28 June 2009

A Big First

I took my two girls (1.5 and 3.5 years old) to the shopping center today in our Madsen Cycles bucket bike. Up until today, I had only ever taken one child there at a time on a bicycle, and the bike had always been my Xtracycle. We took my normal route (about 2 miles), which involves one arterial (Alder/Pine St) and a brief, but steep, hill climb. Everything went swimmingly. We hit the Top Foods for incidentals, then PetSmart for a 35 lb bag of dog chow, the real reason for the outing.

I took a new route home that involved more sidewalks and backstreets in order to avoid the noise, traffic, and grades of the arterials. Gwen suggested a stop at the park, which was a slight detour. Great idea, Gwen!

On the way home, she grabbed the camera from the diaper bag and started taking pictures. I didn't figure this out until we were half-way home. Here is the unaltered and complete series of photos, from the school playground to our garage, so that you may see a bike ride through the eyes of a small, bucket bike passenger:

The other cool thing was the number of bicyclists we spotted on such a relatively short trip, including two tweeners on a red fendered tandem cruiser (not unlike this one). Despite the pilots age, she climbed out of the saddle like an old pro to smoothly negotiate the hill by the playground. It looked natural and effortless. Gwen chimed in with "Daisy, Daisy..."

Yes, it's a weekend, and we do have somewhere between 364 and 366 days of excellent cycling weather in Tacoma every year, today certainly being one of those days. But I'd wager that I saw more cyclists in four miles than I would have seen in 20 miles on a similar day last summer. And I'm not talking about a couple of kitted road riders, but over 20 of the plain-clothes variety that are going to the cafe or a friend's house or anywhere. Folks seem to finally recognize the value of traveling by bicycle and are doing something with that knowledge.

We certainly are.

24 June 2009

Everyone's Riding Bikes

Yesterday I received a call from one of my wife's college friends. She lives in Tacoma and was exploring the interwebs for a how-to on biking with little ones. Totcycle was very helpful, she said, but they didn't have a Madsen kg271 available in her neighborhood for test-rides. Tacoma Bike Ranch did! She walked down to the ranch and took the Bucket Bike for a spin with her 2 year old. Small world, eh?

Then my cousin calls at the eleventh hour, saying he wants to join me for the Harmon Bike Club's Tuesday Night Ride*. Except I have his bike hanging in my garage and he will have to meet me at the Hub, or risk being late. No worries, says I.

Four blokes showed up for the ride, and the five of us went on a barn-stormer down through 5-Mile Drive in Point Defiance Park, then over towards the Narrows Bridge. The rabbit of the bunch opted for the 6th Ave hill instead of a lap over the bridge. Pints of porter and sweet potato fries helped speed us towards recovery back at the Hub.

Most of the folks on the Tuesday Night Ride are training for the Courage Classic, which I'm riding this summer for the second time. It's a fund-raising ride for the Child Abuse Intervention department at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma. Every dollar goes directly to helping these kids, and it only take a minute to donate online.

Now get out there and ride your bike!

*Tuesday Night Rides start at 5:30pm from The Hub at 203 Tacoma Ave S in Tacoma. 20-25 miles around town and anyone is welcome to tag along.

10 June 2009

More Madsen Fun

I'm still digging on our Madsen kg271 Bucket Bike. I've made a few changes to it and have been happy with the results. It's a comfortable and stable setup with enough stopping power for the low speeds that come with hauling three toddlers around the neighborhood. I still plan to swap on a smaller chainring and a Marathon Plus tire in the back, and might try a larger brake rotor on the front.

We've become regulars at the pocket park in our neighborhood, thanks to the Madsen. It's the closest park to our house, but it's too far to walk to with the little ones, especially on a hot day. It's only a slow 5-minute ride, door to slide, with the Madsen. Other parents at the park have been very curious about the bike. The seat buckles in the bucket seem to be the one feature that makes them say, "That's great. I'd put my kids in something like that."

The bike has come in really handy for this one-car household. Last night, I picked up the kids from the baby-sitter after going on a group ride with the Harmon Bike Club. A nice slow ride with the kids was a great way to cool down.

Speaking of kids, remember that I'm riding the Courage Classic this summer and will challenge myself to ride our bucket bike if I can reach my fund-raising goal. Donate today!