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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. :)

Kids on Bikes

Awhile ago I ran into some friends and they said they just got back from Holland- their kids had a blast because they got to ride their own bikes everywhere.  This would be a pretty good measure of bike-friendly infrastructure, don’t you think?wpid-20140906_113525.jpgOur girl LOVES her bike.  It’s a Novara Firefly I picked up on Craigslist for $40 :)  It was in perfect condition when I got it, but it has a few bumps and bruises these days.  Still- with it’s light blue color it will be ok to pass on to our little dude in the Spring. (And I’ll remove the basket.)  A few complaints- no handbrake, no gears, and it’s heavy.

wpid-20140906_114407.jpgSo this beautiful little strip of sidewalk runs adjacent to the Dearborn Bike Lane, and leads into a cute little park in Printer’s Row.  One of our favorite bike shops, On the Route, is located here now, so we get to patronize terrorize the shop on a regular basis.   We’ve let her ride- at age five- with us on the Dearborn Bike Lane several times, but unfortunately 3 out of 4 times had to get her on the Yuba because the lane was obstructed at more than one point.  This seems to be improving, but we aren’t quite there yet.  For now she gets to ride on residential streets and on the Lakefront Trail, parks, and very, very infrequently in bike lanes.  Most of the time, she’s on our longtail, but she’s already wanting more independence.

Because of the concerns I have for my children, I was excited to see  People for Bike’s “Build It for Isabella“, a concept within their Green Lanes Project.  If we built infrastructure that worked for the most inexperienced riders, wouldn’t it be great for the rest of us?wpid-20140830_184626.jpgHere’s a photo of our current family fleet, minus our balance bike.  I’m still working on the MIxte, the narrow ten-speed grips plus lever shifters are just a bad combination for me…  but I love the idea of having something that weighs under 50 pounds for quick trips and my infrequent mom’s night outs.

Speaking of light bikes- I wish we could afford to add some Isla Bikes to the fleet, I read they are amazing.  Doesn’t anyone else want to make a great kids’ bike??  Yuba just released the Flip Flop, but I’m afraid my two are too large for it at this point, or darned close.  I actually nudged Shane McRhodes to talk with Bike Friday about this- a lightweight, folding kid’s bike…  with a large range for sizing… that would be exciting.  Now that my compact (relatively) cargo bike is lined up, I have to look ahead to something new. :)

divvykidsLast but not least- my kids on Divvy bikes this week- they were pretty disappointed when I told them they need to wait at least ten more years to ride them!  Maybe some time we’ll have the infrastructure and a program like the one they have in Paris, Petit Velib.  Or- maybe Divvy and other bike shares will find a way to be more inclusive of families- it’s not a total pipe dream, although this kid-carrying bike share invention kind of fell through. (For now!)  At least Divvy has gotten a lot of Chicagoans on bikes, and that is a win- I think even an occasional ride on a bike makes people more aware of how they drive and act in traffic, which is a boon to us, anyhow.

I’m really considering renting out our Yuba to families who’d like to give it a try after our Haul-A-Day arrives next month so they can give this whole family biking thing a try.

And- if anyone wants to try a family ride in nice, big group- our Kidical Mass ride is tomorrow!