I can't believe it's already February 1st! It has been quite an adventure and a beautiful start to this new year. I was shocked at how seamlessly we've moved away from depending on a car, easier than some, of course, because of our mild winters in Sacramento. The only times I even got in a car was to car-pool to a meeting in Roseville, do a couple of errands with my mom, and when our bike got a flat. Getting picked up from our bike trip and then the subsequent trip to Practical Cycle
to drop off the bike for its repair were the only two trips this month that were completely for our own needs. Definitely a drop in our previous 1/week car trip average.
I know that it won't always be this easy to be car-free but it's a great start. We have some lovely changes coming up to our schedules and life is going to get busier but we're enjoying it all right now. The brisk, clear weather makes me so happy. The boys and I have had some extra time to play at Art Beast
and the Railroad Museum
This week's recovery from Big Brother and my Great Adventure
was interesting. Despite a bit of soreness and some extra exhaustion, I felt surprisingly great. I still continue to eat as if I was biking miles and miles and miles a day. I've been trying to catch up on some extra sleep by napping with the boys when I'm home with them.
We did get an extra special surprise today when we stopped in to Practical Cycle on our way to the Train Museum and found that our Mundo Mama friend, Kate
, had dropped of a Bread Basket
she had won
holiday contest! She already had a BB so she amazingly shared this new one with us! I am so excited! Cassidy immediately installed it for us and even swapped out our brake cable and housing for a longer one so my brakes wouldn't catch on the basket when we turned. We still need to get a base for the basket to make it useable and, in the long run, figure out a liner
-type insert. I know I say it often, but I am so blessed to be a part of this wonderfully caring family-biking community.
Playing with the trains at the Train Museum.
Waiting patiently while Cassidy installs the Bread Basket. I didn't think to get a photo of the whole rig, probably because by that time, the boys were a horrible mess of screams.
During our trip to Chico, I made a pit stop and happened to glance at my bike computer. Total miles had just hit exactly 3000 miles since we got it last March!
I didn't even have any idea that this was coming up.
Since the rear flat was one of the many culprits that ended our bike trip early, the Mundo went straight into the shop the following Monday. I had thought that the incredibly thick, self-sealing tube would hold for the 5 mile commute to Practical Cycle
but while I was having coffee with my mama, the tire lost the battle. My mom graciously went back to my house to get the bike rack we had used earlier and helped me load up the bike again. I'm getting to be such a pro! I just take off anything that can be removed, including the seatpost and its stoker bars. The bike sticks up quite a bit on one side but with enough tie-downs, it is very stable.
A recap of what the bike looks like loaded up.
Tim got right to work pulling out the tube. It was easy to find the hole from the leaking slime. One good thing to note is that you cannot patch a slime tube--I hadn't had a spare tube with me on the trip so I would have been in deep doodoo if that had been what I needed/wanted to do.
My demise had been caused by a chunk of glass. Common enough to find in any bike "path." I remember running over a good-sized chunk and hoping that the thick tube and liner would do the trick. That was also probably the sound I heard as I was pedaling. The glass was working its way deeper and deeper into my tire. Had I had the foresight to really take a thorough look at my wheel early on, I might have noticed it and saved myself one ginormous headache. But I didn't. I know that the thick tube did give me enough protection to allow me to continue riding far longer than I would have with a regular one. I will not put anything less on the Mundo from now on (unless it's just a temporary spare).
Next came the hard part. Tim and I decided it was time to retire the original Mundo wheel, a basic tire that still had enough tread left but a large divot from the glass, and upgrade to something better with more protection. However, 3000 miles with one flat is nothing short of amazing but anything I can do to avoid changing that back wheel, especially since there would be a good chance of the kids being on the back, I'm onboard!
I knew that Schwalbes were the way to go--Big Apples and Fat Franks were among the most popular among fellow cargo bikers. With tires you tend to "get what you pay for." FFs hold up to 130kg whereas BA active models are just up to 115kg. BA were about $20 cheaper but not enough protection in my opinion. We didn't have the performance model of the BA which is technically 100% comparable to FF. The FF, although they come in different color options(!), were just too fat for my liking at a whopping 2.35".
Tim recommended, without a doubt, what he has on his bike--the Mondial! A 140kg capacity, 2", plenty of tread, lighter than either the FF or BA but at about twice the cost. I quickly texted Jose who didn't hesitate--get quality, he replied. Mondial it was, along with another thick, self-sealing tube, and my original tire liner.
I had been worried that I would feel a drag from the heavier treaded tire but as I rode home at 12-15mph, I had to admit that it actually felt better than before.
And I LOVE the reflective sidewall!
Now I have to wait for my front tire to go out. With the amount of tread still left that might not be until next year! Enough time to save up for anothe Mondial. I figure that the small amount of money that I put into this bike, relative to a car, it's worth it to make sure that the parts are quality and will last.
Can't wait to see where the next 3000 miles takes us!
Tomorrow's the big day! We're heading out on our big adventure to Chico. Hubby and Little Brother are staying home while Big Brother and I search for dinosaur tracks. You can follow our adventure on crazyguyonabike.com
. So far, it's just what we're up to and what we're bringing. Just by a lucky coincidence the Mundo-specific multitool I had ordered from Antload
up in Portland arrived this afternoon!
Mundo sockets, spoke and pedal wrench, and handy bottle opener!
Big Brother's handlebars.
Big Brother's pile.
Our route has been planned with the help of our hosts. I am feeling pretty comfortable with the distances and the roads. Now, I just have to pack it all on the bike!
Big Brother and I were so lucky to get two chances this weekend to visit with other biking families. Saturday was our Kidical Mass
ride. We had 14 brave bikers show up in the chilly morning. The bikes were awesome--two Mundos
, a bakfiets, a Fr8
, a custom ANT
, and two Bike Fridays
. We rode to Doughbot
, using proper hand signals and following all traffic rules, taking the lane as needed. After filling ourselves up with delicious sugar, we rode over to the giant Southside Park to run around.
I love getting a chance to meet up with other biking families in the area--checking out their customizations and how they keep their kids warm, what's working for them and helping to figure out any difficulties. It's the perfect way to realize how many of us are truly out there and that we're not really crazy for biking the way we do. Plus, they're really just fun people to visit with.
Meeting up at Old Soul.
Melissa was rocking her new Fr8 with her two little ones.
The Koen family with their customized Dutch bike, styling kiddos, and happy smiles.
Teeny Bike Fridays fit inside and make great coat racks.
Alien Big Brother running out his yayas.
After the playground, I zipped home to drop Big Brother off for lunch and his nap then cruised back out to have lunch with a friend. Biking lets me make multiple trips and do more fun things without feeling guilty about driving around town frivolously and excessively.
Great bike racks at the cafes down R st!
Sunday followed with more family fun biking with our Mommy Group ride to Doughbot, again since the mommies couldn't make it the day before. I'm always up for a second round of doughnuts, of course. Sadly, when we arrived, they were out for the next hour! We biked down to Southside Park without our sugar high but popped back over for their next fresh batch.
It was so much fun to ride with the Mommies (and a Daddy)! Another mommy had been riding her Mundo regularly, there was mom on her bike for just the third time since her kids' were born AND she was towing 80 lbs of kid/gear, one little guy was on a trail-a-bike for the first time, and another mama had her son in a kid seat that she had installed the night before! With that kind of range of biking comfortability, we still stayed together, rode safely, obeyed traffic laws, and had tons of fun! It goes to show that riding a bike is always better with friends and the perfect way to get used to everyday cycling. One thing that we all had in common was that we are all interested in biking more regularly and will plan to do this again soon!
On the road!
Daddy with his "rocket pack!"
We made it!
This was the perfect weekend to reenergize me for the coming trip to Chico. I had been feeling pretty nervous about the length of the trip and my insane decision to take Big Brother with me. However, looking at the maps, I've whittled down the mileage to about 60 each day, totally doable. We have very nice people to stay with through warmshowers
. I've got special surprises for BB along the way, new books, and lots of snacks planned. I'm feeling much more prepared and very excited. Worst case, we're not going very far and we'll have lots of support if needed.
It always surprises me when people are surprised that I do almost all my errands by bike. I take it for granted that not everyone is comfortable riding their bikes in traffic. I've had people tell me how they used to ride to work but stopped because it was "too dangerous," only to find out that their "too dangerous" is a route I take daily, with my kids, and find it to be quite simple. Studies keep coming out showing how bikers actually spend more money
than car drivers because it is so easy for us to make a quick stop when we see something we like. We don't have to worry about parking and we see all the interesting things as we ride along, stopping at will.
Unfortunately, in our car-driven culture, places are aghast at the thought of imposing on their more important car customers, refusing to give up "valuable" parking spaces in lieu of bike racks or bike lanes. Unless we come into their place of business wearing spandex and clomping around in clip shoes, they'd probably never know we had arrived by bike--skewing their perception of what their paying customers drive.
Here are two examples that I came across today. These places are both fantastically easy to get to by bike but once you're there, it gets harder. The first is a Kaiser Permanente medical office. They love to tell you to get active, use your bike and walk, but I notice that they haven't taken the time to encourage the practices they preach
It is especially disappointing because this is such an easy fix. By putting out a nicely visible bike rack, they are showing that biking is a valued form of transportation and encouraging others to do so.
The second location has a different problem. Trader Joe's on Folsom Blvd. has a bike rack. That's good, right? Nope! They have a bike rack that is so poorly placed that it is almost useless. They are making it so difficult to use the bike rack that it actually discourages people from biking because of the hassles and dangers of using it.
Notice how shallow the space is provided. When we used to use the trailer, this was a nightmare. We would actually have to unhook the trailer and park it next to the bike, not easy if you're toting children and/or a full load of groceries. Our Mundo
barely fits, and only if one of the side spaces is empty. However, that's not even my biggest beef with this situation. Do you see the giant CURB you have to pull your bike over to get to the rack? Without a curb cut, you're just asking for trouble. Easing a fully-loaded bike off that curb is really difficult, children or no children, and you're backing into traffic! They're basically saying: "yes, we have a bike rack but we don't really want you to use it."
This is what I have to do to load my bike up because of the curb and the brick wall surrounding the bike rack. I have to go into the street, all the way around, park the cart next to my bike--in the parking lot with traffic zipping by, and then bring the cart back around. Try doing that while wrangling small children. I have to drag them into the parking lot multiple times because there is no sidewalk connecting the bike rack.
Combine this terribly designed "bike rack" with their terribly designed parking lot and you have a recipe for disaster. Traffic is often backed up into the street and around the corner. People are stopping in the middle of the lot to wait for an open space while others get impatient and try to pass dangerously around them. Because there are so few parking spaces, one would think that Trader Joe's would be happy to be a bike friendly business, easing up the congestion already in the lot. I guarantee most of their shoppers come from a 2-mile
radius, the majority being less than that. They are smack dab in the middle of two very bike friendly routes and they are missing out on a brilliant opportunity to help bikes and cars alike.
Putting the effort to encourage bicyclist customers is a simple yet effective way to get more people on bikes for everyday errands. In just a single parking space, Insight Coffee
has welcomed about 10 bikes. This is the way to become a bike friendly business and they are certainly benefitting from it. We want to welcome everyone into the world of cycling and we need businesses' help. Show us that you care and we will be incredibly loyal customers for life.
Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates took this lovely photo of Insight Coffee's bike corral
I always feel a little silly when people ask how we're going to ride through Winter. For goodness sakes, it's Sacramento, not Michigan! I don't have to wear a balaclava or add bike spikes to my tires. The worst things we have to get through are fog and frost (maybe a little wind, some rain here or there, etc.). Granted, I do feel pretty darn proud every time we get out of the house and onto our bikes in less than comfy weather. I will admit that it's more of a challenge these days with the extra layers and accessories. The struggles of shoving a wriggling toddler into a snowsuit that had the brilliant idea of coming in two extra difficult layers. It's like a wrestling match! I consider any morning that we manage to bike without the whiney "I'm cooooooold!" complaint from the back a success.
Chilly week ahead!
I did feel silly ordering the snowsuits last fall and although we haven't used them very often, I think they were the perfect option for mornings like these. Today, Big Brother had on three or four long-sleeved shirts, fleece lined pants, snow bibs, two sets of socks, and my fleece. Little Brother (yes, he's screaming in the photo but it's just because I covered his hands and he still wanted to eat) is wearing three shirts, a pair of sweatpants, socks, and his snowsuit that has a separate fleece layer. I tried to keep his hands covered (he doesn't like mittens) but his screaming won and I opened them back up, showing him how to keep his hands tucked into the sleeves.
Neither one complained!
My toes however...brrrrr!
By the way, in case you're wondering, I was wearing wool socks (not enough!), leggings, jeans, two layers of warm base layer shirts, my jacket, scarf, and wind-resistant gloves. I would have changed the shoes that i was wearing (Mary Jane Keens) to something warmer but I had finally gotten Little Brother into his suit and didn't want to have to put him down to tie my shoes. My fingers were also still cold, I should have added a warm layer to my gloves.
Last night I couldn't sleep so instead, I came up with the most awesome idea--I am going to go on a biking adventure (of some sort) each month! I already have January's planned: Big Brother and I are riding North for a biking overnight (or two or three or four)!
Most of the trip has already been beautifully mapped out by the folks behind Central California Cycling
. You may remember that we used their suggested route to go to Modesto
and found it to be fabulous. I'm trusting their judgement again and we're riding to Chico. Unfortunately, Jose won't have enough time off to do something epic like this for awhile. I went back and forth about bringing anyone else into the trip and came to the conclusion that this is going to be mama and Big Brother time. The route is flat, we're breaking it up into two days up, two days back with a day of rest in the middle. It's close enough that if we have any problems, we can easily call for help. If we don't make it all the way, no worries, we're just doing our best. Big Brother is the most patient little guy I know and as long as we bring plenty of dinosaur books, he'll be happy. I'm not ready to try to bring both boys on my own yet but I'll make sure that Little Brother gets a little overnight of his own in the near future.
My bike of choice for this ride is the Mundo
, of course. I already know that I can go long distances on it (90 miles in a day!) and it can hold plenty of gear (not that we'll need a ton since we're hoping to link up with Warmshowers
hosts). The deck gives Big Brother two seating options: holding on when he wants to be involved and working, tucked into the Peanut Shell when he wants a rest/read a book/eat a snack.
We're basically set to go already (although we have some time). The only things I think we would need are another Baguette for storage and wheelskirt-like protection, finally installing a thick tube and tire liner for the front wheel (like the one already in the rear), one of these handy little Mundo multitools
from Antload in Portland to deal with Mundo-specific repairs, and a quick tune-up from Tim over at Practical Cycle to make sure everything is tip top. We've already made contact with a lovely couple outside Marysville and hoping to hear back from someone in Chico to find a place to stay. It would be easier than camping in January and bringing extra gear and much cheaper than finding a little motel (although that's not out of the question, if needed).
I am so excited!
Not to overshadow the mini-adventures we have each day: today we went to the Sacramento Zoo and rode the marry-go-round!
For those of you who might be curious, this is how my little guy naps in the Peanut Shell:
The iphone didn't say rain. We at least had the foresight to put the kids in their rain jackets for the cold. It was wet out. A heavy, drippy, foggy rain. Enough moisture to be dripping off my Nutcase visor. Riding with the kids on the back of the Mundo
felt like they had gained an extra 50 pounds. It was as if they were water-logged. Heavy. Tiring. It also didn't help that my cold is still lingering and trying to decide if it's going to come back or finally (please!) go away. My cold is such a jerk. It's a good thing that my kiddos are so cute and awesome. They were super happy to be riding. There wasn't a single complaint during the entire 6 mile ride to church.
Mouth full of delicious goodies to keep him screaming when we put him in the seat. Yes, he's just at that age...
After a great time with friends and playtime for the kids and chocolate cookies to bribe them to get back on the bike, we were ready to go. The weather had cleared up but I was tired so Jose rode home with the boys and I got to ride the Easton.
Truthfully, this post doesn't really have anything new to offer other than pointing out that my kids are super cute. It's been hard to be sick for this long, neither being able to stop everything or push myself into doing awesome things. Riding a bike is just about the only exciting thing I get to do these days so it's especially great that I get to ride everyday, even if they're just basic trips to get our errands done. I can't wait until March (we'd all better be healthy by March for goodness sakes!) when we're planning our awesome family camping trip to Beal's Point! Are you interested in joining? Contact me!
Last night I sent my mom a text: "Can I have the car? I have a home visit in The Pocket." That was going to be my plan as I was tired, still feeling sick, the BionX wasn't charged enough, and it would be a 15+ mile trip into an area I'm not really used to riding in.
However, by morning, I realized those were all pretty pathetic excuses. If I was really going to reach my goals of not driving and getting more exercise, I had to make an effort and push myself. Luckily, the boys got me out of bed at 7 am, giving me enough time to get the bike out and plug it in for a few hours to top off the battery. I tried to give myself extra time to account for my inevitably getting lost but I just couldn't get out the door that easily.
The route was pretty simple, riding along the Riverside bike lane. Once I got into the Pocket area, it was more complicated trying to follow a twisted maze of paths through a park. Luckily, I had my iPhone handy and was able to save myself from too much backtracking.
I showed up to my appointment about 10 minutes late but not sweaty or stressed (I had averaged about 14-16 mph the whole way but did get lost quite a few times). The best part was arriving in such a great mood.
Going home was much easier because I was more confident in the route. The park was much easier to navigate and it led me right up to the Sacramento River Parkway. Sadly, the Sacramento River Parkway is frequently blocked from private residences' illegal fences. South Sacramento is missing out on what could be an amazing biking resource like the American River Parkway. Hopefully, with all the work that the Sacramento River Parkway Coalition
is doing and the recent positive political actions, this could be up and running in the next few years.
The beautiful Sacramento River Parkway.
Bummer! Ran out of trail. This is one of the many "private" sections of the parkway.
Got home and immediately loaded up the kids onto the Mundo to meet family in midtown for lunch. I was so happy to have been able to do a long bike ride quickly but not end up exhausted and be able to function for the rest of the day. Even though I used an electric bike, I was able to eat an awesome grilled cheese with lots of bacon and still have plenty of calories left over to have a full dinner. Some people might say that having an electric bike is cheating. I say that driving is cheating. If I hadn't had the BionX, I would have driven today. I am so happy that I didn't!
I love the rain and the colder weather! I especially love biking in the chilly mornings and even more after dark. My mom always says "make sure you're lit up like a Christmas tree!" I take things very literally.
This week has been so much fun. Although it was quiet at the shop, the bosses
were of holding their title of one of the elite top Pedego
dealers. I had the store to myself.
(That was actually my lunch break. I was working really hard, promise, Tim!). The weather finally started clearing up today and the streets dried out again.
This week, I also tried my hand at a little crafty project I saw online. I'd never used a chain-breaker but now I'm a total pro. It was pretty awesome to get my hands dirty and have these little guys turn out so cool.
I think I've mentioned it once or twice but I really love biking. This week, most of our mornings looked like this:
I would then leave the trailer at the boys' daycare provider and Jose would later jog over with the dog and run them back home (the jogging attachment was stored in the back pocket). Jose loves jogging so it's win-win!
I can't wait for our exciting Christmas tree adventures
this weekend but until then, this day-to-day stuff is keeping me blissfully happy.