Totcycle | Family Biking

Tots on bikes, kids as cargo, family cycling, and other high-occupancy velo goodness.

Not caring how much our bikes weigh since 2008.

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« Adventures Writ Small »

One of the things I love about going by bike is what seems to keep many people from using bikes as transportation: the logistical challenges and time involved in linking several trips together, or being out on the bike all day. It just seems too daunting, aggravating, and unreliable at first, I think. And the car seems more predictable, faster, and more convenient. In truth, I think car trips are less predictable, because of traffic jams, uncertain parking, and other aggravations that are so commonplace that we've written them off as the cost of doing business.

But when you get back in a car after weeks on a bike, you realize that to drive is to feel powerless and aggravated most of the time. City driving, in particular, means waiting in one line of cars after another, and then circling round and round looking for an elusive spot. On a bike, you can bypass the backups, and you almost always have front-row parking. Longer trips may take more time by bike, but they're more predictable in certain ways (traffic, for one), and more enjoyable.

Once the basics of everyday biking are under your belt, the logistics actually become exciting challenges - adventures writ small. Instead of the humdrum, autopilot frustrations of driving, your mind and muscles are occupied in new challenges, which keeps things fresh, sharpens your wits (literally), and makes the journey as engaging as the destination.

Biking for transportation is a way to "up your difficulty level" in a pleasurably challenging way. How will I get there? What will I be able to carry? What will I wear? What's my backup plan? These challenges are not for everyone's temperament or abilities, to be sure, but for most they could be a way to engage in "everyday adventures".

Take the other night. Cascade was hosting Joe "Metal Cowboy" Kurmaskie at REI for a slideshow. He's releasing "Mud, Sweat, and Gears: A Rowdy Family Bike Adventure Across Canada on Seven Wheels", which I've been eager to read.

So I rode the Globe to work on a sub-20s morning, and made plans with Tim of CarFreeDays to ride to REI together after work. After the Africa by bike slideshow and Mud, Sweat, and Gears preview (got the book, so far it's excellent), we rode back up to Ravenna, where Tim went home, and I continued north to my friend Scott's house for "Tiki Night". 

Not what you're thinking, though. The Tiki is a Wharram catamaran that a group of us have been slowly building over the past decade, which has recently reached an exciting state of hulls-fiberglassed-ready-for-paint-looks-like-a-boat-now near-completion.

James Wharram is an eccentric but visionary English designer who builds catamarans using modern plywood/epoxy "stitch & glue" techniques, but reviving out-of-fashion but very functional Polynesian design influences like using cord lashing to attach the deck to hulls, and gaff sails. Also eccentric, but appealing, is his habit of sailing naked with his wives whenever weather permits. 

We had a good time sanding and applying another coat of epoxy, and then Mike and his brother Matt and I went off to celebrate Matt's birthday at Zayda Buddy's in Ballard. They'd driven to Tiki night, but were inspired to drop the car back and Mike's and bike to Zayda's late night happy hour. It's just more fun, and the cold made it an adventure. 

Here's a photo Tim took of the ride to REI, MonkeyLectrics ablaze, balaclava in full effect, the opposite of naked, really:

"Julian Gets Lit", by carfreedays

Total mileage hard to estimate, but over 20 miles. But as lots of little bike trips along the way, and plenty of wool and warm gear, it was a fun adventure along night-time streets. In fact, if I'd been in my cozy complacent car cocoon, I would probably have pooped out before the last stop, but each bike ride was invigorating. Not to mention counteracting (somewhat) the cheese-fries-with-gravy and beer at Zayda's.

So go by bike, and you'll find that everyday adventures can keep you young at heart, fit, and more "awake" in a larger sense of the word. We may not be biking across Africa, or even Canada, or crossing the Atlantic on a home-made catamaran in our birthday suit, but adventures writ small are adventures nonetheless.

Bob Loblaw's Globlog is sponsored by Globe Bikes, who've furnished us with a Globe Live 2 Mixte in return for a series of posts on life with their bike.

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Reader Comments (1)

i liked ur work,excellent post & nice blog

November 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrahul

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