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.
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?
There aren't many kids who ride to Big Brother's school. Out of 300+ students, there are only ever four bikes, at most, parked at the crappy racks in the very, very, very back of the school. Two bikes obviously come together, one is our friend's son who is in kindergarten, and another little bike occasionally shows up. We have only driven to the school once and it was a nightmare. It's close enough to bike there and back, if I ever need to get somewhere after. Big Brother gets to ride about 2-3 times per week because we're often running late or he gets picked up from school by another mom. On the days that he rides, he is always so much happier and seems to sleep better at night.
Anyway, I just wanted to show off the cool setup that our friends use to pick up their son at school. This is how they bring their younger daughter with them:
We wanted to try one of these seats with LB but he topped the weight limit too quickly. Seems to work well for them. I miss being able to have the little one up front. Seems like it was so long ago that he was in the Mini Yepp.
I wish I had more time to organize some bike education classes or a bike-pool, something to help encourage more riding to school but I haven't been able to. Hopefully I'll be able to get to that in the near future.
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!).
A quick and simple post this evening. One new practice I'm trying to get into practicing is to focus more on the positive aspects of life--from mundane daily chores that finally get done to epically wild experiences. Today was filled with wonderful celebrations--getting out to visit the amazing not-so-new-anymore McKinley playground, surprising Big Brother with a playdate for the afternoon, managing to feed the boys a yummy veggie filled dinner, and somehow getting them both to sleep by 7:30pm. Although today is not a very typical experience, I'm choosing to pat myself on the back for putting away all the clean laundry but not dwell on the fact I still need to wipe down the kitchen counters.
On the bike, it's easy to let that one driver who passed too closely ruin an otherwise wonderful ride. Why not celebrate the fact that hundreds of vehicles passed by in an appropriate manner? I get wrapped up in the terrible stories of bicyclists being hurt and killed and sometimes forget that millions of riders make their journeys safely and that more people are deciding to give biking a try instead of driving every day. While it's not to minimize the wrongs in the world but it is important to keep things in proper perspective.
The ongoing depressing reality of the severity of California's drought has been overwhelming but then I read Dan Allison's insightful piece on the Benefits Of The Drought and it put a slightly brighter perspective on the table. There are many things in life that we cannot control and yet we waste a lot of energy worrying about them. Many people are doing incredible things for themselves, others, and the planet and I would like to be one of those people. I might not be able to make grand, sweeping changes, right now I can ride my bike with a big silly grin on my face (hopefully I'll move up from there).
In the culture we live in, positivity takes work. We are so bombarded with negativity because that is what sells (news, insurance, cars, guns, etc). I'm going to start working on a real pen-and-paper journal that lists all my favorite parts of the day. I know that some days will be easy and other days will be harder but on those difficult days, it will be nice to have life's previous positive experiences to help keep me from spiraling into a pit of a Fox "news" type reality.
So to wrap things up, I'll share my favorite thing of the day today--three boys on a bike! It's impossible to be sad when fart and poop jokes are so plentiful.
We made it through the big cold spell without much bother. I'm pretty sure the drivers complained more about the cold than we did. I always think it's funny when people give us so much credit for riding around in the winter. After a few minutes of biking, I'm usually sweating. Drivers are the ones who have it rough--having to wait for the heater to kick on, taking off the kids' jackets to fit in the carseats, getting out of the car just as their bodies have adjusted to the warmth. Sounds like hard work to me! Riding certainly helps us keep the heat down in the house because we come in from the cold and it feels toasty warm already.
Our California winter means that sometimes we have to dress like this:
And sometimes like this:
Sometimes we resort to this:
Big Brother found a great way to keep his eyes from watering:
We see this guy riding along our route home on the wrong side of the street and on the sidewalk. I keep wanting to ask him why he does it but I don't have the nerve. He has a nice bike, a Cannondale road bike, and he rides for at least 3 long blocks on roads with clear bike lanes. My guess is that he eventually makes a left turn and he doesn't want to do that across traffic. It's amazing to me the variation in comfort-levels people have while riding. I just want to scream at him "It's not legal and it's not safer on the sidewalk!" He's obviously not doing it to be a jerk but he's not helping the bikers-as-scofflaws perception people have.
In other news, here's a chicken on a bike:
And here is a toy that my children will NEVER have the joy of playing:
Here is a crappy bike parking situation at the downtown Embassy Suites hotel (they had wanted me to park at the racks on the waterfront and I said "Heck no!":
And finally, in case you were wondering how our bike commuting is going, here's Big Brother rocketing along on his Isla Bike. He actually hasn't been riding as often because our morning timing often puts us way behind schedule these days. Also, one day he refused to ride because I couldn't find his black gloves and only had his blue mittens. Joys of parenting.
We have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to try out an REI brand Afterburner trailer bike (similar to this but single-speed) because it's just a bit too big for our friends' son (thanks, Dan and Ashlie!). Yesterday was the first day that we got to take it out. We were headed out and Big Brother asked sweetly "Can I ride my own bike?" Unfortunately, it was a route that I wasn't comfortable taking him on. Since Little Brother was coming with us, we hooked it up to the Bullitt.
The Afterburner is a seatpost-mounted trailer bike. I've always been a bit leery of this design, especially because I usually see dads (it's always dads) racing down the bike trail with their kid flopping dangerously side to side on their wobbly trailing bike. The Mundo wouldn't be able to handle a seatpost mount but I have seen a Mundo hacked to be able to hook up a Burley Piccolo. The Piccolo mounts to a specific rack, creating a much more stable ride, I'd imagine. Dorie, from Hum Of The City uses a Roland+bike on the back of their Bullitt which attaches similarly to the Piccolo.
The Afterburner hooked up easily to the Bullitt's seatpost. Since it's a pretty beefy seatpost, I had to do a bit of adjusting but it is literally just two standard allen bolts and a quick release. Within a few minutes, we were ready to ride.
I was surprised that it didn't feel too weird to have an additional 5' and 50ish pounds trailing behind me. I wouldn't necessarily say that Big Brother's pedaling made much of a difference, it felt like it offset the weight of the set-up and its drag. However, I would stopped pedaling a few times to see if he could push us and we kept moving! He was having such a great time!
I wanted to test the Afterburner out on a standard bike to see how differently it handled from being on the Bullitt.
Today, we rode out on my touring bike, Oscar. If anything, Big Brother's movements were more pronounced with the lighter bike. I noticed that as we would ride, I'd need to do a bit of extra steering to counter his movements. It was a bit unnerving when we were passed by cars. It wasn't scary but we were more wobbly than usual. He was able to pedal the two of us much easier and wanted to do all the work.
I really enjoyed being able to help him get more exercise than he does in the cargo bike and it was much easier than letting him ride on his own in areas that didn't have very good bike infrastructure. I think that with a little more practice, I'd get used to the extra movement. It was great to have some extra space in the Bullitt box, too. Big Brother was really happy to be able to pedal and ride routes that I won't let him, yet.
On the other hand, the quick release kept hitting against my legs (more so on the Bullitt than Oscar) and I could see how the wobbliness from bike's design could cause problems. It was just a bit worse than when the boys get really rambunctious on the Mundo but if you're not used to it or prepared, even just a little added excitement from your co-pilot could send you well off your intended path. Overall, the trail-a-bike felt solidly built on it's own. I think that if it had higher gears, Big Brother's pedaling would be a bigger help.
I really like the idea of having an interim solution to allow the boys to ride but still be connected to my bike (and my riding decisions). I look forward to doing some more testing with the Afterburner and probably try it out on a couple more bikes to get a good feel for how it changes the handling. If we end up liking this set-up, I think we'd go for a Piccolo instead. I can see having a trail-a-bike as a good option for days that my dad might go pick Big Brother up from school or trips with just one child (Little Brother would still need to wait a few years, unless we went with a Weehoo) and not have to deal with a big cargo bike. It's a great idea for longer rides where kiddo still wants to pedal but you don't want to be tied into having to go at their pace or distance.
This is us. We're fun.