Monday, February 1, 2016

Not taking walking for granted

This is probably a pretty boring video for you. Let me explain why I posted it.

When I got my osteoarthritis diagnosis in July, I was in a lot of pain every day. I was trying to come to terms with a degenerative condition. I was trying to wrap my head having the word disabled applied to me. I was wondering how long it'd be before I needed hip replacement surgery. I was fitted for a cane & learned how to use it. I struggled with managing a toddler, a five-year-old, my cane & carrying anything like a bag of groceries. I bought a big bottle of Tylenol for Arthritis at Costco & tried to get used to taking it preventatively, before I was going to be walking or standing a lot.

While I haven't been good about doing the physiotherapy exercises I was given, I did do one thing. I followed my doctor's advice to try to lose weight. Besides the fact that my diet wasn't as healthy as it could have been, it's basic physics: losing weight means less force exerted on my hip joint & thus, less pain. 

Hiking (!!) at Lighthouse Park, for the first time in YEARS
Five months later, I'm down 30 pounds. I rarely take Tylenol. I haven't used my cane more than once in the past two months. I often walk a few blocks to run errands & I have started going on long walks & even hikes again (with my Nordic poles).

I know there's a limit to how much better my hip will get--the damage to the cartilage can't be reversed--but I have a little more hope that I'll be able to chase my kids around while they're still little & maybe I won't be facing disability & then major surgery before they even get through elementary school. 

I also know that I won't really take walking for granted again. So don't be terribly surprised if you see more videos or photos of me just walking or hiking in my Instagram feed.

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Free Family Day Fun on Two Wheels!

Come out on the next ‪#‎YVRfamilybiking‬ ride on Family Day! RSVP here on the Facebook event page.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Listicles: 10 Things I've Carried On My Bike

Though we do drive occasionally--Modo cars or rentals for longer trips--we tend to use our bikes when we're going somewhere between 2 & 12-ish kilometres away. This means we go out with the kids on the bikes, we run errands on the bikes, we shop for groceries on our bikes, we do growler runs & recycling dropoffs on our bikes. Pretty run of the mill stuff, generally, & not that big or heavy. However, occasionally I like to challenge myself to haul some interesting objects on two wheels, since we do have a cargo bike with huge capacity.

Here's a list of some of the more interesting things we've carried on our Yuba Mundo cargo bike:

100 paving bricks in three trips, carrying around 350 pounds at a time, including Linnaeus. 

Two 4'x8' sheets of corrugated plastic (plus Linnaeus), materials for the Mount Pleasant Family Biking Festival
Another bike--the Yuba Mundo can easily tow an adult bike behind it. Handy for taking it to the shop!

Our entire family: Bronte, Linnaeus, Oliver & me

A compound mitre saw, two plastic sawhorses & four bar clamps from the Vancouver Tool Library (plus the children) 

Seven pairs of stilts & a bag of costumes

The wood & hardware to build said stilts

An Ikea kids egg chair, bought via Craigslist

A Tripp Trapp highchair, also found on Craigslist

Four Ikea bags worth of clothes & kids' stuff for a clothing swap

I love having a bike that can handle loads like this. When we went shopping for a new blender, we didn't even bring the GoGetter bags or any straps. The big box just fit into the Bread Basket on the front of the bike, no problem.

Of course, you don't need a cargo bike to carry interesting stuff. Before we ever got our Yuba Mundo or even our child trailer--they can be great for cargo too--we carried things like a 14 pound frozen turkey, a new DVD player, a wooden chair, 40-pound bags of kitty litter, & many small Costco shopping trips.

How about you? What's the most interesting or largest thing you've carried on your bike?

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Watching the daily dusk crow migration pass over us at Trout Lake

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Open Houses for South False Creek Seawall Upgrades

South False Creek Seawall Upgrade: Phase I
If you've walked, scooted, skated, or biked along the South False Creek Seawall between the Cambie & Burrard Bridges in the past while, you probably know that there is room for improvement. On busy sunny days, everyone & their dog want to use the gorgous seaside route between the Athlete's Village & Granville Island. & for good reason! It's a scenic place to walk or ride.

The city has conducted a long process of public consultations & sought advice from people like me on the Active Transportation Policy Council, as well as the other City of Vancouver advisory bodies for seniors, women, & people with disabilities. Go see the results in the plan for the seawall yourself at either of two open house events in the next week:

Saturday, January 30
11:00AM - 3:00PM
Granville Island Hotel (1253 Johnston Street) 
Tuesday, February 2
1800 Spyglass Place (City Studio space)

If you can't make it to either of these events in person, you can see the open house materials on the city's South False Creek Seawall Upgrades page here.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Keeping Kids Warm on a Bike Seat: The Tube Blanket

Our winter biking solution: the tube blanket
I recently stumbled upon a simple solution to keep two-year-old Brontë warmer on the Peanut shell seat on the back of our Yuba Mundo. We've been using it for a month or so, but as the temperatures drop all over the place, I thought maybe the idea might be useful to other biking families too.

When it comes to cargo bikes, this is one area where trailers or bakfiets really shine--having your kid(s) sitting on a bench in a box, possibly under a weatherproof canopy, they stay warm, dry, & you don't need much more than a blanket to toss over their laps.

With a longtail cargo bike like our Yuba Mundo, or most regular bikes with child seats on the back, the kids are a bit more exposed to the elements. Our usual solution is just to dress them in extra layers.

But I realized I had a simple way to cut the chill a bit with a circle scarf I made & never really wear. It's just a tube of knit fuzzy fabric about 18-20" wide & long. I slipped it around the whole baby seat so it works as a blanket, covering Brontë from knees to shoulders without the risk of falling off the bike like a regular square blanket might. I'm calling it the Tube Blanket.

The scarf, or, rather, tube blanket, paired with some legwarmers--Babylegs I got for Linnaeus, worn all of three times, maybe--kept Brontë from getting as chilly as she sometimes does on longer rides in the winter.

In case you want to make your own tube blanket, it's basically a rectangle of fabric about twice as wide as it is long. The dimensions would depend on your child seat & the size of your child--if you take a few measurements around your kid while they're sitting in the seat the largest measurement is your long side. Measure the distance from their chin to their knees or ankles & that's the short side length. Fold it in half to make a square & sew up the side opposite the fold to make a tube. Hem the edges if you like, et voila: a tube blanket. Using fabric like polar fleece or thick knit means it'll stretch as needed.

I don't have a clever solution for Linnaeus--sitting on the back rack of the Yuba I'm not sure a tube blanket would work, really. I generally just put him in extra pants--often rain pants.

How about you? What do you use to keep kids warm on your bike? Have you got any great solutions for the older kids who aren't strapped into a seat? Please share your ideas (links to instagram or blog posts are very welcome!)

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