Beginner Pedal Parenting: part 2, How Carting Kid Stuff Rekindles the Concerns of A Newbie Cyclo-Commuter
Welcome back! The other day I started a series of posts on how becoming a Pedaling Parent can reintroduce even an experienced cyclist to their Inner Beginner.
Many of the challenges which arose or returned were fraught with emotional weight. Some were simply heavy. As in, how am I going to carry all this heavy baby stuff?
photo from a simple six blog
Kids require supplies. All kids need snacks, little kids need diapering provisions, kids in Seattle need rain gear and changes of clothes. Preparing to take a kid out is like preparing for a bicycle camping trip, or a well-prepared commute. Patch kit, U-Lock, rain gear, wipes, calendula cream, apples, toys, tool kit… Actually, an early title of this blog was, “Diaper Bag Patch Kit.” How do Pedal Parents find the space to haul it all?
For me, it required the same (fun) process of trial and error and shopping and accessorizing that helped me solve this problem the first time, when I needed to figure out how to get my bookbag to school; and the next time, when I needed to carry my work stuff to work and my groceries-for-one back to my bachelor pad home. The only difference is in scale. Now I carry a lot more stuff on a daily basis. Family Bikers are often talked of in the same breath as Cargo Bikers. We share very many equipment needs. We also haul serious cargo; our “most precious cargo,” our kids as well as all their crap!
I’ve already mentioned the Pelican Porteur Bag. This was the best single cargo solution I think I’ve ever found. Personally, I find rear racks and panniers very frustrating for commuting. If I only have a few things to tote I only wanna bring one bag but then the load balanced over the rear wheel is all off-center… Ugh! I want to have room for a quick trip to the market, but I don’t want to have to carry two empty bags with me whenever I get off my bike. A big, overbuilt front rack and a removable, awesome looking purpose-made bag was much more my speed. It was like a basket-pannier. And it looked great!
the pelican front bag is way bigger than it looks here. Little Oil is pointing out the “little dear” saddle bag. big enough for a u-lock, a tool roll, an apple and a sandwich. nice bags.
A lot of people don’t like front loads, reporting that the affect on the steering of their bike (front wheel flop) is too hard to adjust to, especially as it winds up changing pretty significantly from day to day and load to load. I dunno, for me front loads feel natural. Your mileage may vary.
The point here is that I thought I’d thought through my cargo needs. I’d ridden with messenger bags and panniers and trunks and backpacks and fanny packs and milk-crates and baskets. For my own daily riding I’d found that keeping the load light but my bike ready for more was the key to preparedness. I’d settled into a large under the saddle bag for a mini U-Lock and a simple tool roll, as well as a basket or front rack on my commuting bike. I’d built up a cycle truck with Haulin’ Colin, (Ruby. I think I’ve mentioned it before. I’ll introduce you later) which I used for grocery-getting, but was not a good candidate for kid-hauling conversion since I already didn’t choose it as a commuter bike.
What worked for me was to build my kid-hauling bike into a light cargo bike. This was fun and luckily, it will be ongoing. Baby Oil became Little Oil. Today she told me, “I am Big Oil, Big Oil!” And Big Oil needs a bigger cargo bike with a bigger payload area. Hence, the longtail.
Nice People, Big Wheelio. Big Wheelio, Nice People.
Making a useful bike even more useful is a pretty nice thing.
To Be Continued…
How to haul was a relatively easy beginner cyclist challenge that returned when I began my own Pedal Parenting path, but things got emotional as well. Tune in next time for Horrible Traffic, Haughty Indignation, and Beginner Pedal Parenting: part 3, How Portaging One’s Offspring Conjures A Cyclist’s Primalest Fears