Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cargo bike for cargo, not kids

A few weeks ago the Bike Winter group in Chicago (see the link on our sidebar) sponsored the distribution of a meal to about 150 homeless people through a group called the Night Ministry. Though many volunteered and donated funds, as it turned out there were only 4 of us at the giant Costco market the night before. I had no idea what, exactly, 150 people could eat for the relatively small amount of money that was donated, so I left the hard work to the others. But after the shopping spree, the entire oversized cart full of boxes fit neatly into and onto the cargo bike. It rode neatly and comfortably to the staging area, unloaded easily right near the doorway, and then I was off again 4 miles or so through the utterly frigid night back home.

Yes, we could have got all that into a large car trunk as easily, but isn't it better for a bike group to do all its work by bike?

Thanks to Julie Hochstadter for the photo.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February at Working Bikes

We had a big thaw last week. We had a sunny late afternoon ride home from the museums on Sunday.

On Wednesday, after the sunny days we had a lucky chance to while away a very cold gray late afternoon at an almost completely empty Working Bikes Cooperative.

Our 6 year old reports:

"Wednesday is the best day to go in the winter. They let you ride around on the bikes. Wednesday I found a blue trike with big fat wheels but I didn't get it. They let me open the locks that nobody knows how to open. It is a fun place for kids who like bikes. Look in the free box. It's cold there in winter. You should keep your kids away from sharp stuff like the things that are near the window and the front forks. My bike is from Working Bikes and I think the old bikes are as good as new ones."

We love the small independent bike stores all over Chicago. Often for old used junk parts and the bikes that deserve them we love to go to Working Bikes. They have everything that's anything.  All of our kids do love to go there and look through the old parts and check out the trikes and other kid bikes. Going when there isn't a crowd helps keep the fun in it. Usually the line for bikes starts a half hour or more before they open in season. Check their site for the seasonal opening times. If you are looking for a tandem or tag-a-longs they tend to get them pretty often. Ask if you want something in particular.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cycle Swap Next Weekend

Cycle Swap small square logo
Presented by Active Transportation Alliance and benefiting Bike Winter
Feb. 26 2011 •  Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, 1419 W. Blackhawk

The Bike Winter Chicago Cycle Swap will be held next weekend from 10 a.m. to 6p.m. There will be a terrific workshop for families about winter riding with kids at 1:15 p.m. .There should be plenty of riding families around to ask questions about riding in winter and just staying on the road with kids in general.  It's  ten dollars at the door all to benefit the fun of Bike Winter.  We took the guys to the winter expo last year and had a great time It's not just a swap. There will be lots of amazing small local makers of everything from the TYK Calandar to handmade hats from Kozie Prery. Get the details at the Bike Winter page. Check out their new look and revised section on winter riding with kids!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Making a Trailer out of Junk Parts to Carry your Kids' Bikes

One of the problems with using the box bike to get everywhere in the city is that the kids, who of course are getting bigger all the time, want to ride their own bikes sometimes, too. Not a problem, really, but if we want to ride somewhere nice but far away, especially if we are trying to get there quickly, sometimes the kids are out of luck.

Well, that's just unfair, we've heard. And it is.

We decided to figure out a way to carry big kids' (well, up to 24 inch wheeled) bikes with us, so we can race off somewhere, then detach the kids' bikes and let them ride around where it's nice (like Kidical Mass, for example), and if they get tired they can get back in the sag wagon cargo bike and their bike goes back into the box.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Patagonia a little on sale

We mention Patagonia's annual half price sale in our getting dressed suggestions posted last year. We got an update on the sale which usually happens this week. The Patagonia store in Chicago and the website are having a 30% off sale this week. It's not quite their usual blow-out yet. The Chicago store said that if curious sale watchers link on facebook to their page - the only Patagonia Chicago page according to them -they will announce the deeper sale to folks linked there. They said that there is not much inventory for them to sell off this year so if there is something one covets it may be better to go with it at 30%.
I'd keep watching unless there is something you have been waiting to get. The retro -x kids jacket is a layer we have often used - buying big and handing down. It's about thirty dollars less than full price just now... so we are watching for the deeper sale if there are any left by then!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Days - and a ride to Northerly Island

We have been home like most of Chicago these last two days burrowing into the snow mountains and drinking hot chocolate. One of us rode the Brompton to work this morning after walking out to a main road. The rest of us climbed in the snow and threw snow balls. The ride was good on the big streets but the smaller streets were a bike portage. Good thing the Brompton is so light.

We love the deep snow. According to CPS it's back to school tomorrow for one day before the weekend. Our school commute is all small streets except for Milwaukee so we may take the train and see how the streets are while the big guys are at school.

Northerly Island is on our list of rides for the weekend because of the FREE snow shoe and cross country ski rental. The island has many birds and animal tracks and amazing winter views of Lake Michigan. It was made a few years ago when Mayor Daley ordered up a convoy of bulldozers in the middle of the night to tear up the private airport that he had wished for some time to turn into a park. He cited a risk after 9/11 of small planes in the city airspace and sent the dozers out without warning. It's a perfect place to land now only if you are a bird - it's a bird sanctuary and park (and concert venue - hope those birds like Fall Out Boy). It tends to be pretty windy since it's flat, low and right next to the lake, so dress warmly and bring something to protect your eyes and face from the cold blowing snow.

We live fairly close on the Near West Side. We either go west on Harrison through Printer's Row and zig-zag to Grant Park or take the sidewalk up Roosevelt and the pedestrian tunnels straight to the Museum Campus.

Northerly Island has FREE snow shoes and cross-country skis for the whole family on Saturdays and Sundays when there is more than three inches of snow. There are snow shoes for the smallest children on up to adults. I'd say they will probably be open this week.

Ride as if to the Shedd Aquarium and continue toward the Adler Planetarium, but before you get there turn right toward the concert theatre. A big sign says no parking ahead but it isn't true, and you don't care anyway if you're on a bike! Continue on a bike or with a car past the concert area to the modern style airport hall near the end of the road, and bring your bike inside or park for free on either side. The old terminal building is open and the skis and snow shoes are inside.

It is warm and dry for when you get tired and sometimes there is even hot chocolate, though we usually bring a thermos of our own. There is a soda machine but no food vending so we pack snacks from home. Playing in the snow usually makes everyone pretty hungry. There are nice bathrooms in the airport terminal too.

You don't have to ski or snowshoe if you'd rather do something else - you can just wander around and play. Last time we were there they were lending out snow block molds for making igloos as well. Happy Winter.