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!


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