Thanks to a Seattle Bike Blog reminder, I made it to my first Aaron’s Bicycle Repair Cargo Bike Ride. Cargo bikes are not a prerequisite, but I was deemed a cargo bike anyway, due to the fact that I carry so much stuff. The ride was really fun and I met a lot of great people. Quite different than a Spokespeople ride–there were not a lot of helmets and I only saw one hand signal.
Photo courtesy of Eric Shalit, TUBULOCITY
We rode along Nickerson which I learned used to be a four-lane road of speeding motorists, but is now a speed-limit-abiding two-lane road with bike lane on one side and sharrow on the other. In the past I’ve crossed the Fremont Bridge on the sidewalk, but today we followed the crew over the grated street. Not so fun; we’ll stick to the sidewalk in the future. The sidewalk is plenty loud and bumpy and exciting for the kids.
The ride ended at Gasworks Park–I love any ride that brings me towards home! The picnic was great fun…maybe even more fun than the birthday party we hosted at the same spot last weekend. Fewer train piñatas, but more beer. We hung out for quite a while, but the kids started getting restless so we were the first to bail. As it turns out, we left just before the egg hunt! So that’s three egg hunts we’ve missed in two days. We’ll just have to make up for it next Easter.
See many more phtos (mostly of my monkeys!) at Eric Shalit’s awesome TUBULOCITY.
Oh, and the best part: apparently Aaron’s Bicycle Repair has Legos! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to learn about it. I might take the bus there because it looks uphill from Lincoln Park. My plan is to go on the next nice day and buy a bell…but I have a feeling I’ll leave with plans to buy more stuff. After looking at this photo of a super-family-friendly Xtracycle on TUBULOCITY I think I want my X sooner rather than later.
Daily distance: 17 miles
Cumulative: 217 miles
One advantage of cargo bikes and trailers over bikes seats is their nap-inducing magical properties. With kids of napping age, I think that’s reason enough to own a cargo bike as well as a normal bike. I really should get one! I’d love not having to rush back from a bike excursion for nap.
The baby caught a stomach bug last night so I bundled him up in a sweater and beach towels and he happily came along for a little bike outing. We started out with a visit to the Bahia to see Billy and Gracie in the seal pool and walk around with the baby ducks by our wedding gazebo.
Next stop was dog beach in Ocean Beach since we thought the sight of puppies would cheer up the sick baby. He got out of his comfy nest, but decided the dogs were too big so he hopped back in and we rode around OB a bit before heading back. Both kids fell asleep on our way back up the Ocean Beach Bike Path.
I made it up the Glenn A. Rick/Mission Bay Drive bridge (pictured below) again! I think it’s steeper heading into Mission Beach. Yesterday I saw a woman walking a beach cruiser up and a man walking a mountain bike. Today the roadie who passed me was panting louder than I.
I had to keep the bike rolling to keep the kids asleep so I headed around Mission Bay and over to Law Street Beach. I also discovered it’s not a good idea to ride a Cabby over soft grass. It seemed a good alternative to a twenty-point turn to get headed back the right direction. I didn’t get stuck and no one woke up, but it required even more muscle than getting up the bridge!
Daily distance: 14.9 miles
Cumulative: 96.0 miles
Yesterday the Cabby was only getting covetous looks by the guys that live under the bridges with their bikes and dogs. Today it was admired by the 20-something beach guys–included a bedredlocked dude called Wiggles on a cute white-with-pink-flowers beach cruiser–who were probably imagining how much beer it could hold. However, we spread the Alternabike love to a few local families who came up to check it out. We also saw several other family biking setups: a couple trailers, an iBert, and a WeeRide. And of course several small doggies in front baskets.
Daily distance: 5.6 miles
Cumulative: 75.1 miles
We’re sitting pretty on a Gazelle Cabby thanks to Alternabike. Early this morning, before getting the bike, we walked a mile and a half along the boardwalk in search of beach toys and coffee and it took soooo long. As soon as we got the bike we took back off down the boardwalk for second breakfast. Much better getting there on two wheels.
Our big adventure of the day was riding to Old Town. The Cabby did great. The only hill was the Mission Bay Drive Bridge which I wasn’t a fan of back in my beach cruiser days, but we muscled up it just fine. It was also my first time on the Ocean Beach Bike Path. It was great being able to travel so much of the way on separated paths.
Unfortunately, we got caught in a rain storm on the way back from Old Town. The baby was miserable as he’s used to being a bit protected from the rain by his Bobike windshield. I was pretty miserable, too. I think if this had happened to me back when I was living in San Diego (not that I would have ventured out given today’s forecast), I would have hidden under a bridge and cried. But it was a brief rain storm and we saw a gorgeous rainbow afterwards.
We stopped for dinner and then swung by the grocery store and I realized my dream of grocery shopping by bike. The kids had to bunch up their legs a bit, but I fit three full grocery bags in front of them.
I might change my opinion of the Cabby a bit over the course of this week, but so far I’m loving it! …As a rental, that is. The kickstand is a beast to disengage and I think that alone is deterrent enough that I wouldn’t want to own one. Of course in Seattle I’d only have to wrestle with said kickstand while wearing flip flops for six weeks of the year. I love sitting at a 90 degree angle on the bike; it’s such a relaxed ride. I also love not worrying about bumping my knees on the seat in front of me, while having not one, but both kids right in front. I still find the handling a bit weird, but I was able to negotiate the crowded boardwalk just fine. I also took the wrong side of the Sunset Cliffs Boulevard Bridge on the way back and ignored the “Narrow bridge, cyclists should dismount” sign and made it across with no scrapes so I guess the handling isn’t that hard.
Daily distance: 17.6 miles
Cumulative: 69.5 miles
A bike shop with a play area and a toddler potty seat insert, does it get any better than this??
We carpooled with my friend and her two little boys to Clever Cycles in Portland today so she could get a new two-kid-carrying bike. She had her eye on a Gazelle Bloom with Yepp seats front and back. The bike was too big, but they had a great little Breezer Uptown 8. It’s got a Yepp on the front and Bobike Maxi (same as me!) on the back. They had to swap out handlebars and stem and also added a Brooks saddle and double kickstand. They didn’t have all the parts to attach a front rack so the eventual front basket is still being worked out. So keep in mind it will soon be even cuter than it is now:
While she was shopping I test rode a couple bikes. First I took out an Xtracycle. It’s funny–I know I want an Xtracycle in a year or two, but I’ve never been on one. I had planned to put the baby in the Yepp bike seat and have the big kid hang on behind, but the baby wouldn’t leave the play area. The play area’s puppy came along so I could still get the feel for carrying two beings. Naturally, the verdict is that I loved it!
I also took out a Nihola cargo bike. I thought it would feel just like the Christiania, but its handling is quite different…though also tricky at first. I should have taken a Christiania out again to compare, but I didn’t want to overdo it. Based on my recollection of my WheelHouse Santa Barbara test ride, I think I prefer the Christiania to the Nihola. But they’re both freaky. I think I’m just better suited to two wheels. Clever Cycles has a Gazelle Cabby hung from the ceiling so I pointed it out to the boys and reminded them of our LA Cabby adventure and told them we’d be using one in a few days, too.
Not much mileage to add to my 30 Days of Cycling tally, but it still counts!
Daily distance: 0.5 mile
Cumulative: 46.8 miles
The boys and I donned rain gear and swam our way to the Kidical Mass meeting point this morning. We found ten brave participants–distributed on two Madsens, one Bakfiets, and one road bike–sheltered under the overhang of the Ballard Library. On the way over, I discovered my jacket is not waterproof. Nor were my gloves. The kids fared pretty well, but the baby kicked off one of his rain boots at the library so I removed his damp sock and tucked his bare foot into his Newt Suit and hoped for the best.
The rest of the ride was just as wet, but given the fun company it wasn’t too bad. The bakfiets and road bike family made it to the locks before heading home. The blue Madsen pulled off a bit later so in the end it was just the Totcycle crew and us. I’m so happy I finally did the locks with them again because now I’ll remember (perhaps) to take 27th up from Commodore.
It was a relief to arrive at the covered Bikeworks bike parking corral. I met a very nice woman from Whidbey Island who admired my front bike seat and invited me into their group to share their $2 off coupon. We must have looked more bedraggled than I realized because one of the other women in the group spotted my entrance fee before I had a chance to dig out my wallet. Once inside we shed our wet outer layers and mixed with the dry Expo goers. I don’t know how other people managed schlepping their rain gear around, but I was lucky to spot Fritz at the Dutch Bike Co booth and he let me stow my two bags of wet crap under their table.
The boys loved watching the German artistic cyclists last year, but they were not interested in sitting still this year. We also missed Ryan Leech (too crowded), but I was able to sit us down for most of the fashion show. We lasted just long enough to cheer for Totcycle before needing to go in search of more stickers. I was able to spend a little time at some cool booths: the S.U.Velo Boxie cargo bike looks nice in person as do Bike Wrappers reflectors. I noticed them beforehand when browsing the exhibitors list, but hadn’t realized one needs to reverse them to change from the pretty pattern to the reflective side. I can barely remember to lock my bike so I don’t think I’ve got it in me to change a wrapper around. However, they would be a great way to pretty- (and safety-) up my mountain bike if I opt to take that out in icy weather next winter. The Family & Cargo Bike booth was wonderful, of course, and the boys hung out in another S.U.Velo there and I noticed on its label that it will be carried by Dutch Bike Co. The Classic Bike Show was very cool, but not kid-proof so we ran through quickly on our way out.
I did have one mission, to buy a dry top for the ride home because even though the rain had stopped, I wasn’t keen to ride home in just a t-shirt. I was having trouble deciding between a hideous $15 very visible yellow shell at the HUGE BLOWOUT booth and a $99-marked-down-from-$220 grey Trek rain jacket. It wasn’t the jacket I’d buy if I had time to shop around so I decided to look around for something long sleeved and not necessarily water resistant. At the Recycled Cycles sale rack I admired a Canari Sub Zero Jersey Jacket. It was too big, but it seemed worth it at $65 because my little buddies were getting restless and the label said it was from San Diego. If only Recycled Cycles had a sister store called Recycled Jerseys and I could swap it for a size smaller. But it did the trick for the sunny nine-mile ride home. Didn’t make it to Commodore via 27th, by the way, but next time I’ll get it right.
We broke up our LA visit with a day trip up to my birthplace, Santa Barbara. WheelHouse is an amazing shop: it’s huge and it’s full of gorgeous bikes. They have a rental program so I took a Bakfiets out for an hour (for just $15!) and had a blast. This was a newer version of the bike and it was amazing how well it handled compared to the one I tested out in Seattle–which I think wasn’t Dutch Bike Co’s rental vehicle, by the way, as Alex called it “Fritz’s old Bakfiets.” This new Bakfiets was also easier to manipulate than the Gazelle Cabby I checked out yesterday. WheelHouse Erik gave me the technical explanation, but it was a bit over my head.
In addition to being a great ride, it’s a nice change to ride a bike with normal seat and pedal placement (and this applies to all cargo bikes). On my Milano, I have to keep my seat a bit lower than I’d like so I can reach the ground easily. I also have to keep my feet on the outer edges of the pedals and aim my knees out to the sides a bit to avoid banging into the Bobike Mini. I don’t think either would be an issue had I had the foresight to request a proper Dutch bike as my push present, but I’m overall happy with the Bianchi Milano.
After riding up and down the waterfront bike path, we returned to WheelHouse and swapped the Bakfiets for a Christiania. What a neat bike! Its three wheels make for an incredibly sturdy vehicle, but the handling took a lot of getting used to. The rider has to shove the handlebars to the side to turn the bike. Not to call it a clown bike, but it reminded me of the swing bike I saw at the Cyclecide bike rodeo at Bumbershoot last year. I mostly just did figure 8s in the parking lot because it’s really fun to turn! The kids liked it a lot, too. Boxcycles sent me a link to this video of real trick turning on a Christiania, which put my riding to shame.
The littles and I are in LA for five days to visit family and see the sun. I got in touch with Flying Pigeon LA a while back and arranged to rent a cargo bike. They don’t have a regular rental program, but Josef said I could take out a Nihola, Christiania, or Gazelle Cabby. Naturally, I chose the Dutch one.
Once I got to the shop I started having second thoughts and was going to wimp out and take one of the trikes, but then Josef started saying how great it was that someone wanted to take out the Cabby and how it’s so fast and nimble and I felt obligated to pretend I was cool. Just like my first try on the bakfiets, I immediately veered to the side, careening into the gumball machine of the market next door. Fortunately, Josef had darted inside to grab his camera phone so he didn’t see my gaffe.
My brother met me at the shop (on his wife’s commuter bike, heh) and we went for a little ride together along the Arroyo Seco bicycle path. We realized it was our first bike ride together in a long time, probably since vacationing with the family on Texel as teenagers. The only thing missing was Oma leading the way, yelling “You kids keep up!”
The path was great–down in the river basin, far from cars. We rode a couple miles to an “End path” sign, conveniently right next to a small park. The trail was slightly uphill (very slightly uphill, but it doesn’t take much when hauling 60 pounds of kids and stuff) so the trip back down the basin was even more fun. My brother had to head off to work before we were done in the park so I was on my own for the return leg and, of course, took a wrong turn. I rode up Griffin Avenue a couple blocks and realized my mistake when I saw the “Montecito Heights” sign and noticed how high I was above the freeway.
It was good to experience a hill on the Cabby, something I probably wouldn’t have done voluntarily. It was hard. I think I’m just not suited to hills on any bike. The Cabby was fun to ride, but harder to handle than a normal bike, just like the bakfiets. The cargo area didn’t provide much storage area in addition to the kids so Josef stuck a basket on to accommodate our stuff. The kickstand was a bit hard to wrestle on and off, but I think that’s just the nature of any double kickstand. I liked the padded, separated shoulder belts. Just a three-point harness, like most Euro products. The two separate straps means they can easily go on a helmet-wearing kid with no pesky ducking and squishing.
I can’t believe I’ve never rode a bakfiets before. I’ve had plenty of opportunities, but never bothered, figuring they’re not for me. But I’m hoping to rent one this weekend in SoCal and wanted to see what I was getting myself into. We all went to Dutch Bike Co. this afternoon and the kids and Dan watched me practice up and down the block alone…and run right into a wall (thank goodness they insisted I start with the cart empty!). Those things are hard to handle. I thought they were only for rich Dutch women too lazy for real bikes, but I have newfound respect for them.
It was very cool riding with both kids in front. They happily sat next to each other and I could interact with Brandt so much better than when he’s behind me in the Bobike Maxi. it was also a nice change to pedal and sit normally. I keep my seat on the Bianchi Milano a little lower than I’d like so I can reach the ground more easily, and I have to keep my feet at the edges of the pedals and my knees out to the sides a tad a bit so I don’t bump the Bobike Mini in front of me. I’m not sure if owning a bakfiets is in my future, but it’d be nice to make a habit of renting them here and there.
21.6 miles today! Maybe not much to a normal person, but it was plenty for me. We started out with a ride to the Westlake Light Rail Station to catch the train. It worked very well, two elevator trips and all. Then just a short ride from the Mt. Baker station to the meeting point for the Kidical Mass ride and we were ready to go. The South Seattle crew was so cool and we saw several MADSENs with motors for all those South Seattle hills. We all rode to Full Tilt Ice Cream in Columbia City, during which we got heavily rained on twice, but mostly had sunny skies.
I followed Totcycle and another rider to Ballard via the Light Rail and the Elliott Bay Trail through the Locks. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of the EBT before–it was beautiful! Brandt was smitten by it, too, since it runs alongside train tracks. Definitely worth the extra mileage. And apparently a slightly different route would have taken us over a very exciting loud wooden bridge.