- I fell asleep in front of a work training video at 9pm last night and stayed in bed for an extra hour this morning out of dread of an upcoming landlord fight,
- Alex camped out in front of the bedroom door at 5:30am, AND
- the dog is suffering from a slight intestinal complaint that makes it inadvisable to leave him alone for a day in our carpeted apartment...
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
- I unexpectedly encountered a Kidical Mass mom—sans adorable baby daughter—and had a nice red-light chat with her about the next Kidical Mass ride and optimal routes for biking to the National Zoo.
- While I waited to turn left on green at that very same light, an oncoming driver yielded his right-of-way to me so I could turn. (I know that some bike advocates hate when drivers do this. I think it’s sweet and take drivers up on their offers every time.)
- The driver of a huge handicap shuttle van grinned and gave me a thumbs-up as he slowly, carefully, respectfully passed our bike while we cranked up the final hill to Alex’s daycare.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
|Cycle shoes and professional slacks: does not compute?|
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Living in the outskirts of Wheaton without a car and with a premature newborn son, I got used to the bus system very quickly. Like a lot of families in the region, our family rode the bus daily to get to the Metro for work, to buy groceries, and to visit doctors or friends. Even after we moved back to the District and got a car, we found that local buses continued to be a convenient, cheap, and even fun way for our family to get around the greater Washington area.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
See that plastic duck? Alex has four of them. He got them as a birthday present over the weekend. He loves them, and everywhere he goes, they have to go with him. All four of them. You could get a lot of entertainment out of watching me attempt to descend four flights of steps with Alex, a laptop bag, my purse, an Elmo backpack, AND four plastic ducks every morning. Oh, and I'm carrying Alex too, as he can't do steps in his boots.
But before we even get to that point, we have to make it out the apartment's front door. On most work days, walking out the door with Alex is the single hardest thing I have to do all day. Half the time it involves carrying him, literally kicking and screaming, away from my husband, the dog, the cat, his toys, or whatever book he's suddenly decided he HAS to read. Another quarter of the time, there's a last-minute replacement of some soiled clothing item (fellow parents, YOU know what I mean) that adds more expensive minutes to our morning routine.
All this is to say that, for me as a "cycling woman" (whatever that means), one of the primary obstacles to riding my bike for transport isn't fear of cars, concerns about helmet hair, reluctance to break a sweat, or lack of experience: it's time.
When I use the car to drop Alex off at daycare and go to work, it's forty-five minutes for the full one-way trip. When I bike to daycare and take Metro to work, it's an hour and a half. And if I'm having one of those ambitious days where I decide to bike the full 8.5 mile trip to work? My commute starts nudging toward the two-hour mark. That's one way.
Now, obviously I love bike commuting. It helps me focus at work, it saves money and repairs on our ancient gas-guzzler, and with Alex along it's just crazy stupid fun. I think it even makes the drivers who share the road with us a little happier, seeing a mom and her kid on their big orange bike, having the time of their lives picking curbside dandelions and meowing at imaginary cats.
But I can't escape the fact that choosing the bike over the car sucks an extra 1.5 hours out of my day. As hard as I try to set a morning routine that lets us leave early enough, there are so many days when the routine goes to hell and it feels like a full day's labor just to get out the door with Alex fully clothed (even counting matched socks as optional). Every single week, I have one or two days when I have to change my transportation mode from bike to car when it becomes clear that doing otherwise would make me unacceptably late for work. And every time that happens, I feel like I've failed.
Then I go to forum after forum and listen to people asking questions about why more women aren't out on bikes, and I hear all the answers about clothing and hair and infrastructure and fear and clueless bike shops... and I think about how those would have been my answers, too, five years ago. But these days it mostly comes down to time.
Elly Blue and Marla Streb are my heroes when it comes to advocating for women's cycling: Elly because she crunched the numbers in a seminal article in Grist Magazine to point out that there are lots of reasons women stay off bikes besides "It's scary and I won't look as pretty!!1!"; Marla, because she (alone) spoke up for mothers at the recent National Women's Cycling Forum, quotably proclaiming that the fact that "Kids are an equipment sport" is an additional challenge for women who bike.
I think the bike advocacy community needs to ask itself what their newly-recruited cycling women are supposed to do in five or so years, when they start becoming mothers.
a.m. temperature: (April 4) 55
a.m. temperature: (April 5) 48
Alex wore (both days): Bogs boots, light cotton pants, short-sleeve shirt, heavy cotton sweater (so Nordic! So tweedy!), winter helmet. For the trip home, we left off the sweater and switched the boots to his regular shoes.
Clothing notes: PERFECT on 4/4. Seriously, a home run clothing-wise, both trips. A little underdressed on 4/5: Coldhands struck again, and I had to spend most of my ride warming his fingers up with my spare hand. Didn't know it was THAT cold when I was choosing his clothes! Maybe there are tiny, thin gloves somewhere that will keep his hands warm and let him ding the bike bells.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Don’t be deceived by this balmy image of our ride home. The weather finally took a swing back to normal today, skipping from June temperatures through May and April and into a typical early March. After the relative ease of dressing for bike rides the last few weeks, when I was giving more thought to whether I’d be cool enough than whether Alex would be warm enough, today was an unpleasant shock.
Alex is back on his mitten strike (after one glorious week when he couldn’t stand NOT to wear his mittens) and was also anti-blankie for the first third of the ride, so he really suffered. His hands were red and icy to the touch when he finally gave in and accepted having a blanket tucked around his legs and hands.
These days, the challenge of dressing Alex for cold bike rides comes from the conflict between two major cognitive milestones: the need for bodily autonomy versus a growing understanding of logical consequences. On the one hand, he’s coming to appreciate the virtues of, say, wearing sunglasses on a bright day to keep sunlight out of his eyes. On the other hand, he resists wearing anything that he hasn’t chosen himself because he’s so desperate to be in charge of his own body and everything that happens to it.
Thus we end up in situations like this morning’s, where I have to let him suffer the consequences of his choices until he finally gives in. He never actually admitted to being cold, but his stony, glum manner today was a marked contrast to his excited chatter on warmer bike rides.
I arrived at daycare with a red-cheeked and snotty kid:
On the plus side, it was much warmer on the way home. We exercised one of the privileges of family cycling and made frequent stops to pick dandelion seed heads on the roadside. Brookland’s sidewalks and tree boxes are now safe from the fluffy menace!
High: 56 Low: 34
Alex wore: Bogs boots, flannel overalls, long-sleeve shirt, puffy coat, cashmere scarf, winter helmet.
Clothing notes: NOTE ABSENCE OF MITTENS. Little dude definitely should have been wearing mittens, and probably another layer on his top half as well. Hands were icy, legs were just a little cool after 45 minutes of biking.
Monday, March 19, 2012
It eventually became clear that we weren't going to complete the Utilitaire challenge to spec. So instead, I decided to let the challenge inspire me to add some truly wacky utilitarian rides to our list just for the heck of it. In addition to lots and lots and lots of daycare/work commutes, we completed the following "utilitarian" rides:
We visited a museum!
We (meaning I) completed some of our apartment move by bike!
We took our moving boxes (and other recycling) to the Transfer Station!
We attended a "community meeting" (in the form of a group bike ride that I organized) with other bikey parents and kids.
Many thanks to Chasing Mailboxes for setting up the Utilitaire challenge, and congratulations to everyone who succeeded!
Friday, February 17, 2012
Have I mentioned that I love this bike? Folding up our ginormous jogging stroller and attaching it to the rack was predictably awkward, but having that big thing strapped to the back of the bike didn’t make any difference at all to how the bike handled.
Even though this wasn't a round trip and won't be an official Utilitaire-qualifying ride, I'm still putting it on my personal list for the sheer awesome factor. And I made it an honorary #TransportationTurducken.
We hit the jackpot on the ride home. The weather warmed up so that I wasn’t running another risk of giving my poor kid hypothermia. Then, as we rolled past the fenced-in meadow at which I say every day to Alex, “Deer? Deer? Ohh, no deer,” we finally saw deer—a whole herd of them! I slammed on the brakes and we parked at the side of the road, watching the deer graze as car after car rolled past. Sudden stops for little wonders. Yet another reason to love biking with your kid.
Destination(s): Daycare, West Hyattsville Metro Station
Total Mileage: 10.66 mi
Morning Temperature: 40°F, 15 mph winds made it feel like 35 or less
Clothing Notes: Baby A wore his mittens today! Unfortunately, they weren’t enough to make up for his chilly legs in thin knitted pants. Should have thrown a blanket or something on top of his legs. The wind was not kind to him.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Except that the pedals barely moved when I pushed on them and I nearly crashed into a street sign. I jumped off the bike to find that the rear wheel was completely flat. I’d biked home the day before just fine… and these tires are reinforced with Kevlar to prevent punctures. I went over the tire inch by inch and sure enough, there it was:
Short, deep, and sharp. No glass or anything embedded in the cut. It sure looks like someone took a knife to one of my brand-new Schwalbes overnight.
I don’t have the right size wrench to get the bolts off to change the tire, and my attempt with an adjustable wrench just shaved a bunch of metal off the outer edges of the bolt. I'm going to drive or walk the bike into the shop in the next day or two; they already have a new tire on order. I guess they can just do the one-month tuneup while they're waiting for the tire to ship.
We were already starting the Utilitaire a week behind, so I guess this means we won’t get our two rides a week in before the deadline. C’est la vie, as the randonneurs might say. When I get the bike back, I’ll continue ticking items off of our control card as a way of pushing myself to bike to new places.
What are you gonna do? I don’t want to trot out the standard “This is why we can’t have nice things, DC!”, but this is why it’s hard to have nice things. Especially in DC.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
So this morning, I went back to the old routine of biking from Bloomingdale to daycare, then from daycare to the West Hyattsville metro station. When I parked at the metro station, I put the cover on BOB in the hopes that it would keep people from messing with it. The train came to the platform just as I finished my post-ride stretches, I sipped my café au lait while reading a novel on my Kindle, and got to work at 9:15, needing minimal cleanup after my cool-down time on the train. Bliss!
On days when we bike commute, I like to fix a breakfast that’s nutritionally dense and quick to eat. That way I have enough calories and protein to keep me going during the ride and keep me from becoming ravenous during the day, and I can also shovel the food into my mouth fast enough to get us out the door in time. Eggs usually fit the bill. Today’s breakfast was salsa frittata with blueberry muffins. I prepped the frittata last night in a gratin dish, then put it in a cold oven this morning and let it cook for 30 minutes (including oven heating time) while I walked the dog and got the rest of breakfast ready. The frittata was delicious, but Alex—who would eat his own weight in eggs if they were scrambled—wouldn’t touch it. The little ingrate.
Although today’s temperature was still unseasonably mild, A’s continued refusal to wear mittens inspired me to bundle the rest of him up a little more heavily than I might otherwise have. I went with the snowsuit—which he haaaaates to put on—and his snow boots.
Destination(s): Daycare, West Hyattsville Metro Station
Total Mileage: 10.66 mi round-trip
Morning Temperature: 46°F
Baby A Wore: Shirt, overalls, regular socks, snowsuit, snow boots, Bern helmet with winter insert
I Wore: sport top, T-shirt, work shirt, sweater coat, stretchy pants, wool socks & casual shoes, scarf (wrapped around my head to substitute for forgotten balaclava), thrummed mittens
Clothing Notes: Baby A: hands were cold but not freezing; legs were warm. Me: the scarf-as-balaclava is a neat trick and a great example of how many functions a simple rectangle of cloth can fulfill.