Monday, April 30, 2012

Make New Friends

Last week I finally met Elle Bustamante and her boys. Elle is another Yuba mom here in Sacramento whose blog, facebook posts, and incredible biking adventures (she rode to Modesto – and back - with two kids!) have intrigued me for months. She also plans short weekly rides on Friday mornings. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to make it out until last Friday when we met at Doughbot for a mid-morning treat. We were calling it Sacramento's First Ever Kidical Mass but that was before we found out that there is a group somewhere doing one already. For now, we'll just call it Midtown's First Ever (unofficial) Kidical Mass. I am hoping Elle and I will be able to put together more - heck, we're a mass just the two of us. It was a lovely way to start our day - awesome ride, yummy doughnut, great company, and our very first Yubuddy. :)
Also, I’ve been trying to get footage for a cargo biking movie. Yes, a biking movie. I know - who on earth would be interested in a cargo bike movie? That’s exactly what I thought when I heard the description. Then I watched the trailer at:
I would totally watch that movie. Not only would I watch it, I’d love to be in it! Fortunately, it’s a crowd-sourced documentary which means I can! Unfortunately, the whole endeavor is turning out to be much harder than I had anticipated. First, I had to borrow an HD camera because only HD footage will make it into the movie. Then my planned interview subjects (ie. my kids) are being most uncooperative. They don’t want to be filmed: they put their legs/feet/hands in front of the lens, they pick their noses, they yell at the dog/brother mid-sentence, and they whisper. So far, bribery has been unsuccessful. Also, getting riding footage has been a huge issue. Nothing screams “TOOL!” like riding around with a handheld camcorder (NOT the one we borrowed) mounted on a gorilla pod taped to your helmet but I tried it anyway. At first I got some great footage of my back. After changing the location and direction of the camera I managed to get some footage of the kids – mainly Schroeder's helmet – but at least the kids were visible. The quest continues….
Stay tuned for:
Adventures at the Farmer’s Market – stories so exciting you’ll wet your pants!
Not really (at least I hope) but it will definitely be more interesting than whatever you are supposed to be reading at work. 
Doughnuts and Yubuddies....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Double Take

Plan A: Load the dog into the go-getter bags and take him and perhaps a few of the kids down to the dog park for a bit. I apprised my husband of the plan and he immediately gave me his “you are bat shit crazy” look. I see it often. Then he told me – very politely – that my plan was never going to work and provided a number of logical reasons used as the basis of his conclusion. Although my husband is usually right - about everything- I determined not to be dissuaded by this nay-sayer. I promptly went to the garage and loaded the dog into the bag. It was indeed not going to work. Worse, it was not going to work for all the reasons he had listed. Crap. On to plan B…
Plan B: I will drive the dog and some of the kids to the dog park. I could walk but walking takes FOREVER and by the time I got there the dog would be worn out which would make the trek to the dog park pointless. Snoopy needs him some doggy love. As I was loading the car with the dog and the kids I noticed my husband getting the other two ready.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“I thought I’d take Schroeder and Peanut on a bike ride” he replied.
Ummmm, what?
“You’re taking the Yuba?”
“But I was going to ride the bike” I whined.
At least that’s what I wanted to say. I didn’t because I realized that he had just voluntarily – without any encouragement (read: nagging) from me - gotten on a piece of exercise equipment; an event that has happened probably less than 20 times in the course of our 12 year marriage. I am not saying in any way that my husband is lazy - he works very hard but he just doesn’t like most exercise. He says he doesn’t get much out of it – no runner’s high, no relaxation, no real enjoyment. I've always been the active one and he's very supportive but I've often wished we would do more together. It's so hard to do things with the kids as they require so much attention and/or equipment. Biking could be different: it's very do-able, especially with Yuba, so I let it go and he took the bike for a ride.
I got a brief glimpse of our family biking future and loved it. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Car Free Days

I managed to go entirely car-free on Tuesday. No, I did not just stay home. That would have been cheating. I actually got up early, packed the bike, and aired the tires and rode the boys to school. This time I made the trip bike-abuse free and took the long way around. It was quite a pleasant trip. I was planning to leave at 8:30 - 30 minutes earlier than usual - but we were late anyway. The actual trip might have taken longer than anticipated but the loading of the bike certainly put us behind schedule. I had kids wandering all over the place – one had shoes and no helmet, one had a helmet, one shoe, and a dirty diaper, and one had a helmet and shoes but couldn’t find his books. That is one of the down-sides to a bike – I can’t strap my kids in and leave them while I run back into the house to get whatever we are missing. Next time I’ll have to push for an 8:20 departure.

I gave Linus the camera to document our day. He got some pretty good shots. Unfortunately he also got some schmutz on the camera lens which I didn’t notice until I was uploading. Sigh. Anyway, here’s our trip in pictures…

Starting out:

Levee views:


scene of the Bike Throwing:

Admiring crowd:

Happy Baby:


last stop: ice cream

Saturday, April 14, 2012

This little piggy went to market!

You know that game you played when you were little - the “Don’t Step on Hot Lava” game where you used the furniture or rocks to jump from one place to the next until you got to where you wanted to be? Well, that is how I ride a bike. I don’t like to ride on very busy streets. I will if I have to, but I’d prefer to avoid traffic. It ruins the ambiance of my ride. This is part of the reason why it took me a good month to ride to the grocery store that is, literally, just down the street. The other part is the fact that I just haven’t been grocery shopping in all that time. I don’t know exactly what we’ve been eating but it hasn’t been fresh and/or very healthy. Sigh.

I have to turn left into the store from both of the streets I use to get there via car. Not left at a light but left turns from the middle of the street which I dislike in a car and hate on a bike. I FINALLY realized that I could go around the store and approach from the back thus making a right turn into the parking lot. Genius! So that is what I did and it worked beautifully. I even remembered to take my environmentally friendly reusable bags - so super "green" grocery run. Yay me! I parked Yuba - it took up almost the entire (small)space alloted to bikes - and went inside.

Our stuff filled up the shopping cart and I was slightly worried about fitting it all into the bags. I know they are supposed to hold 6 grocery bags but I have the Trader Joe's bags which, for some reason, are like 2.5 regular bags. A little careful packing and everything fit without smashing. The whole trip took about an hour - about what it would have been in a car - and was actually quite easy.

Here are some pictures from our very first (but not last) grocery store run….

1. Groceries in Cart

2./3. Groceries in Go-Getters

4. My kids sitting over the Groceries

And no. My youngest doesn't ride on the back. He's got a seat up front but wanted to be just like big brother. :)

Until next time,


Friday, April 6, 2012


I have had my Yuba for an entire month now and I love it as much (if not more) than I thought I would. To celebrate I threw it down the side of a levee. Well, I didn’t actually “throw” it – I let go and gravity did the rest. Why would I engage in such blatant bike abuse when I love it so much? I’m glad you asked…

Up until now most of my riding has been fairly close to home and on a bike path that runs through Sacramento. I want to take my kids to and from school on the Yuba but have been hesitant because it requires some fairly extensive street riding on major, heavily travelled streets including one with freeway on/off ramps. Now Sacramento is fairly bike friendly but you still (in my opinion) have to be very careful with route planning especially when riding with kids. My nine year old usually does not ride on my Yuba but follows behind on his own bike which requires extra caution. As I’ve said the direct route to school follows some very busy streets but most of them have a bike lane until they don’t. Disappearing bike lanes are an epidemic here. You’ll be riding along happily out of traffic and the gutter when, BAM, the bike lane disappears. At this point several things usually happen: 1. the street narrows considerably, 2. traffic speeds up and cars start crazily changing lanes and/or 3. yard waste/parked cars appear where you were riding and you are suddenly forced into traffic. Not where I want to be with my fairly inexperienced, but very valuable kid behind me. However, there is a very nice off street bike path that runs parallel to the busy street on which I otherwise would be riding. This path runs along the top of a levee and goes UNDER the freeway which makes for a gorgeous, stress-free ride. It’s lovely except there are only four or five access points. It’s like an expressway to nowhere I want to be. I finally found an access that allows me to get on the path but not one where I want to get off. The next access is a mile or two out of my way. The street side of the levee, except the access points, is super steep and lined with barbed wire fencing. I thought, maybe, if I found a brake in the fence I could walk the bike down the hill and shave 10 – 15 minutes off my bike commute.

Which brings me to bike throwing…

Because it’s spring break - I chose to do a trial run on Tuesday. We got on the path easily and started cruising along the top when I found it. A break in the fence! We stopped and I unloaded the kids and sent them down the hill. I got my older son’s bike down and then turned my attention to the Yuba stranded at the top. At this point I should have had second thoughts but I didn’t. It was a lot harder to walk the bike downhill than it is to walk it up-hill. I got about halfway down when I realized it wasn’t going to work. I tried to get it back up-hill but that didn’t work either. I was stuck. Crap. The only choice was down and it was clear that if I held on the bike would take me too. I let go. The bike rolled twice and came to a rest at the bottom of the hill stopping just before the barbed wire. Phew. I followed it (not rolling), picked it up, and dusted it off. Yuba came up beautifully. The child seat on the front was a little twisted and my rear-view mirror got knocked loose but those were the only evidence of a fall. Everyone loaded back up and we continued our ride.

Good things came of this experience: 1. the Yuba can take a fall. I’m not going to get in the habit of tossing my bike down hills but it’s good to know that it is not easily damaged. 2. It’s hard to walk this bike down hills and impossible to walk down steep hills. 3. The “short cut” took a good 20 minutes so it’s actually faster to get off at the access and ride back. I did a little more scouting by car and found an even better street off the access point – bonus. 4. My kids’ school is actually quite close (less than 5 miles) and it is totally possible, with good planning, to ride them there most mornings. Yay! More bike = less car.

Enjoy your weekend!