Archive | December 2020

What we’re riding these days

We’re all on bikes with 26-inch wheels now!


Both kids outgrew their bikes in August and due to the bike boom that has oodles of people getting new bikes (yay!) but makes it hard to find bikes (boo) we’re making do with what we already have.

My 11-year old is riding his big brother’s handed down Islabikes Beinn 26 Large.

My 13-year old is on my old mountain bike, a 2004 GT I-Drive 2.0. That means he’s got disc brakes and a front derailleur! …though it isn’t currently going in its granny gear so I need to futz with it a bit. A full-squish mountain bike isn’t the most practical Pacific NorthWET school commute bike due to the lack of fenders, but it’s got a bit of a built-in rear mud guard and I bought a $10 zip-tie-on Bontrager Enduro Front Fender from REI, which has become our go-to bike shop thanks to curbside pickup and more availability than our nearby shops. Most importantly, he’s always wanted a mountain bike and I only use the thing once a year when there’s snow on the ground, like four years ago during icemaggedon. When he first got his hands on the bike he wanted to hit every unpaved patch of ground near home. Three flat tires later (never on his chunky tires, just me and his brother) I ruled that the alleys were too full of hidden blackberry brambles so now we stick to the many unimproved roadways with their plain gravel.

I had been dreaming of a Frog for his next bike–the Frog 73 8-Speed 26-Inch Kids’ Bike is “an 8-speed hybrid bike for 12 to 14 year olds” and it’s really light–on par with the Islabikes my kids have been spoiled by. At $600 it’s a serious investment, but light bikes are worth it and putting it through two kids sort of makes it feel half the price. BTW, here’s my reivew of Frog Bikes on BikePortland from a year ago. Fortunately (?) there are no Frog Bikes to be had anywhere so there’s the whole $600 saved. Once he grows another few inches he’ll fit on an old hybrid my neighbor gave us when they moved away (as well as on all my bikes!), but it’d be nice to find him a fendered bike before that.


As for me, I’m still on my Surly Big Dummy. (The loaner Urban Arrow e-assist bakfiets went back in June.) Nowadays I always have my two-bike tow hitch attached just in case we run into trouble and I need to carry both kids and their bikes, though fortunately that hasn’t happened (not to mention we rarely leave the house so there’s not much trouble to run into). If you’ve noticed my bike is sporting mismatched tires that’s because while taking a close look at my front tire while fixing a blackberry sticker flat, I realized the old black tire was dunzo. In a normal year I would have bought a replacement Schwalbe Marathon Plus, but they’re probably not in stock anywhere…plus they’re $50 a pop. Lucky for me, while purchasing a couple small things at Crank’s going out of business sale a while back, Justin threw in two cream tires because no one wanted them. You also may have noticed I’m no longer running a front fender. That’s because I forgot to adequately weigh down the back of the bike while I was fixing that flat and it took a nose dive into the floor, tacoing the fender. It’s metal so it might bend back into shape, but I haven’t tried to do that yet. I’m also not sure it’ll fit around this massive 26 x 2.35 tire.

So there’s the punch line: three bikes with 26-inch tires, but with a total of four different sized tubes!


In a pinch the wrong-sized tube can do the job–in fact, I started the white tire with a too-narrow tube from the mountain bike before the kid had grown into it, but I like to have the right sized tube in each tire.

Happy Ninth Birthday, Big Dummy!

Three weeks belated, but oh well. It’s been the least exciting year from the Big Dummy’s perspective–until mid-March I was only biking to and from work each day and since then it’s primarily been one-mile grocery runs once a week–but she’s still my favorite bike in the whole wide world.


Despite biking less than any year in recent memory, the Big Dummy got to do what she does best and carry some impressive loads. I scored some nice free furniture on the side of the road during various grocery trips: an outdoor furniture set, a table, a dresser. I also carried each kid, though not both kids at the same time.




Read previous birthday posts:

Christmas Tree by Bike 2020

I had hoped to skip the Christmas tree (it’s not my holiday, it’s not much of a celebratory year, Chanukah came and went well before Xmas, it’s a waste of a live tree…just to name a few), but my 13-year old really wanted to chop down a tree again so chop down a tree we did.


I don’t know the name of the u-cut place Andy showed us three years ago and I wasn’t sure it was open, so I did a bike-by a few Saturdays ago and got the details–open Friday-Sunday 7:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., any tree $30. The following day the 13-year-old tree chopper and I (and Pixie) bundled up and biked down.


Though not tree-related, the best thing we encountered was Milwaukie’s new mural by Jeremy Okai Davis of Bing-cherry-creator Ah Bing and Dorothy and Hurtis Hadley, owners of Oregon’s first Black-owned bakery.


The tree experience was the same as usual–grab a saw, tromp around in search of the perfect tree, watch the kid hack at it for a while, then finish the job myself. This year he dragged the tree most of the way back to the bike so that was new. And perhaps next year he’ll be big enough to do all the sawing.


I tell myself we avoid the big hill on the ride home for the sake of the kid(s), but it’s just as much about me not having to haul the weight of the tree up the big slope. Plus, the flat way home takes us by Cartlandia for lunch to-go. Thus our trip is four and a half miles (38 minutes) there versus seven miles (one hour) back. I’m still amazed there’s such a place so close to home.