Archive | June 2012

Fixing the flat. Twice.

As expected, I woke to a fully flat rear tire on the Big Dummy. No problem, I just did the preschool run with the old mamabike. Yay for having a backup vehicle or two (road bike and double trailer) or three (car). Monday is not the best day to have a flat tire as many bike shops are closed, but we had beach plans in the afternoon and I’ve become spoiled by all my cargo room and really wanted to have things remedied by 12:30. The flat was a blessing in disguise: I’ve been meaning to meet Henry of LionTail Cycles and now I had a reason. He built my friend’s Xtracycle and sounds like an awesome guy:

LionTail Cycles is a company founded on one vision: Getting more people on bicycles. To this end, founder Henry Kellogg aims to provide affordable and practical car alternatives. LionTail is based in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. LionTail is a licensed XtraCycle vendor, and offers several different electric conversions.

I called to see if he’d fix my flat and verify I could easily walk my bike to him. Turns out he’s just around the corner! So the toddler and I each grabbed our wheels and headed over.

Henry is as cool as he sounds in pixels. He’s passionate about cargo bikes and electric assist and was happy to fix my flat while we balance biked around the block and tromped through his garden. Last night Mr. Family Ride found the piece of glass that caused my flat and in examining my tire, Henry found another just waiting to puncture me again. Yes, that’s on my list of things to start doing: regularly check tires for embedded pieces of glass. The tire itself was fine, thank goodness.

Unfortunately, I noticed my tire was a little low as I prepared to leave for preschool pickup. I’d somehow knocked off my valve cap and bent the valve in the course of the early afternoon, but I’m nothing if stubborn and impractical so I left the bike loaded with beach gear, pumped up the tire, and figured I’d come up with a flat-tire-backup-plan during the ride. My first thought was to have Mr. Family Ride pick up the kids from the beach if it flatted and I’d walk the bike to a bike shop, leave it there, and then catch the bus home. But then I had the much more reasonable idea to ride by Dutch Bike Co for a new tube.

Good thing, too, because it got low again during the two-mile ride to preshcool. Lucky for me, The Main Tank was joining us for the beach and carries a bike pump. What a great idea! I should do that! She pumped me up and stopped with us for a snack break at Dutch Bike Co while I got my new innertube.

I like the dolly the used for fixing my flat. It’s probably necessary for a bakfiets–I can’t imagine one of those on a bike stand!

The beach was good, the tire held. And even with the delay of fixing the flat, we still had time to stop and sit in the big wooden chair on our way home…although I can’t wait for the day the Missing Link is fixed and a trip to the beach won’t take us by the chair.

Today’s miles: 19.9
June cumulative: 108 miles

Hiss, boo!

This afternoon we hit Waterfront Whimsea Family Fun Day. We missed the Bubbleman, but caught the The Not-Its! and Seattle Seafair Clowns. We also got our first look at the gondola cars on the new waterfront ferris wheel.

The festival was packed so it was nice to have arrived by bike and park front and center. I don’t know how most families get to the waterfront, but I think many drive and use strollers to get to their destination from somewhat-far-away parking spots they’ve had to pay lots of money for. Despite all the activities (magic show, face painting, carnival games, photo booth, dancing), most of our time was spent climbing the Waterfront Whimsea sculpture.

After the last musical act finished up, we migrated along the waterfront. Since we had such fun playing in the Olympic Sculpture Park with Davey Oil and Little Oil a week ago we decided to go back before our long ride home. I discovered it’s a great spot to shoot a picture of the Space Needle sitting on one’s FlightDeck. Stay tuned for upcoming “All your cargo are belong to us” meme in the coming weeks!

And the boys rolled down the steep grassy slope–which ends with a drop-off next to the bike path, so not suitable for all littles–over and over and over again.

You may have noticed the balloons on the kid helmets. We started the day at a costume party and the boys wore balloons clipped to their hair for puppy ears and tied to their belt loops for tails. When we arrived home they noticed a hissing noise which I hoped hoped hoped was one of their six balloons, but it was my rear tire. Arg! My six months streak of no flats is up–none on the Big Dummy until now and one on the city bike in December. I’ll deal with it in the morning.

Today’s miles: 17
June cumulative: 88.1 miles

Hacking the Yepp Maxi part one

Six months after my first shopping trip with the Big Dummy hasn’t seen me get much more efficient at loading the bike. I’ve gotten more adept at threading my hand under the Yepp seat’s generous wheel guards to get to my middle buckle, but it’s still awkward and slightly diminishes my carrying capacity. I mentioned this to Edward a couple weeks ago and he offered to drill holes (“Nice-looking, beveled squares”) for me. Here he is fine-tuning the hole with a knife. It’s sure nice when one’s bike mechanic is also an artist.

This is just the first step. I also need a couple Xtracycle Utility Belts to move the buckles down to where I can reach them, but when those come in, things will be awesome! And in case you’re wondering, the Xtracycle Utility Belt is also a belt. Like for your pants.

I hope to eventually own six utility belts and haul enormous loads with them, but I’m going to start with just the two.

Today’s miles: 3.9
June cumulative: 71.1 miles

Riding with The Main Tank

My friend became the proud owner of a Big Dummy two weeks ago and now she’s got an awesome new blog, The Main Tank: A vegan, feminist, AP mama doing family biking in Seattle. We get to ride together a lot to and from preschool, but we often hit other destinations, too, like the flagship REI store today. The kids loved the indoor bike rack, but note: the rack is not bolted to the floor so bike rack acrobatics are somewhat limited.

Some brave bikes still use the outdoor bike racks and out there we saw the greatest fender. My boys decided a salmon or a dinosaur had occupied the missing spot.

I love riding with friends, but seeing my routes through others’ eyes is changing my perspective. I can’t imagine riding with a separately-biking kid downtown [South Lake Union? Cascade? I don’t know what to call REI’s neighborhood], but I don’t even like leading willing adults along some of these streets of ours. The ride over from Lower Queen Anne wasn’t bad…except we met with a construction site by Cascade Playground and had to take to the narrow sidewalk and then detour a block.

On the way home I thought Eastlake Avenue would be nice since we’d get to keep some of our altitude. Climbing north from the Burke-Gilman Trail into Wallingford and Tangletown twice every day can get tiring and tiresome. Unfortunately, I haven’t really been paying attention to how miserable Eastlake is–though I clearly remember saying several times that I’ll never take Eastlake again–because it’s awful! There’s still a hill to climb…and then descend…and then climb again. I’d conveniently forgotten all about the second two-thirds of the 2.5-mile slog along Eastlake. I’m not going to frustrate myself by checking, but I’m pretty sure there’s more of a net climb using Eastlake/11th over Westlake/Meridian. Not to mention that it’s tricky to cross to the east side of the street from REI. I opted to keep us on the sidewalk of the west side until we reached a stoplight, but that’s four long blocks to Mercer.

But back to fun bike stuff! The Main Tank’s Dummy is sporting the purple bar ends I scored at Recycled Cycles. This makes me so happy because I walked around the store with them on three separate occasions without buying them because what the heck do I need purple bar ends for? But I couldn’t resist when they suggested I take them home for a buck. It was worth the price just to Instagram them on my dining room table, but they’ve just been mocking me from a bookshelf since then. Now I get to see them in action almost every day.

TMT’s rig also gives me a chance to vicariously experience cool gear. She’s got a BioLogic iPhone Bike Mount that looks wonderful, though I’d have to be brave enough to give up my very protective Otter Box to use one, which probably isn’t a good idea given how klutzy I am.

Today’s miles: 14.1
June cumulative: 67.2 miles

Hauling a full-sized bike

I carried my road bike on the Big Dummy a week ago, but that was sans kids. Today my road bike was done getting tuned up and I accomplished my first two kids plus one adult bike carry. I put the front wheel in one FreeLoader and the front of the bike in the other, with the rear wheel dragging behind.

I have to admit I thought we’d have to stop and reconfigure things during the 1.5-mile trip home, but it held just fine. Special thanks to the toddler for distracting me from the stress of packing the bike by biting me on the butt and leaving me smarting. And then for head butting his brother the first two blocks of transport to distract me from worrying about the bike not staying put.

I think I’d like to eventually have a hitch on the back of the bike (I have a picture of Edward’s hitch in this post) to more easily tow a bike.

The Xtracycle Bikes in Tow Flickr gallery is pretty inspirational.

Today’s miles: 12.3
June cumulative: 33.9 miles

Bike playdate with Davey and Baby Oil

Two days ago I piled the boys on the Big Dummy to meet up with Davey Oil, Baby Oil, and their lovely Xtracycled Nishiki Mixte. I know Davey from Bike Works, but he’s a fixture in many facets of Seattle biking and now he’s got this great new blog, Riding on Roadways, which just so happens to include a lot of riding with kids stuff, along with all the other awesomeness.

We met at the waterfront carousel for a quick twirl before moving along to the Olympic Sculpture Park…but not before I had a chance to snap a picture of one of the tree planters that caused my crash two weeks ago (no, kids not on board):

The OSP was great! We’ve never taken the time to play here, having only briefly stopped when meeting up with the New Year’s Day and Easter Cargo Bike Rides. The kids walked up the stairs to the top of the park where Baby Oil was adorable while my boys filled their rain boots and pockets with gravel and squealed and barked as trains passed by.

I have to say, I was touched by how much Davey loves his bike, Wheelio. Sure, I love my bike, but this is something different. I’m assuming Davey built his bike, so maybe that’s it. Or maybe it’s because he knows how to take care of his bike. Or both. Since I’ve known of Bike Works, I’ve been planning to take Davey’s Adult Basics Class and I have a feeling it will add another layer to my love for my bike(s), too.

One last freight train barreled by when time-to-leave arrived so Davey and Baby Oil circled the Father and Son fountain while I snapped pictures–and then charged straight up Broad Street. He told me he wouldn’t necessarily make it all the way up the hill, but I don’t believe him–he eats bigger hills for breakfast…although I am tempted to give it a try again, since I’ve only tried once or twice on the old mamabike.

Yesterday Davey started a Passenger Pandas Group on Flickr. I got a great one on the ride home (via the waterfront and ship canal, not via Broad Street and Westlake). If only you could hear the howling.

And in end-of-the-month news, I rode a ton of miles during Bike Month and meant to do a midday tally on Thursday, but didn’t get a chance and ended up three blocks shy of an even 400. This month is off to a slow start with no miles ridden yesterday and today on account of a car camping trip. Judging by the amount of stuff we brought, I don’t know if bike camping is in our future. I started out thinking the only items we wouldn’t bring on a bike camping trip were the kids’ balance bikes and our little dog, but we could probably also bring less than quadruple the amount of food we need (and fewer or no perishable items), no pillows, and no queen-sized inflatable camping mattress. And here I thought we were already roughing it.

Friday’s miles: 21.6
June cumulative: 21.6 miles
May cumulative: 399.7 miles