Sunday, March 20, 2011

Carry your kid on your old Schwinn, etc.

A 39 year old piece of Chicago bike history...

...reimagined as a child carrier

Are you a cute Schwinn girl who just had a baby? Why not adapt your bike to carry Junior when s/he gets big enough? Here's some info about Schwinn itself, then tips at the bottom for adjusting any old bike to carry your kid. Or kids. And stuff.

Schwinn made durable steel frame bikes for decades and probably had a lot to do with the

Nobody Home on the Lake

I'm sure there are a few good snowstorms still waiting to hit Chicago this season, but you wouldn't know it from the last few days of sunny 60 F / 15 C weather. You still need at least a thin to medium jacket, especially in the shade, but everybody is tempted by the bright light to underdress. On a bike, you still probably need your gloves and earmuffs to be really comfortable.  We headed out with all 3 kids on the Onderwater Tandemtransporter and the shiny Chicago-made Schwinn the other day, dropped the big

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Out for a ride all day

**Warning This post has lots of kid carrying bikes in it! Don't think you need a fancy bike to get out with your kids. It's easy to rig any everyday bike with a kid seat or two to get out with your kids.  Or just go out with their bikes! We use quiet routes around the city to get out. There's info in

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting back out on your Bike!

Late winter into early spring weather is a great time to get brave if your bike has been in the garage and get out rolling again. Getting out with kids is especially fun if they have been inside all winter. Dusting off their bikes and heading to the playground or park to practice riding is a great way to get moving again. If you had a baby last fall and you have been waiting to take them out it’s a great time to look for a baby seat to tuck them into for those first special rides — see if you can get that baby seat on one of your old familiar bikes.

Here is our getting through the last weeks of winter into (wet sometimes freezing) spring top six to do list!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Chicago is a city of water and one of the best things about riding here is the amazing views from the incredible iron bridges.

We rode the Cermak bridge into Chinatown for a late dinner after visiting the Bike Winter Art Show opening on Halstead. Cermak was surprisingly

Monday, March 7, 2011

Homemade Bike Festival

     Our middle guy is starting to talk about his upcoming birthday party - "upcoming" here means long after the thaw comes. So, while enjoying what's left of the snow, we'll share what we did last year: a make it ourselves Bike Festival.
     Our party had three parts: bike decorating, a freewheeling parade, and cake time.
     Beforehand, we found out if each kid we invited was a two wheeled or training or balance bike rider. We had test ridden the route for the parade a few days ahead of the party. We live close to a university campus which is a great place for this kind of fun. If you are heading to a park or just around the block you'll need some grown-ups at all the alleys and intersections to keep an eye on everyone. 

     On the day of the party, there was a table out in front of our house with a pitcher of punch, small sandwiches, and snacks. In fine Chicago tradition, garbage cans across the street closed off our small cul-de sac. A better method for closing the street might be to call your Alderman and get it officially blocked off! People looking for parking kept trying to sneak by. A boom box was playing techno music good for biking. Then we pulled all of our extra bikes and trash bikes out so that grown-ups who "forgot" bikes could ride if they wanted to. A pump and some tools got a lot of use - everybody needed to fix something.
     As the kids and their parents arrived we helped everyone to unload their bikes and welcomed them. We gave everyone bells, pinwheels, spoke covers, and silly handlebar streamers (bought in bulk from Irv's Bikes old stock and a party store) for favors at the start and got to work winding crepe paper into spokes and getting the bells and streamers on. 
We cut up thick plastic disposable plates to get 2 rectangles out of each, popped 4 holes in each rectangle and threaded a zip tie through in a figure 8, around the seat stay or fork: instant bike motors! This was the cheapest and most fun part, and all those kids still seem to have the motors on their bikes many months later. 
     The decorating took ages - and everyone had a blast fiddling and munching and talking. With snacks it was fun and a little bonk insurance for the kids who might not have had lunch yet.

     After decorating the bikes and getting everyone full of snacks and ready to go, we got organized for our parade. Older kids helped get everyone up on their bikes and they mixed in with the younger riders to keep the pace right. There was a big range in the skills of our paraders and we wanted everyone to have fun. A couple of shy riders got into the box or onto the tandem right off the bat so that they would not worry about riding at all.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Notebaert Groupon on the Chainlink!

Too bad, it's expired. But you can still get a family membership there and it's not a bad deal, and it's gotten us into lots of expensive museums in other cities for free. Worth it at full price too.

The Notebaert Nature Museum had a Groupon for two days for a thirty dollar family membership- good for a whole year. It's for new members only :(  but a good deal if you have wanted to join and haven't.

Good for two adults and all kids in household and care givers. Not sure what the guest kid policy is there...we couldn't really tell from the description. Worth a look anyway! Check it on the Chainlink link on the lower right side of our page!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Winter Biking - a Kid's Perspective (age 10 )

Winter Biking for a kid is not fun every day. You have to get up early and wear warm clothes but when you get to school you always steam to death. If you have a box bike make sure you don't put the cover on if you are too tall or you stoop down and your neck hurts when you get out of the bike. And always try to convince your parents to let you ride your own bike.
When you ride your own bike in winter avoid ice or you will fall even if you have stud tires. Wear good gloves when you go riding. Preferably ones that are waterproof and windproof.  Wear a hat under your helmet or your ears will fall off. If you can, wear a snowboarding helmet because they are insulated.
Try to take the fastest route you can or else you will be late for school. Test out a route before you go on it on a real day when you have to go to school. 

Coffee and Sunshine

Yesterday was full of two of my favorite ride buddies- delicious coffee and bright streaming winter sun.
Out by 7:30 yesterday a.m., it was coldish but so bright we left the canopy off.  By the time we'd stopped for croissants (& a nice hot little cappuccino) and crossed the Cortland bridge it had warmed up considerably.
The doors were open at Finkl Steel so we stopped to watch the action. It was much earlier than our usual visits and boy, did that pay off.  Spiral showers of sparks were shooting everywhere. Massive steel columns were being sheared off by the welders before sailing through the air in the teeth of the giant crane. Just as we figured it was time to go, one of the huge two-story yellow Finklmobiles pulled out right next to us and backed down the road. Then, to top things off, a loaded gravel barge was chugging along under the bridge as we left.
Small guy and I headed off into the fresh air after dropping the others at school, on our favorite long way home towards the lake, through the city and home. (We use Belden from just past Clybourn all the way to the lake.) We doodled around in the sun exploring on small streets we don't usually ride and surprisingly passed a bakery we love.  So... we stopped again and took a little break and maybe had another little cappuccino too. ( At Floriole, where it just so happens they put a cute little cookie on the plate. )
After our snack we rode to the lake and through the Gold Coast (on State Parkway) in even more sun than before. Cutting along through town my small boy argued that we should stop by the Aquarium instead of going home.  umm. ok. We changed course and turned back to get onto a stretch of the Lake Front Path from the yacht club to the museums. Just as I got the bike walked around Millennium Park to go to the path he started nodding and drooping, and soon he was asleep. Right by the Intelligentsia. Hmmm. I had a nice fresh newspaper in my pannier and there I was with a sleeping guy, sunny day and giant park. I couldn't help it. I just popped in and stood outside while they made a nice little snip of delicious coffee in a paper cup - which I usually don't believe in but.... I tucked it snugly into the bike and rode the headwind on the LFP to the perfect Museum Campus bench overlooking the lake in the sun.

p.s. I can't help checking over at Born. In. Japan. to see if the baby has arrived.... Danielle has a cute post about her Christiania Trike today.

p.p.s. Parking at any of the museums in town with a bike is a cheap and easy start to any visit. There is good parking at the Museum Campus at the North side of the Field Museum and just south of the Shedd.  We have a membership at the aquarium so we sort of drop in and out if we can. A good post on tripping to the museums is in the works. There is an old one on winter biking to the Notebaert!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chicago Families Ride On

We're having some technical problems with the first interview for the Chicago Families Ride On page we tried to get posted yesterday. We'll try to get it out on the page asap! Does anyone know how to put video or audio onto Blogger without using YouTube? Hmmm.