Tuesday, June 21, 2011

continuing to learn new tricks

I loved this article in The New York Times about a bike class for adults who want to learn to ride.  I so appreciate the reasons why these folks did not learn to ride as kids and I really applaud their courage for taking it on now.

I could not help but be reminded of my mom. Thinking about this now, I can't recall ever seeing my mom ride a bike nor have I seen pictures of her on a bike (I may need to reach out to my sibs to see if they have different recollections).  However, long after my mom became an adult, well after becoming a mom of seven children, after tons of hours taking each of us to swimming lessons and watching some of us compete in numerous swim meets, my mom decided to take swimming lessons.

Growing up, she had spent time in the ocean but did very little swimming in pools. So while she learned to bob up and down in the waves, she never learned how to put her face in the water and stroke.  As a kid, while she was insistent that we all learn to swim, I remember watching her in a pool, always carefully keeping her head out of water and I am sure it was *not* because she was worried about her hair.

I can't even quite guess how old she was when she decided to sign up for swim classes, not at our local YMCA, but one a few towns over so she wouldn't be apt to run into people she knew.  I was already out of college though so she had to be well into her 50s or perhaps even in her 60s.  I wish I go back and interview her about this choice. I remember that I greeted the news with some mild enthusiasm but now, I think this is perhaps one of the coolest things ever.  My mom, well into middle age, decided to learn to swim.  Wow.

And a big WOW to all the folks spending time at the Brooklyn Bridge Park learning to balance and pedal and set themselves free.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

bike bus

It is so much more fun to ride to school with friends.

Here is our very own Bike Bus riding across the city from the west side of town.

Thanks, V, for the photo and the company!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

thanks for the shout-out

Sending a big THANKS to Kathleen over at "Families on Bikes" on Momentum online.  Full Hands was thrilled to be included in her post titled "Awesome and Inspiring Family Bike Blogs."  I really appreciate being included on this list, especially because many of the other blogs listed get a lot of credit for helping the Full Hands family become a family that bikes. 

When we started investigating cargo bikes, there were no local families riding them.  We looked to web to find information about our options and reached out to mama/papa bike bloggers for help, reviews, and inspiration.  We found so many of them completely generous when we emailed them directly and hope that we pass that on to others.

I am always thrilled when someone else tells me/ emails me that our family's example made a difference for them.  Recently, a colleague at school began riding her bike.  This is a true commitment because she lives well outside of New Haven so she rides from her home to the train station, loads her bike on the train (and it is not a folding one!), and then rides from the New Haven train station to school.  She told me that we were her inspiration and she made herself buy a month-long train pass to make sure she would ride daily.  How cool is that?

And I promise not to do this in every post until June 28, but if you think of it, consider going to Circle of Mom's "Top 25 Biking Families" and give a click for Full Hands.  Cheers!

Monday, June 13, 2011

pizza delivery bike

Did you know that New Haven has a reputation for great pizza?

Did you know that we added a front rack to our Yuba Mundo?

Check out my cute delivery fellows. Lucky me!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Every Day Adventures, Indeed

Those of you who follow Xtracycle know that the company's blog is called "Every Day Adventures."  Well, that certainly proved to be true today.

After a few days of oppressive heat around these parts, we awoke to a grey day in the 60's.  Going hand-in-hand with our obsession with biking has been our compulsive checking of weather.com.   Given that we are not a car-free family, rather a car-lite one, there are days that the weather forecasts cause us to leave the bikes at home and take the car.

This morning, knowing that we had an extremely busy schedule and the weather looking quite iffy with predicted rain showers at various times of the day, P and I had a lengthy discussion about our mode of transport. Bikes? Car? We kept going back and forth, checking and re-checking the weather. He made the first decision: he would head off to the morning music lessons with C and F and break-out the rain cover for the bakfiets which we hadn't used in many months.  I worried that there wouldn't be room in the box for the two ever-growing boys and their violins, but they were all game so off they rode.

S and I had our morning own task-- buy the birthday present needed for a 2:00 p.m. party.  Our favorite local toy store is five + miles away in a town just north of us. The skies were growing darker and it seemed like it would be easy to hop in the car, buy the gift, and get home. But S really thought we should go by bike.  "So what if we get wet!" he exclaimed.  We grabbed sweatshirts and hopped on the Xtracycle.

It was good fun pedaling along with just S on the snapdeck. He chatted amiably, making observations and jokes. At some point, we rode around an intersection closed to cars thanks to the unending construction that seems to go on around here thanks to the university.   We had to go up on a sidewalk, through a narrow path, and past a temporary fence. Coming down off the curb, I somehow caught my tire strangely and squeezed the wrong brake.  Suddenly I felt the bike go out from under me and in that moment, I knew I was going to dump both us-- the first time I had wiped out on one of our cargo bikes with a kid passenger. 

 I felt a flash of fear as we went down but quickly, S and I seemingly-simultaneously yelled, "Are you alright?"  Thankfully, we both were.  Assessing the damage, we found a  few scrapes, one slightly sore wrist, and a small, but lovely, hip bruise.  However the back wheel on the bike was rubbing and making a strange sound.  Thinking that I had done something to the back brake in the fall, we lifted the Xtra bags to get a look at the back tire, almost sure that our ride would be over. However, S noticed that it wasn't the brake rubbing, but instead, one of our jerry-rigged* Footsies had slipped and was pushing against the tire. We were able to wiggle it back in place, leaving the tire rotating smoothly, and allowing us to push off again on our way.

[*Since we have the Kickback (double kickstand) that fits in the same tubes designed for the Footsies, we had to figure out a different way to attach our Footsies. Ours are simply tied down with double plastic ties which have held up pretty well.]

We felt pretty good about ourselves when we returned home, having pedaled over 10 miles, picking ourselves up and getting back on the bike after our spill, and scoring one cool gift for a friend.  So what did we decide to do next?  Why, even with the predicted rain showers, head out again by bike, all five of us, over to the birthday party, and from there to downtown for a quick dinner, and off to the music school again for the boys' spring violin recitals.

And the rain did fall.

But we decided we didn't care. The violins were protected by the box bike's rain cover and two of the  boys had clothes to change into for their performances. We got to where we needed to go and the parking was easy.  

The rain cover back in action!
Stuffed in the box, protected from the rain-- one boy, two violins,
and three hand-built wooden ships made at the birthday party.

Back at home, after a long day and some rainy rides, the boys' spirits were not negatively affected.

So what's the saying? There's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.
I somehow was the only one who wasn't wearing a raincoat.
The garbage bag we adapted after the birthday party did the trick well.

And so I guess that's what caused eight-year-old S to remark this morning as we rode to church, "Just think if we had never found out about cargo bikes, we might have been like a normal family, probably driving everywhere.  But we're not normal. We're unique."

Friday, June 10, 2011

Inspiring Human Being and Cyclist

This weekend The New York Times is running a story, photo slideshow, and video about Damian Lopez Alfonso.  Damian's story is one of incredible resilience and strength.

Damian is currently in the States thanks to an amazing community of cyclists who have embraced him.  I have to give a special shout-out to my brother-in-law, sister, and nieces with whom Damian has been staying while recovering from his operations.

I so appreciate much of this story: Damian's own determination, outlook, and talent, but also this group of cyclists who stepped up to help a guy they hadn't met.  As the article's author, J. David Goodman, says, "Whatever the reason, the cyclists who have rallied around Mr. Lopez took their common interest and used it to turn the big city into a small town, a place where bonds form by chance and compelling need is met with overwhelming generosity."

Don't we all need to hear stories of human kindness and generosity?

You can read The NYTimes' article here.  I expect we'll be hearing more about Damian come the 2012 Paralympics.

Ride, Damian, ride.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Circle of Moms: Top 25 Family Bike Blogs

So it seems that the Circle of Moms website is compiling a list of the top 25 family bike blogs.

Here's what Circle of Moms has to say:

Top 25 Biking Families  

Whether they're trying to reduce their carbon footprints, stay fit or engage in fun weekend activities, these families know it all about biking.  Help us find the Top 25 Biking Families by Jun 28, 2011 at 5pm PST by voting once every 24 hours for your favorite blog.

So while I've never been particularly good at promoting Full Hands beyond some family, friends, and a small core of other mama and papa bike bloggers, I am excited about the possibility of having some new folks interested in family biking stumble this way.  

I  am also excited to see some 'old' friends in this list, family bike blogs that I have followed and looked to for inspiration and support, and some blogs that I am newly discovering.  Looks like I have a lot of good reading ahead of me.

So without being overly obnoxious I will simply say-- consider clicking here to vote for Full Hands.
(And yes, you may vote every 24 hours if the spirit so moves you.)

And take some time to look through this great list of other blogs focusing on family bike riders.

But click or not, ultimately, just Ride, Families, Ride.

Friday, June 3, 2011


I admit that I am a woman who likes accessories.  I go for squared-toed shoes, fun eyeglasses, cool bags, leather cuffs, and my brand-new awesome fedora.

I recently noticed that my love for accessories seems to have spilled over to our bikes....

So love the Nutcase watermelon helmet.
Our front rack on the Yuba carries 28 books home from the library.
One boy. Three bikes.
F wanted his rainbow umbrella instead of the bakfiet's rain cover.
S's orange hair stripe peeks out from beneath his helmet. Is an orange racing hair stripe considered an accessory?
Now ALL our bikes are sportin' the ZeroPerGallon stickers!
Don't we all aspire to a little flair? This fella's helmet feather suits him perfectly.