I can't believe that we're already a week through May Is Bike Month and I haven't even gotten around to writing about the 30 Days of Biking! Riding my bike is such a regular activity now that it often doesn't even occur to me that there's another way to get around. I can't imagine what my life would be like without my bike(s) anymore. I haven't missed a day of riding since the start of April, not because of any challenge, but because I had places to go and things to do. It feels so great to be able to ride my bike and I am forever grateful that I have a strong, healthy body that keeps me pedaling. Sometimes life gets hectic and overwhelming but the soft hum of the tires is so soothing, it calms my soul. I have another 8 days straight of jobs and events that I'm working on and then a weekend of freedom with one of my favorite people. You might not hear much from me in the next couple of weeks but I am working on something exciting and will hopefully have an update soon. Fingers crossed!
We drove all the way up to PDX to test ride this bike. After about a month of back-and-forth emails with our friend, Kidical Mass co-creator, and Haul-a-Day beta tester/consultant, Shane MacRhodes, I had some pretty high hopes that this bike could help fill the gap in transportation needs--a multimodal cargo bike. Being able to take the train or bus with the children and still have a way to get around when we arrive would be incredible. Our big summer adventure is coming up and there's still the issue of getting to our starting location and getting back home at the end. To take the Mundo on Amtrak would mean totally stripping the bike of everything removable so that it would fit in the generously-sized box AND be under 50 pounds. Also, with the local tours I'm planning for my starting business, my trips don't always start in Sacramento. If I could take the train or light rail to begin the trip, I'd be much happier and not feel like a big fake by driving to the starting point.
So without further ado, the big reveal:
And the action shots:
This bike is great! It's light and easy to ride. Unloaded if feels like a standard bike, loaded it's even more stable. The little front wheel takes more attention than I'm used to and it felt a bit wiggly. The ride was an upright, comfortable position but that can be adjusted with the OSATA telescoping tube. The blue bike was closer than I would choose. The standard gears are just an 8-speed cassette and although that would be just fine for Sacramento riding, for longer tours, I'd want a double or triple chainring added. I did notice that riding around the shop and the little hills I encountered were fine to pedal through at the highest two gears, even with my little passenger. It was nice to have a low deck that Little Brother could climb up and down off of but the kickstand wasn't stable enough to allow him to sit unattended.
The standard build up comes with a rear disc brake but only a front v-brake, I'd probably choose to add a front disc as well. The Bike Friday handlebars were very comfortable for upright riding and I noticed a range of widths so they're probably easily customizable. I like that it includes a flag mount for my usual pinwheel flag. The side bags were on the small side on the midtail whereas the longtail would have the Xtracycle freeloader bags. I think if I were to get the bike, I'd have to get another set of Carsick Design slings to fit. Sadly, the Mundo's would be too long. The midtail deck also fits an Xtracycle deck and all the accessories. It would be interesting to see how it would work because the deck would hang a little over the back of the frame.
To continue the fantasizing, I would probably need to add their half Hooptie design and a Yepp Maxi for Little Brother. I think that I'd be able to fit the seat directly onto the new Xtracycle deck with the optional cutouts. I'd also want to get the stationary front rack since that's been such a bonus with the Mundo. One of the bikes also had a couple of quick releases mounted near the rear axle that turned out to be a new towing mount. They still haven't done much testing but it's possible that it could be a trail-a-bike option to allow for a second bike and pedaler. If it even just tows a bike easily, that would be great because with the Peanut Shell on the back of the Mundo, it keeps me from easily towing regular-sized bikes or adding a trail-a-bike. One final addition that I might consider would be a trailer hitch since my dad has a couple of Bike Fridays and a suitcase trailer. That would solve my one worry that a midtail would be too little space for our touring. We could add soft, bulky gear in the trailer without feeling cramped on the bike.
This all leaves me with so many things to consider. The bike would fill a great void in our fleet but I would feel a bit excessive having the two big cargo bikes already. I'm not sure if I'm ready to totally give up the Mundo but I'm happy that it's being used and loved at the moment. One option would be to keep both cargo bikes and add the Haul-a-Day but allow for one or two of the cargo bikes to be rented out for the bike tours or borrowed by visitors and friends. The other option would be to sell the Mundo and add the Haul-a-Day so I don't feel so greedy. The other option, of course, is to not get the midtail at the moment and see how often we miss out on bike riding opportunities because we end up having to drive or leave the bikes then decide if it's something we really need. We'll be heading over to Bike Friday tomorrow on our way back home to follow up and chat about options and pricing, hopefully getting an extra test ride or else how will I fit in a day of riding for 30 Days of Biking?
What would you do?
May is my favorite month! Mother's Day, our anniversary, and my birthday all within a lovely set of 31 days.
It's also chock full of May Is Bike Month swag! I love May Is Bike Month! Two years ago, I won my beautiful Linus at the Bike Fest (and it just happened to be on my birthday, too). Last year, I reached my pledge of 600 miles by the skin of my teeth and won 3rd place for the most Errand Miles!
This year's going to be even better than the last! They've even started the Energizer Stations already! However, I need some help. Jose's threatening to drop my Tiny Helmets bike team unless we start racking up some real points. That means, I need as many folks out there who are willing to log miles for our team. I don't care if you pledge 10 miles or 1000, just join our team and log your miles! Our goal is to beat 350 Sacramento's team. I think we can do it. Who's in? Go to www.mayisbikemonth.com and sign up. If you've already joined a team, ditch them and ride with us! You can be a part of your Employer's challenge and still be on our team. Sign up your kids! Both Big Brother and Little Brother pledged 500 miles, who's going to challenge them? They're really competitive. I might even have them challenge each other. That would be pretty funny.
We're the most fun team, ever! Today, my mini team and I ran off to check out an Energizer Station (although we had the day's location wrong) and then hit up Doughbots for some delicious goodies. Bacon chocolate doughnut and an iced mocha is the best way to start a day (although admittedly probably not the best way to keep a day going). We rode around in the Bullitt together quite a bit, getting used to our new set-up.
The boys already love it. They are so happy to jump in the box. I still need to get the seat dialed in and add a rear rack. Similarly to the Mundo, once you add two kids to the bike, there's not a huge amount of room for anything else. Adding the Bread Basket to the Mundo was what made it more functional so I'm looking forward to getting a rear rack and adding panniers/bags to even out the load. The Bullitt rides even better with the boys onboard and it's very entertaining to have them up front.
Oh, and we saw a raccoon today. How awesome are we?
We're already almost halfway through 30 Days Of Biking and we've managed to keep biking every day. It's so funny compared to last year--that was a challenge, congratulating myself with each passing day. It was the beginning to our new life, although I hadn't really noticed it, yet. Back then, it was amazing to be able to count the days that the car had stayed parked. Next, we started realizing that we couldn't keep up with the number of days in a row. Now, we've come to realize that this weekend is going to be the first time since the beginning of the year that we will be borrowing my parents' car and needing to pay for gas! I don't even know what the price of a gallon is anymore.
It is surreal to think back on how much our lives have changed just from last year. Just today, we sold the final reminder of our pre-bikecentric fleet: the yellow double Chariot. Amazingly enough, we were able to sell it for just under what we had put into it. Off it goes, like the red single Chariot and the Yepp Mini, to bring biking joys to another family with youngsters. One more family on the road, enjoying the feeling of freedom and independence that only a bike can give.
So before our shed gets too comfortable being extra spacious, it's time to officially announce the next addition to our fleet: a Bullitt!
We had settled pretty early on a long-john style, mainly because we need to be able to carry our dog and because it's an awfully convenient way to carry kids, groceries, cargo. The Mundo has been great to us. I love how it rides like a tank and plows through everything we ask of it. We already know that we can tour with the Mundo, run errands, and haul our little ones, but ultimately, we decided that it would be better to have a different cargo bike to balance out our needs. It will be fun to start trying out new adventures with the Bullitt!
Between the two bikes, Jose and I will be able to do anything! No more bike juggling just to get the kids home! The only thing that made us choose this bike over John's Cycle Truck (an amazing bike!), was the already-designed kid seat with seat belts and rain cover. I would have never been able to come up with such a beautiful set-up and, truthfully, the Bullitt was my first love. Getting a chance to ride on with David of Convoy Cargo Bikes in London, had sold me back then, Practical Cycle's decision to start selling Bullitts, sealed the deal. Check out Hum Of The City's thorough review if you don't believe me (although we aren't getting an assisted one...yet...).
Our Bullitt is going to have a custom wooden box with child seats. Since it's not going to rain for another 8 months, we decided to hold off on getting the Blaq Designs rain cover just yet. This is a huge investment for us! Last year, we felt that the Mundo was the biggest step we had ever taken and now, a year later, we are upgrading once again. Although I get some benefits for working at the bike shop, this is over double the cost of the Mundo. Still, when you think about it, it's less then the cost of a terrible car, fewer than 6-months of a car payment, more joy than we could even count, and people pay this much money (and more) for a slick-carbon-5 pound ghost of a road bike. This is not a toy for us. This is a vehicle of change, a tool to facilitate the life we feel is appropriate for our family.
The only reason I continue to write--besides the fact because it gives me an excuse to push my limits and try out new adventures--is because I want to share our experience, hopefully showing that this lifestyle change is much easier than you might think. I know that it has even surprises myself to think about how smoothly this transition was. While I am a little bummed at how uneventful this year's 30 Days Of Biking has been, it's impossible to fathom how much this means to us. Luckily, I do have April's bike overnight coming together soon!
I am absolutely stunned that another month is about to pass by and I still haven't stopped riding. It is coming more and more naturally to me each day. We have things to do, we go by bike. It's that simple. Although, that's not to say that my body isn't sore each day or that sometimes I get a little frustrated that biking means I have to plan things out more than I used to. It just means that biking is cemented into our lives in a way that it hasn't ever been before. It is "normal."
I had my first real "uh oh" moment this week when I had to drive to a work appointment in Elk Grove but my car was at my parents' house. I had run out of the door and zoomed to their house on the Linus thinking that I could leave it there and drive straight home--I had even thought as I ran out the door "I won't need my keys, I don't need to lock anything up." However, I got there and my parents weren't home and it was the ONE time I needed a key to their house. Bummer. A bit of frantic calling and waiting around for an extra 20 minutes while they cut their bike ride short for me and another call to my appointment telling them I would be late and that was it. The world didn't end because I messed up and it didn't shake my resolve to continue using bikes as our main form of transportation. Everyone was understanding and I just felt a little silly. Lesson learned--bring the keys anyway.
Also, with May Is Bike Month and with my pledge sitting at 600 miles, I am struggling to reach my average of 20 miles per day. Of course, there are days that I go over that goal but more often than not, I am under. Right now, I'm sitting at about a day behind schedule. I have a bigger riding weekend ahead but I am certainly pushing my limits right now. During the 30 Day Challenge, it was hard enough to ride every single day. Now, I am riding every single day--A LOT! My body feels the struggle, I am sore each morning, and I am hungry constantly. Today, I pushed through 17 windy, heavily loaded miles just doing errands around town. It is, however, a good feeling to know that my body is working and moving. I am feeling stronger each day and noticing muscles that hadn't been used for awhile.
The boys are still happily riding along as if nothing has changed. Big Brother loves to ask which door we will be leaving from and when I ask him which he'd like, he shouts "the back door!" We've all probably been in the car only 2 or 3 times this whole month. We haven't even had to put the carseats back in since Jose picked up screen doors two weeks ago. We come up with new games and songs every day along the road. Even our "1, 2, 3, OW!" song gets Little Brother shouting out "OW!" along with us. We are goofy and crazy and we don't mind who sees us. I love that we can be so close--Big Brother tickles my back and tries to put things in my pockets as I ride and Little Brother holds onto my thumbs and dings the bell. You can't do that in a car!
Just like life, biking every day has its ups and downs. I will take down days on a bike over any day in a car, easily.
Today's ride was a quickie to 'Nama's house to take advantage of some babysitting so I could get some work done. The Mundo towed the Chariot (forgetting that the wheel was wonky from the crash in Elk Grove a few weeks ago) and after one horrible attempt where the bungee wasn't tight enough and the thing wobbled like crazy until it fell off the in middle of the road, I got it back on solidly and rode the rest of the way there without too much adjustment. We were quite the sight and I could just imagine everyone we passed craning their necks to see if I really had two more kiddos stashed in the trailer (as it was balanced precariously backwards and on it's tail).
To recap this month's adventures, all in all, it was an amazing journey! Going camping and our crazy trip to Modesto were probably the biggest highlights, but even just my everyday riding felt like a great accomplishment. Just knowing that I was going to be getting on the bike no matter what and following through on that promise to myself, was empowering. I ended with a total of 534 miles, well beyond the 400 I had set for myself at the beginning of the month. My computer tells me that I spent a total of 53 hours in my saddle and that calculates out to 28041 calories burned (not that I lost any weight, it's just fun to know)! Who needs a gym when you can get that kind of burn just going to the grocery store?
Now that April is over and all the excitement of the 30 Day Challenge comes to a close, I'm not at all disappointed. I now have May Is Bike Month to tide me over! I spent time this afternoon planning our team, Tiny Helmets (of course), various rides for the month. The boys and I have pledged 600 miles each, a huge stretch for us! If we are able to average 20 miles a day, we should be fine (eek!). Tomorrow is the Bike Month kick off and I feel totally ready to go! The Mundo and I are at ease with each other. I feel that we know each other very well now and we're both ready for this newest challenge.
It is exchange student season! This is when I am usually unavailable all the times that everyone else is available because I'm going to events in search of fantastic host families for our fantastic students. This year, I have the added bonus of being able to ride my bike to events which at least gives me some downtime after bing on my feet all day. On Saturday, I had the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California 100th Celebration in which 12,500+ Girl Scouts and their families came to Cal Expo and checked out local vendors, booths, concerts. It was pretty darn crazy (in a good way, of course). Today, the Unitarian Universalist Church in Sacramento had a Connections Fair. Since I was going there anyway and my bike was loaded up from the Girl Scout's event anyway, I set up again. Hopefully, we will get some awesome families! It is always fun to talk with people and make connections anyway.
Riding my bike is one of my favorite things ever. It is therapist, my entertainment, my gym, my transportation. This is where I do my best thinking and since I didn't have my usual running commentary from my backseat rider, I had time to reflect, plan, and focus. The meditative hum of the wheels and the repetitive push from my legs makes me happy, it never fails. Then, when I need to burn off some stir-crazy energy, I can push myself. For me, speed is not about the number on your bike computer, it is the feeling in your chest as your heart beats like a drum and you gasp for breath. It doesn't matter if that happens at 8mph or 25mph, it is the rush that I love. A couple of times, I have actually gotten the Mundo to 24+mph (for a few seconds) and it felt great. I've never been one for speed before but something about the Mundo feels solid and stable and makes me want to push my limits in both distance, speed, and cargo capacity. It's been great to experiment and test out what works and what I still need to work on.
And now, I feel relaxed again. A busy weekend coming to an end and the start of a busy week is beginning. May is bike month and Tuesday is the big kick-off. I'm meeting with Rick Houston to plan and promote the CycloFemme ride. He is one of the big connections for biking in Sacramento--planning the Tweed Rides, Cargo Bike Rides and the recent Homebuilt Bike Show. I am really excited to be making these networks and figuring how I can grow as a bicycle ambassador.
For the moment, I am watching my sweet chickens graze around the backyard as I test the limits of our wifi.
Truth be told, I'm not really ready to give up the 30 day challenge. It's been a great feeling of accomplishment to ride 27 days consecutively and I am dreading the day that my streak ends. Will it be from sickness, busyness, vacation or just pure laziness? This biking habit is pretty well established now and I find myself on the bike whether or not I want to be. One of my very favorite things about this journey so far is the discovery of so many other like-minded folks--especially the mamas since their experiences are most similar to mine. I had no idea there was such a strong cargo biking community and such a welcoming one at that. It amazes me that if I have any questions/ideas/concerns, with just a couple of emails or website posts, I can have 10 different suggestions and tons of resources at my disposal. Even though I am so new at this "cargo" biking, I already feel like "one of them."
This morning, I was fortunate to spend time with a couple of awesome bikey mamas. One of our local Yuba mamas, Kate, met up with us at Doughbots for our Little Loop ride. Another mama just happened to be at the right place at the right time and we got a chance to visit with her, too. I love seeing and learning about what other families are doing to set up their kids in style and comfort and how to transport them safely. Every one has such unique preferences, routines, and abilities and yet we're all still dealing with similar challenges and working out solutions. Kate and I live in completely different areas of Sacramento so unfortunately we didn't have much time to ride together but for that one block or two, we were quite the sight--two kids on each of our bikes, she had another duckling following her on his own bike, and 'Nama took the tail end on her Bike Friday. I'm am already looking forward to planning Kidical Mass and other local rides with Kate and work together to bring family biking to Sacramento in a fun and safe way.
For other family resources, check out my Contact Us page. I can't possibly list them all but here are some awesome family biking blogs that you should also check out. If you know of someone I missed, drop me a line and I'll add them to my contacts. You can never have too many rad biking buddies (even if they are virtual biking buddies).
It is my personal opinion that big cyclists breed little cyclists and keep the momentum going. Kids will have a difficult time learning how to ride comfortably, safely, and regularly if their parents don't mirror those same values. When I see Big Brother smiling and giggling away as he charges along on his Strider, it gives me great joy and hope that I might be doing something right in this crazy life of parenting. I look forward to the day that he can keep up with us on his own and even the day that he passes us by, riding to his own cadence and to his own destination. For now, however, I will just relish in his gleeful "wheeeee!" as he rolls down his "mountains."
I snuck out to grab dinner from La Fiesta! Nothing like a jumbo wet burrito to end the day...Luckily I rode my heart out to get there and even hit 24.4 mph on a straightaway! I think the breeze might have been a bit of a help as my way back averaged 14 mph. However, it's pretty amazing to get trucking on the Mundo. She can definitely handle her own.
These last few days of biking have been pretty uninspiring as I haven't been feeling very inspired. I managed to squeak in a ride to Trader Joe's for much needed groceries and a stop for our CSA Full Belly box (and my mom's, too, since she offered to watch the boys just so I could sneak onto my bike). I feel like I'm dragging along during the last stretch of the 30 Days of Biking. The commitment is still keeping me getting on my bike but I'm feeling the effects--less of the physical strain and more of the mental strain of adding in that one extra challenge. It is so much easier sometimes to hop in a car and go so sometimes it feels like the bike is the straw that is breaking my sanity.
That said, the second I am on my bike again, I forget the rest of my crazy day and plans and schedules and I ride happily. There is nothing better than getting on a bike in the warm spring air and plodding along. The ride was only about five miles but it was plenty. I was able to carry more than I had carried before, using the crate, an old pannier, the Peanut Shell, and the utility deck. Sadly, in my haste, I didn't strap the gallon of milk in very well and it fell off the pannier during my ride, creating a small leak in the plastic. I moved it to the top of the CSA boxes and got home as quickly as I could with such a terribly balanced load (my mental state doesn't help my spacial relations planning). My veggies were a little more milky than I usually like them but I was proud of my accomplishment and the fact that I was still able to stay out of the car, even if it was just for one errand.
This is us. We're fun.