Monday, January 23, 2012

Bikes in Taipei - part 1

I snapped a few pictures of bikes on a recent trip to Taiwan. Folding bikes seem to be fairly popular. The bike that I found most interesting was the "folding triple". This bike looked about the same size as your typical Dahon-type folding bikes in the US. However, it had seats for three. The "adult" rode in the middle seat and reached the far handle bars. A front child seat had a near set of handlebars, and a heavy cushion was on the rear seat for another child (or adult - these must be good racks!)

I did see a mother with her two kids cruising on one of these to the train station. This one looked fairly rusty and had smaller-than-usual wheels. But, they still managed to move at a reasonable pace. (Though they did seem to have a wobbly start.)

The area around the university was loaded with bikes. I saw the train station with its double-decker bike parkers first:

Then I noticed a few bikes around the corner towards the back:

And then it was on to biketopia. The number of bikes parked in close proximity would put Stanford to shame.

Why I like my bakfiets...

I like my bakfiets because it can hold all these groceries... plus the smiling toddler, plus Toddler's collection of sticks from the park, plus Toddler's blanket, plus the carseat base for the baby, plus an extra jacket, plus a bunch of little things (map, bike tools, Ironman figurine, scarf, etc., etc.), and I can still ride comfortably and smoothly along. Amazing!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Towing a bike

It's been a rough past few days for my kids. The four oldest all came down-- successively-- with a stomach bug. That means I've been driving sick kids around while bringing the healthy ones to school, etc. I like bikes, but in such times, I appreciate my car. 

Anyway, after several days off the bike I was itching to get back on. Daniella was too and was disappointed when this morning-- despite everyone finally being healthy-- I shepherded everyone into the car. I needed to get Joshua and Daniella to school and then get Gabriella back to "science camp"  (a special week-long nature camp that fifth-graders attend) after missing some of it because of being sick. The camp was 10 miles away, the last part very uphill and poor Gabriella didn't want to miss anymore than she already had.

If I'd been thinking, I would have dropped Daniella's bike off with her at school, so she would have it to ride home. But distracted by getting everyone ready to go to school and then the camp, I didn't. So this afternoon, I managed to rig a towing set-up. I removed the front wheel of Daniella's bike and the fork fit nicely through the rack on the bakfiets. I wrapped the parts of the fork touching the rack with a a few rags to keep them from getting too scratched up and used a bungee to secure the fork to the rack. The front wheel-- of course-- went into the bakfiets box. It worked well-- much better than just strapping the bike to the rack and then trying to remember you have a really wide load. On the way home, Daniella rode her bike, Joshua sat on the back rack, and the three littlest were in the box. It was a little stressful getting out the door (when is it never?) and riding there. Nat was fussy and I thought we'd be late (we weren't; my legs are getting strong!). The ride home was wonderful though. Nat slept and we made an impromptu stop in the park.

Here's the bike attached to the rack:

And here's another photo as we're getting ready to go. I put my new, cool Cleverchimp panniers (birthday present) back on after attaching Daniella's bike:

And that's all for today... Hooray for crazy bike contraptions!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wiggling Along to the Library

This evening, my two girls and I rode two miles through the dark to the library. We rode on our Bike Friday Triple. After riding my bakfiets nearly every day, the triple felt both strange and uncomfortable. It was squeaky (needs a tune-up!) and it took a lot of arm strength to keep from wiggling all over the road (just the way it always handles, but I'd forgotten). To top it off, the shifting is opposite as on the bakfiets-- twisting toward you puts the bakfiets in a higher gear, but puts the Triple in a lower gear. And... I've gotten used to shifting after stopping (the bakfiets has hub gears), which you can't really do with the Triple's derailleur. On the bright side, the slight uphill on the way home was barely noticeable. The girls are strong enough to really get the bike moving and the Triple is probably about 5 trillion pounds lighter than the bakfiets. We've also figured out that lights attached to helmets (including headlamps meant for camping, etc.) are nice and visible! Tonight's ride just reminded me that there are tons of different bikes that do lots of different things ("duh", I just have to look in our garage), but that I do like my bakfiets best right now.

The girls and I had a nice time chatting on the ride. I don't get a lot of time alone with them. They were getting kind of silly toward the end and giving me a hard time for being a little uneasy on the bike and for asking them to not pedal so hard. "Don't you know that the national bike speed is FAST?", Daniella asked, which then turned into something about the "national size" being  FAT, which then eventually turned into a comment about "true Americans", who-- according to Joshua's definition from several days ago-- are people who "drive their SUVs, watch TV, and go to McDonald's". Oh, sigh. Not sure what to say or think about all the chatter.

We arrived home happy. The girls asked to have a piece of chocolate when we got back. Since they worked so hard laying off the pedals and telling me I was slow, I figured they deserved it  Ha. Anyway, here are my two silly girls-- all ruffle-haired-- eating chocolate:

And that's all... because photos of the dark aren't that interesting, and I didn't have a camera with me anyway :)