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Bike seats for bigger kids? Part 2

Bike seats for bigger kids? Part 2

Now that school has started for the year, my search for ways to bring the kids along without shelling out $3K for a cargo bike has resumed. 7-year-old Audrey can ride her bike, and 4-year-old Dom could ride in a trailer – but I have a feeling he wouldn’t be happy being separated from the action. So a child bike seat seems like the way to go.

I’m sure you have all seen the post on Cycle Mumbreeze that shows bicycle child seats in the wild in Kawasaki, Japan. No? Go look right now. They’re so. dang. cute!

See? Super cute. Via “Nemo’s great uncle” on Flikr
under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

I have found a source that ships internationally for the white metal basket seat in the Cycle Mumbreeze post: Bicycle Hero. They also sell through their eBay store. The cost is about C$70 (including free shipping), and it comes with a three-point harness instead of just a lap belt – both wins over the Bobike option I was considering, IF it works. I also really like the big mesh leg protectors. We’ll see how well it works for Dom when it arrives… it may get quickly inherited by Angel’s toddler if he won’t fit. =)

Meanwhile, here are some more Flikr photos of it in use, mostly showing only lap belts attached. It looks like it attaches to any rear rack, and like it ought to be big enough for my little guy… cross your fingers for me!

I Fail At #30DaysOfBiking (Week 1)

I Fail At #30DaysOfBiking (Week 1)

I signed up for this cool thing that some nice people in Minnesota are organizing. The idea is that you ride your bicycle every day for 30 days, starting September 1st, and tweet about it using the #30DaysOfBiking hashtag, or blog about it, or otherwise discuss online. Doesn’t that sound like terrific fun? And a nifty way to force yourself to bike that extra little bit, and blog that extra little bit? And don’t you want to have spoke cards like theirs, and just generally be part of the awesomeness?

On Day 1, I tried out my coblogger Angel’s new-to-her mixte Ella, while our boys had a playdate:

(Yes, this is another amazing Kijiji find. Angel knows how to score the good stuff. Full post to follow.)

This was my first time ever on a mixte, and my first time on a bike with dropped bars since about junior high and my crush on Duran Duran. So may I say, wow, it feels very different to ride leaning far forward and resting more on your pelvis and less on your tush. The bike itself is swift and light and shifts effortlessly between the gears. The step-through on the mixte frame isn’t as low as I would prefer for carrying a load on the back, so I would use one for recreational rides, or commuting if I didn’t have too much stuff to bring with me. I definitely want to borrow this bike for a longer ride (mine was under 5 minutes) and get a better feel for it.

For Day 2, I went on a twilight ride around the block with my 7-year-old daughter. I rode Mary Poppins, with the addition of some Knog lights I had purchased recently. A white 4-LED Skink went on Mary’s basket, and I was surprised by how bright it actually was. For rides on brightly-lit streets it made a passable substitute for a proper headlight:

I also attached a 2-LED Beetle to the rear rack, and a 1-LED Frog for under the seat on Audrey’s bike (you can see it in her photo above). The bendy silicone straps made them really easy to put on and take off, they hardly wiggled at all during the ride, and they were visible from a fair distance.

We got to see this lovely sunset view across the soccer field, and some rabbits that my phone camera was unable to show you:

On the morning of Day 3, Audrey rode her bicycle to and from her newly-opened elementary school. I got to pull her little brother in a wagon, since he can’t keep up on his bike yet. I want a bakfiets, please.

I’m impressed with how much use the bicycle racks are getting, despite an atrociously-worded we-discourage-you-bringing-such-items-to-school-and-can-take-no-responsibility-if-they-get-stolen paragraph in the school handbook:

I got to admire the bikes of friends at a picnic in Hawrelak Park during the afternoon of Day 4. (I live far enough away that riding to the picnic with my kids in tow was not an option, sadly.)

However, non-cycling daytime plans with friends, a cold and a migraine and rainy weather, and the needs of my family and new 4-month-old puppy took precedence over solo bike rides on days 3-5. Lame sauce! Clearly I am going to need to be very proactive about scheduling in some solo riding time or getting hubby to watch my little guy (he’s too big for most bike child seats) so I can ride with my little girl to her school in the mornings… or get myself that bakfiets so I can ride with both kids.

Despite my apparent slackerness, I am intending to get back on the horse and keep trying to ride daily. I hope my persistance will pay off!

Day 6 update: after supper tonight I took Audrey for a 45 minute ride around our neighborhood, on the Violet-plus-trailer-bike setup we used on the suburban Critical Lass ride. We swung past the community garden and the new elementary schools, then turned and headed south to explore the roads where houses have been built in the past couple of years (I love the way the exteriors of the duplexes recall the area around Dalhousie University in the south end of Halifax). We stopped and took some photos by a little park with a pretty pond just as the wind started to pick up (brr, it is starting to REALLY feel autumnal). As we rode home we were rewarded with amazing pinks and violets in the sunset.

What a lovely day.

What a lovely day.

(This post is actually cowritten by Angel and Deborah with additional photographs by Nicki.)

Yesterday afternoon we went on our scaled-down suburban Critical Lass ride. It’s the first weekend of Fringe Fest, and it was women-and-transgendered day at EBC BikeWorks, and some people were probably nervous about leaving the city’s central neighborhoods by bicycle, so we had a smaller group than last time. Miss Sarah has already blogged about the ride from her perspective – if you haven’t already seen it check out her post too.

We met up at the playground closest to Deborah’s house, in a subdivision where the houses are a mix of faux-Victorian, -Georgian, and -Craftsman houses, like Halifax or Victoria rerendered in vinyl siding and concrete. We like it because the sidewalks, front porches, and garages placed on back alleys make it a more pedestrian-friendly area than the typical suburban front-garage development. Some of the bikes you see in the photo above belong to other families who had brought their kids to the park.

Bert isn’t fixed yet. So, we put Audrey’s trailer-bike on a borrowed 1980s CCM 5-speed named Violet (Thank you Monica!!! -D.). As you can see in the foreground of the photo above, Deb used basket straps to put her antique egg crate on the front – which really affected the steering once it had a heavy purse and water bottles in it. (I don’t think I’ll use the crate that way again, as pretty as it looks. -D.)



Angel adding some air while everyone chats.

Winnie’s coaster brake isn’t fixed yet, so Nicki borrowed Mary Poppins and Deb’s polkadot helmet for the ride. Both bikes have 28-inch wheels and coaster brakes, so it was a good way to get her back in the saddle. This was her first time riding a bicycle in nearly ten years. Felt good, didn’t it, gorgeous?

Angel rode Daisy. In the end neither of her kids came – Damien was hanging with his grandparents and Lili needed a nap. Notice the green purse in the milk crate that matches one of the shades of green in her floral dress. Dress and sandals both from Reitmans (different seasons) purse is from random mall luggage store. Would LOVE to find a lovely belt to make the dress less poofy (even though the poof comes in handy while biking in the heat, yaaaay built in “AC”). – A.

Sarah was kidless too, thanks to the older LRT cars not being able to accommodate a child trailer without taking the child out and folding it up. We can’t imagine doing that solo with a wiggly baby! Here she has just put a CL pin on one of her polka dots. LOVE the skirt and the pearl necklace.

These women are effortlessly chic. Marilyn was wearing a beautiful shirt-dress with a pop of ruffly colour underneath. So classic. (I can’t wait ’til my Uniform Project shirt-dress arrives in the mail. -D.)

Of course it is all about the shoes. Clockwise from top left: Sarah in shiny patent leather; Audrey in pink and Deborah with bows on; Angel’s new silver flats; and Marilyn’s divine Dr Marten’s heels (covet!).

Just kidding. It’s also all about the bikes. Here is Sarah’s road bike at rest, with a Brooks leather saddle and reflective super-skinny rims and the beautiful Po Campo bag she’s been trying out.

Mary Poppins awaiting action. Look how pretty the white saddlebag looks with the white vinyl saddle!

Audrey (the only child who ended up coming) didn’t feel like staying at the playground, so we were quickly off on our ride and didn’t stop at any of the other four playgrounds on our route (yes, four). We headed to a strip-mall area with a lot of cafes and restaurants and neat little shops. On the way, we were riding mostly on residential streets, where one driver was unconscionably rude, and a few were clueless about driving around bicycles, but many were great.

We parked our bikes at the library. It was disappointing to see so few racks in a relatively newly-built area, when  according to the bylaws they should be more. Guess we’ll need to call the mall’s management and ask some questions? Then we sat in a franchise cafe and had iced strawberry lemonade and a wide-ranging chat. During which we totally forgot to take photos. Oops. It was delightful to be able to all sit at the same table this time and really get to talk. Unfortunately Sarah and Marilyn needed to take off after the cafe and head back to the LRT, so they didn’t get to shop. Also, the locally-owned toy store has just closed this location (much to Audrey’s disappointment). However, Angel found a great locally-owned kitchen tool shop where she can register for her wedding. Score!

Audrey took this shot of Deborah in the cafe’s washroom. She is wearing windowpane-check bermuda shorts from Ricki’s, a ruffled scoop-neck t-shirt from Old Navy, a thrift-shop straw-and-leather bag, a gold-plated necklace and fabric flower from Anthropologie, a cloche from local Etsy crafter Sugar Soul to cover the helmet-head.

Audrey did magnificently, especially considering that it was only her second time riding without training wheels (her first was the day before when we were testing the trailer-bike on Violet). We walked the uphills because she felt unsteady when I had to stand on the pedals. We think she’ll be riding without training wheels on her own bike by the end of the summer. Oh, and yes, she did choose her outfit specifically to go with the pins for the riders, then lavishly accessorized it Fancy Nancy style. -D.

Attempted panda shot. I am wearing an older sport-style helmet that has never fit my head properly. It is actually not possible with the way it is shaped to get it to sit over my forehead… but it’s a decent slightly-small backup when loaning helmets to friends who forgot theirs. – D.
View of downtown Edmonton from the bridge over Terwillegar Drive. It’s rather pretty, except for the freeway and utility poles in the foreground – and it gives a nice idea of how sprawled out this city is. Our location here is about halfway between the inner ring road (the Whitemud) and outer ring road (the Henday).  

Taking pictures at the end of the pedestrian bridge.

Nicki, Deborah, and Audrey walking up the hill. Angel was able to ride up with Daisy’s 6 speed!
They made it!!

Nicki and the downtown view.

Despite being on the outer edge of town, many of our city’s suburban neighborhoods are blessed with a well-planned system of multiuse trails, and most of them have sidewalks as well. Wide roads with two lanes in each direction on the collector roads make it less nerve-wracking to take the lane when needed than on some of the narrower roads in the city’s core, and some of the collector roads are having sharrows painted on them that will help to make road-sharing more of a habit for suburban drivers. It may not be practical to go completely car-free, and it takes a little planning, but we think that using a bike instead of a motor vehicle so that you’re driving less often is totally doable in the suburbs. Not to mention fun!

To end the ride we headed back to Deborah’s, where some other friends with children met us for a barbeque. Good food and good friends, what could be better?

Bike seats for bigger kids?

Bike seats for bigger kids?

I have been contemplating getting a seat for carrying my kids (aged 4.5 and 7). The BoBike Junior would be a total no-brainer, if it weren’t for the price. So I have been looking for an alternative product.


I think I might have found it in the Leco Top Tube Child Seat, which is reviewed in the amazon.co.uk listing and on first4dads.co.uk. Most of the websites that sell it ship only to the UK, but there is one seller on eBay who will ship it worldwide. But here’s what makes me really nervous: I can only find two photos of it in use and another two in the wild online. Does it not actually get used because it’s uncomfortable? Do kids outgrow it too quickly?


Anyone actually have experience with bike seats for bigger kids?

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

Anyone who lives here knows that this past Wednesday (June 9th) was a very rainy day. I’m not talking torrential downpours and raining sideways like most coastal communities consider “very rainy.”

(I can say these things – I grew up in such a coastal community where the rain was SO sideways and fast it stung…or the winds so violent that the ferry wouldn’t run and you got to miss school! Or get stuck on the wrong side of the Strait of Georgia and not go home – pizza sleep over parties! You can see where this is going?)

 So, back to yesterday… It was Damien’s preschool year end party, this year held at a family’s yard (bigger & more private) only a dozen-ish blocks from home. When it came time to leave I checked the skies, saw over cast but dry grounds and decided to bike there.

But the forecast was grim you say? But it had already been raining before you left? Sure….but I’m invicible? Or fearless? Or possibly a little insane? Biiiiiig deal!

The ride TO our party was fine, a bit of spitting, even my glasses didn’t get too splotched upon. The party itself was another story, the spitting turned into good amounts of drops all at once. Not downpour….just a good rain. And then it’d stop. And then it’d start to spit again…and the spitting would again turn into…oh wait this time it’s a downpour.

When it came time to leave, soaked kids, wet roads, and never-seeming-to-end rain was what I had to deal with. I had “offers” (aka people asking if I’d be alright, why did I bike any way?) but nobody was a: able to take myself, my kids, my bike, AND my trailer home safely and b: come up with a better solution besides “waiting out the rain.” So we set out. I made sure the kids were covered with the plastic of the trailer, loaded even my purse and the veggie tray and the dip into the trailer (and a diaper bag!) and set off. In a down pour!

By the time I’d reached the end of the block I noticed right away how much different the road felt while wet. Traction was still just fine, but stopping and starting took just that LITTLE bit more effort. The worst part (for me personally) was how hard it was to see with rain drop covered glasses. I had to stop twice to clean them off on my already soaked sweater. (Oh did I mention I’d dressed the kids properly but not myself?)

It took about 5 minutes longer for the, including having to wait to cross the one major street near our house that unless I can see everyone stopping I won’t bike across (we walked, I’m teaching Damien the “proper” way to bike on roads). 

So lessons learned?

  • If it’s going to rain, wear my contacts, or see if I can fit a hat with a big brim under my helmet.? See if I can BUILD a hat to go under or over my helmet? Ooooh the possibilities!
  • Biking uses completely different muscles than walking. I knew this, but hauling 70lbs of kids plus a few more pounds in additional stuff makes a difference. My legs had a good burn both there and back, and I cannot wait to do longer trips (though I feel it might take some working up to get much much longer). I’m thinking the majority of our trips will stay “local” (aka in Millwoods area or to the in-laws, which I cannot wait to bike!!) so we can avoid using the van unless it’s absolutely necessary.

I posted on my Facebook about my riding in the rain, and got one person “Like”-ing said status and another messaged me and told me I was insane. I don’t see the big deal, it wasn’t a far ride, the rain doesn’t hurt us, etc….but this friend…well lets just say we don’t always see eye to eye on …a LOT of things!

How do you deal with the nay-sayers and doubters and people who don’t get that it’s very easy to bike around? Edmonton is quite flat, even the tiny hills are probably at a 1% or less incline (I might be under exaggerating, but I grew up with BIG hills, and my dad bike commuted well before it was even considered “cool” or “hip.”)

*** I wish I had pictures of my soaked shoes to post, but I was too busy getting the kids inside and dried / cleaned off. Apologies! ***

Daisy Chain (almost literally)

Daisy Chain (almost literally)

HAPPY BIKE MONTH EDMONTON!!

In an effort to embrace our bike community and get the word out there even more, I’m determined to get daily (or as close as I can get to daily) blogs out regarding biking in our city. Some of them might not be Edmonton related though, as I have a few covetable/unique things found on the internets! Anyway, I think I can do this, think of it as a Na-Ni-Wri-Mo thing, only bike related, and in June because really, who doesn’t want to bike around all summer long?

So I’m in the process of testing a bicycle trailer to haul my kidlets in. Damien is 5 and Lili is almost 2. Together they only weight approx 70 lbs together so technically can both easily fit into a trailer with weight allowance for say lunch or some groceries, or toys (or all of the above and then some!)

The kids, Daisy, and me, about to adventure!

Last night I attached the borrowed (aka soon to be purchased if it works with both kids in it) trailer. Damien’s helmet was “hidden” (pretty sure he’d put it “away” somewhere his sister couldn’t get it) so we literally just went quickly down the drive way of our condo complex. It was definitely a different experience though. I could tell that Daisy needs a good cleaning again after our windy dusty “spring” (read: dust blowing into garage onto what was once a pretty clean bike).

Observation: The kids are SQUISHED. (see photo)

These are actually happy faces, but more like “Why have we stopped!”

Second observation: The seat caves in a wee bit, hence the EXTRA squishiness. I’m not sure if this is something the kids will learn to have to deal with or if there’s a way of solutionizing this?

Thankfully though, this allows for “oh look we need more milk” runs without strollering. Also school runs will gloriously be speedy and exercise filled! Sure there’s only like 10 classes left, but still, it’s a future. And plans for more park exploration are on the horizon. There’s a very very awesome park a few neighbourhoods over (I’m talking massive green area, huge selection of climbing and swinging and kid-being) and I’d love to NOT be the parent who has to drive there to make it before nap time.

Things learned though: Lili LOVES (and I do mean LOVES) bikes. Recently we ran across a wooden balance bike (that I just checked the price on and sighed desperately) and had the funds (and store) been available, would have been now ridden to exhaustion, and back. She has since tried to sit on her aunt’s road bike (perhaps another post…) and tries to climb onto her tricycle all the time. Bike collecting in our house? Going to be popular!!

So I’m wondering, do any of you have any experience with bike trailers or even biking with 1 semi self-reliant training wheels required boy and 1 definitely needing containment almost 2 year old? I’d like something that I can at least attempt to use most of the year long, but I know winters here are going to be pushing it when it comes to biking.

Comments are MORE than appreciated!