Friday, February 12, 2016

CETMA Afternoon

We got to borrow the Tandem Bike Cafe CETMA for an afternoon!

Our Yuba Mundo shifters have been giving us some trouble for a while now so we finally took them in to Clint at Tandem Bike Cafe to figure out what was going on. He thought the internal mechanism was broken or missing some teeth from a gear, so they need to be replaced. We'd brought Bronte to the shop on the Yuba & I rode my "pretty bike", which carries only one person. Bronte needed her afternoon nap & we also had to pick up Linnaeus from school, so Clint offered to loan us his CETMA cargo bike for the afternoon.

I was pretty excited, I have to admit. I've test ridden Clint's CETMA Margo before, but only a few blocks. This time I got to ride it a few km home & then up to Linny's school, then back to Tandem again. The bike is about the same length as our Yuba Mundo, but handles very differently.

It's hard to get a selfie with a 9-foot-long bike
The Yuba feels more or less like a regular bike, but the CETMA rides differently for a few reasons. It has a small front wheel, which makes steering a bit twitchy at slow speeds, particularly starting from a stop. Also, the front wheel isn't directly under the handlebars like on most bikes, it has a long bar that connects the head tube with the front wheel: linkage steering. This makes the steering feel very slightly slower somehow. You can't see your front wheel with the big box in front, though that's the same as with the Yuba, as the Bread Basket obscures my view of the front wheel too.

A big advantage to the CETMA is whatever you load it with--in this case, one five-year-old--rides low in the box, which means it's actually more stable under load. When I use the Yuba GoGetter bags, they're a little higher up on the bike & the kids sit up on the rack, so with passengers, the centre of gravity is a lot higher.

I managed the hill up to Linny's school--it's a 41m elevation gain over 4km, so not steep, but a long haul--without trouble. The CETMA empty felt about the same as our Yuba with Linny on it. The gear range of the internal 7 (or 8?) speed hub is comparable to the Yuba, but the bike weighs a good 30 pounds more, mainly because of the wooden box & rain cover.

It rained a little for the ride up there, but because of the Blaqpaq rain cover acting like a faring, my legs stayed dry. When I got into the schoolyard to pick Linny up, I was surrounded by parents looking at the bike & asking questions. Quite a few families bike to school there, but only a couple are cargo bikers & they have longtails or midtails, nobody has a bakfiets like the CETMA.

Once I picked up Linny & he climbed into the box, we zipped downhill back to Tandem to return the CETMA & pick up the Yuba. Having a box bike for an afternoon definitely makes me certain that I want one. We're going to have to find the money somewhere this year, I think. I got to test out Clint's newest bakfiets, a Metrofiets, a few days later--I'll write about that one soon too.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

#YVRFamilyBiking Family Day Ride Recap

Decorated to show Velolove!
Our first group ride of 2016 had perfect weather & lots of families, many of whom were joining Vancouver Family Biking for the first time. I counted 43 people (plus one dog) on 26 bikes when we left Science World, not including all the trailers & trailabikes. I even ran out of the big shiny cardboard hearts I'd picked up at the dollar store for decorating bikes. The almost two dozen kids ranged in age from five months to ten years, quite a few of them riding their own bikes.

Our destination was the Family Day Festival at Trout Lake Community Centre in John Hendry Park. There are lots of options for getting to Trout Lake from Science World, but all of them involve getting up a good hill.

We decided to take the Central Valley Greenway where it's a fully separated AAA route, which gave the three-year-old in our group a chance to ride her little bike for some of the time. Her father towed it as she rode on the back of their Xtracycle lontail the rest of the way.

When the CVG met Clark, because our group was so large & the next part of it was only a narrow painted lane, we zigzagged through some quiet side streets to Woodland, went east on 10th Avenue to Victoria & then back onto the very traffic calmed block of the CVG to Lakewood then through to Trout Lake Park.

The Vancouver Family Biking Family Day Ride group before we set off on the ride

Heading to our first intersection at 1st Ave & Ontario
It was only about 4km but the hill from the False Creek Flats up to Clark is a steep one. I asked one person to be mid-ride leader & Oliver rode sweep, but we had to split into more than two groups to get through some intersections.

As soon as we arrived at Trout Lake's new playground, the kids all bolted off the bikes, out of the trailers & off their trailabikes, to climb trees & playground equipment, dig in the sand, & play with the last member to join our group, Stanley the spaniel.

Bikes, bikes everywhere at the playground in John Hendry Park
I didn't actually go inside to see the Family Day events at Trout Lake Community Centre, I was enjoying hanging out with the other parents in the sunshine so much. It was a great day to chat with other biking families about how they got started riding & what they think of the gear they have.

The families left the park one by one as their kids got close to naptime or had extracurriculars to get to. We were the last ones to leave, heading back home with Christopher & Stanley. It was a funny ride, as Stanley had become quite attached to Brontë , & he would whine & cry if she got too far away. If we rode side by side he was happy.

The last two to join our ride, Christopher & Stanley the spaniel
Our next Vancouver Family Biking ride is set for Sunday, March 27, 10am. That's Easter weekend, so of course it's going to be an Easter Bonnet Ride. Pull out the glue gun & raid your craft supplies to put together a "bonnet" on your helmet. There will be prizes for the best one as well as treats at the end of the ride. RSVP on the Easter Bonnet Ride Facebook Event page so we know how many treats to bring & so you can get updates or suggest ideas for the ride.

Please share with your friends too--anyone who likes a relaxed ride with families is welcome, children are not required. :)

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

B is getting better at pedalling trikes.

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Brontë 2.5

This is a boat.
Oops, late for another month's update on Bronte. I'll keep it brief:

Favourite things
  1. Play Doh. There was a good solid few weeks there where Play Doh was the first thing Bronte wanted to do every morning. As soon as she finished breakfast, she demanded that I bring her the box of all the Play Doh tools & toys.
  2. Building Toys. Brontë's really gotten into building things lately, with Duplo or our big foam blocks. She built us each a "boat" made of two blocks, colour coordinated (mine was green, Papa's was blue), then created her own elaborate yellow structure. 
  3. Telling people what to do. This girl is much more rule oriented than her sibling & that extends to every single person or even animal she interacts with. She'll tell someone off when they're doing something she doesn't like on the playground, even if she isn't directly involved. She will confidently order a dog to "drop it" so she can throw it's ball on the playing field at the park.
  4. Kale. For some reason, she's on a kale kick right now. I can't finish a bowl of salad without her picking a few handfuls out & munching them. She prefers it dressed, but will beg for pieces straight out of the salad spinner.
  5. Breastfeeding. This girl is still breastfeeding as often as she did as a tiny baby, about seven times a day usually. I had intended to let her wean when she was ready like Linnaeus did, but he was finished at exactly the age she is now. I think if she had her druthers she'd nurse til kindergarten, but I'm not sure I want to go that long...
  6. Drawing. It started with scribbling in colouring books with washable markers & on paper at the Family Centre's craft table, & now is often on her magnetic drawing pad. Her drawings are starting to be representational, circles with dots for eyes & sticks for legs. Mostly octopus & spiders, according to her.
  7. Picking our her own clothes. Some days I can just grab clothes out of the drawer & put them on her, but most days she needs to have input on her outfits. The days where she insists on dressing herself entirely, including actually putting the clothes on, are pretty funny. Crazy colours & patterns, half of it on backwards, dresses layered over jeans. 
  8. Two sleeps. For a while there, I thought Bronte was going to drop her midnight wakeup/nursing session, but she's back in the routine again. About half the time she stumbles bleary-eyed into the living room as we're watching a show, somewhere between 10:30 & midnight. Typically she spends the first part of the night in her own bed, then joins us for the rest of the night because I know if I nurse her down in her bed, I'll just fall asleep there. 
  9. Bubble baths. I bought the kids some bubble bath for Christmas & they've both really loved using it. Bronte has started washing her own face & getting her hair wet herself, which makes things easier.
  10. Electric toothbrush. Another Christmas gift that went over very well was a couple of cheap AA battery operated toothbrushes. Bronte was the kind of kid that had to be restrained to brush her teeth--she'd fight so much that I took to laying her on the bathroom floor, then kneeling over her so that her arms & body were pinned down jus so I could get a brush in her mouth. With the new electric toothbrush, she willingly submits to it while standing up. She also likes to brush the bathroom mirror with it. 

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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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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