Saturday, January 28, 2012

A new saddle and a visit to a friend

Today I went for a fun little ride over to my friend Corbi's house. Her cute little cottage is on 
the rural edge of town in Walla Walla County, nestled up against an onion field (those 
famous Walla Walla Sweets!)  We found a huge tumble weed that had attached itself to an
irrigation wheel and decided it would make a great backdrop for the Mundo.

 I didn't take Jack out today because he's feeling a little under the weather and I also needed a little time to myself because he's been exceptionally needy of late.  My mum wisely says that good parents are the ones that know when they need a break and after getting up at 5am for the last week and being generally run down I just needed some me time.  I still feel guilty every single time I leave him, even though he's in perfectly safe and loving hands with his Dad.  I just see his eyes well up with tears and my heart breaks, 
but I know it's important for both of us and when I get home he is always super cuddly and 
happy to have me around, whereas usually I'm just boring old mum!

As soon as I got home I noticed the tell tale tingling of carpel tunnel in my hands, something I've had problems with for most of my life. I'm guessing being more aware of my wrist position in the future will help and maybe some supportive gloves. I had installed a new saddle right before I left and it made a huge difference to my ride, enabling me to go further than I had in the last few days.  I know these little things will make a big difference in the weeks to come and not addressing small issues early on can lead to failure in the long run.  I feel like I have to set myself up for success at every turn and be very conscientious of making informed decisions. You don't go from being a lazy lug to a cyclist over night, the months ahead won't be easy, but fortunately motivation is easy to come by when you live with a little guy like Jack. I do feel like a cyclist already and it really hits me when I look at pictures of Jack or myself on the bike that I'm finally at the beginning of my journey and I couldn't be anymore excited.

My new saddle that a kind fellow cyclist sent me to help me on my way.
Thank you Brad! You and Cycling Community have welcomed, encouraged and inspired me!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Yuba Mundo Go-Getters Are Here!

It's been a busy day. I started the morning creating a milk crate bike seat for Jack.  I had to care for another little tyke this afternoon so we didn't get to ride yet but tomorrow we're going to take it for a spin. I've posted a tutorial of what I did on the blog, click HERE!

Today the Fed Ex dude dropped me off my goodies that Yuba sent me! I was so happy I took a few pics of the unpacking, then attached my Go-Getter and snapped some more pics.  Of course I will be sure to give a proper "review" of them once they have been broken in with some groceries, but my initial thoughts are that they are really brilliant!

They we're nicely packed in there! I haven't installed my recycled milk jug running boards yet as I don't have the right tools- something I obviously need to remedy!


They are also highly reflective! 
Notice how the inner pocket swings out and can attach with Velcro to the opposite side, enabling one to separate their cargo to avoid crushing. I think the great thing about Yuba is you can tell they make this gear to really WORK.  Notice the drainage holes too? I have no doubt I will find myself being thankful they are there as my "cargo" has a habit of spilling things!

On the opposite side I attached my Phil & Ted stroller's pannier bag, it has a bottle holder on the exterior too which is handy. Jack's crate is now firmly attached to the bike too and I really hope it works good tomorrow on our test ride. Overall I'd say it's been a very productive day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yuba Mundo madness or cabin fever?

My joyous expectation of bike rides has yet to manifest itself and as the days pass and the rain pours I'm starting to get agitated. Agitated is the polite word for the way I feel. The bike seat for Jack won't be off back order for another month and that doesn't include shipping time which could add a few more days to an already long wait time.

I purchased the trailer thinking it would be an economical and quick fix to the problem, if it enabled me to get out on the bike for the month it would be well worth the $35 I paid for it, plus I could utilize it after that as a furniture hauler or on exceptionally cold days I could bundle Jack up in it. Of course as luck would have it the trailer didn't come with the hitch, even if it had come with a hitch it would be impossible to fit the traditional way and have the hitch arm clear the side steps of the Mundo. So what do I do? Invest more money in getting a hitch fabricated and welded on my I don't have. Or do I just ride on the weekends (when my husband can care for Jack). I would go peruse the local hardware store for options, but I can't get there, because I don't have the parts I need to get there, to get the parts I need. I called my local bike shop and they don't sell the parts and gave me the phone call version of shrugged shoulders when I asked for ideas, their only advice being go to Walmart.

So my beautiful orange bicycle sits in my craft room surrounded by all my unfinished projects that I've collected over the years and it makes me cringe because I can't stand the idea of it sitting there collecting dust like so many other things started and never finished. It feels like a bad omen of sorts and I continually  remind myself of my lack of belief in such things. I keep contacting Yuba and I know for sure if there was any way for them to finagle one they would if only to shut me up, they are always so nice in their emails but I dread the idea of them secretly thinking I'm a huge pest.  My terrier dog and I share the same single minded focus in life. Tenacity is what I call it, but if you happen to find yourself on the other end of this obsession you may describe it in a more colorful way, I know that I have when Beatrix sneaks under the dining table for the 100th time during dinner.

Today on his lunch break, my husband has said he will find time to hit up a Home Depot for a few different sized U brackets, which we hope I will be able to make some sort of hitch from. I will impatiently patiently await him tonight and try to get it fitted so that tomorrow the boy and I can get out of the house a little. I know my poor husband is sick to death of hearing about bikes, only yesterday he assured me that NO we could NOT get rid of our vehicle as he occasionally drives for work and couldn't make business calls on a bike. He's right of course, if we had some sort of local ride share program it would be different but this area is light years from that idea. I think it would be safe to say that the majority of people around here still think only "poor" people use public transportation and ride bikes and I've never known a place to walk less. In the mean time I'm content with his plan to start cycling on days when he can and get a more economical car for days when he has to run all over town. I have always been a jump in head first kinda person (not that anyone reading this blog will be surprised to hear that) and K is more of a feel out the water, dip the toes in and then meander around the shallow end for a bit before taking a swim kinda guy.

Daylight is finally breaking and looking out the window I can see glimpses of grass beneath the snow, we've had two days of  warmer rainy weather since the ice storm and its only now showing progress in melting that thick layer of ice. Wouldn't it be spectacular if Jack and I got to ride that beautiful bike tomorrow? It's going to happen!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The bike arrives

As I write this I'm filled with conflicting emotions. I'm happy, thrilled to bits actually...who wouldn't be? I have MY bike sitting in MY utility room, it's finally here! But I'm also scared and anxious as the reality of this huge commitment begins to settle in on my shoulders. So rather than be 100% giddy with excitement when I look at the bike (which is what I totally expected myself to be), I'm actually just more aware of the corner I've painted myself into and it's hit me with all it's reality. I think part of the problem is that I had built this up to be some momentous occasion in my head, fireworks would explode, animated bluebirds would land on my shoulder and in reality the only thing that has happened is my last excuse just melted away with the ice. I now stand facing my challenge squarely in the face and feel I'm woefully inadequate. To make matters even more intense I weighed myself this morning for the first time in quite awhile and had pictures taken with the bike this really is a miracle I don't find myself sitting knees drawn up to my chin rocking hysterically in a dark corner somewhere.

Here it is at last! The bright orange station wagon of bicycles, I love it. It still doesn't feel like mine but I think once I've customized it a bit that will change.
Also in the picture is our sweet dog Beatrix the Staffordshire Terrier, she is the most patient and loving creature who constantly amazes me with her tolerance for Jack.

Here's a picture of me and my boy Jack. When he woke up from his nap to find our gigantic orange bike in the kitchen he immediately began trying to push it along, spun the peddles, squealed with joy and began a speedy ascent to the deck.  When we finally peeled him from the bike he cried for 5 minutes so I think it's safe to say Jack loves his bike. Tomorrow we are picking up the trailer and I hope to figure out an easy way to attach it to the bike. The forecast predicts mild rainy weather with high 30's to mid 40's for the whole week, far better than the frigid ice storm we just had.

I have what I hope are reasonable expectations for the first week and my goal is to build up to an easy 5 mile round trip.  I've mapped out some routes that appeal to me and found an old rain poncho. I don't have a lock yet or a puncture repair kit and a pump but those things will have to come in a few weeks, either way it's time to hit the road and start having fun on our bike!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

1 day left...maybe

Looking outside through our living room window I can no longer see the sun that greeted me everyday during the first few weeks of the month, instead I'm faced with a blanket of white snow encased in a solid layer of ice, growing increasingly thicker as the snow/rain mix falls at 20 degrees.  Tomorrow is the day I finally can go get my bike, I had originally planned for my husband to drive me there and I was going to ride home.  If I took main roads and the most direct way home that is a 5 mile trip, but in this foul weather it sounds like a nightmarish first ride and something to be avoided. Of course we could have tried to venture out in the vehicle and pick it up, but it won't fit in the back and we don't really have an appropriate roof rack, but maybe we can finagle something together.  Either way, I refuse to let this snow and ice hold me back and that bike WILL be coming home with me sooner than later.

Oh yes, an update on the baby seat:  The lovely people at Yuba tried to hunt down a Peanut Seat for me but the universe had other plans and my sweet boy will be bike seat less until the end of February. Never one to let the universe get the better of me, I was luckily able to track down an inexpensive used trailer through a local bike group that I recently joined. Now I just have to come up with a way of attaching it to my bike, a problem that only dawned on me last night.  I've been pondering different approaches to this but I feel like I'm trying to put a puzzle together before I've seen the picture, so I think at this point until I get the trailer and the bike in front of me it's just too hard to figure out.

Next week I will be getting a parcel containing something far easier to install- my Go-Getter pannier bags and a pair of Running Boards I ordered from Yuba! I love getting packages in the mail and this will be far more exciting than Jack's monthly diaper delivery from Amazon...unless you count the months when I'm down to one diaper when I see the Fed-Ex guy pull up, that's pretty thrilling too!

Monday, January 16, 2012

4.5 days...not that I'm counting or anything!

It's Monday night and the snow that appeared last night is starting to thaw, which is good news because I don't fancy taking on the snow for my first few rides on the Mundo.  I still have no updates regarding the peanut seat for Jack but I'm really hoping I don't have to wait until the end of February for it!  Couldn't I just strap Jack down to the deck with bungees? Get a back pack, cut appropriate holes for arms, legs and head and wear him? I'm feeling frustrated by the time it takes to go from thought manifested in my head to actual realization.

I've been pondering how I should track my progress in the following months (better than fixating on the seat and kickstand problem).  I could track mileage, weight-loss, total number of trips, sense of many options! I personally don't like scale fixation but it's hard to beat the cold hard facts that numbers on a scale depict and for some reason I tend to think readers would find it easy to relate to.  I also like the idea of mileage tracking but I was concerned that would mean another expense in the way of a computer, however I have been the fortunate recipient of a gift- A bike computer from a kind bike enthusiast I met on Facebook!  How nice is that? And his only request for payment..."do something good for someone else"...  thank you John, I certainly will!  I've felt so cut off from any sense of community since we moved to this area almost a year ago, it feels nice to "belong" in some way.

I had my mum over to my house today and she excitedly joined me in viewing all of the Yuba videos on YouTube. We especially enjoyed the transportation of 400lb of bananas on the back of a blue Mundo, pretty spectacular!

Hopefully my next post will include pictures of my zesty new bike (I opted for the citrus orange) but until then if you have any input as to what you would like to see me track for the next 12 months please let me know! I love the comments and appreciate the community spirit I have found as a soon to be cargo-cyclist.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

9 days and counting

A slight hiccup has arisen- the seat I ordered for Jack and the double kickstand are on back order!  So while I will still get my bike in 9 days (yes, I'm counting!),  I won't be able to take Jack out which will certainly hinder my ability to get out as often as I'd hoped.  I'm thoroughly disappointed by this setback and have been trying to figure out a way around it, but other than strapping the boy in an old wooden milk crate I'm not sure what I can do, other than wait.

The weather outside is still very brisk and frosty but the clear blue sky and sunshine are calling me, I keep imagining that torrential rain storms that will ensue on the 20th when I get my bike and have dug out an old plastic poncho just in case Murphy's Law prevails.

  On a more positive note I read recently that Yuba donated 6 Mundo's to a coffee growing collective in Tanzania.  I really like it when I can support businesses that make a difference with my dollar and as my Dad was raised in Tanzania I found it especially interesting to read about the difference those bikes will make. It also makes my complaints about having to wait for the Peanut seat and kickstand seem very trivial in comparison. If you want to read more about the coffee bikes click HERE.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Where have your wheels taken you?

Only 11 days left until I can pick up my bike.  I have marked the days on the calender like it's Xmas all over again, and to be honest I'm more excited than a kid on Christmas Eve. 

Nothing in life has power over you, you give it the power, be it negative or positive.  I have decided to give my bike the power to change my life, it may be just a lump of metal with rubber on it's wheels but it can take me places an odometer can't measure.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Keep calm and pedal on

Since making the decision to spend more money on a bicycle than we spent on our last gas sucking vehicle I've been seesawing back and forth between emotions of "Oh my god what have I done" and "wow, I'm REALLY doing this?".  It's never easy to spend large amounts of money, for us the cost is already being felt and the bike hasn't even been wheeled out of the store yet.  We will be making sacrifices for the next few months and will no doubt wonder at some point if we've made a mistake (possibly during a weak spot of latte lust).  The pressure to follow through and make sure I stick with my 12 month commitment is really consuming,  if I fail not only will I have let myself down in a very public manner but worse I will have let my husband and son down, they too being invested financially and emotionally right along with me. The expense of this is endeavor is feeling really heavy right now and at times like this I just have to remind myself of the real costs at stake.

  • A years worth of gasoline is far more expensive on the pocketbook and the environment than 10 very reasonably priced, well built cargo bikes (the environmental health of our planet and welfare of it's inhabitants being priceless in my opinion).  Sure you don't need to buy a brand new cargo bike, a $200 Craigslist trailer/bike combo could work just as well for some people (used cargo bikes are very hard to find).  And while I could have gone the trailer/bike route, for me ease of use and a sense of security are of utmost importance.  I've seen the front bumper of a car up close and personal while lying in a street and since then I've had a real fear of cycling with cars. For me to be convinced that my little boy is safe I need him to be close to me and the line of vision of the average motorist.
  • Making exercise a lifestyle rather than an appointment in a day-planner is invaluable, especially if you find yourself responsible for a little human who relies on you to make the best possible decisions regarding their future.  As someone who has dealt with weight issues for most of her life I can assure you this "weighs" heavily on me. Pun intended.
  • Healthier people spend less on all sorts of things from health insurance to medical/dental bills and even clothing! In fact the only time that I can think of where healthier people might spend more than unhealthy people is in the cost of their extended years of life.  

I don't know how to put a price tag on my health.  I don't know how much money I'd be willing to spend to ensure my son's appreciation for exercise, nor how much I'd throw down to ensure he had a beautiful planet to enjoy.  I do know that I'd pay a hell of a lot more than the cost my new bike.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2 weeks till 2 wheels

I have always had an awful time making decisions so the last few weeks have been really hard on me, it was a great relief to walk out of the bike store today as a proud Yuba Mundo cargo bike owner.  While I can't bring my bike home for another two weeks, I can rest easy knowing its got my name on it, is being outfitted with a top notch toddler seat for Jack and an extra sturdy kick stand so unloading and loading the little tyke is as safe as possible.
The Yuba Mundo became the obvious choice after my two weeks of research.  Firstly it's extra long wheel base seems to enhance the smoothness of the ride. Secondly it's staggering 440lb load capacity means I never have to worry about straining it with heaps of groceries, overloaded diaper bags and thrift store finds that I have to drag home. It's well built, affordable and the internet has seemingly endless positive reviews from owners and experts alike. And to top it all off, my local bike store was happy to work out a payment plan with me!

 At the end of my test ride Kyle lifted Jack up onto the back deck and held him securely while I wiggled off the bike to simulate how I will cope dismounting with added weight.  It was a little hairy but definitely something that will be aided by practice.   As we stood there admiring my new ride Jack tried to climb up on the back again, making my heart swell with the realization it isn't just my life I'm trying to change!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


If you Google "cargo bikes" you will get an idea of some of the amazing utility bicycles that are just now gaining popularity in the US, I had no idea alternative transportation could be so interesting!  Forgive me if this starts to sound a little editorial but I really wanted to share all the choices I am facing with the start of the new year.

Prices vary on these drool worthy machines from round $1200 for the Kona Ute to upwards of $4000 for some of the Dutch made Bakfietsen bikes, there are a multitude of styles to suit just about every purpose and personal style provided you have the bucks to spend.  It's easy to get initial sticker shock, but consider the average price of a car, fuel (lets not get started about the REAL cost of gasoline to this beautiful planet), insurance and the priceless health gained by using pedal power...all of a sudden they seem cheap in comparison to the savings they provide.

If you would like to learn more about cargo bikes, I found a great informative blog:

Then of course there's the good old fashioned bicycle, attach a trailer or child seat and away you go!  You can pick up a used bicycle for around $100 on Craigslist and a trailer for around $75-$200.  There are definitely positives to going this route including price point and availability.

Last but not least there are a range of cycles made specifically for parents that are similar to the Dutch made bikes with more of a modern "stroller" feel.  They range in price from $1600 on up and some can be easily transformed from bike to trailer to stroller, making them a solution to many tot toting problems.  The bike pictured below is a Zigo and I'm fast becoming a big fan of this versatile machine.  Anyone who has had a child knows the immense amount of gear that they seem to need, with this set-up you can take care of a few needs at once with the huge benefit of having your child in your line of sight at all times (unlike the conventional trailer behind bike). 

I can see a lot of pros and cons to either set up and for me the decision is still in the works.  If I had the money I'd grab a Dutch made cargo bike in a heartbeat, these bikes are great investments and hold their resale value well but I'm also really drawn to the new breed of kid movers that morph to fill so many needs.  I have set a deadline of January 22nd to find my bike, until then I'm scouring used ads and soaking in the options, always trying to be realistic that at the end of the day its the rider that makes the bike "work" to whatever their situation is.  It's all very exciting and I find myself obsessing over bikes but then having "real" moments when  the idea of not driving for an entire year is really daunting!  I can't help but think the dramatic weather fluctuations of SE Washington will play a big part into how enjoyable or torturous this next year is, and then throw in sore knees and a back that predicts the weather...this will be an adventure to say the least!


So my big plan for the new year got hatched back in October when I absentmindedly forgot to renew my driver’s license a week after we'd moved into a new house and apparently lost a box of important papers...with no documents to prove my ID I found myself unable to drive until new copies arrived. That got me thinking, how would I survive without my driver’s license?  How would it change my life?  The first thing that came to mind was the money I'd save...our old gas guzzler drinks about $40 a week in gas and then the insurance costs add up too, plus maintenance...hmm.  Then I thought about alternative travel... public transportation would be a must and I'd definitely need a bicycle. But I have a toddler to tote about too, so I obviously need a mode of transport that could safely include him.  Then my mind focused on the health benefits of all this added exercise and then all of a sudden my point of view started to change...suddenly this crazy train of thought was starting to sound like a good idea, as a challenge of sorts.
My mind raced with fanciful ideas of me buzzing about all over town with Jack in tow in one of those sporty little bike trailers, which if you don't know me might sound plausible...BUT this is me we're talking about!  I'm a couch potato with an excess of more weight than I care to admit here.  I don't particularly enjoy activity and I really love my new house which makes leaving it even harder.  And let’s be honest I've made lots of new year’s resolutions and not a single one ever amounted to half the life changing experience I dreamed they would be.  So what's the difference with this idea?  Well, nothing except now I've got Jack.
The moment I found out I was going to be a parent I quit smoking with seemingly no issue, despite the fact that I'd tried what must have amounted to a hundred times before with no success in the 10 years prior.  Jack, a yet unnamed mass of cells, gave me the inner strength to make necessary changes for not only his health but for mine too. 
Now, as Jack approaches 2 years old I find myself with serious fears about the examples I've been setting for him and if I'm going to be honest with myself I must admit that I feel guilt.  Not that famous parental guilt that every mum feels when feeling a little less than perfectly patient with her child or for giving in to a particularly tedious serious GUILT!  If I don't make some changes my bad habits will be ingrained in my sweet little boy’s life and that's where I draw the line.  Jack will inherit plenty of annoying traits and bad habits (obviously!) but there are some that I refuse to pass on.
So that’s how this crazy idea got hatched and now I just have to put it into action.  This month I'm getting a bike and I'm hanging up the car keys for the entire year. I hope to lose some weight, gain some strength, show the struggles of alternative travel in a small town setting, save some money and some fossil fuel...quite the tall order, so lets just take it one day at a time:)