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 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!
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?
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.
Today, Big Brother and I went over to Grant Park to go to our January Kidical Mass. Big Brother's Isla Bike has had a flat tire for the past week, I picked up a new tube for it but it didn't fit, despite being the right size. Since he still wanted to ride, we pulled out the old Fire Bike. We got about halfway to the park when I realized that Big Brother was pretty slow and wobbly on the Fire Bike and I didn't like the idea of him riding the next section that we had to go through. With some convincing, I got him to agree to get on the Mundo with me.
It was a bit of a tight squeeze with the Fire Bike in the Mondo Sling since we can't tow bikes with the Peanut Shell on the back but it worked. When we got to the park, I was surprised to see it already packed with some pretty awesome family bikes!
I think we set the record for most bikes ever in that little park. There were many Mundos, two Edgerunners, an Xtracycle, a Cargo Joe, a Weehoo, an Isla Bike, a couple kids bikes, a Brompton, and a few single bikes. Some folks could only stay for the picnic but it was still nice to get to get to catch up with them, too.
The ride was a bit over two miles long, mostly on the Northern bike trail. The kids on their own bikes did an amazing job getting up the "hills." Big Brother had a grin plastered to his face after one particularly long downhill where he realized he didn't have to brake the whole time. It was great having a group that didn't mind that we were moving at a 6-7mph pace or that downhills were almost slower than the uphills. These are my kind of bike riders!
There was one section that Jen and I had been a little concerned about during our practice run because we had to get from the trail to the street. We knew that people could use the crosswalks if it was too busy or if they were more comfortable doing so. Luckily, there wasn't as much traffic today and we were able to walk our bikes into the traffic lane. Dan knew to hit the crosswalk button so we all had enough time to get across on one light. I'll have to remember that trick for our future rides. So despite the last part being pretty urban riding, we all got to the ice rink pretty easily.
Then the real fun began!
We spent over two hours at Iceland and when we got ready to leave, Big Brother wanted to keep the skates. This had been his first time skating and he loved it! Now that we know how easy it is to bike there, I'm sure we'll go more often.
We had a smaller group heading home because most of the other riders had trickled off earlier. I was nervous about BB riding home because I knew how tired he was. I wasn't sure if he would be able to follow directions well enough to stay safe. However, he proved me wrong and did a fantastic job getting through the urban section and back to the trail. Once we got back to the park, I could tell he was flagging. It was getting a little dark and he was getting a little fussy. I didn't want to go through the busy section of Sacramento with him on his own so I forced him back on the bike. He wasn't happy but got over it quickly. We stopped to pick up dinner then finished our ride. Once we were back on neighborhood streets, I asked if BB wanted to ride again. He didn't hesitate for a second.
I don't think Big Brother sat down the whole way home. The Fire Bike just doesn't fit him and he was more comfortable stretching out.
We got home (after stopping to chat with friends along the way. I love that biking allows us to be so social!) and Big Brother was all smiles! I'm so glad that we learned how to bike to Iceland and go ice skating with Big Brother for the first time--Kidical Mass is so great!
Last year was an epic ride to chop down our own tree, our first Christmas-tree-by-bike adventure. It was 60ish miles, there was a donkey, a flat tire, and we finally got home well past dark. This year, we didn't try as hard. No one had the time or energy to have a repeat of last year so we found a lot closer--at Cal Expo, just off the bike trail!
The only juggling that we had to do was figure out how to use both cargo bikes without Jose. We needed one bike for the kids and the other for the tree. It was obvious that I would ride the Bullitt because that's the hardest one to get used to. The Mundo rides like a regular bike and would be much easier for almost anyone to use. I got the children because they're a wibbly-wobbly mess of energy that also takes getting used to. My cousin, visiting from Canada and having just returned from biking back from San Francisco, volunteered for Christmas-tree-Mundo-duty.
The boys were hungry so they took lunch to go. Big Brother's bike was strapped to the Mundo so he could ride after we got to the bike trail.
It always seems to me that biking parents beget little biker kids and we are three generations of proof.
Little Brother took a sweet little nap on the way over. He was bobbing so much that I finally unbuckled him and let him curl up on the Bullitt floor.
The lot wasn't as beautiful as Jacob's Mini Farm and there wasn't a petting zoo but it was convenient and the trees were beautiful. We found ours in about 10 minutes and it took another five to strap it to the Mundo.
I put the boys' blanket in the Carsick Designs Mondo Slings and used the crossing buckles to cinch it down. I added a bungee cord around the truck, just in case. It held up the rest of the way home.
It might not have been as crazy an adventure as last year but it was just as fun. It's nice to know that we can still carry on our Christmas tree bike tradition without going to as much work. I don't think I'll miss the actual cutting down part as long as we always have wonderful company to ride with. I hope more people take advantage of this lot's easy access to the bike trail and start their own tree-by-bike tradition!
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.