Tag Archive: family biking

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!

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. :)

Urban Camping (Pic heavy post!)

Chicago Park District comes through again!  Our Kidical Mass friends had talked about a camping outing this Winter, and some searching led me to the park district “Family Camping” programs.  Unfortunately, it’s geared for ages 6 and up, so we had to leave the little guy home with dad, but we invited our suburban cousins to join us and it was a BLAST.  I needed a shower and nap before I could post about this, it was that much fun 😉wpid-2014_0726_03062500.jpg

We paid $50 to register our ‘team’ of up to six people.  The park district provides a parking pass, use of a (really nice) tent, activities like fishing, archery, crafts, a small fire pit, hotdogs and marshmallows, a story teller, and security for the event.  We got a little help from our neighbor setting up the tent :)  It was counter-intuitive, but awesome.  It was hot and humid the night we stayed, so I appreciated having something high-end and airy.

The oldest kid (our cousin) was being a typical eight year old- whining a bit about being hot, saying he didn’t want to participate in any activities- but he changed his tune pretty quickly when the other kids got into building a fairy garden and a dreamcatcher with found objects.wpid-2014_0726_03325000.jpg

We hit the pier for some fishing, and I was shocked to see the kids actually catch fish!  No way!  Granted, I’ve baited hooks with creatures larger than the gobis the girls were catching (and it was the girls who had all the luck) but it was a real thrill!wpid-2014_0726_04263000.jpg

wpid-2014_0726_04322600.jpgwpid-2014_0726_04304200.jpgThe last activity during the rotations was archery.  The bows were just a little two big for two of the kids, but they all managed to lodge at least one arrow in… something… and they liked it.  Not as much as me, though.  I hadn’t shot a bow since I was a kid and got a wicked rash on my wrist from the string.  Believe me, I warned them (a million times.)wpid-2014_0726_05001700.jpg

After we worked up an appetite, we headed back to the tents.  The kids wanted to be in the tent- I guess it was a novelty.  A lot of people complained that the hot dog process was too slow- pack your patience.  The fire was in a small contained pit, and I’d say three groups of people had brought food wrapped in foil- the result was more cold foil food than fire, and it meant a lot of people were waiting a long time to cook frozen hotdogs.  Park district policy was only 7 sticks in use, and only those with a stick near the fire- so we got wise and started putting three hot dogs on each stick.  Everyone ended up getting fed.  (And maybe some snuck off to 12th street beach, a short walk away, to buy tacos.)wpid-20140726_150924.jpg

The finale was cleaning sticky marshmallow off our hands while watching the fireworks over Navy Pier.  Then it was time to get settled. This is where the kids 6 and up rule made sense- I could hear a few little ones crying that they couldn’t sleep for awhile.  Our kids were asleep after only 40 minutes straight of giggling uncontrollably about nothing.


It’s been over a decade since I slept on the ground in a tent, but my hips and my back finally made peace with the lumps and bumps that were formerly an airfield and I got a solid seven hours of sleep.

Our Yuba handled the trip like a beast, as usual- we arrived with bedding for three, dinner and breakfast, a change of clothes and other necessities easily.  The cousins were amazed and enjoyed a quick ride on the bike.  They fought over who would ride in the car the next day and who could head back on the bike (cousins got to ride, asked questions the whole way.)


So, fun- right?  You can find out more about the family camping program at www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/nature.