I did finally manage to get on my bike at 7pm and ride the 6-mile roundtrip to my mom's house to pick up some goodies she had for us. Quite the load to carry back (as you'll see below), so it was good that I had the Mundo to help out.
This post is going to be less about bikes and more about chickens! This morning, I drove out to Vacaville, 45 minutes away, to The Animal Place. In February, Animal Place conducted California's largest farm animal rescue ever. 50,000 chickens were starving at an egg farm in Turlock so Animal Place swooped in and saved as many as possible--4,460 hens. Sadly, the others had either starved or were put down by state officials. Our chickens are Hy-line Brown Layers, sturdier and friendlier than the White Leghorns that were also there. Once they were in their new home, a coop my brother had built while he was visiting at Christmas, they immediately went to work, pecking and eating and eating and eating and scratching. They got pretty comfortable pretty quickly. After just a few hours, they would even come towards me as I went to check on them for the millionth time. So far, they don't have any names as I can't tell them apart. They also don't know how to climb up the ramp to their nesting boxes and roost so I had to carry them up. Besides their beaks having been trimmed (a horrible process that battery cage farms and most "free range" farms do to keep the chickens from pecking and cannibalizing each other) they seem like pretty regular birds. They have been bred to lay an abnormal amount of eggs so that will take a toll on their little bodies but with proper care and nutrition, they can live happily and comfortably. I am so glad they are here! If you or someone you know is in the market for some lovely chickens, give the Ladies at the Animal Place a chance.
I did finally manage to get on my bike at 7pm and ride the 6-mile roundtrip to my mom's house to pick up some goodies she had for us. Quite the load to carry back (as you'll see below), so it was good that I had the Mundo to help out.
An awesomely easy ride for our mellow day. Mellow is relative when you have crazy babies but I'll take it. Once Jose got home, I was feeling especially lazy and asked "should I ride or drive?" "Ride." "Okay." It was that easy. Twenty-three days of consecutive riding has made it easy to hop on my bike and go. I barely ever leave the house through the front door these days. My routine is down and my bags are already packed. The Mundo sits waiting patiently for me, always ready to ride off at a moment's notice. I love it!
Today's trip was a special one. We are getting ready for some new arrivals tomorrow and want to make the home as comfy as possible. Tomorrow, I go down to Vacaville's Animal Place, driving sadly but I think riding would be considered cruel and unusual punishment for my honored guests--Chickens!!! Our three new chickens have been rescued from the egg industry and are waiting patiently for us to bring them home into our cozy coop where they will get lots of sunshine, worms, and love. I debated the pros and cons of raising cutie little chicks versus grown hens and decided that for our first chicken-go-round, already laying hens would be the easiest for me to transition to. Plus, these little ladies need some care and kindness in their lives. I am so excited!
I carried a 25lb bag of feed (went with the crumbles because my hens have most likely been debeaked--ouch!) I will adjust their food as we get to know each other. Strapped to the back of the rack, I have their bedding, held solidly by my Yuba Straps, and in the crate, I have my feeder and waterer (in stylish purple, nonetheless). A short ride but a heavy load. I'm getting the hang of these oddly shaped cargo bundles a bit more.
Plus, I did it all wearing a skirt!
This morning, I woke up feeling mostly refreshed. 'Nama had taken Big Brother home last night to give me a break and a little extra quiet so she had to come back over early to drop him back off. The family and I were off to church this morning and as an added bonus, we had someone finally take us up on our "bike-pool." We had agreed to meet at the Train Museum since he was coming in from West Sac. It was great meeting a new biking friend and give a little tour of one of Sacramento's greatest resources, the American River Bike Trail. It was a longer ride than we usually do on Sunday mornings but it was great nonetheless. This was Jose's first time being back on a bike since Modesto since his ankle still wasn't up to par and I was trying to take it "easy" and not cause another headache.
Jose took the Mundo and I rode the Linus Mixte. It was great to see the other side of the bike and watch the boys' faces as they rode. Little Brother kept looking up at Jose and laughing while Big Brother was his usual chatty self. I actually missed riding with them but was glad that Jose was getting the experience.
After church and dropping the three boys at home, I rode off on the Mundo to Earth Day where our Educational Homestay Program had a booth to sign up host families for our wonderful exchange students. Another afternoon in the sun but I was careful to keep drinking Emergen-C drinks and stayed under the pop-up tent. After the event, we packed up the booth and I was able to carry most of it by bike--tent and all! It was pretty odd having all the weight on one side of the bike but once I was moving, it was fine. I think that next time I have to carry a bigger load like that, I will take the panniers off and adjust things differently, but it was good to know that it is possible. I love finding out what a bike can do!
I hate having to write this post but to keep an honest account of our journey, you get to see the bad and the ugly along with the good. Today was actually mostly awesome, it just ended on an ugly note. Today, the bike won.
Big Brother and I rode out early to Practical Cycle where they were arranging a Ride for the Earth--a short bike ride to the Great American River Clean Up event. We met up with Cassidy of the shop and a couple other riders arrived to join in the fun. After a few wrong turns, we finally made it to the clean up spot. Armed with gloves, trash bags, water, and bellies full of doughnuts, we ventured off into the trees. Sadly, the parkway has quite the homeless population camping out there. I won't go into a long rant about the lack of resources and support available to our city's less fortunate but it is a very sad situation both for the people and for the environment. In just one camp, we filled up about 15 bags of garbage and two shopping carts full of stuff. The signs of alcoholism, drug use, and hopelessness were very apparent. It was also depressing to see that no matter how much stuff we picked up, we could never get it all. However, after about three hours, we were ready to call it a day.
Heading back to our house, Big Brother was ready for a nap, as was I. Instead, for me, it was time for another biking adventure. My aunt had offered us a loveseat awhile back but not knowing many people with trucks, we had never picked it up. Our neighbor, a fellow cargo biker and friend, had a homemade bamboo trailer that he offered to put to the test. Since we didn't have too far to go and he was willing to sacrifice the trailer for the good of the experiment, off we went. It was a pretty amazing sight to watch a sofa ride by! We were turning heads left and right, but the poor Mundo kept calling out "I could do that too.." I think she felt left out. The trailer was awesome, it doesn't look like much, just a few bamboo shoots (some split pretty deeply), metal screen, and two wheels (the milk crates kept the couch up). As we rode the two miles back, the sofa would sway and wobble while the trailer flexed ominously but it all held and now we have a brand new loveseat gracing our living room. A fantastic experiment!
It had been a long, hot day and it wasn't over yet! Although, it probably should have been as this is where everything fell apart. The G'parents came over to sit on the boys while Jose and I got to sneak away for our very first Biking Progressive Dinner. We rode out to a house where another 35+ bikers were going to meet and have hors d'oeuvres, then, we'd all ride over to the next location for dinner, followed by another ride out to dessert. We were surrounded by tons of fascinating folks and awesome bikes of all shapes and sizes and models. There were a few other Xtracycles, some Chariots, but only one amazing Mundo! Sadly, though, the day had gotten to me. Shortly after arriving, the little niggling headache turned into a full blown migraine. Sweaty, shaky, and nauseous, I had to excuse myself, somehow riding the couple miles back to the house. My memories of that part is pretty vague. The rest of the evening was spent in a very dark room feeling more miserable than I had been since childbirth. I'm hoping that we are lucky enough to get another invite because from the little I can remember, it was pretty fun!
This was the first time in a long time that I had to admit that it was too much. We have been averaging over 10 miles a day, with most days being closer to 20. I think with the heat, the riding, and still recovering from the Modesto trip, it was time for my body to make me stop. A good night's sleep was in order and I think this coming week will be a bit slower for us.
Nothing very exciting today. We met up with my mom for our Little Loop bike ride to Old Soul but no one else showed, sadly. I'm really excited to show others around town but so far, no one's taken us up on it. Fridays are hard since most people have actual jobs. Old Soul had great mochas as always but it was a bit of a mess with the boys being the wiggly worms that they are. It might not be the most child friendly place but it was still fun. Edible Pedal is next door so we stopped over to drool on the Carsick Design panniers and gear, made locally in Sacramento. Taking the long way home, we rode through Sutter's Fort to see the ducks and turtles. It is amazing to me that even short riding days add up. No wonder we kept going over our monthly limit for our leased Prius. I think we'll finally be able to catch up to the appropriate mileage at the rate we've gone from driving miles to biking.
We surpassed 400 miles for the month of April already! I'm so impressed! Definately makes up for our lower numbers in March. Can't wait for May is Bike Month--we just pledged 600 miles each. Don't forget to sign up and join our Tiny Helmets team.
Today was Earth Day in downtown Sacramento. We rode down to check out the event--it was packed! Our exchange student group (EHP) had a booth and so did 'Nama with 350 Sacramento (by the way, residents of Sacramento, if you haven't signed up for the Cool California Challenge, do that now and enter the word "fooled" to double your points).
I was really glad to see all the kids out there but it always bothers me that many people go there just to see what sort of "freebies" they can get. It makes me wonder what sort of message we are sending to the kids if they think Earth Day means you get candy, pencils, magnets, etc. Even the adults are grabby! One guy (dressed like a swaggering cowboy) was handing out "baseball" cards with his stats as a bail bondsman and his pitch to run for mayor, walked off with one of our little EHP globes that were certainly not for free! Then there was Home Depot giving people plastic bags to carry their potted plants and when they ran out of pots, they plant them in styrofoam cups! Not very eco friendly, if you ask me (sadly, no one ever asks me...).
However, as I was packing up the boys on the Mundo, we were mobbed by curious folks wondering about our set up. We met some great moms who were also looking to get their little ones on bikes and other riders just checking out our rig. It's always a wonderful feeling to find more people interested in biking. People are a lot more receptive to it than we think. They just need more confidence and maybe a little hand-holding in the beginning. That's what we're here for! I will hold hands (just one at a time, though, as I need to keep one on my handlebars, too). Friendly people truly make up for the occasional rude driver that narrowly passes us and chooses to honk their frustration at being delayed by 30 seconds (Please don't honk, even if it's meant to be friendly. it scares us and usually wakes up the baby).
Today's adventures brought us to a luncheon at The Electric Bike Shop on J st., sponsored by the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT). It was a great opportunity to meet others who are interested in changing the current car-driven culture to a healthier, community oriented one. It was pretty fun to test out a few electric bikes but I'm not willing to give up my Mundo, yet. I think we'll be ready for another bike investment after we can finally ditch the car, probably something with a pedal-assist.
From there, a quick stop to pick up our CSA Full Belly box and head over to our friend's house. Mostly, I feel recovered from our weekend's adventure but I am still feeling a bit fatigued and constantly hungry. My body doesn't even have much soreness, which is very surprising to me. Jose on the other hand, is hobbling around with his ankle taped up. We're guessing that it was a strain from an old injury that flared up during the trip. One thing that is very noticeable is the difference in our preferences for bikes. Jose has always been one for the lightest, fastest, carbon-filled bikes--racer bike style with a stretched out position. I have always been drawn to the more comfortable, steel framed, sturdy, big bikes--made for long distances, not for speed or weight. It is interesting to me that he is the one in pain and I am not. I'm pretty sure that that makes me the winner.
We had fun carrying the Strider around, too (loaded up in the crate). Big Brother loved getting some riding in at our friend's house. Back at home, we attempted to install our very own "You Ain't Got Jack" sunshade for the Mundo. I had more issues with it than I had hoped. The PVC got a kink in it so it's a bit off center and putting the holes in the Peanut Shell wasn't super easy (and I accidentally put in more holes than needed). Finally, the stroller shade that I had to use isn't the greatest, it's quite small. However, my main goal is to get an actual sun shade for the entire seat to protect Big Brother from harmful UV rays and heat. We don't get a ton of rain here in Sac and I didn't really like the idea of covering him in vinyl since it's not as necessary for us. I'm going to give our current set up a try and see how it goes. I might need to get a cheap/used stroller with a better cover for it. Now, if I can just sort out the little one's situation. Suggestions?
Ugh. Of course the boys decided to start the day as early as possible. My sunburn makes it hard for me to move but overall, I woke up not feeling terribly sore. We went for a short walk this morning to meet 'Nama and Big Brother got to ride his Strider. I wasn't feeling up for much biking but he certainly was.
If it wasn't for the 30 day challenge, I probably wouldn't have ridden at all, but because this is a month of pushing ourselves beyond our biking-comfort level, I went out to pick up a few groceries. Three bags later, I rode home from Trader Joe's with my Mundo nicely packed. The two miles home were torture. The bike was heavy and I had a headwind like none other. Getting the bags into the house were just as painful. My energy level is pretty low but I'm still on track for my 30 days.
We're back! After a trying and tiring three days, we have returned, safe and sound, incredibly sore but incredibly proud at the same time. We had beautiful weather (maybe a little too beautiful--sunburn!), mostly great drivers, incredibly amazingly tolerant children, and the best friends we could ever ask for. We have also determined that my Yuba Mundo is an amazing bike that can take on any challenge but stay incredibly comfortable (comfort is a very relative term after about 30 miles). Let's get started on the recap. I will be doing a more thorough journal on Crazy Guy On A Bike but for now, pretty pictures will do most of the talking.
With 85 miles to go on the first day (it turned out to be an even 90, just to make things fun), we decided that the only way we could get the kids to tolerate that length of a trip was to leave insanely early (some of you might have thought "they should just leave insane," that would be correct, too). After one of the roughest night's sleep ever, we packed up our gear and got the kiddos in their trailer. We decided to bring the trailer so they would be more comfortable, warmer, and hopefully sleep better. I also left the Peanut Shell on the Mundo to give the boys some space and a change of scenery as needed. Since we were going to be staying with friends, we didn't need any camping gear so food and toys became the bulk of our load. Clothes came close behind, packing more than we would normally pack on a bike tour as we usually don't care if we smell like exhaust and funk, but we didn't want to impose that on our hosts.
We were following Central California Cycling's route, mainly. Because they start in Carmichael, we had to catch up to the ride. The CCC's route was amazing but our catch-up route wasn't the best. Although the roads were mostly quiet, there wasn't much of a shoulder. Cars were pretty great, giving us almost a whole lane's space in most instances but it was more nerve-wracking than necessary. Once we got on the proper route, it was smooth sailing. We passed through some of the most beautiful farm areas with very little traffic. We managed to get half way there before stopping for lunch at a little elementary school (CCC's route suggested the location).
At our friends' house in Modesto, we had a wonderfully relaxing time. Pizza for everyone! The boys had their little friends to play with, too. It was the perfect way to end the longest ride any of us had done. I was having a bit of knee pain on one side which was troubling but the next morning, I raised my seat a touch and didn't have any problems for the rest of the weekend.
Day two was rough. Jose and I were both pretty sore and starting the ride off in Modesto wasn't very fun. Our friend had offered to let us relax and then drive us to Stockton but that would have felt like cheating so we declined (and a couple of times regretted that decision along the way). The boys slept better on this ride than the day before, tired out from all the fun they had had. Our route took us as far has Highway 26 but then we had to find our own way to Stockton. After a few backtracks, we managed to get on a levee road--gravel, nothing marked, gated off in many places, and a bit sketchier than either of us would have liked. Jose's crank arm fell off at one point. For awhile, we almost thought our trip was over since we didn't have a #8 allen wrench. Amazingly, Jose was able to tighten it enough with a few pieces of rock from the ground and a smaller wrench with a shim (we had to do that a few more times along the way). He's so talented! We trudged through ankle-deep mud, pulling and tugging our loaded up bikes, climbed steep banks, and ducked under gates. It was a workout! Jose and I both managed to get terribly sunburned and even though we only went 44 miles, it felt longer than any other ride. However, as soon as we got to Stockton, Jose got a beer, the boys got to play, and I got my bestie best friend in the world! Life was good again! Another fantastic pizza dinner, hot showers, and we were refreshed.
After our wonderful evening, we had another great night's sleep. However, that led us to Day 3. Our hardest ride yet. The trip had worn us down. Jose was hurting (I had switched bikes with him for a few miles on day 2 and was horrified to find out how uncomfortable it was. I finally convinced him to raise up the handlebars which helped a bit but not enough. My sunburn was really bad so it hurt to pedal (and move). The boys, though, were just in their same wonderful mood.
We got a really late (11am) start. Big Brother wanted to ride in the Peanut Shell (he actually almost always does) so he climbed aboard with me. It was great for Little Brother, too, to get some space and sleep soundly for much of the ride. Stockton is probably one of the worst biking cities ever. It took us two hours to get through about 8 miles of busy, horrible streets. I am even more thankful now that I live in Sacramento with it's wonderful (compared to Stockton) bike infrastructure. Stockton has no bike lanes anywhere, hardly any shoulder, and 4-6 lanes of miserable traffic. We actually spent as much time on the sidewalk. Legal or not (I'm not sure in Stockton), I wasn't risking my boys' lives.
Once we got past Stockton, we got on some much, much nicer frontage roads. We were still incredibly exhausted and we did a bit of bike swapping so Jose could have a chance on the Mundo. It was slow going. Finally, we reached Cosumnes Wildlife Refuge for our lunch (it was 3:30pm). We got started on our final 20+ miles but then Big Brother decided he wanted to be in the trailer. He had been up on the bike for over 4 hours, without a nap--what an amazing kid!. Once in the trailer, there was a bit of a struggle between the two boys, being so tired, but once that was sorted, they were both quickly asleep. They stayed asleep for the rest of the journey. Once we got to Elk Grove, it was busy traffic but a nice shoulder lane and tailwind made it tolerable. Our one incident was when Jose got stuck in some deep train tracks and I crashed into the back of the trailer. Luckily, no one was hurt but it knocked off Jose's front wheel and taco'd a trailer wheel. It wobbled the rest of the way home (just like us!), but made it. We had a few more stretches of sidewalk riding and less friendly traffic but we rode safely and cautiously. We rode 52 miles for Day 3 bringing our weekend's total to 186!
We have now unpacked, showered, and most of us are sleeping now (all of us very soon, I hope). It was an incredible adventure. I have never felt so proud and accomplished as I do now. I feel such gratitude that I have the best family, who else would tolerate these crazy schemes? I was thinking on the ride (right before I crashed), how lucky I am to have Jose, who shares my passion and drive for biking. We are able to keep each other going through difficult times on the ride and in life. Then, of course, I have these two fantastic boys who are able to sit and entertain each other and themselves for long periods of time. I know that our family dynamic will grow and evolve with time but we will always have these memories to come back to. I look forward to our next adventure and the many more to follow.
Our 2nd group ride and although we had more interest this week, we had even fewer takers (you'll remember that my faithful parents showed up for our first trip). My mom and I rode down to Doughbots with the boys. It was a bit longer than 2 miles but super yummy. Doughbots makes vegan and unique doughnuts (I had a s'mores doughnunt with a homemade marshmallow that they toasted after I ordered, my mom had a raspberry one, and Big Brother got a blueberry cornmeal. Poor Little Brother just got a scone). The shop is very bike friendly, having us pull our rigs inside and offer delivery via Edible Pedal, Sacramento's local restaurant bike delivery. I think this will become one of our regular Friday morning destinations. Hopefully, we'll also start getting more riders...
There were many more errands to run today, things to pack, tires to fill. Unfortunately, this post won't go up until after we return from our trip as it is now 4am on Saturday after a horrible night's "sleep." I don't even think it deserves the word sleep. Both kids have woken up at least 3 times each in the 5 hours since I finally went to bed. I just had to put Big Brother back into his own bed only to notice the clock was at 15 minutes before our alarm went off for this morning's adventures. Poop.
On to this morning's plans: leaving as early as possible (which may even be earlier than I thought since I'm already up) we're going to ride 85 miles to Modesto to visit friends there. We have our route thanks to Central California Cycling and are basically packed and ready to go. We have more than enough food to cover the 4000+ calories we'll use up and hopefully enough to keep the kids from whining too much. I don't want to stop for fast food and I know the route follows back farm roads without a lot of services along the way. One of my reasons for doing this is to prove that you don't have to be a homebody if you don't have a car. Yes, things take longer to plan and to execute but it's doable. It turns the whole trip into an adventure, not just the destination.
I am so excited but I really wish I wasn't so tired to begin with. I don't think I've ever even ridden 85 miles in one day. Our plan was to leave so early so the kids would sleep and we could get a chunk done before the potty/food/play requests started. This might actually help them sleep longer....I hope....Wish us luck! Aaaannnnd, there goes the alarm. Off we go!
This is us. We're fun.