walkitout: (Default)
R. got my a bike for my birthday! It is a Breezer Uptown Infinity. I bet you saw that coming, after that subject line.

Breezer is a brand. Uptown is an entry in their line of bicycles. "Infinity" means it has the Nuvinci non-gear gears:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NuVinci_Continuously_Variable_Transmission

About ten years ago, R. and I went to the Netherlands. I had been telling him I wanted a bike like that, and he thought they weren't available in the US. And by "like that", I meant internal gears, upright riding position, stepthrough frame. I found three bikes: Bianchi's Cafe Racer (which was my present that year), the Electra Townie (which I bought a few years ago) and some Breezers. The Electras and the Breezers were only available with the Shimano Nexus 3 speed -- the Cafe Racer had the 7 or 8 speed (I always forget), so that's what I got. When the Townie had the better gears, I got one. Later on, the Nuvinci happened and I've been trying to buy a bike with that ever since -- but it still had to satisfy my other criteria.

The Uptown has an upright riding position, however, it is not crank forward a la Electra. So, bummer there, but of course R. loathes the Townie so he's happier on balance. The step through is deep, and the bike itself is light and stiff, which is quite nice from both our perspectives (the Townie is too heavy to comfortably lift on top of the car). The Uptown comes standard with a dynamo and light (they run the wire through the fender and included rack, so if you intend to swap accessories, think long and hard). The seat is decent, but not a Brooks saddle. The rack is perfectly adequate, altho not a Moose Rack, so I won't be towing the Burley Kazoo, altho I may be able to haul the WeeGo. They included a bell AND a wheel lock in the rear, however, the frame lock does not integrate with a chain. Basically, it's what we're used to when someone tricks something out for us: they compromised on everything -- but the price was a lot lower than what it would have cost to produce the equivalent (and believe me when I say, I _know_ what's involved in getting a dynamo, light, etc. on a bike).

The Nuvinci is a dream. You cannot turn the shifter arbitrarily while stopped, a la the internal gears I am accustomed to, but there is some play. It is completely intuitive but has a very cute little indicator.

It'll be interesting to see how it holds up over time, but right at the moment, I am completely in love with my new bike, which is what is supposed to happen when you get a new bike. If gears annoy you, I highly recommend getting something with the Nuvinci -- it's even better than the Shimano Nexus (boy, I never thought I'd be writing that).
walkitout: (Default)
Not all, of course. But a lot of them. And right at the moment, I'm not real happy with my husband, either. For over a decade, I've been screaming, writing, etc. about how derailleurs do more to stop people from riding bikes than anything else in the world and it's really unnecessary, because internal gear systems are readily available at a competitive price and they are really, really good.

So R. was shopping for a 24 inch bike with internal gears for T., or one that could be made to accept same. He spent hours on this _after_ I told him, go order an Electra, the Townie or something. He insisted they weren't the right size, which I knew was bullshit, but sort of ignored, because I figured it would take him a while to give up. Instead, he went to Pedal, Power, Bike and Ski here in town (where people have been nice to me, but which has a website with incredibly obnoxious articles, and they are incredibly reluctant to sell me the bikes I want to buy). They told him you couldn't buy a kids bike with internal gears so he bought a fucking specialized with derailleurs and now T. requires verbal assistance to know how to shift gears (one of the many classic problems with derailleurs -- the other getting stuck in a high gear while stopped, and the bad one being the many breakdowns to which derailleurs are subject, plus the maintenance issue, etc.).

It wasn't even cheaper, since it was $400, roughly what an Electra 24 inch 3i (Peace, Townie, Hawaii, etc.) would cost.

I'll be calling a bike shop tomorrow to order the right bike, because (a) I have no desire to verbally coach my kid to use gears that I would happily use nuclear weapons to remove from the planet and (b) if T. turns out to be just fine with derailleurs, the bike will be available for A. when she gets older.

R. does seem to understand that not listening to me when I told him exactly what brand would have what he was looking for was an error on his part. There are many reasons why I love my husband, even when I am incredibly irritated by him.
walkitout: (Default)
T. has had a balance bike since he was 3 and has been able to ride it more or less appropriately since he was 3 and a few months. We have a Burley Kazoo (trailabike type thing). He has had a long series of toys that had pedals: the SmartCycle, tricycles, a metal car, etc. Including, I might add, a series of fairly heavy, crappy bicycles that I think I bought at Target.

I bought him (and A.) bicycles at REI. I got him one that was on the small side for him and that had an aluminum frame and training wheels. I insisted (regular readers may recall, _really_ insisted) that the seat be adjusted quite low. R. got him to ride it and once he was using the pedals, R. and T. had a conversation and the training wheels came off. Shortly after that, the seat was raised, and they've been going for mile long rides (or longer) around the neighborhood ever since.

Very exciting! Of course, this pisses of A., because she can mostly keep up when we all go out on scooters, but not when they go out on bikes.
walkitout: (Default)
We've been riding our scooters a lot lately, despite R.'s recent accident. T. likes to go to the grocery store and sometimes other places. I really hate having bags hanging from handlebars, but as obnoxious as that is on a bicycle (which I never do, because I have panniers on the bianchi and a front tray with a cargo net on the townie), it's about 10 times worse on a kick scooter.

After giving it some thought, including just how Amazingly Dorky this really is, I bought a Wald Liftoff Bicycle Basket to put on my Xootr MG.


Wald Bicycle Basket on a Xootr MG Wald Bicycle Basket on a Xootr MG



The basket and mount come on and off relatively quickly and easily, so I think I can still fold the scooter and tuck it under a grocery cart at Roche Bros. And on the way home, I don't have to worry about the apples in the grocery bag getting dinged up by bouncing off the upright post every time I push.

ETA: This and other pictures can be viewed at my Xootr Gallery in Scrapbook.

http://pics.livejournal.com/walkitout/gallery/0000w8sd

Should you be interested in buying this basket for your Xootr, it can be found on Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/Wald-Standard-Bicycle-Basket-White/dp/B000AO5G1Y

I was not the first person to have this idea:

http://www.stoweboyd.com/post/950656008/basket-for-my-xootr

That blogger put it facing in, but I tried that and decided it got in the way. I'm
not concerned about tipping forward (I'll let you know if I change my mind after trying it out).

I'm not even the second person, to judge by the now-broken links in this review:

http://www.thewsreviews.com/2008/04/xootr-mg.html

Bicycles!

Apr. 2nd, 2011 03:53 pm
walkitout: (Default)
A. has outgrown the Bobike Mini (that sort of happened months ago, but didn't seem urgent until recently). R. put the Bike Tutor back on the Bianchi which, with the Burley Kazoo or Piccolo or whatever we have out there means it can carry both kids and cargo at the same time.

The Townie, however, was a bit of a problem. We were skeptical about putting a Biker Tutor on it. So a few months ago, I contacted the inestimable (that's a good thing) J.C. Lind of Chicago regarding ordering the Roland Add+Bike, because he's The Guy if you want to buy that product in the United States. The Roland Add+Bike is a special (very, very beefy) bike rack which has a connector for a matching trailing bicycle; a child's seat can be attached to the bike rack simultaneously. We went with a GMG. There are some aspects to the installation that are a little dodgy. In particular, this particular seat and rack combination requires it to be mounted quite close to my seat on the bike (this is partly an artifact of the Townie's very laid-back geometry). The good news is that A. does fit in it with me on the bike and I'm never in any doubt about her doing anything I don't know about, because she's as close as if I were wearing her in the Ergo.

The Townie is quite a long bike front to back. With the trailing bike, backing it out of the garage is very tricky. However, I am quite optimistic that this setup will let me take both kids out on short runs (store, school, playground). I have the front tray for cargo; I still need to find a pannier that will attach to the rack (big round bars, which is an issue, and also there's some conflict with the seatpost for the kids seat).

Best of all, the trailing bicycle on the Roland is really easy to take off and put back on. It does not have the double redundancy of the Burley, but it's quite impossible to imagine this attachment failing, so I don't think it needs it.

T. has been really wanted to "go growee!", which means, go to the grocery store on the bikes. His Kettler Sprint balance bike is way too small for him and has been for a while. I kept hoping he'd be willing to adopt one of the regular bikes with pedals, but he experiments with them only briefly. When I realized on Thursday that A. was older than T. was when we bought him the thing, I broke down and found new balance bikes for both of them. We got the Glide Bikes in two different sizes. R. put them together today, and they have a couple of interesting features. (1) Foot posts in approximately pedal location. I have no idea what the kids will think of those. (2) Foam filled tires. This last is _awesome_ because it's really tough figuring out how to get air in the tires of these things; you basically need the compressor and its flat attachment. None of the elbow fittings will fit in the space the plastic spokes allow. (3) They are _light_! Incredibly light compared to the Kettler Sprint. But other than a relatively crappy seat, they seem well made and the paint job on them is excellent (this matters more than you might realize until after they've stayed wet for a while unexpectedly).

I think this means we are officially ready for spring. All the tires are aired up. We have appropriately sized kids bikes and the adult bikes are both set up for two kids, 1 adult and cargo.
walkitout: (Default)
There's a Chicago dealer for the Roland who has gotten in touch with me. I found him
(but not the Roland products) here:

http://www.defietsfabriek-usa.com/

There will be a new website shortly for the dealer, who is Jon Lind. It looks like I should be getting the add+bike sometime in February.

A new product for them that might also solve the 2 kids on a bike problem:

http://www.kangaroobike.com/pages/index.php

It turns out I've read great reviews of this product a while ago, altho I don't recall right at the moment if I blogged them.

And of course there's this:

http://www.defietsfabriek-usa.com/bikes/packmax-duo

Altho I'd need to make sure the seats were big enough for T., of course.

I'm very tempted right at this instance to order an ANT bike to attach the add+bike to, but in the meantime, I instead went out and gave the nice people at Taga my credit card.

http://www.tagabikes.com/

Before they were available to buy, Henry Cutler at WorkCycles saw one at a show and said mildly favorable things. That and a clever little piece of video and I signed on the electronic line. R. is probably going to be a little pissed about yet another piece of wheeled crap to store, but I'm excited. This looks like I could take A. on the train to Boston and not completely exhaust myself.
walkitout: (Default)
http://www.burley.com/products/cargo-utilities/travoy.cfm

I told R. he could buy me one for Christmas. With accessories.

Yum.

bike lust

Sep. 12th, 2010 10:14 pm
walkitout: (Default)
A. has outgrown the Bobike Mini leaving me with a problem: I no longer have a way to transport both children on the bike with me. What to do.

Here are my options (that I know of):

http://www.tangaroo.de/

Add the Burley Moose Rack and Kazoo on the back, or the recumbent trailer bike or, I suppose, slap a Bobike Maxi back there and all is well.

http://www.roland-werk.de/engl/addbike/

Nothing else required; this is a complete solution.

Obviously, there's some sort of Xtracycle solution, but if you want to tell the cult to go, you know, there's always this option:

http://www.cyclorama.net/viewProduct.php?id=231

http://www.circecycles.com/Models/Brut.php

I haven't found a US distributor for any of these here. I've sent email to Roland directly and to Harris Cyclery re: the Roland, on the off chance someone wants to bite and help me out. Otherwise, I'm going to be spending some time on the phone to Belmont seeing if I can wave enough money at them to import one of these. If Belmont fails me, it's going to be some across-the-pond discussion about how to import something myself. It can be done; I've done it before. Just not with anything this large and complex.
walkitout: (Default)
It has been hot and I have been sick so it has been weeks since I've been out on the bike. Sure, I'd take A. out once in a while for a quick round the block in the evening. But we were even driving T. to and from preschool; it was just unpleasantly warm and we had negative memories of struggles last year when it was so hot.

But today, A. was happy to go to Staples with me to recycle a couple printers and a keyboard. She was not so happy to go to the doctor. Specifically, she was not getting in a car again. So instead, we rode the bike to the doctor. Gotta love being able to do that. We rode the bike back. Then we switched to the other bike, and a different seat for her (wow, the mini is really too small for her now; we'll have to put the bike tutor back on the bianchi) so we could take the trailabike for T. As we were headed out, L. arrived (B. was not here today because she has no transportation, and there was no window in our schedule to go get her or drop A. off). But rather than decant A. from the bike seat (which was cramped, but she seemed okay in), I headed out to go get T. L. and S. at the school helped us get settled with T.'s backpack, and get T. into his helmet and on the bike, then back home again.

Feeling really, really sweaty.

But the kids were basically happy. I was starving. L. fed A. while I grabbed pb&marmalade on an english muffin and repeatedly reassured T. that yes, we would go out on the bike again. Altho he wanted to switch back to the Townie. Go figure.

He didn't have any verbalized opinion about where to go, so I took us out to the consignment store where I bought a bunch of clothes for the kids and put a hold on some little tikes stuff (a kitchen and a shop thing).

Fun!
walkitout: (Default)
The morning did not start well. I spent a large chunk of 5-6 a.m. attempting to get A. back to sleep; I ultimately succeeded which was wonderful, then we got up at 8 a.m. which was suboptimal, because I needed to make waffles for T.'s breakfast since we had run out the night before. Big chaos while waffles, two kids breakfasts and T.'s lunch are all made simultaneously, with R. and I tripping over each other. General stress and chaos.

After that, B. arrived early, and helped get A. out of the shower she had taken with me, which is always nice because it seems like when it's just the two of us, we both freeze to death and there are mysterious puddles all over the place that I spend the rest of the day finding and mopping up. I rode the bicycle over to Buttons and Bows and cleaned them out of size 5 boys jeans (well, 3 size 5, one Hannah Andersen size 110) because the school had talked about attempting the just-put-him-in-underwear-and-maybe-that-will-convince-him-to-use-the-potty strategy. I also picked up a bright (bright bright bright) orange windbreaker for T., which should help increase his visibility on bicycles for those few days when it is temperature appropriate. I did not go to Idylwilde, because the baskets didn't look like there was enough space for a half gallon of milk, which was the grocery priority, so I took it all home. I thought I should probably wash them, because you just never know how the kids are going to react to unfamiliar detergent residue, but I was too lazy to go upstairs and do that. Somewhere in there I hung a half dozen or so pictures that have been sitting around waiting to be hung for a while.

It turned out to be a good thing that I didn't wash the jeans, because after lunch (and before laundry would have been done), I got a call saying they needed more clothes asap, so I found the rest of the new undies in the dryer, got jeans, socks and a spare pair of shoes (because I know how this kind of exercise can go -- I've tried it myself more than once) and took them to school on the bike.

No progress on taxes. Oh well. Right now, I'm more worried about the lack of milk.
walkitout: (Default)
Lost and Found

A little over a week ago, the four of us went out to dinner at Julie's Place, deploying the usual art supplies to distract T. while waiting for our food to arrive. While I thought I had cleared everything up before leaving, I somehow missed the Mickey Mouse scrapbooking punch. I eventually called the restaurant about a week later and asked about it, but it's a scrapbooking punch. Explaining one of those is not easy, even to someone who has used one. Yesterday, T. and I went back there for waffle and soup and in person I was able to supply enough detail that it was found. Small parenting victories. This one mattered mostly because it appears to not be sold through the Disney Store, so a replacement would have involved a call to the resort and hope it wasn't sold out and discontinued. T. might or might not have ever cared, but I kinda did; it's fun to play with.

A lot of T.'s snow clothes came off on that ride, and we later went to the bank and the toy store in Concord. That is a great shop for spending time in; it is a terrible place to try to do an in-and-out. They have a fairly large gauge railroad running on an elevated track, and that's in addition to the wooden train table and the Wow activity table. And the quadrilla setup. You get the idea. T. wanted some Star Wars legos, but it wasn't that long ago that he was swallowing small plastic items at the preschool. I'm going to wait a bit before we risk that.

Crazy is as Crazy Does

Yesterday's bike pickup was interesting. T. really didn't want to ride the bike and produced words to that effect. With vehemence. B. had called in sick and R. had taken a half day and was sleeping with A. -- unresponsive to a phone call to try to be rescued. I asked T. if he wanted to walk, and that was okay with him. This time, I stuck very closely to sidewalks and crosswalks. T. has gotten very good at school lately about holding hands with his partner when the kids are all walking to the gym, and after a little bit, he started holding the bike handle. He switched from my handle to one of his handles when he realized it wasn't comfortable reaching up that far and trying to walk under my outstretched arm. A little while after that, he reached for his helmet in the basket and tried to climb on the bike. That doesn't work great in snow pants -- he needs some help mounting. Off we went.

Last night it snowed, so R. drove him in. The snow pants were still in my car from our outing the previous day, so I rode the bike in by myself to deliver the pants. The road was wet with puddles but no ice or snow or even much slush. The sidewalks hadn't even been plowed because it was so little snow; I didn't try to ride on them or in our driveway. It was uneventful, but I went slow because anything over 10 mph at this temperature makes my eyeballs hurt. Or something in that general area, at any rate.

bike!

Jan. 26th, 2010 03:44 pm
walkitout: (Default)
I picked T. up from the preschool on the bike today. It's the first day since the beginning of Christmas break when there were completely clear sidewalks AND neither T. nor I was running a fever. It may have been the first clear sidewalk day; I don't really remember what the first week of the month was like because we were all sick.

Of course one of the little boys at the school informed me that it was time to take the Christmas lights off the bike. But they're so much fun!
walkitout: (Default)
I've been a bit busy lately. Roland and I did go up to Isle au Haut on Friday, but returned a day early, on the fourth, for a variety of reasons including how his back felt after a couple nights sleeping on the leanto floor (even a winter gauge thermarest wasn't enough), but more importantly, because after mosquito bite #50 or so I just wasn't having a lot of fun any more.

The island is lovely. It is secluded. Do not do the road/trail loop around the island, at least not until it's dry, because that bit between the hills in the south end is swarming, and I don't use that term lightly, with very aggressive skeeters. Upon my return, I researched the hazards of permethrin, and then ordered up a complete outfit from Ex Officio. I'll let you know how that turns out. Skinny dippin' illicitly from the PLA dock in Long Pond was easily the high point of the trip. Tons of downed wood for fires and we made good use of it, happy it was a little damp as the smoke kept the bugs at bay. Somewhat. I am so glad I'm not allergic to pine smoke.

A day or so before our departure, I had the bright idea to ride the bike to the bike trail, and then do the bike trail, then return home, instead of putting the bike in the car, driving to the bike trail, doing the bike trail, putting the bike back in the car and driving back home. This added about ten miles, as I didn't do the three miles of the trail between the state line and Center Pepperell, and it's about 7 from home to Center Pepperell. I had to walk the last bit of hill up Old Milford, because I was too doggone tired from 30 miles on the bike to have it in me even to do one more small hill. Yowch. Lots of fun tho my butt hurt something fierce after.

For those who are curious, the PDA continues to be lovely and the phone is not bad. Yet another nearby town has put in free wifi in their library. Maybe my town will do so soon as well. Current projects include upgrading the house AC, since we're putting a bunch of people up before and after the wedding, and it occurs to us this could be an ugly situation it being August and there only being two rooms with AC.

I'll be out of town for a little over a week, heading down to DC to see cousins, and then to Traverse City (vacation meca of Michigan, doncha know. I sure didn't. I'm staying at a KOA because that's about all that was left. Even the state park is full up.) to see another cousin, then home again to survive the remaining days until the wedding, when we will discover whether all the planning was adequate, or something crucial was forgotten.

I'm currently panicking about fitting into the wedding dress. Panic. Panic. Panic.

Humidity

Jun. 17th, 2004 09:40 pm
walkitout: (Default)
As Seattleites know, in the summer, it is dry. The lawn dies. Sometimes there are limits on washing the car or watering the lawn and water conservation is urged, especially if the snowpack the previous winter wasn't what it might have been. This is at odds with the Emerald City, Rain City image, so those who haven't lived in Seattle are often startled to learn this. Occasionally (for about a week or ten days a year, usually in late August or early September), it gets up in the 90s in Seattle. When it does, it is invariably dry.

The rest of the year, Seattleites of the less sophisticated classes talk about Oregon mist (as in, it missed Oregon and hit us): a light slightly more than fog, slightly less than actual rain as perceived by people not from the Pacific Northwest form of precipitation. When this happens, humidity will be high and those locals who are very assiduous about avoiding the sun joke about their moss (that is, as opposed to their tan).

This is normal, as far as I'm concerned, because I'm from Seattle. I knew, from visiting the South (west and east) that the rest of the world wasn't necessarily quite the same. That is, other places have warm rain (ha! no, really), that falls at rates up to and above 3 inches an hour. At the time of year this might happen, average humidity tends to be double digit, with the first digit greater than 7. Ouch. By contrast in the winter, the humidity will drop nearly to zero. Which is just as well, because if it were any higher, the ice would be worse. As it is, ice on the ground sublimates into the dry air.

Here in New Hampshire, it is still bug season, but also the season of thunderstorms, 80+% humidity and 80+ degrees temperature. Think, huge masses of crankitude just oozing off of me. I am not a pleasant person to be around. I have a dozen or more bug bites (mostly mosquito, but one blackfly bite under my arm). Every time I try weeding, I get a few more. I'm bloated. I'm hot. I'm having trouble thinking. And I'm worried about all the weight I seem to be gaining, and if I'm going to have to buy a different wedding dress.

In my saner moments, I know this is all water, and a quick slug of unsweetened cranberry juice would suck it right out of me. But it's hot and it's muggy and I'm not sane very often.

Cycling is nice, because one generates a breeze even when there isn't one, and then of course the bugs have a hard time keeping up (RHI the deerflies can fly fast enough. Roland says they are not common. If they start biting me, I'm staying indoors for the next two months. And getting whole house airconditioning.). Roland kindly installed the other window air conditioner in the office so I can actually get things done (or at least enjoy wasting time).

Today, however, presented an interesting dilemma. After lunch with my friend Christina, I wanted to go down to the Nashua River Rail Trail. But it looked a lot like rain. Hard rain, maybe with special effects. Christina thought this was a bad idea (sensible woman); Roland thought I should park in the middle so I'd never be too far from the car. I just went down and parked at the north end as always and headed south. I got almost to Groton Center before it really opened up (7.3 miles for those keeping track), then beat it on home. It was a nice ride, but I was soaked at the end of it, my glasses and helmet both dripping water. Yet I was not cold. Well, not until I got in the car and noticed the AC was still cranked up. Or down. Or however one chooses to describe that.

In unrelated news, after limping along on a nearly dead Treo for several months, I'm finally replacing it with a combination of a PDA (Tungsten C, the one with WiFi) and cell phone -- a Samsung, if it ever arrives. Amazon has once again proved it is the Best Retail Entity Ever. I asked for SuperSaver shipping on the PDA, which I ordered the same day as I ordered the phone from Circuit City's partner. The PDA (SuperSaver shipping) arrived in 2 days. The phone has not yet arrived (I think I ordered it Tuesday, with 2nd day air delivery). Unfortunately, I couldn't order the phone through Amazon, as the only service that works where I live is Verizon Wireless.

The PDA is quite fine, however.

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