Author Archive: kaycee

About kaycee

I'm mom to two, a long-time Special Ed and ESL teacher who really, really needed a break, an owner of a mermaid tail business, and an advocate for active transportation and spending time with your kids (because they grow so. darned. fast.) Consider this blog the teacher in me sharing something I believe in with you, in the hopes that it might help in some way.

Spa Day for my “Old Bike”

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Today we received our new and improved bike!  I’ve been excited for it’s arrival, but to be honest, I’ve been really, really happy with the Haul-a-Day we got in November.  It has such a great fit, it would be tough to top it.  I noticed the chain looked pretty bad after it was parked in the rain the other night and knew I’d been slacking on basic maintenance, and I love this bike so I was a lot alarmed about how rough the chain looked.  Plus, taking on a project seemed like a good idea since I knew its friend was on a FedEx truck and I was anxiously waiting.

Our condo has very strict rules about bikes, and they’re not usually allowed in elevators at all.  Luckily our parking is very secure, and right now there’s a crazy garage project so we’ve been allowed to take bikes up to our balconies to store.  Perfect- since I’d feel a little weird performing this maintenance outside!

I’ve heard from smart people the two easy things you need to do as a bike owner are:

1) keep your tires within the recommended PSI.

2) keep your chain clean and lubricated (or not lubricated, or use dry lube only, the debate continues…)

You should pay attention to how your bike rides- any skips, sounds, or odd feelings you can’t diagnose yourself warrant a trip to your local bike store for a look.  I get paranoid about my bikes… it never hurts to talk to a mechanic you trust about concerns.  (PSA done.)

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A great place for bike maintenance, if you don’t have vertigo.

 

 

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Being able to tip the bike on end makes cleaning it up pretty easy. Oy, my poor chain!

So the first thing I do is clean off the frame.  There are a lot of bike specific products, but a weak dishsoap water solution on a cloth works fine.  Over the winter I tried to wipe off the salt and grime, but definitely didn’t do a thorough job. I got a toothbrush and used it to get at the little nooks and crannies,  and checked all my connection points to see if they were tight and debris free.

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I don’t know why I’d held on to these bed risers, but they were in a closet and came in handy for getting the rear wheel off the ground.  Unfortunately my chain scrubber doesn’t work vertically.  These fit under the side loaders and kind of let me work- they kept tipping. :/  On the Yuba, the kickstand held one wheel higher than the other, so all I had to do was apply weight to the front end of the bike and the rear could spin easily.

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Auuughhh! You see that chain?!  It was looking dirty before, but I was out this week and the bike got caught in the rain for awhile, and when it dried it was this lovely orange color.  Rust isn’t a huge deal on a chain, provided it’s clean and lubed, and I figured I’d break out the old chain scrubber.

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Here’s my Park Tool scrubber.  I bought it as part of a kit on Amazon- it comes with a brush and some solvent.  The solvent is a citrusy degreaser, and I think any product like that would probably work.  The tricky part today was that I left the bike in first gear and there was a lot of play in the chain, then the back slipped so I had to “back pedal” the chain.  When you use this, you should really scrub, bringing the tool back and forth while feeding the chain through.  I went over the chain 2-3 times this way, using a paper towel to wipe off all the gross degreaser.

wpid-20150516_095119.jpgWhen you’re done scrubbing, you unclamp the top from the bottom, and look at all the gross stuff you got off your chain.  Good for you. 😉  You’ve now done some bike mechanic-y stuff and gotten your hands dirty.  Don’t you feel proud?

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The chain’s looking better.

wpid-20150516_095626.jpgFinally, after wiping off the degreaser as much as possible, I treat the chain with some wax-based lube.  This is controversial.  I’ve found there are strong opinions about chain maintenance, but this method has served me well so far.  The product I have here is marketed for motorized vehicles, but I think it does well on bikes.  I buy mine on Amazon, and the big can is a good deal at under $9.  You’re supposed to let it set for 30 minutes after applying it, which ended up being perfect- since my bike showed up about 15 minutes later!

More on that soon!!

 

 

April Recap!

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My son, playing “plants vs. zombies” in the bike petting zoo…

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I still have to tweak our signage to make it fit on our rear rack, but it looked pretty good!

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April South Loop Kidical Mass at the new skate park! (there were other people there, I swear!)

The South Loop Kidical Crew

The South Loop Kidical Crew

Our first Kidical Mass ride was a success!  It was a decent day, but still a bit cool.  We stopped mid-way to watch some stunts at the skate park.  One dad had his board on his Fr8 and joined in.  
We ended at one of our favorite parks, Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens.  Everyone pulled up around the fountain (not yet turned on) and then quite a few of us pulled out sidewalk chalk so the kids could leave their marks. The next big April event on our agenda was the Women Bike Chicago Day of Dialogue and Demonstration.  I volunteered to help out with the Bike Petting Zoo, which is one of my favorite things ever… I got to hang out with some of the very smart and helpful moms-who-bike and take the kids for a ride in the bakfiets.  The Haul-a-Day was really popular with people!  For old times sake I took our friend’s Yuba for a spin, which was fun, but I’ve gotten really used to the light weight and low center of gravity on mine, I wouldn’t trade it.  I got to be a passenger on my own bike- it wasn’t easy with the bar on, but we managed. I also attempted to load the bike on a CTA bus rack on its second shortest OSATA setting… it didn’t fit!  I don’t consider that to be a real problem, since it’s easy enough to collapse the stem if needed, but wanted to test it out.  I still am not likely to take the bike on the bus.  Trains are a great option for us and feel much more secure.wpid-20150422_165804.jpg Just wanted to share this photo of my little monsters at Disneyland.  We found insanely cheap round trip airfare to Vegas and decided to roll a  Disney trip in with our multi-generational Vegas adventure.  I’m so glad we did!  I am nuts about bikes, of course, but ironically my son is all about “Cars.” So we had Radiator Springs on our list of places to travel. :)Showing

wpid-20150423_181023.jpgShowing off the ‘monster bikes’ outside Monsters University.  It was cute- sort of a monsterfied Hyde Park!
wpid-20150426_143706.jpgWe met up with my mom and dad in Las Vegas, then took a day trip out into the desert.  We toured Hoover Dam, then drove out to the Valley of Fire State Park.  This was probably the highlight of our vacation!  (Sorry, Mickey!)  We only spent about two hours checking it out, because the kids were tired and my parents were sick of driving around since they’d spent a week already cruising from Reno to Tahoe to New Mexico, etc.  But it was a hit with the kids!  They hoped to see a lizard, and we eventually spotted one. wpid-20150426_144114.jpg wpid-20150501_125544.jpg When we got back to Chicago, “Draft Town” was in full swing.  They’ve finally reopened Buckingham Fountain, a sign summer is on its way! As you can see, our coats are on in nearly all these April pictures.  We’ve had a few days of nice weather, but it’s still not feeling too Spring-ish most days.  On the nice days, we find ourselves in the park near our house, since we have made lots of friends in the neighborhood.  The kids are into making fairy houses, finding bugs, burying dead things, and making up games involving rocks and sticks.  We’ve attempted a few times to ride a bike with pedals, but this guy is still in love with his balance bike and has taken it around for thousands of laps in the past few weeks.wpid-20150503_133500.jpg wpid-20150507_123619.jpg

Here my kids show off their ‘bike rack gymnastics.”  It’s a thing.  Some bike racks are better than others, and this is one of their faves 😉wpid-20150507_125927.jpgThe open back of our bar makes it ideal to recline and enjoy a picnic in the park- something I hope to do much more often in the upcoming month!  We’ve been returning to the sandbox park more and more, and it’s funny that I’ve had several people test drive the bike on the big circular track at Cotton Tail Park.  Our setup certainly does get people’s attention- which is why it’s ideal to incorporate into a small business plan I’ve schemed up!!  One reason I’ve been taking a break from blogging is because I’m making big plans for this… so stay tuned!

Wanna rent a Haul-a-Day?

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Picture by my princess: “Me, mom, and my brother in the bike shop where they hang the bikes on the walls.” (Is it just me, or do we all look a bit stressed? Flat tire visit, perhaps?)

I’ve decided my bike is going to start earning it’s keep.  I’d heard of Spinlister last year and have always thought it’s a great idea- it’s like Air BnB for bikes.  In Chicago, Divvy is really solid, cheap, and convenient- but if you want a specialty bike for racing, touring, or riding with kids, your previous options were limited to what was in stock at rental companies like Bike N’ Roll or Bobby’s Bike Hike (which I’ve heard are very decent, by the way.)  Mainly I’ve seen a lot of hybrids and cruisers at these places, though they do rent out Burley trailers, trail-a-bikes, and tandems… Bike n’ Roll even had a Gazelle when I checked them out last year.

I get a TON of inquiries when we’re out on our Haul-a-Day and have offered to let friends try it out, but Spinlister kept coming to mind.  We live very close to the museum campus and it’s an ideal place to pick up a bike for most people, so we’ve officially listed our bike on the site.  Unfortunately, it seems no one has really heard of it, so I emailed them a few weeks ago and they were kind enough to send me a box full of promotional materials.  I’ve had one request so far, but lots of interest.

Check. Out. All. My. Swag. Spinlister!!  Check it OUT! (filter for 'cargo bike' in Chicago. :)

Check. Out. All. My. Swag. Spinlister!! Check it OUT! (filter for ‘cargo bike’ in Chicago. :)

I like the idea of trying out another family’s bike- we are traveling later this month to not bike-friendly areas, but I can see us doing a trip where we check out a bakfiets for a few days and live in someone’s garage…  a dream right now but some day it might happen!

Also- we have big news- we are expecting cargo bike #3 in the next two months!  Bike Friday has been AMAZING and followed us since the first ride arrived, and has made some improvements to our beta model since it was built in the Fall.  We have decided to get the new bike and to keep the old one rather than trade it in, which should make for some awesome family adventures. (and business ventures, too- I will fill you in on that later!)

So if you want to rent a Haul-a-Day in Chicago, contact me!  I have a ton of promo codes good for $20 off your first rental, even if it isn’t with me.  To find us, filter for ‘cargo bikes’ and the last time I checked, ours was the only bike listed in that category.  Or, you know- click HERE.  (Edit- there is a Cristiana trike listed now!  That’s super cool!)

Happy riding, everybody!  I’m busy planning not one- not two- but three upcoming rides in our neighborhood, so if you don’t hear from me assume we’re out route planning and happy. :)

A little pick me up before a grocery run- which is a pleasure if I've got my daughter and our bikes.

A little pick me up before a grocery run- which is a pleasure if I’ve got my daughter and our bikes.