Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ever Tried Spinlister?

To Spinlist or not to Spinlist... that is the question
Sunday night we headed out in search of dinner & air conditioning for a brief respite from the heat & forest fire smoke haze. After dinner it was actually a reasonable temperature outside, so we went to a park to give the kids a chance to run off some pent-up energy. Shortly after we arrived, another cargo bike pulled up & parked next to mine, a Joe Bike front loader. Of course I headed over, "I've come to ogle your cargo bike."

The dad laughed & told me it wasn't his, he lives in Portland & was just up for the FIFA World Cup final with one of his daughters, so he'd rented it on Spinlister. I had heard of Spinlister, but it's not that popular in Vancouver yet. Chris put it well--Spinlister is basically AirBNB for bikes. You join the site, list your bike & people can rent it, making bookings & contacting you via Spinlister.com.

Talking it over with Oliver a bit later, he thought Spinlister might be a great way to subsidize the purchase of another cargo bike. Of course our angle is, "How can I use this as an excuse to get more bikes?" Ha! But after thinking about it more, I wondered if he might be onto something...

I went to the site & poked around. I could only find two cargo bikes listed, neither of them a longtail like our Yuba Mundo. That was something Chris had mentioned--he rides a Yuba too at home, & he wanted to rent a longtail, but all he could find was a Dutch style front loader. If we listed our Mundo on Spinlister, we'd have the market for longtails cornered!

I'm not sure I could give up my cargo bike for a week or even a weekend at a time, since we use it SO MUCH, but it's something to think about, definitely. How about you, have you ever used Spinlister to rent out your bike or rent someone else's? What was your experience like?

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Bronte 1.10

22-month-old Bronte mugging for the camera at the park
At 22 months, Bronte is:

  1. Independent: She likes to walk up and down stairs on her own, brush her hair, do up buckles on her stroller, highchair, bike seat, dress herself sometimes.
  2. Curious: Bronte is always trying to see what's in the kitchen drawers, what I'm doing on the counters, what's in the bathroom cabinets, plus she loves to disassemble our wallets whenever she gets at them.
  3. Stubborn: If she doesn't want to do something, it's near impossible to make her. I try to remind myself that, in theory, this could serve her well in future in the form of ambition & determination.
  4. Bookish: Bronte brings me books, then climbs in my lap & demands a story. She refers to them by what happens in the story--usually focussing on the dogs. Unfortunately, she also loves to pick at the spines & will tear off layers of the cover or rip the pages sometimes.
  5. Getting into videos: I try not to let her have much screen time, but she's really gotten attached to one of her brother's favourites, "In the Night Garden". She requests it on a regular basis, asking me to "watch the tombeeboos and iggopiggo".
  6. Destructive: I get the impression sometimes that the first thing Bronte thinks when she sees something is, "How can I break this?"
  7. Social: Always game to meet new people & only shy when she's pretending to be, this girl is the life of the party. She's also started telling people her name when asked.
  8. Fearless: There's no playground structure she hasn't tried to summit & she isn't happy on the swings unless she's going high enough that the chains are horizontal. I can't wait to take her on the rides this year when we go to the PNE.
  9. Tough: When this kid falls on her face, she'll get up, dust herself off and keep on running. She may reenact the scraped knee later when she notices the scab on the change table, but in general, she's a tough cookie. 
  10. Assertive: She's also starting to stick up for herself when her brother or anyone else does something she doesn't like. Generally she will say, "Don't ___!", & smack (or sometimes bite if she's angry enough) them back. She's still too young to have any impulse control in this regard, so there's a lot of me swooping in to try to prevent a full-on kiddie brawl.

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Friday, July 3, 2015

8 Reasons You Need to Go to the Mount Pleasant Family Biking Festival

The Mount Pleasant Family Biking Festival is coming up in about two weeks! One of the main reasons Tonya & I planned this event is to set up an opportunity for some peer to peer information sharing on biking with kids & babies. The internet is awesome & everything, but nothing beats actually talking to a human being, face to face, right? When you're considering riding your bike with your baby or toddler, or upgrading to something better for your preschooler, it's an important decision. Bike gear can be expensive (though used is a great affordable option!) & your children's safety & comfort is not something you take lightly.

Here's why you should join us July 19, 10am-2pm in Robson Park for the Mount Pleasant Family Biking Festival:

  1. Look, touch, taste? You'll get to see a wide variety of ways to carry kids on a bike--from child seats, to trailers, to trailabikes, to cargo bikes--up close & personal at the festival. You might see a kid-carrying setup you hadn't even thought of before that could work really well for you too. 
  2. Honest answers & real experience. The salespeople in bike shops can often be helpful, but the majority that I've met don't have any actual experience riding with little kids & babies in the seats or trailers that they're selling. Talking to other parents who have experience riding with their kids is the best way to learn about this.
  3. No sales pitch. This community celebration is totally free & all about celebrating & encouraging family cycling. You can ask a million questions of our Show & Shine participants without feeling like you should be buying something--there's nothing for sale. Parents will give you tips that could help you save money on gear so you can spend more time riding instead of shopping. :)
  4. Make new pedal pals. There will be a lot of biking families at the event & information about upcoming family group rides. Whether you're new at biking with kids, or an old hand, it's always more fun with friends, right?
  5. Get all prettied up. You can decorate your bikes, trikes, or trailers & have your face painted, all for free of course!
  6. Win some swag. The Bike Doctor & Tandem Bike Cafe have both generously donated prizes to the event. We'll have a free draw you can enter to win some great biking stuff.
  7. Tire out the kids. Bring along the trikes, kiddie cars, runner bikes & training wheels so your little ones can ride the Kids Safety Circuit. Robson Park also has two playgrounds, fenced sports courts, swings & lots of green space for the kids to burn off some steam.
  8. Free food. We'll have cool drinks & granola bars to snack on in case you get the munchies.
Have I convinced you yet? ;) Hope to see you at the festival. If you're so convinced that you'd like to participate in the Show & Shine, we still have space for more bikes with kid seats, trailers, trailabikes or cargo bikes. The more variety the better! If you can only spare an hour or two, we could always use a little help with the snacks, the bike decorating station, setup or cleanup too. Please let me know if you're interested by email: lisa AT spokesmama DOT com. 

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fall in Love With Vancouver Again... By Bike

Going over the basics with Josh before our Cycle City Tour.
Playing "tourist in your own town" isn't a new thing. The portmanteau "staycation" has been around a while now. But have you actually ever done it? Taken a tour of Vancouver, like a guided tour, with factoids about local history & points of interest? I got the opportunity to do that on Monday with Cycle City Tours, who put together a sampler tour for journalists & bloggers to see first hand what they do.

I admit when we set out, I wasn't expecting to learn too much--I've lived in Vancouver for over 25 years now & I'm a bit of a local history buff. I was in it for the beer tasting at the end. During the tour, however, I really enjoyed myself & learned a thing or two about our city.

We rode from Cycle City at 1344 Burrard Street, down to the waterfront path at the foot of Hornby Street to get a great view of Granville Island across False Creek. Our knowledgeable guide Josh, refreshed our memories about Granville Island's origins & industrial history. He also mentioned a project he was involved in implementing right in the waters of False Creek, wrapping the creosote-soaked pilings in a plastic layer to provide a better egg-laying habitat for herring. This project actually started in Squamish about a decade ago & may be the reason that large marine mammals like dolphins, porpoises, whales are returning to the waters of Howe Sound & around Vancouver.

Palm trees, 1960s architecture, & public art.
Our next stop was at First Beach on English Bay. I ride through here several times a year, but rarely stop at the beach. Standing there facing the palm trees & the vintage high rises, I was reminded of some of the reasons I love this city. Josh told us a little about the hidden political meaning to the public art piece across the street from us, & spoke about public art in general here. Public art is a natural fit with biking, as so many of Vancouver's pieces are along the seawall & bike paths of the city. Cycle City Tours is planning to lead regular public art tours in conjunction with Vancouver Biennale this year--contact them for further details.

Onward we rode in the hot sun toward Stanley Park. But instead of riding around the seawall, we turned into the trails that criss-cross the centre of the park. In the shade of the towering trees, the temperature dropped to a manageable warm summer afternoon & we soon stopped at the base of a gigantic old-growth Douglas fir.

An old timer fir that escaped the saw in the 1900s.
Josh painted a picture of Vancouver in the last decades of the 19th century, pointing out the cuts in the tree where the loggers likely installed a springboard in an attempt to cut this behemoth down. For unknown reasons, they didn't fell the massive fir, so it remains more than a hundred years later, scarred now with animal burrows & laced with spiderwebs between its gnarled skin.

Riding through the trails of Stanley Park, I realized that this might have been my first time there on a bike. I walked them in the past, but have never ridden through. I resolved to bring the kids there soon to escape the sounds & heat of the summer city.

Next stop involved two firsts for me: 1. I'd never actually been to CRAB Park, which we accessed via the Coal Harbour section of the seawall. 2. We took a 'secret' tunnel that runs under the new convention centre. We emerged back into the sunshine between the helijet port & the train tracks--another sight I think the kids would like to see. Our guide told us of the local activists who fought for access to the waterfront on the East Side, resulting in the official city park that nestles in between Seabus berths & the giant gantries of the port.

Postmark beer bat, awaiting my taste buds.
We biked another few blocks into Railtown to Postmark Brewing, our final stop. After a brief tour of the facility & a primer on brewing in between the mash tuns, fermentation tanks & bright tanks, we returned to the tasting room for a flight of Postmark beers & a snack of some truly beautiful pizza from Belgard Kitchen. I will definitely be returning to Postmark to get a growler of their dry Irish stout & their India session ale soon.

If you want to play tourist in your home town, or maybe you have family & friends visiting, you should definitely try a Cycle City Tour. Bike tours are an eco-friendly way to get around, but also allow you to really experience the city through your senses all along the way. Even on a stinking hot day like Monday, we made our own breeze as we rode along.

Cycle City offers in depth tours of Stanley Park, Vancouver's Craft Beer scene, or the whole city, ranging from three to five hours, $39-90, depending on the tour, & if you have your own bike or wish to rent one of theirs. More information on Cycle City Tours here. By the way, Cycle City rents youth size bikes, child seats, trailers, & trailabikes as well.

Disclaimer: I received the above mentioned tour & beer tasting to facilitate this review, but was not otherwise compensated for this post.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

It's so nice to have a lake that's a 10-minute bike ride away

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Yuba Flip Flop Fits Bronte!

A few days ago I headed over to what I think of as Bicycle Row (all the bike shops around Manitoba & Broadway) for a little shopping. We went into the Bike Doctor first to look at Abus locks. I picked up one of their massive U-locks for my regular bike & as a secondary lock for the Yuba, plus a Knog lock for Linnaeus' bike.

They had a Yuba Flip Flop in, so I had to take a look at it--I've never seen one in person & they look like a great balance bike. The amazing thing we discovered was that the seat can go low enough for Bronte to have her feet comfortably flat on the ground. Pretty amazing given that she's not even 32" tall. We have looked at quite a few different runner bikes & only one or two were short enough for her to ride comfortably.

The Yuba Flip Flop has a longer wheelbase than most balance bikes that size & of course, since it's made by a cargo bike company, features a little (but sturdy) cargo rack on the rear. They retail for about $180, which is a bit beyond impulse purchase territory, but I was sorely tempted.

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