Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wilco, or Bob Newhart?

We took a coldish ride on Wednesday to the Field Museum and parked in a big fluffy pile of snow next to the museum. It was fun to get out on the box bike after days on the tandem. But that was the end of the fluffy snow...

Today we have a thaw just in time for the turn to the New Year. We couldn’t help but take an evening ride to dinner and around town to feel the warm breeze in our faces and enjoy being out together while the guys are still on vacation. It was surprisingly busy in town. We rode over the river to have curry just south of Printer’s Row, then had a turn through the center of town along the river and under the skyscrapers. We did a little mix of riding on the road and on and off the sidewalk through some of the big plazas that were almost empty despite all of the bustle. The bridges give a good view of the lights.

The kids enjoyed the lights and (for here) warm air. They ran circles on the river walk before getting in the bike to get home. We saw some other folks out riding in the fog and melting slush.

who says Chicago isn't beautiful?
Tomorrow is Critical Mass and it's supposed to be warmer still, before January brings another big chill. This may be the first year I can remember where the Polar Bear swim might be pleasant! Will we see you there?

Best wishes for a healthy and happy new year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hubba, hubba!

You probably have never thought about the internal gear hub on your bike. I had a bunch of old 3 speeds when I was in school, and I know I never thought about them except to adjust that little screw thing on the cable. So you might be as surprised as we are to hear that hubs are actually really totally like, important and stuff?, and they make a big difference. On any bike. They are used on cargo and city bikes partly because they're reliable and maintenance free, but if they stop working, they've stopped being reliable and maintenance free too. So, when did you last grease yours?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

slush plus guitar

We have been out sporadically in the snow the last few days.  We put studded tires on the triple tandem for the first time this year. " Setting " the tires just before real winter arrived was a little nerve racking because of the noise and the change in ride. (we got the tires locally not through Peter White cycles. P.Whites does have an excellent studded tire primer on his site) I was especially careful to avoid bridges without plates! The kids loved the buzzy sound the bike made. We were all excited when the freezing and snow finally really started last week.
I tested the ride out with just one older kid. We tested how the studs might work on the ice with the extra length of the tandem and practiced braking and stepping off if we got too swervy. Mostly the ride has been very stable but we don't get too far from home yet. We rode with the whole crew and a guitar today- all made it out and back with out a hitch. Everyone has a thick fleece layer on under snowsuits the last two days. No one was cold and the front pedaler was not too hot-though he'd rather ride without a mask riding in the front.
The box bike had one front studded tire last week for the four miles out to school pick-up. It went really well and the back wheel gets the winter tire tomorrow.  The box studs will not be as well set at first but that just means we need to ride!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Our kids winter gear is snowsuit or jacket and snowpants, fleece or wool sweater under, long wool underwear, face mask,  goggles, windproof mittens, wool socks and a warm insulated snowboarding helmet. When they are actively pedaling we adjust the fleece underlayer or carry it along. We use fleece vests instead of jackets if the weather is warmer. Check out the post about keeping kids warm riding in Fall for more info about where to get them and how to choose and care for them so they last a long time.

We have a crush on Belden St. From De Paul to the lake, it's all stop signs and lights, trees, and no busy cars. We rode it today with our friend here. We love his red trike!
We couldn't help but stop and visit the horses and goats at the Farm in the Park. They were all wearing goggles, too.

Look, horsies!

Our pannier is usually full of extra layers just in case. We almost asked our red trike friend if he needed a hat!