Last week was exhausting. I ended up driving to work more days (have I mentioned that I have a car sitting out front for the next month while my parents are away?). The 38 mile days were getting to me and the boys were both up frequently through the nights as they were both still feeling the effects of their colds. The incident with the van driver really threw me off, too. One of my readers sent me a message with some info based on the email address on the van, along with all the great online support from other bike riders, which gave me the confidence to report the guy to the police. They took my report seriously and sent an officer to my house to document the "assault." I wish I had had more information about the guy or the van but I reported what I could. Thanks, awesome community!
Since my boys couldn't go on the Gibson Ranch Kidical Mass Overnight last weekend, I had told them that I'd take them when they could. Another of our friends couldn't make it with his son, either, so they joined us. They'd never been bike camping before.
Our friends took the HaulaDay, which is a fantastic cargo bike for newbies because it fits everyone with its OSATA adjustments, light weight, and easy maneuverability (however, my friend did manage to drop with kids on the back on his first attempt but they were on the grass so it didn't count. Everyone drops a kid now and again).
I took two of the kids' bikes along with much of the other gear because the Bullitt is way too easy to overpack. Now that I have the Cycle Truck Caddyrack, my cargo capacity has doubled! It's so easy to tow bikes.
Big Brother was forced to ride on his own because I ran out of room for him on the bike and because I thought he could. The route is mostly bike trail, except for the first four miles and last 2 miles.
Once we were on the bike trail, our friend's son got on his bike, too. This was his longest ride and he did really well! There are quite a few intersections along the Northern Bike Trail (which is probably why it's not too popular with the roadies). Both boys on solo bikes did a great job on listening to my directions and making good judgements while they were riding.
It took us about 4 hours to get to Gibson Ranch. We were told to set up in the grass around the cabins. It was nice and grassy but a little close to the cabins and their occupants for my liking.
The boys had a fantastic time riding around the site and the playground. After dinner we ran around in the dark until the boys passed out. I was exhausted about 4 hours before they finally were.
In the morning, we packed up fairly quickly, as quickly as one can with children present (we finally left around 9:45am). One of those children decided he was hungry every 30 seconds and we ran out of food.
None of the boys wanted to ride on their own and since I hadn't really planned on carrying Big Brother, I had to do some quick (relative to me) thinking to arrange everything between the two cargo bikes--three bikes, three boys, everyone's camping gear, and all the toys.
It was a long, hot 17 miles back home but we managed to get there at about a 7mph pace--just about half our arrival time! It is great to know there is such a convenient bike overnight, especially for having the kiddos ride much of it on their own. The last .5 to Gibson Ranch is on a busy stretch of road without much shoulder. There are many "Share The Road" signs but it is still unnerving, especially for less-experienced riders. Our friend's kid was back to sitting on the HaulaDay deck by that time on our arrival while Big Brother, who has more road riding experience, rode on the street with us in traffic. On the way home, he was too tired to navigate and maneuver that same stretch of road back to the trail so I was glad he had chosen to hitch a ride.
Another successful camping trip! During this busy time, I'm so glad to have been able to escape for a few days and get in some rejuvenating adventure.
I'm looking forward to our next bike trip!
Big Brother didn't ride quite as far today. He rode about 6 miles to a friend's house where we spent almost the entire day. About a mile into our way home, he was ready to hitch a ride. Here goes our first Haul-a-Day towing test:
The bike tracked perfectly and despite the Little falling asleep and wobbling the bike around, we still managed to ride home. Big Brother sat side saddle because Little Brother's Strider bars took up a lot of the deck. Both kiddos were really tired on the way home and it was nice to have them well contained in the Hooptie.
I love my kids. The drive me crazy but I still think they're pretty dang awesome. Yesterday, I wanted to go for a bike ride and the weather was going to be manageable at just 90 degrees so I decided we'd make our usual trip to Hagan Park. The ride is 13 miles each direction, mostly on the bike trail. As I was pulling out the Haul-a-Day, Big Brother asked if he could ride his own bike. We had plenty of time and since he did so well with the rides to the zoo last week, I decided we could give it a go. Worst case, I would just figure out how to tow his bike on the HaD and throw him on board.
The first four miles are urban riding with a couple of big streets to cross, including one with no infrastructure and really fast drivers. Almost all riders end up crossing the street and riding on the sidewalk facing traffic--two of the most dangerous things you can do as a biker and yet, there's not much of an alternative. When I'm on my bike, I usually just take the lane but with Big Brother on his own, I didn't feel that that was a viable option for his skill level. We ended up crossing at the crosswalk and riding together very slowly on the sidewalk. Once we were on the bike trail, it was a piece of cake.
We made a snack stop along the way, with Little Brother devouring just as much as his Big Brother. The American River Parkway was packed and I was unnerved by the number of very fast riders passing us so quickly and often much too closely. While I'm sure that they're competent riders, I'd bet that they have no understanding as to how unpredictable children can be, even when they're on the back of a bike. Little Brother will often lean over, causing the bike to swerve a bit and Big Brother, although a great rider for his age, still has sporadic speed bursts and can drift when he loses focus. This doesn't mean that kids shouldn't be allowed to ride on the Parkway just because some bigger riders want to use it as a training route! Luckily, just about everyone was considerate and often broke out in giant smiles to see BB trucking away or LB face-down on the deck.
We made it the entire 13 miles to the park! I had packed our lunch for the park but hadn't taken into consideration the fact that Big Brother would be riding on his own and incredibly hungry, or the fact that Little Brother can pack it away just as much as the Big. I was working hard to make sure I was rationing our food appropriately and dolling it out in small but tasty amounts.
Big Brother was ready to hitch a ride when we started packing up at the park but I encouraged him to ride just a bit and see how far he could get. He loves numbers and counting so the idea of riding longer distances and increasing his mileage was appealing to him, even though he was pretty tired already. We only had a couple moments where he was ready to give up but we talked through them and with a little distracting and the promise of more snack stops along the way, he continued until the got his second (and third) wind. As long as he was still having fun and was able to ride safely while listening to my instructions, I was willing to let him go as far as he wanted.
We had one more playground stop and I had saved half a cookie for the final three miles in traffic. Little Brother got more riding practice in and the boys stayed in happy spirits.
Once home, Big Brother started to melt down but I was able to head it off with a hearty lunch and lots of water. He was so proud of himself for riding the entire 26 mile trip. I am so excited about his riding abilities--he's a great listener and follows instructions, he's understanding how to stay focused and what to look out for, how to react to dangers, as well as maintaining his endurance and appreciation of biking. If we hadn't turned around at Hagan Park, he could have ridden all the way to Folsom. Maybe for our next camping trip, he can ride his own bike up to Beal's Point. I'm sure he could make it if we took all day and had a huge amount of food with us. Once he's able to get to the next sized Isla Bike (which based on his brother's being able to ride the 16" with the seat up 4", it won't be much longer), he'll be able to have gears and a rack for better transportation and touring rides. My big baby is growing up!
As a side note, I convinced my mom to ride on the back of the HaD to go out to lunch. She's such a great sport! I just took the sides off the Hooptie. The lower deck made her feel a lot more secure and was easier for her to get on and off the back. The ride felt great and stable and she even remarked that it was "less scary than a motorcycle."
We had another wonderful Kidical Mass ride, a park-to-park jaunt with about 20 of us. While I was a bit nervous that no one else would show up, suddenly, a hoard of awesome looking bikes pulled up. It was a great group of mostly regulars and a new father-son duo with an awesome Weehoo. We got to check out Melissa's new Follow-Me-Tandem and test out our Bullitt-train. Somer's son also had his zippy Isla Bike that he's been tearing up--in fact, he just learned how to skid. As we rode the 2 miles, Jarrod and his family showed up and tagged along.
Have I mentioned too many times that this month has been flying by? I managed to squeak out my May Is Bike Month goal by hitting my (personally) modest goal of 250. The boys are nowhere near their pledges of 100, though. We're doing our best and riding when we can so that's good enough for me.
I've been thinking lately about how lucky I am to have children who love to ride. Big Brother's biking skills have progressed so incredibly. He's scanning over his shoulder like a pro and working on using his hand signals as he rides. Today, I made the mistake of offering lemonade when we got home and he got so excited that he started to lose control. Amazingly, he was able to hop off the bike and keep it upright enough to come to a stop without biffing it. This is probably at least 75% of what we teach our 5th grade classes in the bicycle education programs (minus the attempted biffings).
Speaking of bicycle education programs, this is the result of the hard work and dedication that the NNTMA has put into their Ride Smart programs and May Is Bike Month encouragement. More bicycles and trailers showed up at the end of the day as parents came to pick up their children. Put some money into an alternative transportation management association and look at all the rewards a community gets! I love teaching the bicycle and pedestrian classes!
And then speaking of teaching, last week, I made a major decision to pull back away from working part-time at Practical Cycle and invest my time and energy in the classroom and on the bike. Although I love being apart of the wonderful team at PC, I wanted to be on a more flexible schedule that allows me to be doing what I feel I'm best at: riding a bike and teaching others to do the same.
And I get to spend more time with this awesome kiddo, too.
I feel like I alternate between minimalism and gimmie! gimmie! when it comes to my relationship with stuff. Our home isn't fancy, the boys have a couple of Ikea buckets worth of toys, and there's not a lot of clutter choking up our lives. However, when it comes to gear, that's a whole other story. In the past week or so, my gear collection has grown and I'm thoroughly enjoying each piece.
Wind Blox: the lovely folks at Wind Blox have been interested in expanding to create a set that works for children's helmets as well and I've been complaining that it's difficult to hear the kiddos because of the wind.
The three of us each have a set now (and I was so grateful that the divvying up went so easily). So far, I've realized that it's a pretty subtle difference because there is still wind, however, I can hear the surrounding noises clearer--birds, child chatter, vehicles, the rockin' tunes, etc. I feel like we haven't been screaming "What?" back and forth to each other as often. One of my other issues has been that my ears get really sore from the constant wind and that hasn't been bothering me lately. Anytime I'm unsure if they're doing anything, I just pull them away a bit to double check and the wind blast comes right back. I want to try them out with a road-bike style helmet to see if that changes anything because as you can see in the photo above, the angle of the Nutcase straps leaves an extra gap.
Touring gear: I had a couple of gift cards to use up, one for REI, and it just happened that their anniversary sale popped up. I snagged some awesome stuff at REI and Campmor for less than $20 (after the cards).
I'm hoping that the Thermarest is enough for the boys. I'm going to cut it in half for easier packing and the flexibility to move the boys around while sleeping. They're light enough to not need a thick pad to sleep on so this should give them enough support and insulation (and tough enough for them not to destroy it quickly). It was the irregular so it was even cheaper. The titanium cook set was on sale at REI, it's super light and comes with two pots and two frying pans/lids, all nestable in the mesh bag provided. It's a pretty tiny set, now that I've seen it in person, but I think it should be fine for the three of us for touring. I'll invest in something bigger (or thrift shop) for our group rides. The boys also scored some swim gear that's UV resistant so I think it will work double duty as bike wear, too. I'm still waiting on my Hydroflask to get here. Seriously, it's like it's Christmas around here--but better because I got to choose it all.
BAM! And you thought the Bullitt couldn't get any more intimidating! Our friend, Melissa, found this on Craigslist and spread the word via Sac Kidical Mass's Facebook page. It's an 8+ year old Burley Piccolo that I got for a super good deal (by the way, these things really hold their value but you have to make sure it wasn't part of the recall that happened a couple years ago). It would have been a piece of cake to install, even with the disc brakes because I already had an adapter from the last rack. Unfortunately, once I tightened it all down, I realized I needed a couple extra washers on one side and had stripped out a couple of the bolts and the whole rack was on too tight to get it all to fit back together properly. Fifteen extra painful minutes and a handful of swearing later, it was finally back on as it should be (and will never come off again because the bolts are all stripped now).
We all took it for a spin this afternoon and we are all loving it! It's so much more stable than the Afterburner that we tried out. Big Brother loves that he can change the gears and work at different levels (although the gears need adjusting, maybe a new cable). I can really feel the help, especially as he gets to the higher gears. I'm hoping to get a couple extra racks so we can swap the Piccolo back and forth between a few of our bikes, maybe even my dad's.
Finally, something even better than stuff, EXPERIENCES! Join us tomorrow at Tahoe Park at 4:30pm for our next Kidical Mass ride! We have another ride scheduled for the 31st to complete our crazy Month O'Kidical Masses
We decided to go big this month for Kidical Mass and attempt one each weekend. It's so helpful to have such a great board of Kidical Mass parents who are willing to plan and organize these rides with me. Today, we branched into South Land Park territory for a ride to Fairytale Town. The part that I was most excited about for going to FTT was how much they wanted to be a part of our group. David, their grounds manager, had contacted me months ago to find out if we would want to head over there and test out their new bike parking at the front entrance. Of course we did! He even passed along discount coupons for us to use.
Sadly there were more conflicts and other activities going on this weekend than we had realized so the turnout was a bit smaller than usual. We weren't even able to stay at FTT because Big Brother had a t-ball game this afternoon. It was still great to get out in the fresh (and extremely pollen-filled) air and get a good bike ride in with some wonderful folks.
Today was also the opening day for the Oak Park Farmer's Market--the best farmer's market in Sacramento. To make it even better, they just installed a new bike rack that was filled with three cargo bikes in the first half hour. I was very impressed at its lockability and how many bikes it fit while still being a pretty cool design.
The boys and I all got more miles to log for May Is Bike Month and our Tiny Helmets team. This year, I went easy on myself by only pledging 250 miles for myself and 100 each for the boys.
It's also been busy in the bike education arena for me lately. Last week, I had an awesome day working at one of the local schools during their bike rodeo. We had kids from 1st grade up to 5th grade riding bikes, scooters, and skateboards. There was an obstacle course for them to practice stopping, weaving, scanning, and merging. I was so impressed at how well they all did, even with such a short amount of time. I'm really looking forward to the next month because I have bike and pedestrian classes every week until mid-June!
For the last few weeks, I've been back to work at Practical Cycle while the guys have been taking well-earned vacations. Even though they're both back now, I decided to continue working a couple days a week, at least for the next few months until our bike summer trip. This may be a dangerous decision because I always seem to come home with some new bike upgrade or accessory after a day's work. However, Tim's also helping me learn some new bike mechanic skills! I've learned how to put together some of the mostly-assembled bikes that arrive at the shop and now he's teaching me how to fix my own bikes that I drag in for repairs (which is usually at least a bike per week).
On Tuesday, it was Big Brother's Isla Bike that we still couldn't figure out why it kept going flat. We couldn't find a hole and (to be totally honest) hadn't really put that much time looking into it. Big Brother was suffering on the Fire Bike and was not getting to ride as much as he wanted. Tim was able to diagnose the problem almost immediately, it was a leaky valve. I didn't even know you could replace the valve. Now his bike is holding up nicely and the kiddo is thrilled!
We also finally replaced Little Brother's rainsuit. We decided on a Muddy Buddy because many of our bikey friends have them. It seemed like a good way to go, considering we don't get a ton of rain around here and it wouldn't be used too often. It packs up in it's own waterproof case which could also probably fit Big Brother's rain gear, too. Little Brother was really excited when his package showed up!
Jose and I got to enjoy a kid-free night out on the town this week, too, because we had tickets to go see Ani Defranco (thanks, mama!!!)! My folks had the kiddos over for a slumber party and the husband and I rode out for dinner and the show. The concert was just downtown at the Crest Theater, about 3 miles away. We locked our bikes up together with three locks because that part of town can be a little sketchy at night. I was amazed to see how many other bikes were also there and many of them locked with crappy cables. I was glad because they'd be much easier to steal than ours. I couldn't believe how few racks there were, considering the number of bikes that showed up. We found this prime spot:
Our bikes ended up being totally safe that night and the show was incredible! The ride home was lovely and it was great to be able to keep that wonderful feeling after an awesome concert and not have to get stressed driving home. Bikes make everything in life happier, especially date night.
We finally made it out to the famous Breakfast Club rides that meet every few weeks over at Edible Pedal. This Sunday, they had arranged to ride over to a local farm, Hanks Hens & All Things Good in Rio Linda. It was about a 13 mile ride from the shop and it started around 8am. This morning, it was especially rough getting out of the house. There were missing shoes, sleepy children, a sick Jose. We finally got rolling at 7:55am and Jose had to turn back a few blocks in because he realized he couldn't make it. As we pulled up, sure that we had missed all the fun, we were greeted by John of Edible Pedal who kindly told us the rest of the group was just next door lounging around in Old Soul.
There ended up being about 20-30 others on the ride, most of whom I had seen on other rides or knew of through mutual bikey friends. They were very welcoming of our crazy Bullitt-mobile and kidlets. Our ride was mainly along the Sacramento Northern bike trail and was kept at a nice, casual pace--not slow but not overwhelming to keep up with, even with our loaded bike. We had a great time chatting with the gang and enjoying the peaceful morning.
We turned off the trail and were suddenly at a little farm, just a few blocks away. There were chickens running around and mama sheep with their lambs checking us out. This was where the real fun began. Our hosts were extremely welcoming and had set out tables and chairs, chatting and showing us around as everyone settled in. Food was pulled out of panniers and began to adorn the tables. A few of the riders fired up their stoves and within minutes, yummy things were sizzling--bacon, chimichurri rice, eggs, poached eggs in salsa, veggies with steak--it was a feast! The boys were thrilled to be running around, free from the bike for a little while.
After everyone was sufficiently stuffed, our hosts took us on a tour of the farm. They have a great greenhouse with veggies sprouting up everywhere and seven little lambs, all less than a month old. The boys even got to bottle-feed one of the triplets!
Just as the kids were starting to lose their marbles, the group was ready to head back. The wind had picked up and, of course, it was a headwind the whole way back--except for the times it was blustering from the side. Because we had the cover, the boys were nice and warm but we were struggling to cut through the gusts.
Besides the wind, we got some heavy misty showers but since the boys were warm and I was sweating, it didn't matter. Little Brother started fussing on the way home but fell asleep shortly after their fight over the water bottles.
We had a wonderful 30 mile day today that ended peacefully--it helps to eat well on a long day. I'm already looking forward to our next Breakfast Club ride and starting to think of ways I can step up my cooking skills and show up with something better than baguettes.
Today has been a buzz of excitement--starting with a business phone call for an exciting new direction for my career and ending with a house full of friends and munchkins.
Bekah flew into town for work this afternoon and in typical Bustamante fashion, the boys and I hopped on the Mundo to go pick her up.
Once we got our balance, we rolled over to my folks' house for a visit. Big Brother had a terrifying experience when he slipped backwards on our way out the door and fell headfirst down their steep staircase. The first thing he said to me as I scooped him up (I was pretty confident he didn't have a spinal injury since I had seen him fall) was "I was NOT wearing my helmet!" Despite the bump on his head and the scrape down his back, within a few minutes of icing, he was running around as if nothing had happened (although I'll probably be sleeping with him tonight).
Bekah rode the Linus back to my house, not that I wouldn't have continued on with her on the Mundo, but I wanted the Linus back at home since it's been stuck at Practical Cycle for a tune up (then I needed to figure out a way to get it home with some sneaky bike-juggling and an eventual pick-up by the Prius). Plus, Bekah is part Linus owner because I was holding her raffle ticket, as well as my mom's and mine, when we won the bike at Bike Fest.
Once we were home, the boys were excited to have some friends come over for dinner and then another set of friends popped over when they saw everyone as they were walking by. It was pretty funny to see them connect through what they've read about each other from the blog. It seems that at this point, I don't even have to talk to my friends anymore because they stay up-to-date with everything I write online. (Hi guys!) It was really nice to catch up with such fun people and even better that they helped wear out my children (who are already fast asleep. Thanks again, guys!).
This is us. We're fun.