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

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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

 

 

Bike to School!

Bainbridge Island Bike to School is the same day as Bike to Work. I like this tradition because there is so much added support, and a real community of cyclists on the road. Also, the drivers are more alert to all the riders around them.

First stop and bottom of the hill.
First stop and bottom of the hill.

Another year of bike to school. Last year it was my last day pulling the 5 year old on the trail-a bike. I was 5 months pregnant and really struggling to get up that hill to the school and I’d had it.
This year I led a bike train to the school with baby in front seat!

We headed out with just my family, then picked up four  more kids and two dads along the way.

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Mirit is wearing her bicycle dress. We’re a bit obsessed.

It was a misty morning, but that didn’t stop our intrepid cyclers. My daughter doesn’t even go to the public school yet, but she insisted on joining on her own bike (it didn’t hurt that free snacks and prizes awaited her at the school). My son, who had stayed at grandma and zayde’s house on Thursday night, as he frequently does, biked past the school to meet us and ride back to school with us.

It was encouraging how many kids and parents did the ride, even at 7:30 in the morning. We met up with a dad running and pushing his kid up the hill-it was just a bit too much for the kindergartner. My daughter and a couple others had to stop and walk part of the hill, but they all made it. There was much celebrating at the school-more than 50 bikes all together, and the principal and teachers cheered everyone on. This year several girl scouts did a bike safety project and donated LED lights and safety straps to all the participants.

I baked homemade granola bars, easy and delicious, although the kids picked the pre-wrapped bars over mine. The parents liked those though-=)

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup honey

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup puffed brown rice

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/3 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup mixed raisins or other dried fruit

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons flour or gluten-free flour

1/2 cup chopped almonds

2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (although I toasted mine and forgot them!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square or 11 x 7 inch brownie pan with parchment. Stir together all ingredients and pat into pan. Bake 18-22 minutes or until set. Refrigerate an hour or more, then cut into bars. Devour!

Anyway, on the way back I needed to drop off my daughter so she could join her kindergarten carpool. So, I strapped her bike to the hooptie with a jumprope (is that a recommended use?)–the one we’d just used to strap on the pan of granola bars–and rode home. A good morning.

Bike on Board
Bike on Board

Note the bicycle baby legs, thanks to Marisa Robba. =)

 

 

Live and Learn: The Floral Edition

Flowers Before the Fall
Flowers Before the Fall

So you can’t do everything on a cargo bike. There. I said it. I admitted it. Most things, but not all. One thing that doesn’t work very well on this particular cargo bike is transporting completed floral arrangements.
Even if you strap the vase in from two sides onto the seat inside the hoopti, water will still pour out and possibly you may decapitate some expensive tulips and you might shoot the whole arrangement into the middle of the street a block from where you are going. For example. But it was an attempt. Just as I have not transported a fully decorated layer cake effectively using any bike method. I’m sure the method is out there though.

And here’s the cute baby just because, baby. On a bike.

IMG_7395

Hello, Baby!

She's on the move!
She’s on the move!

At 5 1/2 months, I decided Lilah had waited long enough to ride. So here she is, cool as can be and strapped in. I put on the parka to shield her from the wind, and we rode Mirit to preschool, about 1 mile away. I’m not quite sure about the fit of her helmet, which was Mirit’s when she was about 1 in the trailer. Lilah did not protest though, she rode silently all the way to school, and most of the way back.

Maybe she was scared, but we’ve now ridden at least a handful of times and getting buckled into that Yepp Mini can make her stop crying when she’s been fussy. I’ll take that.

Onward, bike crusader!

I get stopped all the time by people asking about my bike. I was standing in front of the grocery store eating a sandwich last week because the store is getting renovated and there are no tables—and at least three people stopped to admire and ask about the bike.  I always try to answer questions and convince people that they could ride one like it. The best so far has been last week when I was taking a shortcut through the high school to get to the swimming pool. An official looking man (with a security hat maybe) waved me over. I thought “Oh no-am I not allowed to ride back this way? I’ve only done it about 100 times…” But no, he said “Hey, I’ve seen you riding that bike–I thought it was really unique, but do you know they have a ton of bikes like that over in Europe?” “Uh, yes.” And then he launched into the standard set of questions and admiration. People are mostly impressed, and then I tell them how easy it is to ride—I’m no super cyclist. I’m happy to spread the word though. If I get a few people to think twice about needing to own a minivan, I’m happy. =)

Purim Caravan

So recently it was the Jewish holiday of Purim. For this holiday, it is traditional to bake cookies called Hamentaschen (triangular, jam-filled cookies) and give them to friends and family.  We add some other treats like chocolates or stickers and make packages. We usually mail some to friends (this year we mailed a package to a record-far Taiwan!) and deliver them in person to local friends.  We dress in costume as well, which adds to the excitement of the holiday. I asked the big kids how we should deliver the packages this year and guess how they answered?

Who are those winged messengers?
Who are those winged messengers?

We stuffed all the cookie tins into a cardboard box (just visible behind Mirit) and made it to 5 delivery stations around town with not a cookie broken (at least not that I was informed). What fun! It took us about an hour and a half to do the rounds–we didn’t try the outlying areas (I did those later by car) but we had a blast. You can also imagine, we got quite the reaction cycling around town like that. And we worked off some of the holiday treats we sampled.

Hamentaschen by Bike
Hamentaschen by Bike

 

Chilly, Hilly, and Really Painful

I was really ambitious and decided to try the Chilly Hilly on Bainbridge Island with child #2 in tow. This earned us much interest and plenty of accolades–and some scoffing when people realized I had motor assist. It’s a ride though, not a race, and no one is limited in the type of bike they choose to ride. And most of them were not hauling a 45 pound child.

Anyway, I learned lots of lessons on this beautiful day, which was mostly Hilly and not Chilly. For me anyway. For Mirit, who refused layers, it was cold. By mile 10 or 15, she was freezing. We should have brought a blanket-or 3. Although she lay down and snuggled in the back seat, and wore her winter coat, we should have brought her more warm layers. She was also (of course) hungry. Despite a large breakfast. And so was I.

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Also, although I had this awesome bike with motor assist, it was still a really long hilly ride on a heavy bike! A few miles in, the tendons in my knees started to hurt. And it just got worse and worse. One of the reasons I bought this bike was because I seemed to always get pain after 20-30 miles of riding on hills. Well adding a child didn’t help. My knees spoke up and I had to listen–but first I had to get home! We made it to the Battlepoint Park halfway point, but then shortcut to head home, and by the time I got there it was painful to walk stairs. I spent 2 days on high levels of ibuprofen, hot baths, and I iced them as much as I could. Note taken.

AND, the motor stopped working at about mile 9. Uh-oh–not feeling so super anymore. There were small beeping noises emitting from it every few strokes and although the screen worked, I clearly wasn’t getting any help. Which I’m sure didn’t help my knees. After texting my husband (at this point far ahead on the ride with our 8-year-old) and receiving no response, I took a deep breath and turned off the power. I couldn’t possibly make it back with no assist the way I was feeling, and this bike wouldn’t fit on most cars (although perhaps the support might have loaded us in a truck). So, I waited a minute, and turned the power back on. And it worked! The age-old trick of turning it off and on again. Whew! And we made it to the snack stop and back home.

So! We made it about 20 miles out of the 33 in total. I was never planning on the whole ride, but I also didn’t anticipate the pain. So maybe me alone on the cyclocross bicycle with more training will be the better answer. Live and learn.

We did get to go have crepes and soup with friends after our morning adventures, which made for a very pleasant afternoon, so that turned out well. On to the next challenge: Purim by Bike Caravan!

Daily Life

And a rider.
And a rider.

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written. I guess that’s part of life with three kids, not lots of spare time. And when I do have spare time, I’ve been knitting. But anyway. The bike. It’s gradually becoming my vehicle of choice, even in January. And here’s the bald faced truth:
It’s not raining that much.
Really!
Right outside Seattle.
I know!

It is grey, but that is decent biking weather.
So whenever I don’t have the baby, I’m using the cargo bike. That’s right. Here’s what I’ve done on it:
1. Transported my laptop computer, binder, and research books all to my studio on one side, with my son’s swimming gear and towel on the other, a bag of fabric to make a quilt stuffed in there too. AND, then I managed to stop for coffee (note to self, throw away cup spills in drink holder, must bring cup unless I want latte splattered all over road) and then head to eight year old’s school to meet the principal (uh, yeah, that was not in my plans). BUT, it worked BECAUSE I could just load my son into the back and take him home with me–just as if I’d had a car. Huzzah! If only getting him to control his temper was as easy. Any suggestions? I digress.

2. Loaded it up with work stuff again and headed to the theatre. I haven’t yet tried to load costumes on it, but with no children on the seats I imagine I could spread them over the back of the seat, strap them on, and arrive no worse for wear. If I do, I’ll post a pic. OH-Work–the non-kid variety. I’m designing Snow Falling On Cedars for the Bainbridge Performing Arts. More on that some other time. Anyway, my binders, designs, research books, supplies, all fit nicely.  The theatre is less than a mile away. Will I ride in the dark? Not sure. I do have lights, but it gets DARK here. Maybe not. Would you?

3. Six bags of groceries and the five year old! As seen in photo. She sat with one bag, and everything got home safely. No problem, no parking space needed. Again, huzzah.

It is so fun to ride–and we’re always getting comments. A lady commented–It’s like a family car! while I was going by–and it is. Without gas. And some days it’s my only physical activity! So that is definitely worth it.

Onward and forward!

Knitting instead of Writing But isn't she cute?
Knitting instead of Writing
But isn’t she cute?

Denied!

Pie to Transport
Pie to Transport

I needed a picture to put in this blog since I haven’t been riding the cargo bike. I hit six weeks post partum, I was all ready to put the five year old in the hoopty and head to piano lessons with her, and ooops–the bionX electric assist would not turn on. I had charged the battery in the morning, so this should not have been a problem. Argh! Denied! I fidgeted with it, got it to turn on and loaded her up (with two bags of hand me down I should mention)…and Nothing! No assist. Sadness.

After a phone call to G and O Cyclery, it seems that a small magnet (which was a sensor) had been knocked off the brake during an accident and that was probably why the assist wasn’t working. The magnet is on its way, and I should be good to go when it’s reattached.

I have done a couple of short trips on my everyday Cyclocross bike, and it feels great. But I can’t carry much, and it seems I always need to carry something! I did grab a couple of groceries in a backpack. I have to say, now that I’ve experienced the cargo bike, it was inferior! However, the bike felt very light! I’m not carrying a baby anymore.

Which brings me to the baby…definitely not putting her in the baby seat yet. She’s 2 months old, not holding up her head steadily, it would not be safe. If I had a Bakefiets and could rig her car seat in it…I still might not do it. It doesn’t seem smart to me. But I’m still curious to hear what others have done. I’m excited for spring when I think she’ll be ready.

Meanwhile, I’m contemplating how you would bring pie and turkey to friends on Thanksgiving. And admiring how Davey Oil is moving his entire household on bikes. A worthy goal to strive for, but I’m guessing not in our future. Sigh.

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m grateful for getting my body back and biking. And for my wonderful, healthy, inspirational family. Have some pie!