Friday, July 26, 2013

New Haven Living article, "Cycling"

Not to totally self-promote but here is the recently published article in New Haven Living about cycling in New Haven that yes, does include my family.

Wondering about this, though-- Cargo bicyclists, do you agree with the author's description that cargo bikes are "an increasingly popular symbol of urban chic"?

I am all about utility (and comfort). Chic? Not so much....

While I am really thrilled that cycling is being featured in this magazine and that Elm City Cycling and Matt Feiner get the credit they so richly deserve for helping to make New Haven an ever-growing, bike-friendly city, it is hard for me to ignore the glaring editing error of misnaming The Devil's Gear Bike Shop early in the article.

The author mostly got my quotations correct. I can say with certainty that I've never actually uttered the words "Moreover" aloud in my everyday speech but we'll go with it. There is an incorrect preschool detail but it doesn't radically change the idea for anyone but me.  

Ultimately happy though that cycling gets more and more attention as folks figure out their transportation needs and desires. Hoping that more and more people see bicycling as a viable and do-able (even with kids!) option.

Forgive me for admitting that I wished they had used this photo instead in the article, but it is nice it's up on the web slideshow...

Credit: Kathleen Cei from "Cycling" in New Haven Living

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rock to Rock 2013 -- Year Five

A much overdue post about the annual Rock to Rock ride in New Haven. It's the biggest local group ride and it's been fun to watch its growth over the past years.

You can see posts about our participation in past years herehere, and here.  I must admit that I am surprised to discover that I never blogged about last year's event even though we had friends from Brooklyn come up and join us.

This year was momentous because all three boys rode their own bikes for the entire ride. In the couple of years, we had hauled F on one of our cargo bikes, as well as his bike so he could ride the end himself, but he was ready to take on the whole route this go-around.

I must admit that I can find big group rides pretty nerve-wracking.  With my children, I seem to be on them constantly about riding smartly and predictably so that other riders know what to expect from them. However, I wonder if some of my nagging is simply because there are tons of other riders out there riding unpredictably, making less-than-smart choices, but it's only my own kids I can actually say something to! Unfair, I know...

Bicycling friends, who recently moved to Maine from New Haven, came down for the weekend to hang and participate.  I didn't end up making t-shirts this year but thought we should have some unifying theme going on for our crew.  Without any rhyme or reason, I end up settling on making fake mustaches. I merely mentioned it at one point, perhaps inspired by this bicyclist, and F latched on to the idea and wouldn't let it go.  So the night before the ride, we sat at the table making fake mustaches.

The result was pretty amusing.

No mustaches here, but had to include this snap of some of the cutest cargo around!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

City Cycling-- Fun, Instructional Video

Just saw this video today from GristTV. It is simple and captures the spirit of "Hey-- This is do-able and fun!"

No need to get into any helmet debates here.

Donut break, though? We'll go for that.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pizza Pick-Up by Bike

Why am I always such a sucker for photos of
1. bikes on bikes? 
2. beer on bikes?
3. pizza on bikes?

Here's my Yuba Bread Basket on my Boda Boda hooking me up when I picked up pizza at Kitchen ZINC last night.  The "Getting Figgy with It" pie is out-of-control:  roasted figs, sliced speck, goat cheese, caramelized onions, balsamic reduction and arugula. Yum.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ernest & DIY Cargo Trailer

Yesterday, Bikeyface posted yet-another awesome piece, this one about how bikes simplify your life in the midst of technology and how bike commuting lends itself to real face-to-face contact with all sorts of people.

I've written before about the people whom I meet while bicycling. There are one-time chance encounters and there are people we see daily whom we may have missed when driving. We certainly would have not interacted and chatted with them like we do now.

This spring I have been wondering about Ms. Essie. She lives/d in an apartment building on the corner of a busy-ish intersection where I stop often to wait out the red light. Ms. Essie and I would  greet each other as she sat outside on a folding chair watching the happenings on the street. I saw Ms. Essie for multiple years. She would often say something kind about my boys when they were out riding with me and ask after them when they were not.  These past months when I pass her building now, without her chair and her presence out front, I wonder if she moved or perhaps she's experienced a health issue that's kept her inside....

This morning, I was feeling a bit down. I decided to stop at my favorite coffee place for an iced latte-- so excited to have my mounted coffee ring back on my handlebars! Just when I was unlocking my Yuba Boda Boda, this fellow rode by and suddenly stopped to ask about my bicycle.

We ended up bonding over our bikes and cargo-carrying capabilities. His name is Ernest and he took a kid's bike trailer and turned it into a cargo trailer using heavy-duty plastic bins. He keeps his tools in the bins and anything else he needs throughout the day. He also mounted slim bags, including a neoprene laptop case to the sides of the bins so he can stash smaller stuff more securely.

He loved my Boda Boda and thought that not only could I carry a kid on the back tail but stick one up front in the big Bread Basket. He suggested that I paint my helmet apple green to match my bike.  I shared that my sons would love his Jolly Roger flag.  

After asking permission to take his photo, we shook hands and headed off our separate ways.  I pedaled through downtown feeling far lighter than when I started my commute this morning. An iced latte and a chance encounter making my legs pedal with a bit more zing and my mood lifted.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Boda Boda Bread Basket Liner

My Yuba Boda Boda has a new accessory. Some weeks ago, we affixed a Bread Basket to the front, increasing our carry capacity quite a bit.  While the size of the Bread Basket was great, the open slats made it impractical to carry a number of things, including my purse that would slip easily through the open spaces. 

I remembered seeing a great blog post on a Simple Six about the custom Bread Basket liner cargo biking mama Nicole Nafziger had made. While my limited crafting skills do not extend to sewing (unfortunately), I thought of my friend Sara who recently started a new business called Thread Blossoms and she agreed to take on the custom job. Discussing fabric choices via e-mail, we choose heavy-duty outdoor fabric that would be fun and match the gorgeous green apple color of my Boda Boda.

My Bread Basket liner arrived at the start of this week and I am so thrilled with it. It affixes easily with ties and contains pockets and a key fob. It adds yet another bit of flair to an already gorgeous bicycle while serving a super practical purpose.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Friends & Bikes (also...)

A few years ago, I posted this.

This weekend, we are hosting our good friends, N, C, and L. C and N used to live in Washington Heights when we were there. Back when The Sopranos was on, we used to do Sunday night dinners together, cooking big Italian meals and watching the newest episode together. We left the City. They moved to Brooklyn. L joined their party three years ago.

Yesterday, we picked them up from the train.  This is what their suitcase looked like.
Today we headed over to the Farmer's Market.  This is what N and L looked like.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bike Life: What We Do When We're Not Blogging

It's becoming a bit of a theme here on Full Hands-- mentioning how little blogging we do now when I actually do manage to put together a post. I do snap some photos here and there thinking how I would like to share them on the blog.  I recently noticed that stored on my phone were some pictures I accumulated over the past months, bikey-related things that I thought might be fun to post.

So what is it we do when we are not blogging?

1. We go to NYC's Museum of Mathematics and ride tricycles with square wheels. Yup, square.

 2. We participate in Mitchell Dubey's Memorial Bike Ride. We think of Mitch as we don his name on our helmets. The boys immediately dub their protective headware as Hel-Mitches.

 3. We dress up in spiffy new accessories that people kindly gift to us. Check out that bicycle tie!

 4. We load our Boda Boda in our minivan so we can divide and conquer. We pick up P from work  and drive to capoeira. We unload the bike and one of us rides another fellow to an evening meeting while the other parent stays at capoeira.

5. We go to a work-related Gala, dressed up, and convince our babysitter that we really are nuts.
6. We join in celebrating New Haven's 375th birthday with an after-dark group ride to enjoy the Night Rainbow. We pick up passengers along the way as our Boda Boda deck can easily handle it.

Photo credit: William Kurtz

7. We ride the bike path to bring a son to a birthday party. On the bike path, we do circus tricks. And we take photos of our shadow.

8. While the boys take the morning bus, we ride to school carrying S's guitar every Tuesday. Two fellows head home by school bus in the afternoon but since S stays late for lessons, we ride home together. S, the passenger wearing his guitar on this back, tends to get lots of attention on the return trip.
8. We hang out at our favorite bike shop, The Devil's Gear, learning from the kind bike mechanics there.

Have you seen Full Hands' latest guest post?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Guest Post: 30 Days of Biking

It is such a pleasure to present this guest post by Kayla, another cargo bicycling mama and CT blogger. I met Kayla last fall when she bravely loaded her Madsen cargo bike and a couple of single bikes into her minivan and drove into New Haven for a Kidical Mass ride. I was most impressed to learn that she is a mama of five and was really taking on family bicycling. Her older girls and my fellas instantly bonded and I really look forward to the opportunity to riding together again. 

It was fun to follow Kayla's 30 Days of Biking challenge in April and Kayla kindly agreed to let me share her blog post about it here. Thanks so much!

I am a big blog reader.  I love finding people that are interested in the things that I enjoy.  While on my search for ways to get my family biking(read here, and here, and here). I ran across a treasure trove of biking family blogs.  I was amazed at their set ups, how they got their kids to love being out and about, and most amazingly, how most of them chose to slow down their lives just a little to fit in bikes for nearly all their needs.

As I was reading these families stories, I kept hearing mention of April's 30 days of biking and how once one participated in such a challenge it was common for the "biking bug" to take over that leaves you constantly looking for ways to use your bike in the regular everyday rather than just biking for weekend recreation.

After owning my big bike for nearly a year, I was ready to see what I could really "DO" on these two wheels, and so I committed to 30 days of biking. I used that nifty Instagram to keep track.  Here are our days.  See if you can see the ways we were changed.

*You'll notice that I didn't include Sundays. In our family we value our Sabbath.  We try to keep them holy.  We attend our church meetings and spend the rest of the day together, usually at home.  We try to fill the day with acts that remind us of our Savior and Creator.  To read more about our Sabbath Day Observance and other commandments we value visit

1/30: Preschool pickup. 3 kiddos. 4 miles.2/30: Chilly morning so just quick errand. Trying out Dad's setup for two kiddos, one behind and one in front. 2.4 miles. 3/30: Hat, scarf, gloves, coat, and a pout. Is April getting colder each day? Preschool pickup and milk run. 3 kiddos, 2 gallons of milk, and a box of donuts to chase the frown away. 4 miles 4/30: Digging our toes in the sand by the lake on a perfect spring day. 3 kiddos. 5.6 miles.Thanks for getting me out of the house #30daysofbiking !!This was the highlight of the week.  Never before had I spent a quiet morning at the lake with my kids so early in the spring.  I had never really thought of it.  Lakes are for swimming and sand is for summer.  But because it is nearby by bike and we were looking for something new to do, we made a great morning.5/30: Downgraded to sweatshirts today. Getting warmer. Preschool pickup. 3 kiddos. 4 miles.6/30:After a busy Saturday, it's nice to get in a relaxing bike ride:) 1 mom on a kiddo bike down the driveway hill. 0.01miles.Surprisingly to me, Saturdays were the hardest days to make sure riding happened.  Too, too busy. 
8/30:  Visiting the trains before preschool pickup. 3 kiddos. 4 miles.  9/30:  Perfect afternoon for softball practice. 2 lone riders and 1 babe in the bucket. Only time in the whole month I only had one kid in the bucket.  Every other trip was 2 or 3. 10/30: The hardest part about biking to school? Not the sweat, not the tired legs, not the grumpy kids, not the crazy drivers, it's that I have to be ready to leave my house 10 minutes early. It's nearly impossible but totally worth it:). Preschool AM drop off. 3 kiddos. 4 miles.11/30: Going to the grocery store with three little kids on a bike is still going to the grocery store with three little kids. ;) 3 kiddos. 2 miles.12/30: That is my brand-new-came-in-the-mail-today front hub electrical assist. After being snubbed out of every "pedaling" bike shop nearby for even inquiring about them, we ordered it online through Clean Republic and my hubs and I installed it this evening. So excited to be able to bike out of this 4 mile bowl I live in with my kiddos.Per Totcycle's review and Hum of the City's Rundown I ordered the Clean Republic Hill Topper Kit13/30 Big plans for these guys. 1 minivan can swallow a Madsen, mountain bike, hybrid, and trail-a-bike.Spring break time with an 8 hour ride from CT to VA. 2 cars. 1 full of kiddos and the other with bikes.

15/30: Today was spent at the National Arboretum. Lovely paths throughout the entire park. What a way to see spring! 10miles. 16/30:Silly in front of the Capitol Building. 12 miles. My favorite part of the day: when we pulled up to get a good view of the White House and all the Asian tourist turned around and started taking our pictures. 7 people on 3 bikes with 2 cranky little boys can create a lot of curiosity. 17/30:I rode a peacock and Gracie a seahorse on our last day of vacation at the National Zoo. No biking, but we did sit in a saddle. You can read all about our DC spring Break here. 18/30:Trying the "easier" hill today. 2 kiddos. 3.7miles. 19/30:I/we made it up the BIG hill today! And I can still walk! A big thank you to my little electric assist. It helped a ton, but it was still SO hard. Preschool pickup. 3 kiddos. 6 miles.  20/30:This is how we nap on Mom's slow upward ascent towards home after big sisters' softball game. 3 kiddos. 2 miles.

22/30: Dropping off a forgotten flute to my forgetful middle schooler was today's bike errand, that I used to do by car. 3 kiddos. 3 miles. 23/30:Stopping to call to the alpacas on a neighborhood ride. 2 kiddos. 2 Strider bikes. 2 miles. 24/30:We did the preschool drop off and then swung by my husband's warehouse to pick up a lollipop and my stolen rake. 3 kiddos. 1 red rake. 7 miles. 25/30: Out with the old, rusty, sad, but serviceable front basket. I've got a new shinny rack. Now to find the proper bolts to put it on. Confession; I did not ride today. Gasp! I didn't need to go anywhere. I did cleaning and laundry and leaf raking and toddler playing. 26/30: Couldn't miss another day to ride, but without my new rack installed I had to bungee my battery to my frame so we could do the preschool run and still make it back up our hill assisted. 3 kiddos. 6 miles. 27/30: Another missed Saturday :(

29/30: Hubs caught me stopping for treats this morning. I always make those DD people giggle when we do the drive through. Then we followed him to his warehouse to help him load up for the day. Big day for us. Home,preschool, warehouse, preschool, home. 12 miles. 30/30: How 'bout that rack? Off to ride our last five miles to get to 100 biked miles in April. Later: Made it to the pond to dig in the sand, throw rocks in the water, and lie in the grass until my legs aren't jelly anymore. Thankfully the way back will be easier. 2 kiddos. 7 miles for a grand total of 102 biked April miles.

Miles biked = 102
Gas saved = 6 gals
Parking fee saved = $40 in DC for 1 day
Cost of Bike accessories = $917
($800 for the e-assist, $40 for an Iphone holder,  $70 for rack, $7 for basket)
Time spent biking/exercising = about 15 hours
Cost of gym + babysitting for 15 hours = $50 + $150 = $200
Weight lost = 0 lbs :)
Increase in dessert intake = Oh yeaH.

Pretty soon all that gym and babysitting I am saving will add up to the cost of that e-assist.  

Changes/Lessons learned:
  • I now keep my garage door clicker in my purse rather than my van visor.
  • I was amazed beyond amazed that it never rained on us.  We've had a super dry April; bad for the yard, great for biking.
  • I have never been outside this much in April.  With my big family, there are always, always chores to be done.  I send my kiddos outside everyday to play in the backyard, but sometimes I don't make it out there myself.  It sure is a shame that I let things like laundry and dishes keep me from enjoying spring properly.  
  • My house work has suffered a bit.  I started a huge project of organizing the boys clothes that has sat taking up half the basement playroom for the entire month, but whose to say that the bike is to blame.  I am most likely subconciously avoiding it.
  • I have spoken to more of my townspeople than ever before.  No one can help but smile when they see three kids in the back of a bike.  I've recomended the bike shop in New Haven, Devils' Gear Bike Shop, that origionally sold my bike to it's previous owner.  They don't carry Madsen's anymore, but they do carry other long-tailed, cargo carring bikes like the Yuba Mundo and Boda, Boda.
  • I have learned that not all bike shops are equal, and hardly any of them know anything about biking with kiddos.  A big thank you to those bike blogs.  Without them I would be lost and frustrated.
  • I have learned that location is nice(we loved our trip to DC), but not a determining factor in finding places to ride.  We live at the top of an incredibly(to me) steep hill.  Biking up it with my load was impossible and my biking world was a wee bit small because of all the hills I couldn't make it up, so I shopped around for help and found an electrical-assist.  Now we can climb our hill and get to so many other places.  
  • I learned that I really, really enjoy biking my daughter to preschool.  It is a perfect outing.  It is a short ride but it makes our day so much more exciting.  No more shoving sleepy pj-clad children into carseats as my preschooler crumbles her breakfast toast all over the back seat.  We get up, eat, dress, and get ready for the day-pjs do not cut it on the bike when it's 50 degrees outside, because it feels a bit like 35 and if we want to eat breakfast in the bike, no worries, the cumbs fall by the roadway.
  • I have learned that I can do hard things.  Biking is a bit hard sometimes, physically, but that was probably the easiest challenge to overcome.  The hardest part was getting out of my comfort zone and leaving our daily routine.  I am carting around three young kids whereever I go.  They all have fall birthdays so they are halvsies right now at 4 1/2, 3 1/2, and 18 months.  Going anywhere with them is a challenge no matter how we get there.  It takes planning and snacks and super duper timing to get everyone on board with an outing.  Having this biking challenge got us out of our tiny home each day and I learned that my kids can actually handle more than I give them credit.  I used to be afraid to leave my house after 11 in the morning because it was too near out 12:30 naptime and my boys would fall asleep in the car, be super grumpy when we arrived at our destination, and not take an afternoon nap when we returned home later. That is not really an issue with the bike.  If I keep them well fed and hydrated, they can last much longer on our bike errands than ever in the car.  They are out experiences the world a little bit closer and moving at a much slower rate. They get to "see" so much more.  I love to hear my little one pip up with "train" every time we see any vehicle pulling a trailer of any sort.  
So, in conclusion..  Loved my Biking Month.
Guest Blogger: Kayla of Thankful

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wookie Leprechaun on a Bike

It felt great to all be back on bikes again yesterday after yet even more snow on Friday. It's been a tough winter 'round these parts. We saw an unprecedented (at least in our time) 34" snowfall that kept us off the roads for too long.

With the sun out, we donned our green and headed off to celebrate the St. Paddy's Day parade with friends. It's been our tradition to bicycle to our friends' home for the pre-parade potluck (working the alliteration here). This year the three boys rode themselves, although I remember so well the first year of the bakfiets. It got lots of attention at the party and parade.

In the end, I'm not sure if this is a bike blog photo or one ready for an album cover.  We had to make a stop at the grocery store and instead of locking up five bikes, F and I opted to hang outside while the others ran in for food supplies.

Funny enough, he happens to be leaning against a post with signage reading, "No loitering. Violators will be prosecuted." I don't think anyone would take issue with a Wookie Leprechaun bicyclist waiting for his dad and brothers....

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Happy Cargo Bikeaversary-- FOUR years!

Four years ago this week, this was delivered to our family:

It came all the way from Clever Cycles in Portland, OR. At that time, there were no bike shops on the East Coast selling bakfietsen. Not true anymore!

We had some helpers unwrap the most awesome package we ever received.
P and S took it out first:
 Soon we were riding it everywhere for all sorts of errands:
We participated in our first Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride:
And we decorated it lots of ways:
Soon, so hooked on family bicycling, we did this:
Xtracycle Radish 2009
Bicycling became central to our life. We met lots of new folks. We saw far more things in our city. We had fun together.
Then the boys grew heavier and taller.  So this lived with us for two and a half years, was much loved, and recently sold to a local family with younger kiddos:
Yuba Mundo

This is what we look like now:
And this is our newest ride. Yes, mama downsized to a mid-tail cargo bike since the kiddos are often pedaling themselves:
Yuba Boda Boda
There have been SO many bikey highlights the past four years, including making friends locally and from far away:
And riding through the five boroughs of New York City:
 And carrying our Christmas tree home:

It's just been a FUN ride, both literally and metaphorically.  And while I may no longer chronicle our everyday bike adventures here that frequently, I know we'll be having them. Looking forward to more years of family bicycling fun.

Sara and the Full Hands family