Rides and Routes

Places to go, route information.

Assembling the Haul-a-Day and a Birthday Outing!

Here’s our boy, helping me bring up the bike.  He looks genuinely excited!  The box wasn’t very big or very heavy.

He went right for the Hooptie- and then was into bubblewrap.  In the directions, it said it would take someone with basic knowledge about 30-60 minutes to assemble the bike.  Well… it took me about four hours.  Lots of YouTube, lots of re-doing things… I did get it rideable, but brought it to On The Route first thing this morning and had a mini-tuneup.  He said I didn’t do too bad.  He resized the chain and straightened the cables, put my front fender on, tightened just about everything, trued the wheels, and adjusted the brakes for me.  So I got a little help, but was so happy to be able to get out and ride before the weather really turns on us!Titlewpid-20141108_163044.jpgHere are all the pieces- wheels are built, brakes are on, frame is in three pieces.  All the accessories are separate- though they did install the rear fender for me, and the running boards and rack were on, too.

wpid-20141108_163051.jpgSo, it took us a good 30 minutes just to get through all the bubblewrap!!  Okay, maybe 20.  They wrapped it with care.  There were some scuffs on the frame somehow, but it’s underneath and not visible.  The fender was also cracked in the back, but it won’t affect the function.  The packet of paperwork was a bit daunting, lots of components to get to know!wpid-20141108_163720.jpgwpid-20141108_163727.jpg I think I got too many sling bags…  big boy is helping  watching TV and eating Sunchips at this point… wpid-20141108_182230.jpg The frame unassembled.

wpid-20141108_211856.jpg See my multi-tool?  That and a wrench are the only tools I needed to put this guy together.  Anyhow- that bolt is going in the WRONG WAY.   In the directions, it has you do the frame first, wheel, chain- but it doesn’t tell you when to flip it over.  So I assumed the bolts should be inserted on the top of the hole as seen in the photo, which has the rear frame upside down.  No…  they hand thread easily if you start threading the bottom of the hole here, and fortunately I figured it out after battling the awkward angle with that clumsy little multi-tool.  Also, my cables are a mess.

The thing I was most nervous about was getting that rear wheel in, it just wouldn’t play nice.  Then I realized the disc brakes were super tight, and I wasn’t able to get the disc in and have it spin freely.  Googled “adjust disc brakes” and figured out how to open them up.

Below, the chain.  In non-circular format, which was new to me… I googled “put a chain on a bike” and found one tip to use a paperclip to hold one end, and a YouTube video showing how to lace it through the derailleur.  If I find that one I’ll reference it here in the future, but there are a TON.  I feel silly now because it’s not hard, but I can’t believe all this weight gets pulled around thanks to these two tiny little pieces!
wpid-20141108_220045.jpg Here’s a photo of the Haul-a-Day standing up next to my husband’s Bianchi Pista.  Perspective is a little off, but it’s actually a half inch longer with the wheel turned around, and it looks much, much smaller because of those little wheels. wpid-20141109_102141.jpg
 And here we have the Yuba and the Bike Friday side by side, noses up for comparison.  Holy moly.  My husband kept saying “it just looks so small!! are you guys really gonna fit??”


Well… We do!  It is a closer ride, for sure.  My little guy’s head is right by my butt.  But we don’t mind.  The kids really like that they can have their hands free, and my big old backpack sits perfectly out of the way, up above big boy’s helmet.  I am riding now with the stem all the way in, and I love the upright posture a lot.  I’m 5’9″, and thought I’d definitely want it set out more, which means I’d have to adjust it for public trans (which we have yet to try..) but the toe overlap isn’t too bad and I feel very European sitting up straight and looking around.  I do think there’s potential for the boy to slide forward, and his feet keep wanting to ding the chain and pedals- I almost wish there were some shin/leg guards like you see on some child seats to keep everything back there. I’m thinking about a skirt of some kind for Winter to cover hands and legs, maybe tied to the hoop and the running boards.  That might do the trick!  Also, the kids are getting used to climbing in instead of just on, and need some help.  We now know helmets must come off before trying to squeeze under the hoop!

wpid-20141109_131012.jpgwpid-20141109_152917.jpgMinecraft toys made him happy.  He actually likes to play with the physical toys, including the blocks, to build worlds.  Sort of backward, but I dig it.wpid-20141109_160812.jpgThis boy is gonna be 4.  Obsessed with Minecraft, of all things- I try to limit screen time, but sometimes he gets to and he loves it.  He chose Chicago’s Amazing Funhouse Maze for his birthday outing and it reminded them too much of a haunted house.  We saw a tame one at a pumpkin patch a few weeks ago, but it was still too much for the girl and she had flashbacks or something, which made this guy terrified as well.  My two year old niece had no problems…  So we went to the Children’s Museum where all was forgiven.wpid-20141109_173335.jpgWe headed home from Navy Pier using the Riverwalk and Dearborn, a very easy and uncrowded ride.  The birthday boy fell asleep, and my daughter marveled about being able to ‘let go of the bike’ because of the hoop.  It felt good.  It took hills like a CHAMP.  I’ll write more about the subtle differences in the ride, but my anxieties are gone…  I can haul kids, some gear, and it doesn’t feel crazy different than the Yuba.  Just more nimble?  That might be the word. :)

Circus Kidical Mass Ride!


Oh, that was fun. The Greatest Ride on Earth, if you will.  :)  It’s been one year since we started our Kidical Mass ride, and this was the most fun by far.  I was contacted by a PR person for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, so we had real clowns, passes to the circus, and other giveaways.  So cool :)


Dot leads the kids in a pre-ride warmup. Kudos to the mom who planned the party- the cape party favors were amazing.


JimLa, one of the clowns- they passed out clown noses for everybody and had balloons as well.


Lining up!  Someone looks a bit aggressive- guess he's ready to go!

Lining up! Someone looks a bit aggressive- guess he’s ready to go!

Notice the birthday chalk- there was a little chaos because there was also a birthday party scheduled in the park… I just hoped no one would crash it.   I’m not sure they knew what they were in for.  But, hey- free clowns.


My niece, riding in our old Yepp Maxi.  Still getting to hear a lot of “whee’s” from the back of her Boda Boda :)



One of the best things about looking at cargo bikes is seeing what people invent to make them more functional or interesting. I’m in love with this family’s Extracycle deck.

I was glad to meet a Facebook friend in person for the first time, and to check out their unique setup for their Extracycle- decoupaged board and handlebar attachments fixed to the frame make a nice ride for their two bigger kids, little guy up front.  Great thinking!  I like this idea more than our rumble strap.


We stopped for a rest in Grant Park while some riders switched out Divvy bikes nearby.  That statue looks innocent, but the kids managed to get into mischief climbing too high.  I used to break near “Agora” but they’d run among the legs- then we did the fountain, and they almost got wet.  Still trying to perfect it!  But it looks great, doesn’t it?

wpid-20140920_113109.jpgkmass93Couldn’t resist taking one selfie when we were massing up at a light on Wabash- you can’t really see, but we pretty much take up the whole block.  That’s the statue behind us.  Does anyone know who it is?  I don’t…

Back at the playground, the birthday party is still going on, but our circus friends are gone and the kids run off to the sandbox, field, and slides.  Moms and dads get to visit a bit, and the weather is lovely- 70 some degrees, a welcome break after cold weather we’ve had for the past week.

wpid-20140920_115527.jpg wpid-20140920_121443.jpg

I finally threw some money at a banner.  Under $20, and now I don’t have to stay up on every third Friday night when I frantically realize I should make a sign.  Ahh.  I think they turned out pretty great!


Looks like no one told the kids helmets are not required for brunch.  Matching Berns, at that.


A new family tradition- brunch after the ride! (Camera is covered in greasy fingerprints)


My “Less Car, More Go” shirt from Liz Canning. Click the photo to go to her page- so excited to see the cargo bike documentary!

I found an AWESOME deal on the boy helmet online (like $25!) and had to get it even though little buddy just got a Giro about a month ago. Our daughter’s Bontrager broke- the adjuster snapped inside, and On the Route was great about helping us with the warranty and getting her into a new helmet right away. I have to say, I’m really happy with the fit on these, they don’t need adjusting to cover the front of their skulls.  If only the Winter kit didn’t cost as much as the helmet!wpid-20140920_142904.jpg Ah, it’s raining.  It’s pouring.  But we had a great morning, a nice lunch, and got to hang out with friends, new and old. So even if I’m damp and tired, I’d call that a successful Saturday.

I <3 Infrastructure.

Heading home the other night, I realized (too late!) that my battery for my rear light was worn waaaayyy down.  Ugh.  I had my front flasher, but I hate traveling sans lights.  This apparently doesn’t bother a lot of ‘bike ninjas’ in the city…  Anyhow- I didn’t feel bad heading home on Milwaukee Avenue in this nice wide lane replete with embedded solar-powered LED’s that give you just a little more peace of mind when cycling at night.

bike lane led

LED lights embedded in the bike lane on Milwaukee Avenue.