard to disengage the kickstand, but a push helped it and we were off–around the neighborhood, up and down a hill, no problem! We loaded Mirit on last (the 5 year old), and we were off! Ok, the kickstand was even harder to push off, oof, but the kids pushed, and we got the bike started!

Here is what was on the bike: One 7 year old with a backpack, one 5 year old, a large stuffed turtle in one cargo bag, my purse and water bottle in the other cargo bag, and a 7 month pregnant woman peddling. And our three helmets on, of course.

Here is what happened: I started to take off up the hill and sort of veered to the curb. Not enough power assist, and I couldn’t reach the button. Oh, and the little side remote wasn’t connected correctly, which I hadn’t realized yet. So I had to get off, veer down the hill, and start again. This time, I powered up to 3 bars ( supposedly for a steep hill with strong wind, but hey, the motor didn’t know it was on a cargo bike!) and made it all the way up Wyatt with no troubles! Nothing compared to pulling a trail a bike, anyway. Lots of stares and thumbs up from other cyclists. Then down a hill through a parking lot to the bakery, where we picked up a box of cookies for Jacob’s camp–just a little awkwardness getting on and off the bike at the bakery–then Jacob carried the cookies in the box as we rode back up the hill to park in front of the theatre. No problem!

One kid delivered, the ride home was much easier! Up a bit, down the hill, and back to the garage. Lots of stares. I unlocked the battery to charge it, and Mirit and I both have giant grins on our faces. Jacob wants me to pick him up from camp in it, but that might be enough for today.

Biking With Child–More History

What is a Cargo Bike? There are several different types of Cargo Bikes, mostly made in Europe, and meant to carry, obviously, cargo, but then, also children. Because in other countries, people bike a lot more, and have found ways to do what they need to do in life on a bicycle. So a cargo bike either has a long tail to hold goods and children, or a big basket/bin in the front to do same. Or a fold out platform. In late May, I ordered an Xtracycle Edgerunner (http://www.xtracycle.com/#cargo-bicycle) from G & O Family Cyclery (http://familycyclery.com) in Greenwood.

Earlier, David and I started talking about minivan options with our third child on the way. We don’t like buying and using gasoline. Our cars are a Prius and a Leaf. We live downtown so we can walk. We decided we could skip the minivan if we had a more practical child carrying device. So this Cargo Bike is our experiment. This blog will be my experiences with the bike in our car-centered culture.

It Begins! A Little History

I love to ride a bicycle. We, the family, love to ride bicycles. I think I really fell in love with cycling when Dave and I used to ride up the coast in San Diego way back in before children time. I aimed to get up to a century (100 miles). My longest ride, 35 miles, was just before I found out I was pregnant with Jacob. So I guess I started biking with child a long time ago! Then I started having knee trouble, and a child, and biking changed a lot for me.

The next time I rode a lot was when I was training for sprint triathlons a few summers ago. I bought a bicycle from my friend Deb and stopped training on my heavy mountain bike. I got through a bunch of triathlons, but I had lots of hip, knee, and foot pain that sent me to many specialists. Still, I wanted to get back on a bike.

I figured out that the racing bike was not for me. Besides, what was my goal, my ideal? Just enjoying being on a bicycle, out of a car. I sold my racing bike, searching for the ideal everything around town bike. I settled on a Cyclocross, which got me around the island and was more comfortable. I still used a mountain bike–the same old heavy one from San Diego–to pull a trailer, and then a trail-a-bike, when now Mirit was big enough. But it got heavier and heavier, and we have hills! So I found myself choosing the car, again, and again–it’s too hard, she’s too heavy, I have to go grocery shopping, it’s too slow. I had a million excuses.

Then I heard about cargo bikes. And that is where the next part of the tale begins!