Sunday, July 24, 2011

my sis's new ride

Check out my little sister hanging out on her new pink Schwinn.

Perfect for her summers down at the Jersey Shore, no?

I think that bike is almost as cute as she is.

Monday, July 18, 2011

a sunday family ride

A few weeks ago while out riding on the back of the Xtracycle, F somehow lost his red feather from his bike helmet that had been attached for nearly a year, a remnant of his pirate helmet from last year's Cycling Celebration.

There's a bike helmet under yar pirate hat!

Feather and feisty attitude seem to go together well.

As he was missing it tremendously and reminded of the loss each time we took the bikes out, we promised him that we would purchase a new plume.  

Enjoying a rare morning of not rushing to get somewhere, we suddenly found it after lunch and felt that we now needed to leave the house and enjoy the wonderful sunny day and move our bodies after such a lazy A.M.  We decided to ride to Hamden Plaza, some six miles north of us, where we could hit the craft store and find a new feather.  

In the past, it never would have occurred to us that we could take this trip by bike, not just because of the distance, but because the Hamden Plaza sits on an incredibly busy road with multiple lanes.  However, the more we spend time out on our bikes, the more we realize what we can do by bike.  

Most excitingly, both S and C decided to ride themselves which was made possible because our route took us on the Farmington Canal Trail for much of the trip.  The boys had to ride downtown to get to the Trail which is far more do-able with the roads quieter on a Sunday than on a regular weekday.  While we asked them if they wanted to ride directly on the street, flanked in front and back by P and me (riding the Xtracycle with F), they both decided they were not yet comfortable doing so.  Instead, P and I rode on the street, parallel to the boys on the sidewalk, giving directions and making sure no cars making  right turns would hit the boys as they crossed the street from one sidewalk to the next, a reason that make sidewalk cycling dangerous.  This process, while it can get us to where we need to go, takes a looonnng time and constant communication and highlights why we are not yet at the place where the boys can ride regularly for transportation (as opposed to for pure recreation).  

Once we hit the Canal Trail, we all felt much more freedom to enjoy the ride. Yes, there are plenty of places the trail crosses the street where you must stop and look out for cars before crossing, but once we rode into Hamden, the Trail opens up and the boys could pedal off in front of us without continuous direction, outside of the intermittent shouts of "Hey, wait for us!" as they sped along happily. 

When we reached the part of the trail that sits behind the Marketplace at Hamden, we exited the trail and walked our bikes through the back parking lot and around to Modell's to return some ill-fitting sweatpants.  We had a moment of pause when we realized that we had nowhere to park and lock our bikes outside of this sports store,  but these shopping plazas are absolutely set up for drivers and not cyclists.  We then walked our bikes through the huge parking lot and reached the sidewalk where we could push the pedestrian crosswalk light, the only way it would be possible for us to cross Dixwell Avenue.  After our quick feather-getting errand was completed, we slipped around the corner to enjoy a respite of Ashley's Ice Cream, took our time getting back through the parking lots and across the busy avenue to the Canal Trail.  

Some time later, we rode up our driveway, quite pleased with ourselves for making the 12-mile trip, leaving the car parked at home, and adding another thing to our list of just what we are able to do by bike.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


It is full-out summer 'round these parts! The sun is out. The humidity is high.  Lots of cyclists are out on the streets.

The Full Hands family has tried to take full advantage of events that come with the season.  Somehow riding our bikes to such happenings seem to add that much more fun to the outings.

Take, for example, our weekend.

On Saturday night, there was a free concert on New Haven's Green; the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (NHSO) played Peter and the Wolf and had a wonderful storyteller accompany the music.  We had spent a busy day swimming but came back home for a quick dinner and hopped on our bikes for the ride downtown.  As with other big events with large crowds, the cargo bikes come in handy as we don't need to worry about finding parking, can often navigate in areas that cars cannot, and don't need to schlep our stuff from the car to the site as we ride right up to the Green with all our things on board.   We arrived  after many folks had already staked out and set up their spots. Fortunately, through a lucky incident, we had VIP tickets (it was a *free* concert, mind you) that allowed us to sit in this fenced-in area right near the stage. Unfortunately for many, there were some technical difficulties that I suspect made hearing the music and storytelling a bit hard, but there we were--- right up front, hanging out on our batik spread from our Peace Corps days, lounging in our Crazy Creek chairs.   We could watch the individual musicians which our beginning string instrumentalists loved and were able to see the storyteller with all his incredible props. (Gotta say that the cat made from the handbag was my favorite!)   When the concert ended, we gathered our belongings, donned our helmets, chatted with some folks interested in our cargo bikes, and zipped off easily, heading home.

The next day, we decided to go car-free to our very first Bridgeport Bluefish minor league baseball game.  We rode to the train station, parked our bikes alongside many others (an excellent thing), and took the short train ride to Bridgeport.  Despite it being another really hot day, we could all easily walk from the station to the ball park where we enjoyed great seats, good action, a low-key, fun crowd, an especially popular mascot, and even time for the kids to run the bases after the game.  We did have to wait about a half hour for the train on the way back to New Haven, but the boys held up well, and we felt great about leaving the car parked at home.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

cycling around lakes in minneapolis

Outside of one blog post last summer about our time at the NJ Shore, Full Hands has never taken its show on the road.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that with three younger fellas, we haven't been so great about getting out on the road beyond New Haven.  However, a big milestone occurred at the end of June-- P and I got on a plane sans kids to attend the wedding of a Peace Corps friend in Minneapolis.  We spent Friday night through Sunday afternoon with a couple of other RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps volunteers) from our group, making it a wonderful mini-reunion on top of a truly fun wedding celebration.

Of course, reading in advance about Minneapolis's cycling reputation, we wanted to spend some of our limited time there out on bikes.  So Saturday morning we headed off to Calhoun Bike Rental to rent bicycles for a couple of hours and went on a self-guided tour around some of the Chain of Lakes, including Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles.

I, of course, had no camera with me so relied on the good will of our friend D who kindly snapped photos so I could include some on this post.

Riding on a separated bike path-- separated even from a walkers/runners path-- was quite an experience. Lots of folks were out this day enjoying the paths and it was incredibly apparent how thoughtful infrastructure moves a city beyond livable to downright incredible!  While I imagine that only the truly hardcore and hearty are out on these paths in Minnesota winters, the throngs of walkers and runners and cyclists were proof that if 'you build it, they will come.'

Looking constantly from right to left, enjoying gorgeous lake views on one side and some wildly impressive houses on the other, I found myself relax, breathing deeply. It made me wonder what it would be like to bike commute in a city that had real biking infrastructure.  Regular readers of Full Hands know that I am out on the streets every day riding with cars, but this lone Saturday, in a state far away from my own, I was on a bike, pedaling along, feeling calm and relaxed.

D and I couldn't bring ourselves to pose near this sign. Wasn't it nice of P 'to volunteer' for us?

P and I went for the Specialized Hauls that have their rear racks built right in to the frame.
I had a full step through.
Shortly into the ride, I did miss my Brooks saddle tremendously.

One lovely detail about Calhoun is that each of their rentals have names.   It was fun imagining the bike-naming process as these cycles had some sharp names.  Meet Barnaby and Ruth!

Rafferty and Adele!

And this lime green ride....

yes, Ophelia!

D rode a women's Crossroads.

P and I with his temporary steed.

City riding! Not a bad view....

Pickle-on-a-stick and CHEESE CURDS: a great snack to stop for halfway thorough our bike ride.
The cheese curds, my friends, were RI-DI-CU-LOUS!
We are talking amazingly good. Ahhhhhhhhh.