Monday, September 28, 2009

"It's the People that You Meet

when you're riding down the street, it's the people that you meet each day!"

With apologies to the tunemakers of Sesame Street, I couldn't help but alter this line from "Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?" when thinking about my latest post. Anyone who spends time on a bike probably has a long list of why s/he rides. I know I do. I can talk about the fun, the easier parking, the savings on gas, lessening my carbon footprint, getting exercise, modeling a good habit to my kids, and on and on.

One advantage of bike commuting that I didn't anticipate, however, has been meeting a number of interesting individuals in the past eight months, people I don't think I would have met if I weren't riding a bike or paying close attention to the bikes they were riding. Yes, I have 'met' some of you out there virtually as we share a passion for city cycling or cargo bikes or family cycling and I do so love reading your blogs. But in my every day life, too, I have crossed paths with people whom I was probably crossing paths with while driving in my car but perhaps didn't notice or have the opportunity to speak with before I began pedaling. And so, I would like post from time-to-time about folks I have met thanks to bikes and my new-found bike love....

Kerri was riding along Ocean Avenue on her much-loved and well-used Xtracycle when I was loitering on the sidewalk near the beach while on a short vacation in Bradley Beach, NJ. I couldn't help but get excited by her bike and I called out, "Hey, Xtracycle!" when Kerri heard me and actually turned around to say hello. While I was holding a squirming F, she and I got to chat just for a short bit and I heard some of her story. Kerri told me that she was surprised to hear someone randomly call out "Xtracycle" since she's had hers for years but hasn't run into too many other Xtra owners in her corner of the Jersey Shore.

It turns out that Kerri is hard-core committed to bikes, promoting cycling, and recycling used bikes. To that end, she runs TWO amazing nonprofits called The Bike Church and Second Life Bikes that serve various-aged kids from Asbury Park. Kids learn to ride, get lessons about bike safety, practice basic bike repair, and earn their very own bikes by putting in 'work hours' through her programs. Read about her mission and kids here and here. Ever-cool Kerri also has a pedal-powered blender rigged on the back of her xtra so kids can pedal their way to healthy smoothies using their own power. Love this!

I wish I had gotten the chance to check out Kerri's programs first-hand and when I am back down the Jersey Shore I hope I can. Meeting Kerri has inspired me to find out if my city has a similiar earn-a-bike program targeted for kids from low-income backgrounds. In the meantime, I am so thankful that our paths crossed and I send a big shout-out to Kerri for allowing me to write about her and for turning her bike around to stop and talk with the crazy woman who yelled out "Hey, Xtracycle!" as she rode by.

Now I hope she doesn't mind that I am reposting some photos from her website. Photos courtesy of Kerri Martin , The Bike Church, and
Kerri is still doing amazing work at Second Life Bikes. She has an awesome website and they have recently launched a crowd-funding campaign with a big goal-- BUY the building where they currently are. I would so love to see Kerri be able to continue to do the great work she's been doing in the site where she's been doing it. A perfect holiday gift, perhaps, for someone who doesn't need more stuff but is all into kiddos and bikes?

Check out the campaign here!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Crank the Music, Tap the Keg, Pedal the Bicycle...

Playmobil cargo bike two posts ago. Bikes, movies, and food last post. And now this...
The ultimate combination of entertainment and bikes coming together:

A big shout-out to Elly Blue from You may remember Elly from my wonderful encounter with her some time ago. These are here snaps and here is her story of the amazing Hopworksfiets.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Did Julia Child Ride a Bike?

I actually spent a bit of time trying to find this out via internet searches, just hoping I could find some image of Julia Child cruising along on some perfectly sophisticated European Roadster.  I could picture this image in my head, but alas, it wasn't to be found (on the web anyway). Why would I ask such a query anyway?


For a long time (years), P and I talked about trying to employ a babysitter for a regular weekly night out. For a variety of reasons, we were never particularly successful in following through on this plan. After a summer with tons of boy care and only one night out, we decided to make it a priority this fall so on Thursday night we welcomed our new babysitter and hopped on our bikes for a date night downtown.  I've been struggling with sleep issues lately so I must admit that when the night-out opportunity rolled around, I almost balked in favor of an early bedtime.  Instead, I asked P if we could keep it low-key, going to a movie so we could just sit and hang together in the theater, something we hadn't done for about six months.  We did a search for local movie times and saw that Julie and Julia was still playing, a film that interested both of us.  

After talking through the bedtime ritual with the sitter, we packed up our bike lights and pedaled off.  We had less than an hour before the movie began so decided to hit a pub a block from the movies for a beer and a quick appetizer, instead of a full-blown meal.  When we rode up to the cinema, we were surprised that many of the parking meters were already strapped with bikes so we needed to hunt around a bit for bike parking, a problem we rarely encounter. After getting our tickets, we were directed to the theater where our film was showing. When we opened the door and saw the majority of seats filled with people, it struck me as strange given that the film had been out for some time so I hadn't expected such a large audience.  We hunted for seats and ended up walking to the front rows, climbed over some folks sitting on the aisles, and settled into the middle of the third row when a woman got up with a microphone.  P and I glanced at each other quickly, wondering if we had somehow gotten the show or the theater wrong, when  he looked over my shoulder and was surprised and then absolutely delighted to see the famous chef, Jacques Pepin, Julia's old cooking partner. 

Unbeknown to us, we had walked into more than a quiet movie, but a full event.  Turns out that Pepin was invited to introduce the film by these folks and then he took questions after the movie finished.  Since P and I love our food and P, in particular, is a really good home chef who enjoys cooking, we were happy we had stumbled upon more than the 'mere' movie.  Walking out of the theater after the q & a period with Pepin ended, it was fun to see the numbers of moviegoers head to their bikes.  Movies, food, and bikes are a good combination in my eyes. Seemed like others agreed. I wonder if Julia did....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bikes at Work & Play

While birthday shopping for our favorite now-four-year-old, we were delighted to come across this:

It's a toy cargo bike, hard at work carrying mail, brought to you by the folks at Playmobil. Gotta to admit that our older guys were never Playmobil fellas so I didn't know much about this toy company. However, I immediately suspected it was European: mail carriers, readying to distribute their mail by bike and by foot, and nary a helmet in site (although the gentleman's plastic cap on the right just may do the trick). Sure enough, Playmobil is a family-owned company from Germany, and while I was checking it out on the web, I found this interesting article.

As for the present buying, we ended up going for the pirate ship as F has become quite obsessed with these sea-faring vandals. Mostly I think he likes wearing hats and eye patches and yelling "Arrrr!" but perhaps I will head back to the store for a toy just for me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Day of School on Bike, Part Deux

Our youngest, F, headed off to preschool this morning. While neither of the two schools our sons attend are far from our home, they happen to be in opposite directions. Normally P and I divide and conquer: I take S and C to school-- since I do happen to work there as well, it sort of makes sense :) -- while P deals with getting the little guy out. On first days, however, P and I are both interested in being a part of it so we had to make some adjustments today.

F's first day drop-off involved two schools, three bikes, and five stages:
1. Twins in the bakfiets. F on the Xtracycle Radish. We all ride to the twins' school, park bikes, and walk the fellas to their classrooms.
2. F in bakfiets, me solo on Radish. Ride back to home.
3. Exchange bakfiets, which is way too heavy to get up the killer hill that F's preschool sits on, for the Rudge Roadster which has a baby/toddler seat on the back. F decides to hang in the toddler seat and we load of the Radish with all his stuff: extra clothes, sleep items, slippers, etc. Good thing we have the extra storage space because no ordinary bike could handle the list of required gear. Yes, we are our children's roadies.
4. Head up the hill. P makes it all the way on the 1967 Rudge with F on the back. I climb off the Xtracycle and walk halfway. Park and walk F into his room.
5. After a few kisses good-bye (I could have used more), I climb back on the Xtracycle, whoosh down the hill, and ride back to the first school to begin work.

F helps load the Xtracycle with all his preschool-required gear. Packing for college just might be easier.

P and F on the Rudge Roadster. F's days in that seat are really limited.
F, with one of his teachers, happily lugs some of his stuff into school.

F gets busy making playdoh pizza with his classmates and another teacher. Doesn't worry too much about his parents heading out... or not at all.

Submit Your Photos. I Know I Will!

The Alliance for Biking and Walking are doing this incredibly cool photo contest, The People Powered Movement Photo Contest. I know I will be sending in photos of my crew out on our cargo bikes, and I hope you send your best snaps in as well. And yes, if you do win the bike tour in Tuscany, you can take me along!

People Powered Movement Photo Contest from AllianceBikeWalk on Vimeo.