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. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Here Comes the Sun... And Please Snow STAY AWAY

This past weekend we had really lovely weather. So Saturday we took the family out on an epic bike ride. We rode to Fairmount /Spring Garden/ Northern Liberties/ South Street/ Passyunk / Center City and onward to home. We postered for Kidical Mass, ate lunch and went grocery shopping. We unknowingly did it all with a stomach bug so I'm kind of surprised by our 22 mile round trip ride.

It was great weather lots of people out. Nothing much of note happened for a large part of the ride you'll see some video and pics of that. Can not for warmer spring days to break the kids out of canopy! 

One incident of note did happen though to remind me biking in Philly can suck. A car got behind us in south Philly, the streets are narrow and I do not feel safe letting a car pass me so I took the lane. The car kept revving and coming up close behind us. It was freaking me out. My husband was buffering but made me nervous. The first right I could make I wanted to take. I took that right without a full stop for a pedestrian who was of course annoyed and yelled at me.  I apologized but felt like everyone hated the bike rider in the situation.

The aggressive driver who bullied me into breaking the law out of fear sucks. Ugh. The next 4-way stop a women in a truck decided not to give me the right away as she should (it's a pattern at 4 ways that one car goes at a time in a weaving pattern). I yelled at her and she snapped at me and told me I was dangerous. Oh south Philly thanks for the reminder you suck to bike in. 

On to GoPro's shot from the new handlebar mount on the Halsted! 

Springtime Ride to Fairmount Bikes from bikeMAMAdelphia on Vimeo.

Ride from Firth & Wilson to Park from bikeMAMAdelphia on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Women's Forum at NBS 2014 Part Two

Part Two?

I really meant for the whole thing to be one post but ALL THE THOUGHTS. 

Lunch, first my previous national conference attending was the Alliance of American Museums where lunch was never included it was an add on. And there wasn't a plenary at lunch you would have committee lunches. Probably because AAM is just insanely huge compared to NWF/LAB. We were served sausage which I admit I thought was the weirdest selection of foods (to be served without beer), but I was hungry (shocking) so it tasted delicious. 

During lunch we heard from the keynote speaker NOW president, Terry O'Neill who rides a brompton. I really love the thought that at the center of the equation shouldn't be a bicycle it's should be women. We also heard from the equity panel which was a great body of some really thoughtful women. I slipped out for a bit to use the bathroom and charge my phone. So I wasn't able to hear everything. 

Kidical Mass Arlington
After lunch was my breakout session I was speaking at. Made our way upstairs was introduced to everyone and the equipment. We got the final word that we had to change the slides ourselves so the pecha kucha presentation wasn't very strict which honestly mellowed me out. As twenty second slides is a little intense.
Up first the head of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition the panel lead introduced Nona who spoke about LA based projects, followed by myself who spoke about Kidical Mass PHL, sandwiched next was Lily from Portland and bringing up the final presentation was Gillian from Kidical Mass Arlington. 

If you want here is a Dropbox link so you can access my power point. In summary, my speech focused on why I started riding (that tiny passenger mister M), what families need in a KM ride and why this ride is approachable for families and other businesses/organizations. 

And my offer to the room (and you) is let me know how I can help you get more families riding! It makes it safer for us all and normalizes it in the mainstream. 

The forum in general is empowering. I have no idea if the full summit feels the same way but there is so much talk about the energy that comes out of the day before it you almost think it won't lead up to the hype and trust me living it I felt that energy and it did live up to the hype. Now I hope we can make this accessible for all wheel ladies to feel and for a future generation. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Women's Forum at National Bike Summit Wrap Up (Part 1)

First having the chance to speak at the Women's Forum of the National Bike Summit was such a great opportunity. I am so grateful to have had the chance to meet so many wonderful pro-family biking allies.

Kidical Mass Philadelphia, is about getting families on bikes and empowering them to ride beyond our rides and incorporate biking into their everyday lives whether that is biking kids to school or activities or to work. It is a movement that changes perception of the "rogue cyclist" and challenges the norm that once you have a child you are destined to just a car and man is it CUTE.  

Sharing my personal story in becoming an advocate is probably the story of hundreds of parents beyond bicycling. My kids deserved better and someone had to fight for them so I did. I don't think  my story is particularly special but someone needs to make room for family biking at the table and I am happy with my KM cohorts to do just that. 

So now on to our family time in DC, Media Training & Women's Forum wrap ups of the National Bike Summit. 

So the weekend started with our littlest getting a terrible cold. I don't have a large milk stash as I nurse most of the time so the whole family was planning to go to DC as well. The kids and husband could go museum hopping and I could go summit-ing. We decided to go down on Sunday a day later then planned to help ride out the cold as long as possible at home. I briefly thought about just going down alone on Monday via train but the snowy forecast that kept growing made me too nervous to chance it. WHICH WAS GOOD because DC shut down in the snow for real.

Sunday was beautiful, the weather had me out in just a long sleeved shirt. It was so nice!! M had requested the "DINO MUSEUM" about 1000xs so we went to check it out. It was the first time M actually enjoyed the dino part of the museum he asks for it but is usually terrified. TODDLERS. By the time we left the museum the skies started to grow dark and it was sprinkling. I planned on attending the Media Training that evening so we headed back to hotel.

I kissed the family good bye and RAN OFF QUICK AS I COULD, LATER SUCKERS, I get to go ride Capital Bikeshare. Ha. (Brief note our hotel actually had free rental bikes, but the cheap lock made me nervous to borrow one.) I found a bike station and rented a bike as quickly as my fingers could move in the rain ($7 for a 24 hour pass). I moved that seat into the lowest position because MIDGET status and checked my dying phone,s maps like twenty times and off I rode. I rode bike lanes and bus/bike lanes and right through the Flyers/Caps exiting traffic oh hey that was annoying and then found a dock and off I walked the rest of the way to the media training.

The media training was broken into two parts, one the classic media of radio/print/tv/online journalism and how we can reach and use them, the second was self promotional working hard at the grind media geniuses. Both were really insightful and I cannot wait to use their tips for both BMD and Kidical Mass PHL. My take aways know your audience and twitter is king of the social media/media world. Also I was able to purchase some books from Elly Blue, and man does she curate the nicest collection of items to publish/sell. I am almost done with her latest book
"Bikeconmics" and cannot wait to start on some of the other items I picked up.

After the media training, there was a Streetfilms after party at the RFD bar, where I lived up my mom's gone wild status and drank lite beer (apparently I insult everyone for liking lite beer, guys I love cheap lite beer and I am not afraid to say it, I also know and like fancy beers, hi husband in the beer world but lite beer holds a special place in my heart). The party was great to meet a bunch of really like-minded people. I think after parties are forever the best part of conferences. I do wish the space was less crowded and quieter because I am old but the bathrooms were clean so winner. I  also actually won the grand giveaway prize of a Capital Bikeshare membership! (Full disclosure I gave it to Kidical Mass DC to raffle or door prize at ABCs of Family Biking, PS it is May 3rd)

Kidical Mass DC escorted me to a bikeshare dock and off I rode back to the hotel in the rain. We stayed in the shadow of Capital Hill and man was it dead at night. It was a very empty two streets walk back to my hotel and by walk I lightly jogged in the rain! The weather was still kind of warm though. I came back to two asleep children and one  awake husband and I swore it wouldn't snow.

WELL OF COURSE IT SNOWED AND DC SHUT DOWN. Except for the Women's Forum of course and the Air and Space Museum, where my husband was going to take the kids that afternoon. I woke up with the intention to bike in the snow on bikeshare but what do you know, my credit card would not go in, I thought it was frozen but turned out they shut it down in snow and I had no idea. So I walked along empty snowing streets to the conference arriving a couple minutes late because I was waiting for a morning pick me up from Starbucks.

I do not have it in me to talk about every detail of the morning plenary TED talks mostly because there were a lot of really great points, plus I was tired and didn't take notes. But I enjoyed them and hope for even more diversity next year in the panel. Also hearing women who I have watched speak before online was really humbling. Following open panel I took a spin around the women's market place which was filled with women owned bike businesses. Really some great items. I refrained from buying a cleverhoods again, but I totally regret it now!!

The morning panel I went to was with a bunch of the ladies who did "WEBIKETODC" & are just in general rock stars of getting more women to bike in NYC/DC/PHILLY. The steal these ideas panel was full of both small and large scale ways to get more women involved in biking. Some take aways, you can harness existing large networks without much man power, you sometimes need to find someone who speaks the language of the audience you are trying to reach & a no cancellation policy is really awesome.

Towards the end of the panel I get two phone calls from my husband who was coming to meet me so I could nurse our youngest real quick before a museum trip with them. BUT the worst thing happened he lost his eyeglass while walking in the snow. YIKES a kind of shitty scary thing when you are blind without glasses. He was pretty frantic, I quickly feed J while he retraced a couple of blocks but no luck. Of course no eye glass places were open in the crappy weather. But on Tuesday morning first thing we luckily were able to find and get him some contacts so he could see again.

I will pick up part two starting at lunch.

Now check out my GoPro of my Capital Bikeshare adventure, also WHO THINKS THESE BIKES ARE HEAVY. THEY AREN'T GAVEL. 

bikeMAMAdelphia Rides Capital Bikeshare from bikeMAMAdelphia on Vimeo.