Bike Friday Haul-a-Day

Family Biking Profiles (Chicago Kidical Mass)

I think the other biking families we’ve met are sooooo cool.  Roughly 90% of them have been doing this for way longer than us…  with more kids, more gear, longer commutes.  You get the picture- anyhow, I am so grateful to have found this group of people who were normalizing biking with kids before I’d ever even considered it.

I’ve met many of them through Kidical Mass. We started the South Loop ride a year ago in September, because we loved the rides but wanted to bring some closer to home.  We followed another ride’s lead and took a “Wintermission” (term unashamedly stolen from the great Rebecca) starting in December, and I have no regrets, though some of the rides do go year round.  We plan to start again in March with a ‘soft opening’ here, but I’m reading the weather blogs before making any commitments.profile collageIn Chicago, we’re now up to 7-8 rides in different neighborhoods, and we like to ride hop and talk with the other organizers.  So I was thinking it would be cool to show off these very cool families and their setups- and it’s resulted in a nice series of “Family Biking Profiles” on our Facebook page.  Check it out!

I’m happy we’ve gotten such a great response!  Hopefully this series will continue for awhile.  So fun.  So educational. :)

And some more good news- we are looking at temperatures close to 40 DEGREES starting on Friday!!  We are super duper excited about nice weather returning.  We did have the bike out today and it rode the green line, which I’ll be posting about tomorrow.

OH! AND I rode home a few blocks tonight with 3 children on the back of the Haul-a-Day… 3.  With an average/median age of 5… so that was impressive!

Stay warm and well, everybody!

Polar Adventure Days and more…

Working bikes human-powered music!  Pedal to make the vinyl spin...
Oy.  That's not nice.

The view from our window yesterday… all day.

 

"MOM! My forehead is freezing!"  (Direct quote.)

“MOM! My forehead is freezing!” (Direct quote.)

Yikes.  We got a ton of snow yesterday, and our one attempt to go out was unsuccessful- I underestimated how strong the wind was, and we made it about 20 feet from our front door before turning around!  We headed back in to make some ‘snow’ and play.  Super easy- just some cornstarch and shaving cream mixed together.  I’m going to help out at little guy’s pre-K on Wednesday, and I figured I’d pilot my project- and make sure no one hates me afterwards if it’s tough to clean up :)

How to have fun with snow when the wind speeds are >35 mph...

How to have fun with snow when the wind speeds are >35 mph…

It's snow!  Cornstarch and shaving cream.

 

Last weekend the kids and I took a ride over to Northerly Island again for their “Polar Adventure Days.”  There wasn’t any snow, and the weather was actually pretty decent- but there was plenty to see and do.  On the way over we stopped to watch the skaters again- that park is crazy busy for the middle of winter!

Checking out the action at the Grant Park Skate Park (is that a redundant name?  Maybe I'm wrong?)

Checking out the action at the Grant Park Skate Park (is that a redundant name? Maybe I’m wrong?)

At the event they had hot chocolate, marshmallows and a fire (contained in a metal pit, of course), a team of sled dogs, some wild animals from a rescue preserve, a green screen photo opportunity, a booth with pelts and skulls by the forest preserve, some Cliff bar samples, a craft area, and a tent with various toys.  We missed out on the marshmallows- but luckily there was another festival this past Friday where we got to check it off our list!  Oh- we also got to try out a very cool setup by Working Bike featuring a human/pedal powered turntable.

This is Hal- the prognosticating groundhog from the Big Run Wolf Ranch.

This is Hal- the prognosticating groundhog from the Big Run Wolf Ranch.

wpid-20150124_145416.jpg

These birds were rescues- the Flint Creek Preserve has an operation at Northerly as well, where you can bring injured birds (a lot of them fly into glass and buildings in the city!)

These birds were rescues- the Flint Creek Preserve has an operation at Northerly as well, where you can bring injured birds (a lot of them fly into glass and buildings in the city!)

Mush!  Here come the sled dogs- and they are pulling a modified bike.

Mush! Here come the sled dogs- and they are pulling a modified bike.

wpid-20150124_140545.jpg

The wolf was a hit- so was the coyote and the groundhog.

The wolf was a hit- so was the coyote and the groundhog.

wpid-20150124_144049.jpg

Roasting marshmallows outside Women's Park and Gardens.

Roasting marshmallows outside Women’s Park and Gardens.

Working bikes human-powered music!  Pedal to make the vinyl spin...

Working bikes human-powered music! Pedal to make the vinyl spin…

His legs were a little short- but with some serious assistance, he was able to get the "Grease" soundtrack blaring!

His legs were a little short- but with some serious assistance, he was able to get the “Grease” soundtrack blaring!

 

So quiet!  So pretty!  I never knew it was here!

So quiet! So pretty! I never knew it was here!

wpid-20150126_125600.jpg

Interesting collages outside the Winter Garden on the 9th floor of HWLC.

Interesting collages outside the Winter Garden on the 9th floor of HWLC.

 

A nice day for a ride!  She's getting the hang of those hand breaks. :)

A nice day for a ride! She’s getting the hang of those hand brakes- they are really tough to use with mittens! :)

.I’m throwing in some photos of my latest discovery- the Winter Garden at Harold Washington Library.  We have spent more and more time there as the weather deteriorates, since it’s a decent ride but not too far away.

We’re planning a KIdical Mass ride to the final Polar Adventure day in February- I haven’t had a chance to check the trails this week, but hopefully we’ll have a clear-ish path…

Stay warm!

 

The Haul-a-Day Rides the CTA!

We got this!
wpid-20150122_094259.jpg

We have vertical bike racks in our building- it was almost IMPOSSIBLE with the Yuba, but I can lift this one and turn the front tire without too much trouble. Here’s big kid in front, little in back- easier on me, but they felt I’d disrupted the natural order of things…

We tried something a lot different the other day.  We planned to meet some friends at the Peggy Notebaert  Nature Museum- which by the way, is running an insanely good deal on membership through Groupon- and with a high of 35 predicted, it seemed like the bike was the best way to go. It’s a little over six miles on the Lakefront Trail, and public trans estimated time was 45 minutes, so we loaded up, put on our Cuddl Duds, and were on our way.

wpid-20150122_101607.jpg

DANG IT. Could they maybe have put some signage up earlier??

Wind definitely adds on to our biking time in the winter.  We have to take care in a few places thanks to ice and snow, but for the most part the trails are clear- especially of people- and the only change from non-winter biking is allowing extra time and wearing extra layers.  I was a little shocked though at how TIRED I was as this trip went on- it was a pain to get west over to the next North/South bike lane (Dearborn) and the kids were whining a lot.  Me too.  The closed path was a big setback, and I kicked myself for assuming it had reopened.  (It was closed after this storm back in November.)  This is why I ought to be reading the Chainlink, though it sometimes drives me nuts.

So the ride, in total, was a bit over 7 miles.  We were only about 15 minutes late, but I was pushing against a pretty decent headwind.  We had a nice visit at the museum, said hello to the butterflies, and ate some lunch.  Then we rode over to see our friends at Alt-Cycle to check out the Xtracycle accessories Shane mentioned in a comment a few weeks ago- the flight deck and hooptie.  I think it’s a significant investment to change out our setup, but the kids might be a little happier with more room, so stay tuned.

After Alt-Cycle, we were tired.  It was pretty windy and cold, and it seemed like an ideal time to try out our mixed-mode transportation option!  We walked the bike down Fullerton to the Red Line Station and felt a lot nervous… I’ve never taken a bike on the train before, so a cargo bike seemed like kind of a big deal.  Plus, you know- two tired kids!

At the Fullerton station, wondering if we can pull this off!

At the Fullerton station, wondering if we can pull this off!

I double checked with an attendant in the front, she reassured me bikes are fine until 4:00.  CTA restricts bikes during rush hours- from 7-9 and 4-6.  The guidelines are here. We swung into the elevator with no problems, got up to a pretty crowded platform (DePaul students heading out) and waited for what I hoped was a very vacant train.

We got this!

We got this!

The train came, and there were a few empty seats- we spotted the handicapped symbol near a door and scooted ahead- I’d learned this trick from my stroller days.  On the newer CTA trains there are no dividers by the doors at these entrances, which makes it a lot easier to park something big like a stroller or bike.  I flipped the front tire around and pushed it in at an angle by the front seat- the kids each sat next to a new ‘friend’ while I held the bike and a pole.

Waiting patiently.  NBD.

Waiting patiently. NBD.

While we were riding, I’m seeing my little guy’s eyes getting heavy, and I momentarily have a moment of panic.  What am I going to do if he falls asleep and we reach our stop?  The kickstand isn’t sufficient to leave the bike freestanding with the stops and starts, you definitely need to hang on to it.  So at a stop in the loop, I motioned him over and had him sit on the deck.  It wasn’t too tough to hold onto, plus it simplified the exit when it was time.

We made it!  Hello, Chinatown!

We made it! Hello, Chinatown!

I probably should have mentioned this earlier- but you should definitely check that your destination has an elevator!  We usually get off at Roosevelt, but I know those are broken down frequently and pretty small (thank you stroller) so Cermak is a better option- newer station.  I felt relieved as we completed our commute…

All of us fit in the elevator- no problem!

All of us fit in the elevator- no problem!

And just in time- since this guy was DONE.

So the first one is the hardest, right?  I’m feeling like I could easily do this again.  It’s nice for one way trips, or to get out a little further than we’ve been going regularly.  Also, I’m really excited to do some Metra trips once the weather is nicer.

I’m still hesitant to do a bus trip, especially after reading this horror story this week on the Chainlink!!  (and this, and this, and this!)

Being able to mix up our transportation was the #1 reason we got this bike, I am dreaming about all the possibilities!  This little guy was dreaming, too.

Sure sign of a great day.

Sure sign of a great day.