Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 Xtracycle Freeloaders & Our Yuba

Hey-- go on over to Xtracycle's blog,, and check out our posting about Xtra's 2010 Freeloader bags on our Yuba.

Yup, they work well together. Really well.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bike Geekery

This summer I bought another fabulous bike-themed t-shirt on Etsy by Loftymornings. I have a few other shirts from this wonderful seller, Kate, and they are soft and fun and people always comment on them. I fell in love with this graphic immediately.

Every time I wear this tee, my boys comment that the drawing actually looks like me a bit-- it's not quite my hair and I do always ride with a helmet, but I wear glasses and yes, I have been known to let long periods go by without shaving my legs (great detail on the shirt that I don't know if you can see in this photo).

At some point in school today, I looked down and saw this.

Yes, I was wearing my right pant leg still clipped.

I was spoiled in the past. Given that our bakfiets had a fully enclosed chainguard (and skirt guard), I never needed to worry about what I was wearing while riding. When we switched over to riding the Yuba this summer, I either sported shorts or capri pants so I never thought much about the pants-getting-stuck-in-the-chain thing. Last week, I had a rude awakening within a block of leaving the house when the bottom of my pants caught in the chain. I was lucky that I held on and didn't dump the fellas in the back. I had to quickly pull over, ask the boys to dismount, free my pants from the chain, and tuck and roll the right pants leg so we could continue the ride.

I now clip my pants when riding. Yet when I arrived at school today, I forgot to liberate my pant leg from this oh-so-attractive neon orange binding so was walking around just so.

Bike Geekery at its finest....

p.s. Any Yuba owners out there adapt some sort of chainguard for your bike? Would love to see some examples.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ride, Families, Ride.

After my fun making box cargo bike/bakfiets t-shirts and then adding another long-tail bike to our fleet, I have wanted to try my hand designing a new shirt representing our Xtracycle and Yuba bikes. These weekend, I pulled out my EZScreen Print and set to work. We went for simplicity for the saying, simplicity in the bike design.

While they are not quite up to professional quality silk-screened shirts, I was pretty pleased with the results. We did have a bump in the purple shirt when we pulled the squeegee over the screen so we did blur the silver bike some. F declared that this one is a bit "squidgy, " which sounds right to me. We just decided, however, that once it dried, it just looks like the bike is in action. We'll take that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

And we did it all by bike....

As soon as it came out of his mouth, I turned my head and looked directly at him. I couldn't stop the huge guffaw from escaping before I asked, "Did you just say what I think you said?"

"Yes," he confirmed, half-laughing himself, half-chagrined.

We have become one of those family. We swore we never would. We had held off pretty well for eight years. We met in the Peace Corps. He was the volunteer traveling with the smallest bag. I was impressed. We've valued simplicity and loved down-time, hanging out together, reading, sitting on porches. We had no car. We had a set of twins. Then one car. But we kept to one car and had a third son join the party. Then we began riding bikes. We took turns being the at-home parent, paid work being necessary but not the main focus. We've tried to be thoughtful and intentional in our parenting. And we never wanted over-scheduled kids and held off on joining outside school activities for a time. We've believed in unscheduled time and running around and riding around on bikes and seeing what adventures we came upon.

But here we were in the kitchen, early yesterday morning, gearing up for our first Saturday morning of the new season, when I heard him say, "So you don't wear the cleats now. First you have your cello lesson and then we'll head off to soccer practice." And so it begins....

Despite the idea of one activity per season sounding quite good and something we stuck to in the past, life has changed around these parts. Thanks to visiting an open house at our local music school four years ago, the boys became intensely interested in playing instruments. We held off for a year but then started with the older two. Music lessons suddenly meant one individual lesson, one group lesson per week... x2. OK, four commitments outside of school. And then the young guy began begging to start playing an instrument. And he and one older brother got really into backyard sports and made a plea to try soccer this fall. Do we tell them at ages eight and five that no, you already play an instrument so that's it for right now? I guess we could have but that wasn't sitting right with us. And so we have signed up for local recreation soccer, thankful that it isn't one of these crazy intense ones gearing toddlers for World Cup Play.

And so this is what our Saturday looked like:

  • 8:30AM: Sara on Xtracycle Radish with F off to soccer practice across town (even though there's simultaneous practice at the park across the street from our house, but it's farther away from the music school). ~4 miles
  • 9:00AM: P on the Yuba with S & C off to the music school. S's individual cello lesson begins. Fifteen minutes later C starts his group lesson ~ 2 miles
  • 10:00AM: S leaves park to ride to the music school. Locks Xtracycle near the Yuba. Transfers S's soccer gear from the Yuba to the Xtracycle. Brings F to the end of C's group music lesson. (Next week, F's group lesson will start right after C's; we had a bit of 'reprieve' this week) ~ 2.5 miles
  • 10:05AM: P leaves music school with S, now riding the Xtracycle, and heads to the site of his soccer game. ~1.5 miles
  • 11:00AM: Sara and F and C ride the Yuba downtown and then head home the next hour. ~ 2.5 miles
  • Sara pulls up the high curb going to our driveway and blows out the back tire on the Yuba. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Damn, the front tire we could deal with at home. The back tire is more complicated....
  • 11:30AM: P and S on Xtra, downtown then home. ~ 4 miles
  • 1:00 PM: Sara and F back together on the Xtra, off to a birthday party, again on the other side of town. ~ 4 miles
  • P loads the twins and the Yuba in the minivan and brings it to the bike shop to have the back tire fixed.
  • 3:00 PM: P, now on the Yuba with two functioning tires, rides C & S to a different birthday party, this one at the local natural history museum. ~3 miles
  • 3:15 PM: Sara and F leave birthday party and hit downtown local coffee shop for Sara's much-needed iced coffee. Then they are off on to the Farmington Canal Trail, heading north, in order to get to Old Navy so they can buy a blank t-shirt. Sara needs to make F's "5" birthday shirt that night since F's birthday is the next morning. ~ 7 miles
  • 5:00 PM: Yuba, P, C, and S arrive home from museum. ~3 miles
  • 5:45PM: Xtra, F, and S arrive home from successful bike trail, t-shirt shopping excursion. ~ 5.5 miles
With the exception of bringing the Yuba to the bike shop, we did this all by bike. If my math is correct, P and I rode about 39 miles on cargo bikes with our boys, ferrying them to two soccer practices, two music lessons, two birthday parties, and one shopping excursion . How's that for simple living?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

1st Days of School and Race Day

We had TWO first days of school with F, our youngest, starting preschool last week and the twins, C & S, beginning second grade on Tuesday. We, of course, had to take first day snaps of both days, including gearing up on our bikes for the commute. Our new daily commuting set-up look like this: P takes F to school on the Xtracycle Radish while I ride the Yuba Mundo with the older fellas (with the bakfiets retired for daily commuting).

F's first day of his last year of preschool

Notice our sweet new Xtracycle Freeloaders on our Yuba. While we did purchase these sharp-looking Yuba Go-Getter messenger-style bags, we found them too big for daily commuting with boys' legs hanging over the sides. They will be great for big shopping trips, serious hauling, etc. but when we saw that Xtracycle was looking for Yuba and Kona owners to test out their 2010 FreeLoaders, we jumped at the chance and were chosen to participate in the testing, much to our delight. We will be posting a review of how these bags work on our Yuba on the Xtracycle blog, but want to get through a couple of weeks of school commutes, music lesson hauling, and soccer practice runs first to see how the FreeLoaders fit our needs. Initial reaction though = awesome.

C & S's first day-- second grade! Clearly, a chillier morning than F's first day of school.

Labor Day brought New Haven's big running race. C and S ran the kids' fun run and Peter completed the 5K. Our bikes served us extremely well as streets were blocked off all over downtown and parking for cars was hard to come by. We happily zipped straight down to the Green and found a nice tree to lean the bikes up against, U-locking them twice together. Our long-tails received lots of attention and we especially loved it when the races were over and we could get right out of Dodge, getting nods from the policemen manning the streets, allowing us to ride down roads where no cars were allowed. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. We had a vision of a world where streets were for bikes first, cars second, and it was good.