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A Simple Six: 9/18/11 - 9/25/11

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Comparison: September 23

Our trip meter August 21-26:

Miles Walked: 12.5 Biked: 50.9 Bused: 2.1 Drove: 0 This week-August21-26

 August 28-September 2:

Miles Walked: 6 Biked: 70.4 Bused: 0 Drove: 4 This week-August 28-Sept 2
43.7 183.3 12.6 403.9 Since August 14, 2011
September 4-9:

Miles Walked: 8 Biked: 43 Bused: 0 Drove: 24 This week-Sept4-9
51.7 233.8 12.6 446.2 Since August 14, 2011

The trip meter today, September 18-23, with a lot of data missing from my absence in Phoenix this past week. I did my best to guess at what miles were driven by Brent and when they biked, etc.

It appears that we have managed to drive about 100 miles in two weeks (between September 9-23) and ride 130 miles on our bikes. Our walking has decreased substantially as we have found biking is more efficient and enjoyable. We have pretty much abandoned the bus. It hasn't been cost effective, or timely, to bus a family of six when there is a car in the drive way, when we need to go places we can't get to by bike. 400 of those car miles are from the trip to Columbus. 40 of them are from the two trips to the airport. The rest are to and from school. I don't think this is too terrible, do you?

These comps do not include Saturday on the This Week line, but it's in the cumulative. I set up this post during nap time on Friday and don't know when I will have time on the weekend.

To complicate things I have been word-smithing "bike" as a verb. When I write about riding, I don't typically use  bike, biking, biked, but it made the most sense here to save on space and explanation. These are the crazy things I contemplate and waste my time with.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 51 Bused: 2 Drove: 52 This week-Sept 18-23
53.7 362.8 14.6 547.2 Since August 14, 2011


Thursday, September 22, 2011

My First Yuba Mundo Ride with Our Children

Our bikes at school.

When I got off the plane on Tuesday I was reading Bike Snob and thinking about the new bike in my garage. Brent managed to pick up the Yuba Mundo from Huntington Cycle and Sport on Friday. I contemplated having him wait until I got back, but I also wanted him to show it off at Critical Mass that night, which he did. No modesty here.

In case you missed the clip from another post, here's the video of Brent's ride with the three boys during Critical Mass. London rode my bike along side. I believe Brent's brother Aaron shot the video for him.

Yuba Mundo Inaugural Ride from delano on Vimeo.

I knew this bike was amazing because I rode it in Columbus last month, but I had never ridden it with any weight or even up a hill. You can't pay for hills in central Ohio. Test riding cargo bikes along our section of the Ohio river is near impossible, but I did make a few attempts to track some down, to no avail. Brent gave me his opinion from his ride on how to stop and handle the balance load and turning radius. I had been reading dozens and dozens of blog entries and watching videos for a couple of months. 

When I got home, I took the Yuba out first thing. I didn't even bring in my bag. I went straight to the garage and road it around the block. It was too dark to see the shifters and I wasn't even sure of the street conditions. I was a bit wobbly and uncertain, but elated. Yesterday I spent time thinking about riding and finishing Bike Snob. Today I set my mind to pick up the children from school with the Yuba Mundo. Brent left one bike at the school for a child to ride home and I set up the new bike with the iBert and stared at it from end to end. There were several parts missing that I had ordered; disc brakes, wheel skirt, and double kick stand, and noted to myself to call the shop to get an ETA.

First attempt with three boys at school.

I loaded Oliver into the rear seat, as that was his preference and I practiced going around the block several times getting used to the weight and handling. I really do not like rear weight. It feels like the front tire is going to lift off the road on every hill. The height of my saddle was suitable, the space between the iBert and my knees was far better than the other bike and the rear child seat looks more comfortable than the front. I planned to ride Avery in the rear seat, Elliot on the deck and Oliver in the iBert, but I knew that London would beg to ride on the deck often.

Circling the parking lot.

Brent came home from work to ride to school with me just in case anything would happen. He's a worrier, but I was happy to have time with him. He decided to hook up the trailer to his bike so we could load the children's back packs, as I still haven't ordered saddle/pannier bags for the Yuba. Every time we ride to the school we argue. We just have a different opinion about which route to take and where to ride on the road. The first tiff took place before the first block was behind us. I like to turn up the first road, he likes to take the second. Because he was behind me and saying "go here" and I didn't know where "here" was, I stopped on a steep uphill and tipped the bike to the right, with Oliver in the back, just about to the ground. Hmmm, this was going to be difficult.

Having learned my first lesson, to put both feet on the ground and hold both brakes when stopping, I took the second turn with Brent, which was indeed less of a climb and easier to ride. It was also slightly more difficult to make the next left at the intersection but not impossible or dangerous. I climbed up Wiltshire without much trouble and we disagreed about which direction on Woodland to ride and whether it was safer to take the lane on Norway or to use the side walk. We compromised with going to the right on Woodland, looping back down Fairfax and taking the lane on Norway.

I was sailing well until the climb on the one way portion of Norway. Brent has been telling me to take the pressure off the chain when I shift gears and I have been practicing, but I am not very good at this task. If I take the pressure off, then I slow down and have to apply more pressure. While climbing Norway I was moving into a lower gear and the chain came off the front chain wheel completely. I wasn't going anywhere. This is why I was glad Brent was there. I was able to hold the bike while he realigned the chain. Had I to do this alone I would have had to remove Oliver on a busy street and figure it out. I couldn't even walk the bike up the hill, the chain was locked up. Lesson two, take pressure off the chain before shifting gears.

Once at the school with all the children retrieved I was feeling really anxious. I didn't do so well getting there and now I was adding two extra children to a bike I was still very uncomfortable on and unfamiliar with. We loaded everyone up and I practiced starting and turning and stopping in the parking lot. I think I did about six loops in different directions to figure it all out. I lectured the boys about moving and tipping, as this would injure us all. With Brent hauling the trailer full of back packs, London on her Junior Viper and me carrying three children on the Yuba, we set off down the hill toward the Bookworm's Attic. It was still Thursday, our bookstore day, and we were not going to get sidelined from our agenda.

Heading down the one way portion of Norway on the sidewalk.

Stopped to return books.

Parked out front of the Bookworm's Attic

Books and candy purchases, bodies cooled, we strode out again for home. During our ride I observed many things about the differences in riding this long tail verses the old mountain bike. The first was the balance. The second was braking and foot position. Third, chain pressure and shifting. Fourth was the impact of the rear passengers over bumps. They took a huge jolt even over minor surface features. There jostling around had me swerving the front end to keep my balance. I do think I was truly bothered by the terrible roads and sidewalk conditions for the first time since riding. Before they were just annoying, now they were dangerous. The fifth thing of notice was the need for smooth transitions between surfaces. This goes beyond jacked up sidewalks and potholes. This bike really needs those ramps at crosswalks. I couldn't take the curb and just bounce down them like with the other bike, I would loose control. Unfortunately a few spots on our route don't offer these ramps at convenient places, but I found ways around them. In some situations I used drive ways and others I went an extra half block back to use a ramp. While I realize my place should be on the road, if you were a driver on Norway, you would not be expecting a cyclist, especially a slow one with three children. The sidewalk is safer, but not by much. (Sixth) The Yuba also didn't like going through thick gravel where the side walk was covered in some portions. Wobbly conditions at best. I believe this is because all the weight was in the rear and if there were more on the front, it could have been a better scenario. Yet I don't have front racks or bread baskets at this time and this is the best I can do.

Panting up Norway.

Pushing up Fairfax.

This is deceiving, we were actually flying down Wiltshire.

This looks like a long list of complaints. Almost like buyers remorse. I am a complainer but these are just kinks I am working out. I have confidence in this bike and know that with more practice things will be easier. I can't do much about the route conditions (although I am considering filling out one of these forms) but I can keep trying and be patient.

To give the Yuba Mundo the praise it deserves, it was easier to ride up hills than my other bike. It was great to be able to carry three children at once. It was wonderful to sit more upright and my back is appreciative too. The shifting was smooth, except when I managed to thwart it's natural talent. It is certainly a show piece, and a fabulously functional one. I was going to have the children give the bike a name, as they have named our cars and it seems appropriate and a bit ridiculous. Suggestions for names? I will run it by the panel judges and let you know what they decide.

All these miles below are approximate because we haven't keep very accurate records since my departure last week. I hope to get my act together and record them better next week. The two miles on the bus was from Brent taking his entire class on the free downtown bus to get coffee at River and Rail yesterday. I would have loved a professor like this when I was a freshman, but it might have creeped me out as well....

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 46 Bused: 2 Drove: 44 This week
53.7 358.8 12.6 539.2 Since August 14, 2011

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Phoenix on a Budget

 The sister's three, Shannon, Sara and me. Yes, that's the new get up I purchases at the Velvet Owl last week.

Planning for a trip to Phoenix for my sister Sara's wedding was agonizing because I wasn't sure we would have the money to go. I fretted constantly about putting all the trip expenses on the credit card because it was my sister's wedding and who wouldn't look back on missing that event and think, it was only X dollars, I should have just gone?  Yet, I take after my father more than anyone, and if you can't afford it, then you don't do it and don't buy it. I don't always make this decision, but the principle is strong and I work hard to abide. The pressure was heavy from my sister to make an appearance, and bringing the whole family would have been great but we compromised with just me taking the trip.

All those money saving things we do are great, but typically we are still left living pay check to pay check. Several additional and beneficial things have occurred over the summer that have made the purse strings a bit more loose around here. Brent took on many extra contracts and has been grossing the equivalent of a double salary paycheck for a couple months, and we expect it to continue for a few more. Since we had the extra funds, we paid off the van at the end of July, thus reducing our auto expenses in terms of payment and insurance. We increased our auto fuel savings by not driving our van in August and have maintained a very reduced mileage for September. We gave away our second vehicle last month, also reducing our insurance obligation. London choose not to continue swim team this year and opted for the free fencing practices instead. All of these measures have contributed to about $650 in monthly savings, not including the extra income.

We are guilty of spending the dollars we see in our bank account. I took the breathing room we have been fortuneate to have as an opportunity to catch up on some wants and needs. There were the two bike purchases, Brent's GT and our Yuba Mundo, then there was the trip to Phoenix. Just because I had the money didn't mean I was crazy with it. My trip this past week was frugal, but not stingy. I certainly could have done a better job with my spending, but I was trying to relax a little and enjoy myself.

The expense break down

Summary and Explaination
  • $300--Airline ticket (not shown because it was purchases weeks ago)
  • $46.84--clothing
  • $136.24--food
 The larger food expenses were when I was buying a meal or coffees for everyone because they bought meals and coffees for me. We just shared the expenses and kept it as even as we could. My sister fronted the gas for her car and I slept on her couch. I could have done without the new outfit for the wedding, but I needed those flip flops from Walgreens if I didn't want to bandage my bleeding feet. My sister's new in laws treated us to homemade dinners twice and I will be sending them a thank you gift. I really think I was able to make a seven day trip affordable because of the generosity of others time, space and resources which I always return eagerly.

All the touristy things we did were free, or we did things that were around meals and family, so the expenses were ones we might have had anyway, were we not "sight seeing." I will be putting up a full post of pictures from my actual adventure later, but you can see some here, here, here, and here from the past week.

Before leaving Huntington we did take the whole family out for dinner, at Griffith and Feil's in Kenova. I didn't include this expense, but we had a wonderful time. I also packed a homemade granola trail mix, banana, sandwich and empty water bottle so I didn't purchase anything in transit.

I traveled light, thus eliminating the need to check any bags. My sister let me use all her soaps and shampoos and sunscreens. She even gave me a razor.
I ended up leaving the book, as it wasn't my sister's after all. I didn't bring the plain brown dress either. I opted to wear the yellow 1/4zip to the airport to save more space, and I added my bike helmet.

It all fit, and room for more.

Returning from Phoenix I bought trail mix, an apple and banana at the grocery the night before and refused to purchase anything in transit, although I was very hungry. Seeing a bottle of water for $2.25 and a small sandwich for $6.50 was an instant appetite suppressant. I made do with what I packed. It wouldn't hurt me to eat all the trail mix even though I desired something else.  I filled up my reusable water bottle and spent my two hour lay over in Detriot with my new book, Bike Snob. It was a gift from Sara and Micheal. I opened it up on the plane from Phoenix and didn't set it down until I finished it yesterday afternoon.

It's certainly good to be home. It is great that I still have money in the bank and I was able to open and pay all those bills waiting for my yesterday without a knot in my stomach.

How do you travel on a budget? Have any tips on how we could have taken the whole family? Something we could try next time?

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mellow Days in Phoenix

Sunset from South Mountain last night

Sara and Michael.

This trip has been much better than I anticipated. A few things on my "possibilities" list have not come to fruition, but there is always next time. I do feel as though I have learned a little more about many things.

-It is possible to pack one carry on bag with two extra pairs of shoes, clothes for a wedding, bike helmet, lunch for the plane, empty water bottle, and clothes for the week, thus avoiding $50 in checked bag fees.

-Chap stick is a travel necessity, as are low heal summer shoes in Phoenix

-Groceries and gas are less expensive here than in WV, and from what I am gathering, housing can be too. Although sales tax is not.

-There is a noticeable difference between 99 degrees and a 105. I do not care for either.

-We were able to bike to get groceries and to the pharmacy, in bike lanes which were prevalent city wide. We could have biked to the wedding, to the hair dressers, to the in laws, restaurants, shopping, to the library and ice cream shops. It would have taken longer and we could not have done so much in such few hours.

-Large and small forks can fit in the same utensil tray space if you put their tines in opposite directions.

-My home (house, town, friends, community, etc.) and way of life (shopping, decorating, eating, and transportation habits) are different, but just as wonderful, and I miss it.

-I may have been the oldest person of my peer group during this trip but they never made me feel old. I actually felt more immature and naive, perhaps due to my obvious interest in the way everyone lives?

-There is nothing I desire at the mall, no matter how large and diverse.

-Pints of ice cream and a few hands of UNO are more enjoyable than three late nights out on the town. Or said another way, nights on the town are better when balanced with a few fun nights at home.

-My sister has great friends, good family and a fabulous husband. (Welcome to the family Michael)

Michael and I biked to the grocer for a couple of items not worth a car trip.

My flight leaves today and I have so much to look forward to.

- Posted using BlogPress from Brent's Marshall University iPad


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Light Rail

While away I have been using an application called BlogPress from my husband's iPad to do these simple posts. It worked fine, but I haven't enjoyed some of limitations in editing photos and typing on the screen. I can deal with it, but will be happy to return to a quicker and more versatile set of tools. If any bloggers out there have another app suggestion, I am listening.

In the mean time, here are a few of the group photos from our light rail excursion last night. To view the photos with a better resolution, click on the thumbnail, which BlogPress insists I use, although I select to enlarge them, therefore creating more distortion.

Light rail station. L to R, Shannon, Jonathan, Sara, Micheal, Krysta

We loaded up the Honda Fit and drove to the west end light rail station. Ample parking, many people, a lot of waiting stations for buses and the tram/train?.

Road in to city center and wondered around looking for music, desserts and air-conditioning, although I haven't broken into a full sweat once on this trip. I theorize it is evaporating before I can complain. Sara hadn't been feeling well and needed to cool down, so found a place and stayed put.

I was a bit enamored by the number of bikes being loaded and unloaded on the rail cars. We saw three in our car just going in to the city at 10pm.

The energy of the city is empowering and humbling. We were just another group or gaggle of folks stomping through the concrete, glass and steel masses. While I certainly craned my neck back to view these towering structures, I captured our group most often, as we were loosing another clansman at the airport today.

Night photos with moving bodies are hard to work with. I just call those blurry faces "ghostlies" and move on.

We have plans to relax by the pool with day time highs predicted to be 104 degrees. My husband is reporting mid 60s in West Virginia. Going home to "September" will be refreshing on Tuesday.

- Posted using BlogPress from Brent's Marshall University iPad
Location:Phoenix, AZ