The best bike in the world has turned three! Happy birthday, big girl! Three cheers for the Surly Big Dummy!
A couple big changes with bike-related life over the last year, but just little changes with the actual birthday bike. The kid seat isn’t in the photo above, but we’re still rolling Yepp seat for the five-year old at the back of the FlightDeck and stoker bars for the seven-year old at the front. I’m still thinking about switching to an Xtracycle Hooptie soonish. Maybe after winter. Which is what I said last winter. Minor additions are: an Xtracycle Mini MagicCarpet seat pad for the front kid and mudflaps from T Leatherworks with cool silver cogs on them. The front mudflap is completely new, the rear one a replacement.
And some choice highlights since her last birthday:
You probably noticed the recap list is a lot shorter than last year’s. We’ve been doing just as much family biking, most of it on the Big Dummy, but I haven’t been blogging as much of it–and it all started exactly a year ago, on her second birthday. The appointment to which she and I biked was a meeting with Mountaineers Books about writing a guide to urban bicycling. So blogging has taken a back seat to working on that. Look for it next fall!
And the other big news is: I’M CAR FREE. So exciting. And about time, right? The car’s title is still in my name so I haven’t really felt official yet and will make a more proper announcement with details at some point soonish, but it’s so nice to be rid of my car. Yippee! And with the departure of the car, came the arrival of a new bike, a Surly Straggler that the poor Big Dummy had to spend her birthday babysitting. I can totally relate–so hard to become a big sibling and suddenly share time with one’s baby sister (or in my case, colicky baby brother)–but I know they’ll be best buds in time.
Which relates to more change in the form of growing children: both kids are in school five days a week. Last year, my younger son was in preschool three half days a week, with me volunteering there once every couple weeks, but now both kids are at the same school 9:30-3:30 Monday through Friday, a mere two blocks from home. So we walk (Walk! It’s quicker than biking!) to school and before the Straggler I’d been heading out with my road bike and laptop in my backpack (granted, an awesome All-City Low Profile backpack I won at Menstrual Monday Girls of Summer two years back). This worked OK, but I’d been dreaming about a true commuter bike with eyelets for a rack so I could get Swift Industries panniers to carry my laptop more comfortably and sturdy fenders instead of my road bike’s clip-on fenders, which are certainly better than nothing, but often rub against my tires.
So my poor birthday girl had to deal with towing her pesky baby sister around on her birthday because I’d dumped the Little Struggler at Back Alley Bike Repair for a front-rack install the day before. Oh yeah, the baby bike gets a name, yet the Big Dummy is still nameless outside of the very generic “the Mamabike”. And to add insult to injury, the Dummy had a broken front gear cable fixed; no one likes seeing the doctor on her birthday. But look, fun stuff, too! The bikes went to the movies:
And had a GIANT POPSICLE:
And checked out the ducks at the Lake Union Park model boat test pond:
The small bike (just 32.4 pounds to the Big Dummy’s 74.6 pounds!) is really a joy. The kids are riding more and more on their own, though at 7 and 5, they’re certainly not safe riding on all Seattle streets, but we’re doing more and more riding separately, which is another thing to appreciate in the “new” column. I still primarily take the Big Dummy if we’re on separate bikes because odds are I’ll carry one of them at some point on a trip. But some day we’ll do more riding all on one-person bikes.
As a good example of the kids getting bigger, the night before the Big Dummy’s birthday, I dragged the kids to a school meeting at a house a half mile away, all uphill. All our biking means we don’t walk as much as many families, but they can handle this kind of walk now! So we left the bike at home and walked, and it was great. And to be completely honest, walking uphill is easier for me than biking us all uphill. I’ve slightly changed my route up to our house from the Burke-Gilman Trail to make the climb a little more gradual and compensate for the heavier kids, but it’s still working just fine to carry the both of them.
And of course the Little Struggler will be a kid-carrying bike of some sort, too. I’ve put the rack for the Burley Piccolo trailer bike on it, but it might need some adjustments before it can handle the weight.
And it’s a cargo bike, too! The night before the Cascade Bicycle Club bike move I was at Peddler Brewing Company filling a growler and mentioned the bike move. The next thing I knew, I had borrowed their Haulin’ Colin heavy duty trailer. It felt very weird attending a bike move without my cargo bike, but look at how much I could carry! Naturally, I had to put a Bike Rodeo Kit on top since that’s what I usually carry away from CBC.
Don’t feel too bad for the Big Dummy, she got to celebrate her birthday properly come evening. After school, the kids and I biked to the grocery store. Kids and groceries: what she does best! And then we headed to Peddler Brewing Company (yes, kid friendly!) for the graduation ceremony of the latest Cascade Bicycle Club Advocacy Leadership Institute class. I was in the first round of graduates two years ago and went to cheer the new bike advocates.
Demonstrating the sturdiness of the Big Dummy and the Rolling Jackass centerstand in the ALI grad party photobooth:
Here’s to yet another wonderul year with the Big Dummy! Thanks so much for reading along.