Thursday, April 17, 2014

Philadelphia Pumptrack, University City Bike Collective & Kidical Mass!

Philadelphia Bike Roundup


First we biked to the in progress pump track this weekend. It was a really amazing place and we want to head back (soon) to actually volunteer before it's official opening May 10th (pro-tip don't arrive to a in progress site in sandals and a dress). It is located in an area of Fairmount Park behind the Mann Center that I had never traveled to by bike before. I am a big chicken about going anywhere on a big bike that I am unsure of (big bikes are hard to turn around if you get lost!!) so I arrived on all kinds of nerves. But the minute I got over myself and spoke with the coordinator Kenn I felt totally at ease again. Kenn, was incredibly welcoming to everyone who was there showing my H, kiddos and I around the site like long time pals. He was incredibly welcoming to families (who were there in plenty!)which was great (& tiny gloves/wheelbarrows!! for kids to use). It was great to see so many people of different skill levels and strength working together to create this space.

The Pump track was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from Fairmount Park Conservancy and their on site storage crate is going to muralized by the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program!

The beginner course is a place where kids can use strider bikes! Cannot wait to strap the GoPro on M and let him give it a go. Until it officially opens they are out there every weekend as long as it isn't raining, go volunteer and help them out.

University City Bike Collective:

The University City is a new voice for better biking in the Ucity/West Philadelphia community. Currently they are looking for volunteer leadership positions. Check them out if you live or work in the University City section of the city.

Additionally, on April 22nd they are having an Urban Riding Basics Seminar! Great chance to learn about biking in the city.

Kidical Mass PHL:

4/19 Join KMPHL at Fitler Square for a ride around center city ending at Rittenhouse Square!

Ding Ding! See you this weekend

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Biking With A Baby Ages 5 Weeks- 12 Months

Baby on board! Biking with our daughter this past year has been an empowering experience. When my son was born I waited a whole year to bike with him. I hadn't yet discovered the American mothers of this biking world and was far to nervous to recreate the normality of biking with a baby I had seen in Amsterdam as a first time mom. (Shout out to the Amsterdam mom who was wearing her baby while feeding it a bottle as she was biking!)

But once baby J came in to our lives I felt like we needed to figure out how to accommodate her into this amazing car-lite lifestyle we had created for ourselves and honestly the bus with two kids seemed way more terrifying then figuring out biking. So like any normal Mom I talked my husband into buying an Urban Arrow and the needed instruments to install a maxi cosi car seat (and promise a one year review coming up shortly).  

The box bike gave us the ability to bike with an infant in a way that a front mounted seat (rated 9 months+) couldn't. Over the almost past 11 months J has snugly rode in the box and I wanted to share the stages and contracptions we have used to move her over this past year. ***Please remember we are not professionals or doctors. Just parents who ride bikes with our kids.***

Stage One: 5 weeks- 3 months 
Infant Carseat (Maxi-Cosi Mico) w/ Tie Down Straps
How we did it: We laid a blanket between floor of cargo box and carseat and used two tie down straps from IKEA to snuggly strap down seat. One strap went over the area used for lap seat belts. The other went through metal bar on back of seat. Both were strapped through the foot holes on either side of box.
Cost: Carseat (pre-owned from big brother, retails $200), Tie Down Straps $15

Stage Two: 3 months- 8 months
Infant Carseat (Maxi-Cosi Mico) w/ Stecco Baby Mee
How we did it: We purchase the Stecco Baby Mee from Rolling Orange and installed it in the UA. I talk about installation here. It provided the ability to take the carseat in and out while J was still asleep.
Cost: Carseat, Baby Mee was approx. $100

Stage Three: 8 months- 10 months
Phil&Ted's SMART Stroller Seat w/Stecco Baby Mee
How we did it: We used a stroller seat and placed it in the Baby Mee frame. We detail installation here.
Cost: SMART Stroller seat (pre-owned but the seat part retails for $25), Baby Mee

Stage Four: 11 months +
Yepp Mini w/ custom Mount for Urban Arrow Box
How we did it: Busy Bikes in The Netherlands makes a specific Urban Arrow, Yepp Mini bracket. However it wasn't readily available to send to the US. So our local cargo bike shop, Firth & Wilson created a custom bracket for the bike. They installed with bolts into the UA base, something like this could also be drilled into a wood box.
Cost: Yepp Mini pre-owned retails for $150, Bracket Approx. $100+

Happy Birthday J!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear Jerk Dad on Kelly Drive Multi-Use Path

Maybe you had a bad experience or something before with a human (Jesus haven't we all) or maybe a rough day. I have no idea, but how you lashed out on me today was not okay and I truly wish I had my gopro on so I could put you and the experience on full blast. It was horrifying. 

You were in the middle of two way path pushing a stroller and walking your dog. It's been a long winter I know this path has been empty (I have ridden all winter) no sharing needed. No problem. I ring my bell a generous amount behind you as I need room to safely pass you. We both have pretty precious cargo after all. No response. So I call out perplexed on your left. You respond  without looking "well make it quick" without moving. "I have a big bike and two kids I need room" I respond you shake your head and  tell me you "cannot hear me". Uh? 

Remember he is in the middle of the path! I'm not even asking for extra room just asking him to get to the right side where he should be on a two way path. 

Finally I say louder and firm. "Sir I have two kids in a big bicycle and need room." You finally look a little back avoiding my eyes which were confused and let me pass. I even thank you. As I do everyone. 

Another bike rider behind me gets next to me and goes "that's amazing I can't believe that happened". I respond "me too"! 

I call my husband and he defends you that you probably didn't expect a mom or just had a bad experience or whatever. As I finish up my call I see you coming across the street to where I am on the path. I spend all this time online talking about making connections and remind people you are sharing the lane with other families this was a real life chance to remind him I'm a mom on the bike. (Side note my husband told me not to say anything to you afraid you'd be physical honestly you might have been but I couldn't believe you'd be mean to another parent!). 

"Sir why did you yell at me back there I was trying to safely pass" no eye contact as if I'm not a human being who deserves it. You YELL at me it was because you won't respond to a bell. I say it's because you have a kid I use a bell it's friendlier and you cut me off yelling at me that you won't get into this.... Yelling. At this point I'm frustrated and break out in frustration tears. I just couldn't understand how you kept yelling would you have done that if I was male? I bet not. Your daughter about 4 and awake, my son saying calm down to me both witnessing your toddler outburst. I hope no one treats your daughter like you treated me and I know my son will be raised to treat any human with more respect then you showed. 

Let's review sir. You were a dominate man who in a closed off isolated part of the path bullied the whole lane. Were you looking for a fight? You then bullied me further when I tried to calmly speak up for myself and my right to SHARE the path. And it was over a bell? A bell I use so kids smile as I pass. A bell kids at playgrounds fight over to ring! 

I hope you feel like a big man yelling at a mom with two kids. 

Luckily my frustration tears ended and I got to enjoy our ride to art class and back home. See you out on the path. I'm there every Friday same time. 


A Mom who rides a bike

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Vanmoof, #30daysofbiking & Kidical Mass Philly

It is April already? When did that happen. This past weekend we made a swap and we now have a Vanmoof 6.7 it is a long story and I will get to posting it eventually BUT you will see the new beauty as my chosen bike for the very first day of 2014's #30daysofbiking. Quick blog history I started this blog in 2012 as a log of that year's challenge. Spoiler alert I threw my back out on the second day and quit. LOL.

Last year I was in my last month of pregnancy so there was no way in hell I was challenging myself to ride daily. So this is my first "real" year!

Yesterday was kind of a busy day for me as I launched my new project GIVE MOM A BIKE LANE and I had work in the afternoon. I did a multimodal trip, we tossed my bike in the trunk of our car and my husband dropped me off at work so I wouldn't be late. Then I was able to ride my bike home from work (child free). The ride home was a little longer then normal. The Vanmoof a lot like IKEA comes with one allen's wrench to adjust the bike. I hadn't done this yet so I hopped off the bike twice once to adjust the seat and once to adjust the handlebars. I also had some trouble keeping my bag bungeed to the rack so I finally gave up and tossed it on my handlebars. So the 20 minute ride home was a little longer then expected! But it was great to test the new wheels and get the parts worked out to my perfect size.

 As I entered my residential neighborhood a woman with a baby called out to me to ask for some help. She was lost looking for her friend's home and her phone had died. I was able to lend her mine so she could call her husband and get directions. I love that biking forms community, if I was in a car she would have never called out and I probably would have whizzed by never even noticing her. CHEERS TO 30 DAYS OF COMMUNITY AND BIKING!

 SPEAKING OF COMMUNITY. KIDICAL MASS PHILLY was rescheduled and we will ride this weekend. Washington Square Park to Rittenhouse Square details are up on the website. Hope you can join us!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Give Mom A Bike Lane

I would like to introduce my newest project. Two children, a part-time job, Kidical Mass & this blog are not enough. 

Please check it out at

Monday, March 24, 2014

Baby on Front Seat-- or a Hug at 8mph

J, has been front seat eligible for a couple of months now but the box is far more warm in our never ending winter. Riding from the nestled home of the box since 5 weeks old she had no idea what looking out in the world between her Daddy's arms was like until this weekend. As expected little squeals of joy were had and when sent back into the box for warmth she was pretty annoyed.

We are in the process of changing out her box step up (a whole post on baby on bike through the first year coming!). Until the new seat post is done she will stay in her hacked stroller seat and her new to her front seat. 

Now onto the sweetest video I have ever made. 

J's First Ride on the Yepp Mini from bikeMAMAdelphia on Vimeo.

Monday, March 17, 2014

(Assisted and Unassisted) VanMoofs & Edgerunners

My husband was in the market for a new commuter bike. He rode last spring and summer on a single speed bike he has owned for a number of years. He built the bike up from an old 70s Panasonic steel frame he pulled out of the trash (literally).  The bike being a single speed had it's limitations but it is so stripped down it was light and quick. The Halsted that he often rides on this blog is just too heavy and cumbersome of a ride for that many miles. So here we were looking for yet another bike.

Being the researcher of the family I presented him with four options, Surly LHT (or disc trucker), All-City Space Horse, Edgerunner and the Vanmoof Noir Series.  In the process of trying out the above we also tried the assisted Edgerunner and Vanmoof. 

He was pretty against a cargo bike to begin with. He felt that it was overbuilt for his needs of commuting and occasionally using the bike on the trails by our home. But we both tried the Edgerunner at Firth & Wilson and the one in store was currently set up with BionX. 

Quick note: The Urban Arrow is of course an e-bike but it does not touch the power and torc of a BionX or similar system. Our mid-drive system literally just takes a little pressure off our bodies and makes the load a tad bit lighter it is slow and steady of a worker. While bionX in many ways feels like it is propelling you. 

The edgerunner is just as all the blog reviews say it is light and snappy. Feels a lot like a normal bike. The lower xtracycle deck feels stable and not over built for kids as compared to when I tried a Yuba Mundo. The new style xtracycle deck is ready for the current gold standard of kids seats, the Yepp Maxi and of course the hooptie to contain bigger kids. The 8-gear range felt great and even without the assist, getting up hills shouldn't be a problem. At 5'3 I had no problem mounting the bike and even someone shorter could easily use it. 

The assist makes you feel like the fastest biker in town. The mid-cost system installed on this model was plenty of boost for even me the most normal and lazy of bicycling skills. The brakes felt like they had plenty of stopping power too. Of course I was not on hills testing the bike out. Overall great bike I still prefer to have my kids up front and drive train enclosed (which can likely be done). The bike was not a winner for my husband's commute however. PS I'd buy one for funsies if I had endless storage room and bike funds. The base models start at $1500+ and the BionX start at $1800. 

Next we took the show on the road up to Rolling Orange to test Vanmoofs. (RO is were our Urban Arrow is from. It has actually been exactly a year from my first very pregnant test ride!) We originally saw Vanmoofs in Amsterdam and thought the design looked slick. We found the integrated lights and flat paint were very pleasing. This bike was an outside contender but for the price point (almost half the cost of the other models he was looking at) you get a pretty complete package of a commuter bike including hub dynamo lighting. It also reminded me a lot looks wise of his stripped down single speed which was flat white (we looked at the noir series which is flat black). 

When we got up there he was still leaning towards the Space Horse which he had rode earlier in the month (the Surly was totally out as he didn't like it on the test ride). So we went and tried in total 4 Vanmoofs. My husband tried the electrified Vanmoof 10 at my request because I was way to short to try the test model (boo), the Vanmoof 3.2 and 3.7. I tested the Vanmoof 6.7. 

The electrified 10 was as expected a sleek bike. Everything is full integrated including the battery so like an electric car you plug the whole bike in (as opposed to just taking the battery in/out to charge). The reader for lights and assist are on the top tube. There are two levels of assist and no gears. The bike was lighter then I expected for a Dutch made e-bike. Would you want to haul it up 3 flights daily? Maybe not but one flight wouldn't be an issue and my old Schwinn was likely a couple pounds less and I dragged that thing up two flights back in the day (and we all know I'm lazy central). My husband described the assist as similar to the Urban Arrow rather then BionX. He said the ride was very smooth and could see this being a great commuter option for a person who is traveling a little further, up some hills or in nice dress clothes. I would also say if you are design conscience this is the e-bike for you. 

Now on to the unassisted Vanmoofs. First I commute for a part-time job on the Arrow (sans kids) I often think about getting a bike with one kid hauling capabilities and really just for me commuter. The 6.7 ($998) was a winner. Smooth easy 7 internal gears, easy rollar brakes, fenders, Mixte style frame easy to mount, hub lighting and pretty racks to install ($75) plus also again a sleek design. Oh and a bell installed into the handlebars already!! It has a cute ping too. 

My husband tested both the 3.7 ($998, 7 gears, fenders, more upright ride, rollar brakes) and the 3.2 ( 2 speed (changed by back pedaling), disc brakes, all black wheels, flat bar, no fenders, hub lighting). Automatically he was drawn towards the 2-speed and was like I wish we sill lived in flat South Philly (preaching to the choir). He test rode both and felt they both rode very nicely, but was drawn toward the 2-speed for his commute. Which is only 1 extra speed but a 100% increase over his old bike. After some Moo Burgers across the street and another test ride on it. He decided the 2-speed was his choice and home it came with us. He also purchased the back rack as well (baby cargo bike). 

Now off to figure out what I can sell to buy my very own matching 6.7 Vanmoof. :) 

Some picture details of the Vanmoof Noir 3.2

 Halsted tires on right. 

                                             And one sturdy kickstand holding up a J.