Darn internets! I lost the better part of last night to some internet research brought on by my Dad telling me that one of his friends once or twice a year has a cargo container coming over from England and there could be space made for a bike. So all I could think of after that was: Bakfeits! I`ve had deep love for these style of bikes since I first saw one a few years ago and it grew once I saw Megan and James`.
Currently we have a Chariot Cougar which Chris and I use to haul the kids around the neighborhood, it`s been great but with a recent growth spurt the kids are rather cramped and grocery runs with the kids in the trailer is no longer an option. Even just using the trailer sans kids for grocery shopping is awkward as the trailer bounces all over the place when empty causing bike handling to become an issue. So we`re looking at non-car solution to our situation and cargoéfamily bikes are looking like the answer.
The entry price for one of these bikes is a bit steep (starting at $1500, with most being closer to $3000) or as my sister said: that`s a car! I did the math on how much a car really costs (insurance, gas and maintenance) and then took a look at what types of errands and the range of driving we would be doing to fulfill those errands, a car is a complete waste of money in our situation. My grocery stores are a 10 minute ride away, the school and day care are even closer, firing up a car for such short trips is not good economics or mechanics! Really the only time we really wish we had a car is when we want to go up to visit my family, and with the kids getting bigger it`s looking like Chris will probably be looking to get his licence (we decided he will be the better (read: less likely to road rage) driver) and we will rent a car for those times.
There are quite a few choices for the car free family (If you poke around the innernetz you can find even more companies making these types of bikes.) :
Xtracycles with seats attached Cafemama has a great post about being a car free family with pictures of her xtracycle
Madsen cargo bikes These bikes are new and from the few reviews I have read are still working out a few quirks and they are also the cheapest at about $1500
Nihola are on the higher end of the price spectrum, are a three wheeler and I can get one in the city from Curbside.
Bakfeits of which I have already waxed poetic about.
I`m partial to the Bakfeits as it has the best reviews and has a time tested durability that pleases me greatly! so I`m going to start a little Bakfeits fund and if I get the full time job I`ve applied for we could have one by summers end!
AKA Ow my arse!
Wednesday I rode Nigel part way downtown for a tune up and a few tweaks. If you were anywhere around Toronto yesterday you know just how windy it got and I (novice city rider that I am) was riding headlong into the thick of it. It was definitly one of those moments where I was thrilled that Nigel is a folder and when I got to the streetcar stop I hopped off, folded him up and hopped on. The driver and a few passengers were a bit surprised that a bike could do that. We disembarked near our destination, he was unfolded and we were zipping along as fast as one can in a headwind. It was around this point I realized I was terribly out of shape even though I do pilates once a week and that my poor butt is so not used to being back in the saddle.
At the bike shop for which I have deep love (remind me to tell you me fab customer experience) I discussed with the mechanic what needed to be looked at (grinding of gears, tightening of some cables etc) and then I got down to the Serious Business of customizing Nigel. The straight mountain bike style handle bars were swapped out for a set of Soma Sparrow‘s and I spent the last of my money from the sale of my Kiwi on a Brooks B17. Now Nigel looks like a proper English Gent (will post a photo once I get a moment and the camera batteries have charged) and with the right outfit we would be all set for a Tweed Run (or are fixies and single gear only allowed to participate?) or something like The Lake Pepin 3 speed Tour.
This is really how I like to ride, it’s not about speed, it’s all about the journey in a Harris Tweed Plus 4 inspired riding ensemble! If I ever win the lotto I`m so getting a bespoke suit from this lot!
and part 2
So to sooth my injured pride after the February Lady Sweater frogging (the yarn will rise again as Rusted Root) I started planning Chris’ and my 10th anniversary, which then led me down a bit of a rabbit hole.
Our grand and glorious plan for our 10th is to buggar off for a weekend trip to Niagara using the Bike Train, I’m really excited as this is combining what has fast become my favorite modes of travel! I’m going to be riding Nigel and will need to give him a few tweaks and accessories to get him all set for a full weekend of cycling, and that is where things went south… Luckily I just sold my Ashford Kiwi!
It started with the handle bars, currently there is a straight bar on him…I HATE the straight bar, it’s ergonmically ass so I’m switching it out for a set of Nitto All Rounders (think classic English 3-speed) with classic cork grips. The saddle will be swapped for a de-lovely Brooks once I can commit to a colour (honey or black? both are lovely and both would work with Nigels fair colouring…), might get my Parents to bring one back from their next trip over the pond to visit the family. A Basil front basket (they make a special bracket for Dahon bikes to use their baskets) and finally a set of Ortelib Panniers should round things out.
Once I had the kit all specked out I really started getting excited for the snow to be gone so I could start riding to work on the weekend mornings (it’s slow enough on the Danforth/Bloor for me to feel comfortable) and then the next brilliant idea hit…
How much fun it would be to take the Go Train up to Lincolnville and ride over to my parents farm (about 10 miles)?!? But Go Transit dosen’t allow bike trailers so Chris and I would need to kit out our bikes with child seats (I would have to use the red bike as child seats don’t quite work on folders) and we would be off to the races as they say.
So now I even more excited for bike season to start…
Queen Bee Creations is now making panniers!
I really like this poppy design but Nigel being a folding bike has too small a wheel base and rear rack for this style of pannier. If I ever get a dutch style bike I would definitly get a set!
I had this idea and it was a grand idea!
Next year I was thinking it would be great to take the train down to Rhinebeck and then from there cycle over to the fair. Turns out that AmTrak dosen’t seem to have any bike storage on most of their trains. Although I might be alright with my folding bike…may have to look into that, some transit systems view folders as carry on depending on how small they are when folded.
I find this bike deeply inspiring:
It’s just so purdy and it’s giving me ideas…and that’s never a good thing!
Next year Chris and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary and I want to take the Bike Train and get away for a weekend of cycling around Niagara but there are two hitches I can see to this plan:
At present I’m in crap shape! Luckily that is easily fixed by getting my butt in gear and training.
The other problem is neither of my current bikes are good for touring. The Trek with some tinkering could do the job but I would be more efficient cycling on a well set up Tourer. Over the next year I’m going to be amassing a whack load of information and start to build myself a solid touring bike.
I’m starting my research at the Bike Commuters website and am going to register for a Wenches with Wrenches bike maintenance class. Next step is finding a good used frame which I will strip down and more than likely have my Dad’s body man repaint for me a cherry red because my bike will be a Cherry Ride when I’m done!
There is actually a bigger picture involved here, this is all building up to doing a big bike tour in Canada or Ireland for our 15th anniversary. Can’t say I don’t have goals!
I’m off in about an hour for day 1 of my Can Bike Cycling Freedom For Women course, day 2 will be next Saturday. I’m hoping it’s not a full 7 hours of cycling as I’ve discovered over the past two weeks just how out of shape I have become!
I had a drop spindle class at the Purple Purl this morning and last night while trying to figure out the best way to get down there I said “I wonder if I can bike it?”. I checked out my route using the Toronto Bike Map and then promptly talked myself out of doing it. When I woke up this morning I remembered that I HAVE A FOLDING BIKE and one of the reasons I bought a folder was I could ride to the Bingham Loop (or one of the near by subway stations), fold it up and hop on the subway/bus/streetcar and then get off, unfold the bike and then carry on riding. So I decided that if I rode MOST of the way to the Purl I would treat myself to a lovely ball of sock yarn.
Turns out I ended up riding all the way down to the store and it only took me about 30 minutes! From my house to Vick Park I actually rode on the side walks since that stretch of the road is badly cracked and pot holey, I felt fairly comfortable with what I had done so I decided to keep riding, this time I was on the road with the rest of the traffic. I have discovered that I’m one of those cyclists who refuses to hug the curb, I’m a good 1/3 of the way into the far right lane and Dude in the SUV with the plastic fantastic trophy wife: crawling up my backside is just going to make me ride slower!
I felt really comfortable riding along and found myself getting a might bit angry that the City is dragging their feet about the bike lanes/paths. The paths/lanes that do exist are really just to get cyclists out of the way of the cars and in no way actually promote/encourage the use of bikes for commuting. If there was a proper bike lane along the whole stretch of Bloor/Danforth I wonder how many cyclists we would see using it? I would.
When the class was over I decided to upgrade my treat to a Hound Design spindle, (it’s loverly! Bloodwood with a black walnut shaft) and then I rode most of the way home. I slightly cheated and rode form the Purl along Dundas to Kingston Road then took the bus up Kingston Road (it is a narsty hill! I have pushed the stroller up it a few times and can’t imagine riding a bike up it!) to Vic Park where I got off the bus and rode the rest of the way home. All told it was over 7 miles of biking I did and I did it all by my self! My very first solo bike venture! I’m quite chuffed and now that I’ve showered no where’s near as stinky (I feel quite bad for the people who sat near me in class!) , but I’m not looking forward to how stiff I’m gonna feel tomorrow!
I’m undecided as to the name of my new bike. The list has been narrowed down to the two listed above and now I’m stuck. When I look at the bike I see a 50-ish year old eccentric Englishman who owns an antiquarian book store (think an older looking Aziraphale), or if your my family: imagine if Mr Gibson owned a book shop. He has also inspired my knitting, I see myself riding around in wearing something like Smokin’ (ravelry link) or Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan. Can you see it?
and here is it folded up:
Yesterday I took him out for a ride up to the grocery store for a shop and back with Chris hauling the kids in their trailer. It was a fun ride and I felt quite confident on the road (a feeling I desperately lacked when riding Rosie) but OH DEAR GODS! Am I ever horrifically out of shape, although I didn’t wake up this morning in any pain/discomfort, so it’s looks to be mainly a cardio issue. Some training is definitely in order!
It was a super hard decision and I tried, I really tried but this past weekend it became painfully obvious, Rosie and I are just not working out.
At first I thought it was me, my inexperience with riding the streets of Toronto causing some anxiety and it kept me from being open to what she had to offer. As time went on it was simply that we just weren’t a good fit. My previous bike was a mountain bike so I was used to a smaller frame and smaller tires, Rosie is more of a cruiser so the frame is a bit bigger and the tires are larger, I felt like I was on a bike that was too big even though I was properly fitted. Chris suggested that I just needed to get used to the diffrent style but trying to get use to a new bike AND riding urban streets just made for a neurotic me and an unpleasant ride.
I’m really quite bummed that things didn’t work out as I really like the bike and love biking but sadly Rosie just isn’t the bike for me and I became super aware of this yesterday…when I went to Urbane Cyclist to test ride a few of the bikes that got short listed back when I first started looking for a new bike.
So now I’m going to sell Rosie to someone who will show her the love and attention she deserves and the funds from the sale will go towards a new bike that I totally fell for yesterday.