Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bicycle Bling - Introducing the Air Horn

Yes, that's an Air Horn you see taped to my handle bar. Not for everyday use, but if I think a situation needs a little added "I'm here, don't squish me" - I will blast it! Also useful for getting rid of farm dogs who like to chase me on rural rides! Obviously for rare occasions where being deafened is preferable to the alternative, lets hope I never have to use it!

Know yourself and plan accordingly

My knees are so sore today, could my saddle height have changed without me knowing? Going to check on that. My throat hurts and my whole body aches. Poor Jack was up a lot in the night, but we slept good between 5am and 7:30am, so maybe we have a small ride in us, but 13 miles? Hmm. 13 miles is what it would take for me to reach my goal of 100 miles this month, a measly goal, which too many days off from riding might now stop me from achieving- lesson learned? Oh my YES!

Honestly I've gotten past the point of beating myself up about messing up on this month, and proceeded to the "shaking my head" in a "what the hell was I thinking" fashion. Note to self and anyone else considering a huge lifestyle change: Know yourself and plan accordingly. All the record keeping, calorie counting and mileage tracking goals actually made me feel like I had failed early in the month because I got sidetracked when Mum had surgery. If I'd have kept it simple and challenged myself to "ride everyday" I would certainly have had more miles, and felt accomplished and re-energized daily. I would no doubt be ending this month with a feeling of accomplishment like I did the one prior.

I would feel slightly depressed about all of this if it wasn't for the fact that I made some major growth this month- I cycled all the way to Walla Walla numerous times and I did so on my own, with no Kyle there to hide my social insecurities behind. I know I haven't touched on those issues much, and honestly it's because I find it such a deep subject that I'm not sure it can be spoken of here, but suffice it to say, I'm prouder of the fact that I rode that far solo, than I would be if I had ridden twice that distance with company. Just yesterday I was riding beside a very professional looking bicyclist and I wandered how we looked in comparison as we crossed the street. Then I realized I shouldn't care what people think; Jack couldn't care less if his Mum doesn't look fit, he still just rode 10 miles on the back of a Yuba Mundo, singing the alphabet song and pointing out "floweries" and that's pretty awesome.

I'm going to take a ride today, it won't be 13 miles, but I will still be proud of myself- I suggest you do the same. Next months goal- cycle every single day!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jack's Cycling Jersey and another 10 miles on the Yuba

Today we made it just over 10 miles, to downtown Walla Walla, where we met Kyle for lunch and also visited my Mum.

Jack is sick, poor little guy, he was a real trooper as always and happily rode despite the watery eyes and runny nose. I have had a sore throat for a few days now, but I seem to be keeping it at bay and feel fine otherwise. We still have to ride about 14 miles before the end of the month- yikes! Cutting it close for sure, I didn't anticipate getting sick right now so it's thrown me for a loop.

Last night we got a package in the mail and look what it contained-
Jack's adorable bicycle jersey, it even has pockets for bottles on the back! He wore it today and seemed pretty comfortable all day. It's a little big for him, but he grows fast!

He is not feeling very well in these pictures, poor little guy!

We only stopped once on the way to downtown today and made it in really good time. I took plenty of little snacks; a few energy bars, a couple of apples and some almonds. It really made a difference, I didn't feel shaky or weak at any point.

The Yuba got lots of comments and about 3 couples with small children stopped to really take a look at it- hopefully they too will get the cargo bike bug! We revisited our new favorite park, I always hope we will run into other little kids as Jack is a very sociable little guy, but today he got to play on his own.

I'm a little concerned about tomorrow and how we will ride if either of us is sicker. I'm going to drink lots of tea and keep the little guy hydrated and see what happens. If he's just the same as today we will still ride because he seemed to enjoy himself, he'd be sneezing and snotty regardless of where we are and he still seems to have plenty of spunk in him!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Interview with a cyclist - Jocke Selin of Carrygo Bikes

This week's interview is with Jocke of Carrygo Bikes. Originally from Finland, Jocke now resides in Oxfordshire,he just completed building a cargo bike of his own design.

Jocke (center) riding with the pack as a child.
Tell us about your favorite bike. What do you like the most about it and why is it special to you?
What do you like the most about it and why is it special to you?  
For my 11th birthday I got a Yamaha BYZ 301, more commonly known as a BMX. Of all the bikes I've had in my life, that is probably the one that I still wish I had kept. Not only was it the first BMX in the whole town, it was also indestructible. To an 11 year old, that last bit can be quite important. I learnt a lot of bicycling skills on that bike. The jumps got higher and longer, so did the wheelies (albeit I never mastered the balance point!). It never broke - there was nothing to break (apart from that pesky brake cable). Oh, the hours I spent on that bike, in the forest, car parks, stairs, jumps. I still walk past the BMX bikes in the shops and wonder "Should I...?".

How has cycling changed your life? 

Jocke & Caz at the Nürburgring Race Track in Germany
Cycling hasn't changed my life, cycling has been my life. With the exception of getting my car license and the first 6 or so years living in UK, there's pretty much always been a bicycle in my life. I learnt to ride as a little kid, stabilisers and all. We rode around the yards, streets and forests as a little pack. From there we graduated further and further afield. All the way to going to cycling to discos way on the other side of town. I cycled to school, on my own, from the age of 8. Through sunshine, rain, sleet and snow. When I didn't have my bike, I had to walk or, even ski (I grew up in Finland). The bike was undoubtedly the favourite means of transport (well, at least until two wheeled petrol [gas] powered things came into the picture - but that's another story). I also had one of the first mountain bikes in the town in my late teens, again, reliving that freedom of playing about in the forest. 
The lack of cycling on the other hand, that has changed my life. Living without a bicycle, with perfect hindsight, lulled me into some sort of apathy. The car was used more and more, the weight came creeping, the bills kept increasing. Before you know it, you need to pay bills for the car that you never thought you had to deal with. You're staring at your beer gut and wonder where it came from and how you're supposed to get rid of it. 
Wheelies at the Nürburgring Race Track in Germany
Today I try to avoid the car. It's a practical shelter for really bad weather, or when traveling more than one, or for long distances. The rest of the time, I try to walk or cycle. This idea was obviously taken so far that I've built my own cargo bike - all in the name of leaving the car standing.

I do most of my bicycle maintenance in my kitchen (with my limited skills), where's the oddest place you've ever done bicycle maintenance or mechanics?
An odd question that makes me look like a normal guy; I don't think I've been doing any bike maintenance in any odd places. Garages, basements, back yards, even roadside repairs, they all seem natural to me. I have to confess repairing a motorcycle engine in a my bedroom though.

Testing the chopper before painting
I rely heavily on the advice of more experienced riders, what would be your first piece of advice for someone hoping to start cycling?
I wouldn't say I'm an "experienced cyclist", but one thing keeps coming back to me when I spread my cycling propaganda; People seem to think it's hard, but these are the people who judge cycling from afar. Anyone who gets on a bike, and cycles doesn't seem to be having the same sort of issues with its (perceived) hardship. So my advice would have to be not knock it before you've tried it. Some parts may be hard, but there are other benefits that can't easily be described.

Do you have any cycling goals or aspirations for the coming year?
I just want to cycle more, be outdoors more. It feels like we've forgotten how wonderful it is to be out in nature, how it is to be close to it. Sitting in an office, or locked in a car is just miserable in the end. More cargo bike journeys, and more mountain biking would be awesome. Naturally I'd like to spread the cycling evangelism and perhaps convert someone else to cycling.
Taking the motorbike out in the snow
Where can we hear more about your journey?

You can follow my cargo bike related rants and raves on Twitter under the moniker @CarrygoBikes, and the website

Diaper Run on the Yuba

Jack and I took a trip on a new route today, we headed NE from our house, to a local big box store to pick up diapers. The side walks and roads are relatively new in that area, they are super wide, clean and unused. I felt like I had an entire bicycle highway to myself. We picked up what we needed and then took a little joy ride around some of the surrounding area, before heading home. We logged just under 6.5 miles and will no doubt be taking another ride later, because I feel pretty good today. I took some snacks with me and felt the benefits for sure.

I've logged 76.91 miles this month, which means I need to log 23.09 miles before Friday. I think I'm easily up to that challenge, and can see myself logging more miles than this next month as I'm dedicated to riding daily.

We've made plans to visit Portland in August for the S.E. Portland Sunday Parkways, we're hoping to rent some bikes from Joe Bike if we can't haul our own. I think it's really neat that you can rent Mundo's in Portland, something I would like to have done before buying if I'd known about it. I also just noticed that Joe put up a picture of Jack and the Mundo on his web site, go check it out!

Monday, May 28, 2012

The 2nd group ride...

Saturday came and with family staying with us it was quite a rush to get out the door for our 2nd organized ride event. I'm obviously not very good at organizing these rides because this time, despite the fact that 10 people said they were coming and another 13 said they may come; not one person showed up, not even one! I'd sent out reminder notes 5 days prior and then also the day before too. I think the answer is just to keep "hosting" them and hope that eventually people will respond. Kyle, Jack and I had a nice little ride anyway and then headed home.

When we got home my brother, Carl, took my niece Amelia and Jack for ride. Carl rides a Kona Ute at home in Portland, so Amelia is a professional long-tail rider!

I would like to have taken out both the kids but wouldn't have wanted Amelia sitting so far on the back, and I was too lazy to move the Peanut Shell to the back so she could sit behind me.

I didn't get many rides in this weekend which means, the pressure is on this week to get some miles in. I'm actually looking forward to the challenge of getting out and pushing off into next month with an assertive start. I have decided to commit to cycling everyday in June, I just find it works better for me if I don't take days off. I can always take short rides on days with foul weather, and I shall probably have to start getting my rides in early in the day or late at night with summer's wickedly hot temperatures just round the corner.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Getting Groceries on the Yuba

Grocery hauling, balanced well, it was an easy ride home despite the strong wind gusts.

Today I made a trip for groceries, it was a lot warmer, but the wind was gusty and it was pretty exhausting. We made it up that silly little hill that always leaves me breathless and this time I just kept cycling at the top, very slowly, gasping for air and wobbling all over the place. I recovered and kept pushing forward, but arrived at the grocery store feeling light headed and nauseous. According to Endomondo, I burnt over 1000 calories today on my ride, 1400 on yesterday's ride and 997 the day before, I don't think I know how to fuel myself properly for these type of excursions. This weekend I intend to do a little research and get myself more organized with healthy fuels.

Jack beaming and full of energy and spunk!

Jack had a great time however, and managed to stay awake the entire ride. We hauled home just under 50lb of groceries (yes, I weighed them lol), plus Jack (38lb) and his seat (about 14lb), plus diapers, bags, bottles of water, and of course me- Let's just say the Mundo hauled over 400lb today- and so did my legs! I feel pretty good now that I've had some lunch and surprisingly I think I have enough energy to clean my house before the weekend.

He's obviously exhausted from the ride home...oh wait that's me!

My Brother and his family are joining us this weekend, we can't wait to see them! Also, tomorrow we're hosting our 2nd family ride here in College Place. The following weekend I'm taking part in a Cargo Bike Round-Up in Walla Walla, I love having all these bikey things in the forecast!

Nothing budged on the way home.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

10 miles on the Yuba Mundo

I woke up determined to get a good ride in today. Bored with all the usual routes and tired from yesterday, I wasn't sure I had what it would take to get to to downtown Walla Walla, but it did sound like a fun trip. We made it (my longest solo ride without Kyle for company), and the promised thunder storms and rain left us alone, even yesterday's tremendous winds seemed to settle down.

We stopped for numerous breaks, at one point (after that dreaded hill I spoke of yesterday) I was sure I might keel over. It takes a good 2 minutes for my labored breathing to return to a point where it might be possible to mutter a few words between gasps, my heart pounds in my chest and I frantically sip water and cling to the bike to keep me upright.

Once we'd made it to downtown I dismounted and walked around for a few blocks, snapping pictures and letting Jack enjoy a little playtime at the park.

After our little walk around we took a short ride towards the Whitman College Campus, then looped back through downtown. We stopped and shared a hot chocolate at a coffee shop and Jack proceeded to greet every single person that walked by, never forgetting to bid them goodbye too. We certainly have raised a very friendly child, but I feel bad for him because quite a few people were stone faced and ignored him. I personally couldn't imagine ignoring a little child waving, smiling and saying a big "hello", but there you go- it takes all types I guess.

We rushed home in a hasty fashion to meet Kyle, and I noticed I'm getting to the point where my legs can move easier. I know that seems like an odd statement- but they literally seem to rotate the peddles in a more fluid motion and my hips rock less. It seems like the first 3 miles are always the roughest and that after that it requires less effort, the rotation takes on this monotonous quality and I find my attention moves from "oh I'm so sore" to "oh look at that pretty flower". We logged just under 10 miles today, which makes me very happy, that is good progress for me.

I recently got invited to write a little piece of "cargo bike advice" for a fellow blogger, Mary at My 3 Little Birds. She was looking for cargo cyclists to provide advice for an article about biking with your toddler, I turned in a little comment and was thrilled to find it published here at Babble's Toddler Times. Many thanks to Mary and Stacy for spreading the cargo bike love and for including us!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Today was a breeze...

Today's weather was hardly inviting and it took some serious determination to get out the door, especially after a brief phone call with my mother, who informed me as to how windy it was. Our house is nestled in it's own little micro climate at the base of a hill, which guards us from the winds that generally sweep through the flat valley, carrying dust and pollen with them.  But we headed out, with the little one wrapped and cozy, ready for a ride and me dreading every second of it. I adjusted my saddle, checked my tire pressure and set off for no set destination. There were only two set in stone requirements for the ride, it had to be over 6 miles and include a stop for a gallon of milk, for which I took my handy new insulating bag that I picked up at the dollar store.

After the first few miles of heading at an incline with the wind at my side it became apparent that going home was going to be a major fight, as the wind was approaching from the southwest and we were heading east. There came a point when I was mentally debating which way I should head, if I continued on my current path I could go to Walla Walla and pick up the brand of milk that we prefer, If I turned around I could loop College Place and it's empty, but now boring streets and then stop and grab milk from the store which is closest to home. To turn around meant heading slightly at a decline, to continue straight meant a sharp hill that I have dreaded since the last time I took it. After an inner battle I decided to head straight, and my dear son must have sensed the hill was intimidating me, because he immediately started chanting "go, go, go", I'm not sure I'd have made it without his help. We stopped shortly after cresting the hill, I recovered my breathing, let my heart return to a normal tempo and drank some water.

 We continued our journey with the solar system for company, a few magpies and a lone robin. The wind was truly horrible and I was dreading heading home. I was glad once again for Jack being sheltered by his canopy, otherwise I'm sure he'd have gotten an ear ache.

I stopped to snap a few pictures here and there along the trail, and found the one below exceptionally endearing. The look of sheer contentment and happiness on Jack's face really sums up how he feels about our bike rides, the highlight of his day.

The Yuba refused to stand in the bike rack and with the rear rocking motion of the stand-alone kickstand it makes it near to impossible to set the wheel between a bike rack and utilize the kickstand at the same time, unless you lift it into place and my back isn't up for a challenge like that. We parked by the cart corral, jetted around the store for a gallon of milk, an orange and a little energy bar for the ride home, then had a picnic in the parking lot.

 Isn't it odd that Jack's bicycle helmet has  "hot wheels" written on it? I think he needs a new one, or at the very least a well placed Yuba sticker to cover the logo.

I shall spare you the story of the way home, suffice it to say, the wind was so strong it required constant peddle pressure to not stop us in our tracks, despite the fact that we can usually coast at about 6 miles an hour on the main stretch home.

Our trip total was just under 7 miles today, the weather forecast predicts continued rainy weather until the weekend. Hopefully it clears up for our group ride I've organized for Saturday! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

From lapse to laps

I found out something about myself today. I found out that unless I have clear defined goals I am apt to fail. Now, fail is a very strong word. Maybe I should say I'm apt to score a B- as opposed to a A+, but that would be my rational self talking, and sadly my rational self can't get a word in edge ways compared to my emotional self- screaming "FAILURE".

I could easily sit here and type the world's longest blog post on the saddest and most pathetic excuses for not trying harder, but rather than that I'm going to tell you what I did today, after I discovered my necessity of clear defined goals.

I went for a bike ride. Which obviously is nothing extraordinary in and of itself, but this particular bike ride cemented in my brain that my mind prefers to work in a goal oriented fashion.

Sugar Snap Peas
So, let me back up, at the beginning of this month I said I would have three goals for May. I would cycle/walk 100 miles, I would do 100% of our grocery shopping by bike and I would track my food intake. Then my Mum had an unexpected surgery and I had house guests, and one thing led to another and immediately I forgot about calorie counting, and then we were out in the car with a "mum" trip and the question is posed "why would we drive by a grocery store and not buy groceries if we're already here?"- which obviously is a valid point, but it all left me feeling like I'd failed the month.

That sense of failure really beat me up, I mean- I have truly beaten myself over the head with it every single day this month.

So, now come forward to today. I finally sit down and do the math. I've been so busy beating myself up rather than taking a bloody ride, that I've only ridden 36.5 or so measly miles in 22 days. And so I pondered that, and of course I beat myself up a little more, and then did some more math, which led me to realize I will have to ride approximately 6 miles a day for the rest of the month to achieve my goal of 100 miles this month. Six miles seemed really daunting, so I decided to map out a loop using Endomondo.

The veggies

I tried various loops on the route drawing program of Endomondo- I drew one large one, two smaller ones and then one much smaller one, that if I rode 4 times would amount to just under 6 miles. I compared the loops and the smallest one felt far more achievable than the larger ones. It also made me feel more in control- if it started pouring I was closer to home. This was when the monumental realization happened, the idea of 4 small laps broke the ride down into a series of seemingly attainable steps, whereas the long route felt terrible daunting to me in my current mindset. I realized I personally need to feel a sense of accomplishment daily, and that my daily riding focus in April is what made that month so much easier for me, and made this month so much harder.  It felt like the small laps, each day, just added to my personal sense of accomplishment and gave me a sense of confidence that I desperately need right now.  That sense of accomplishment is the only thing that silences the self doubt. Having large broad goals made the month daunting to me, especially since the first week of the month got thrown for a loop. Cycling everyday gives me a daily reminder of why I'm doing this, where I'm going and how far I've come.

So I set off for my ride today, the first since last Friday, and of course I felt wonderful once I'd made the effort to ride, and I felt even better after I'd taken on the four laps and was peddling home. I also managed to up my average speed to around 10 miles an hour, which was an unexpected bonus, but that is nothing compared to finally feeling confident about my abilities for the first time this month.

lovely little lettuce and spinach greens!

P.S. I forgot to take my camera today, so decided to snap some pictures of my garden that's coming along very nicely. Couldn't post without a picture of my lovely boy and bike, so the one above is from May 2nd.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Interview with a cyclist - Gerry Lauzon of Free Advice on how to fix your bicycle

I've added a new feature to my blog- a weekly interview with someone of interest within the bicycle community. I hope you enjoy this week's post with Gerry Lauzon from Montreal, Canada, publisher of a free e-book called, A bit more than basic bicycle maintenance for the average cyclist. 

The Goose, before pa
Tell us about your favorite bike. What do you like the most about it and why is it special to you?

This one is complicated. Every bike I've owned in the past 20 years, I've put together myself in order to answer specific needs. This is influenced by the type of riding, the riding environment, what I wish to accomplish and the state of my body. I had a lot of fun with the first recumbent I built but now it's not practical to ride in the City. However, it was perfect to cover long distances in the suburbs. I loved my single gear cruiser, the "Goose", but my body just can't push that 60 pounder up the Montreal hills anymore. I love my last custom bike but it really lags behind in group rides with fixie riders. It's great on flats, it's very comfortable but it kills me on the hills. So I'm guessing that the one I am building now will fit the bill for me. I've always wanted to build the ultimate city bike and I think I'll be able to pull it off. If I have to limit my answer to one bike though, it has to be the "Goose". I found it in the garbage and it was a 10 year work in progress that brought me a lot of fun.

How has cycling changed your life?

I think it actually saved it. I had a heart attack at 43 and if it wasn't for cycling, I might be in very bad shape. It also made me conscious of the waste that is the single driver in a car sitting in city traffic.  
I do most of my bicycle maintenance in my kitchen (with my limited skills), where's the oddest place you've ever done bicycle maintenance or mechanics?

I've rebuilt a classic cruiser in my living room once when my wife and kids were away in Florida. Fun times! :)

I rely heavily on the advice of more experienced riders, what would be your first piece of advice for someone hoping to start cycling?

Be comfortable. Nothing will keep you off the saddle like an uncomfortable ride. Dump the hype and make sure you are very comfy on your ride of choice. Think of your comfort first and It will keep you riding longer.

Do you have any cycling goals or aspirations for the coming year?

I've recently discovered photography in a big way and I want to ride the City in search of interesting things to shoot. What better way than on a bike. That is what's motivating my current build.

Where can we hear more about your journey?

On my bike blog at

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bike To Work Day - Celebrating in a stay-at-home mum kinda way!

For bike to work day we celebrated with a ride to the local coffee shop and bakery, and then rode on to Kyle's work to deliver him and his coworkers some donuts. It's an absolutely stunning day, warm and sunny with a nice breeze, and certainly a great day to celebrate the bicycle in all it's wonders, even if you don't necessarily ride to work!

There's no doubt that it's hard to afford to be a one income household these days, we do however make what some might call sacrifices, for me they include; having a cell phone that just makes phone calls (odd concept, I know), not getting my hair cut every 6 weeks, shopping at thrift stores for clothing and other household items, being thrifty with name brand grocery products and using my bike as transportation. With the exception of bike riding, I did all those things before Jack came along. Now they are necessary and I'm happy to keep it up, the time spent caring for Jack is priceless and I firmly believe in these critical developmental years it is a priority, far above fancy clothes and vacations.

Speaking of fancy clothes, I picked out Jack's cycling jersey that we won courtesy of the  30 days of biking and Bike2Power- we got to pick out our choice from Kanu Bike and decided on this one HERE. We will look forward to seeing Jack sport it on in a few hundred photos sure to come soon!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I shall be smiling for days...

Jack waving his thank you! I took this picture yesterday on our grocery shopping trip.

I just had to make a quick post to heartily thank the people of 30 day's of Biking and Bike to Power! Visit their blog post to see why I'm smiling;) Click here!  I feel so privileged to be on this journey, thank you friends!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Interview with a cyclist - Rowan De Bonaire, his family and their bicycles

Tell us about your favorite bike, what do you like the most about it and why is it special to you? 
1935 Raleigh Carrier Bicycle, Restored by Rowan - Singleton Fire Station - Rowan

Asking me what is my favourite bike would usually engender a decent-length book as an answer, for there are so many. We currently have, after our spring clear-out, about 26 bikes in the household, split between myself (most of them) Raven, 3 (plus half of two tandems) and our student daughter Jessika who keeps 3 here. The concise but flippant answer to your question is "My favourite bike is the one I am riding at the time". Each has its own character - even two Raleigh Superbes will feel completely different - and each its own purpose, and niche in the collection. I do prefer bikes which are versatile though, and I do play the game of "if I could only keep one" (a good insomnia cure that one). The winner of that little game is always my custom-built-for-me Bob Jackson tourer. I've had it ten years and it's been all over Europe, as well as doing commuting and shopping duty, trailer-hauling, and even a jaunt over the 'Black route' in Dalby Forest (The UK's premier Mountain biking venue, in Yorkshire). I really couldn't live without some kind of cargo bike, though. I loved my Xtracycle and regret letting it go, we currently have 3 traditional English carrier bikes, and I'm lusting after your Yuba Mundo, made worse by the fact that the UK Yuba dealer is in our town! - (

Bob Jackson Custom Super Tourist - Kirkham Abbey, N. Yorks - Rowan

How has cycling changed your life?
Cycling has been a part of my life since childhood, where I escaped life in a northern mining town for the open spaces of the Pennines with friends or alone. My first tour was a 3-week exploration of northern England at age 15. Then as usual, cars came along! there followed a career in professional Rally driving, display driving, writing about and dealing in vintage cars, until three things happened in 1994. Firstly, the classic car market had collapsed (I was getting tired of the shallow people anyway), then I happened to spot the first 'En-cycle-opedia' (published in the 90s by a York co-operative, which is where i was looking at moving to), and my eyes were met by these wonderful machines. Recumbents, load haulers, child carriers and many more. What is more, these are things I could actually have a go at building! That same day, I was walking home (WALKING for goodness sake - Me?) and spotted a 1948 Rudge bicycle in a dumpster. All these signs could not be wrong. I soon found that the folks in cycling are nicer, bikes are cheaper than cars, and you can keep lots of them in the house! I had my new obsession!
Raven, Pashley RH3 - London - Rowan

Raleigh Misty, Mixte - Raven's Bike
I soon moved to York, and joined that enclave of enthusiasts centered around the publishing house, and I became a bike messenger, and parcel delivery rider for a couple of years. I have not regretted the change for a moment since. Bicycles have brought new friendships, a sense of community and belonging, adventure, health, and so much sheer joy I cannot begin to describe. In 2004 I founded BikeRescue, and then The BikeRescue Project, a charity based in York, centered around bicycle recycling, and incorporating youth work, cycling promotion, and expanding into infrastructure projects such as The HubStation, a cycling hub and bike park. I left York in 2010, but I still offer my experience to other organizations and cities, as well as restoring vintage bikes at home.

Raven's beautiful Raleigh Misty, Mixte, - At home - Rowan
Raven had been a cyclist in younger days (we are both just over 50 now), and had also been bitten by the rally car bug - she still drove a road-rally car when we met 2 years ago. A broken neck, followed by the development of Degenerative Spinal Disorder and Degenerative Disc Disease severely limits her ability to undertake bike rides. However, Raven's fighting spirit means she will not let excruciating pain deprive her of the pleasure of shorter rides whenever she can. We both get around by bike in London and take short countryside rides, sometimes making use of our two tandems. Raven's lightweight 'mixte' Raleigh has been adapted for an upright riding position, and her other two bikes are a Pashley carrier bike (mailbike style) and a vintage roadster, just nearing completion of a full restoration. Both of these bikes are perfect for someone who needs to sit up and take car of their back.

Kronan - York, U.K. - Jessika de Bargest

I do most of my bicycle maintenance in my kitchen (with my limited skills), where's the oddest place you've ever done bicycle maintenance or mechanics?

Orbit tandem & Bob trailer, Rowan and Jessika 1300 mile trip - Cornwall - Rowan
As far as maintenance is concerned, I'm not really in a position to speak to a novice on this, having as we do a well-equipped bicycle workshop out back. However, I have changed a bottom bracket on an Alpine pass in Slovenia (yes, I did have a spare with me, as I was hoping to make it to Ljubljana on the failing one). Serviced a tandem on Fistral Beach in Newquay, Cornwall, as this was the turn-round point in a ride round England with Jessika. I tried to fix a broken fork on a Moulton in France, but gave up and walked to a village, where there was a 'Brocante' sale. I bought a Dilecta 'porteur' bike, and a gorgeous 1953 Peugeot, with a Goeland for spares, for 25 euros! My V.W. camper-van was rather full for the rest of the holiday!
Oh, there was also the episode of fishing a dumped bike out of a Dutch canal, and getting it going on the street, in the dark, in order to ride it back to the hotel.

1985 Claude Butler Canyon - Heslington Hall, University of York - Rowan
I rely heavily on the advice of more experienced riders, what would be your first piece of advice for someone hoping to start cycling?
My advice to new cyclists would be 'don't be put off, don't be scared'. nothing is nearly so bad when you actually start doing it, as your mind tells you it will be when you're looking out of the window plucking up the courage. the rain always looks worse from indoors, hills are always steeper in your imagination, and drivers really DON'T want to kill anyone if they can help it, let alone damage their precious paintwork! When you are riding, and you feel tired, the headwind pushes you back, and you just feel like a failure at this cycling lark, do remember that every cyclist on the road is feeling the same.
Jessika and Scarlett, Pashley Picador - York - Rowan
Never, EVER let the macho-boy-racers intimidate you with their silly clothes and impractical bikes. They won't show it, but behind their alien glasses, under their silly pointy headgear, they are suffering as much as you, and are probably looking at you thinking 'if she can ride that old thing, in that coat and jumper, how come I'm so tired on my wonderbike in my lycra?'
Then there will be all the other days, the sunshine, the tailwinds, the 'cool bike!' shouted across the road, and you will realize you are a member of a community, the brother-and-sister-hood of the wheel! Hail and Welcome!

Do you have any cycling goals or aspirations for the coming year?

So what of our plans? At the moment, family care commitments are keeping us fairly grounded, but in the medium-term, our major plan is to sell-up, and go live a nomadic lifestyle with our pack of rescued dogs, either on our boat or in an RV. This is a lifestyle where bikes will play a crucial part of our everyday living. As we travel to new places and find a base, the bikes will be our sole means of exploring each new part of the world. We aim to spend at least a decade traveling like this, and it will be interesting to watch how the rest of the world copes with peak oil, climate change and the impending collapse of capitalism, while we tread as lightly as we can, with the clicking of our freewheels for company!
Pashley Pronto, Rowan moving house - N. Yorkshire - Rowan

Where can we hear more about your journey?

We have been toying with the idea of a blog for some time, as cycling is only one of our interests, alongside dog rescue and rehabilitation, green lifestyle, pagan ways, ancient and modern social history etc. In the meantime, you can keep abreast of our bicycle collection, and our adventures with them, on our flickr biking site;