Category Archives: bicycle safety

Mount Yuba

It was hot today. Our thermometer read 91, but weather.com weighed in at 81F. Either way, we were sweating, before we even left the house. London was an absolute grump about riding her bike to a birthday party at the art museum (because she was missing another party). She’s made the trip before, but today she was sulking. Elliot was looking forward to it on his single speed, but we made a compromise and called a friend who was driving by our way going to the party as well.

Cara offered to take the three youngest up, and proposed we strap a bike to her newly acquired bike rack. Brilliant. The children get to avoid the climb, but London would still get some time in the saddle on the way home. We decided to carry the three boys down on the Yuba.

This video is the portion after the difficult part and before the museum. It’s six minutes of pedaling with a nodded off toddler. Not much to see, but the homes and hillsides in some of the shots are lovely.

Initially, I was going to have Brent ride the Yuba up with two boys. With Cara taking 50lbs of child in her car, I decided to give the cargo bike a try. It was slow and steady, with three breaks on the first steep portion, then a very rhythmic climb there after. I was even able to bump it up a gear or two toward the last 1/3 of the trip. My legs, heart and lungs didn’t enjoy the ride up initially. Then about half way  I realized my muscles had found a groove and were working hard, but not aching. Wow, what a wonderful feeling. Everything seemed to be smooth and consistent, attainable.

I wore a dress, this time with shorts underneath, just in case, but I didn’t need them, and they just made me more hot. Since I still haven’t been in a shoe store to go through the dreaded process of being disappointed, I wore my running shoes (running! that’s laughable), which were more breathable than my leather topped everyday shoes. I packed the flip flops for the party.

Brent’s speedometer had us going up at about 5mph, and down at about 19mph with a lot of braking. He noticed the rear brake wasn’t stopping the bike, just slowing it down as we descended. This has me concerned. The front brake was working fine. He theorized it was the heat from riding the brake on the downside, but I need those discs to be able to handle this weight and heat. Any other ideas?

If you haven’t ridden up this hill on a bike, but have driven it, it’s very intimidating. There is no passing room, no berm, and tight blind turns. We use our sense of hearing the most and thus far, we have been able to navigate the street with pleasant, cautious drivers. Both times I have ridden up, there has been another cyclist climbing as we are going down.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 5.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 0 This week
134.6 2213 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011
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Toddler Oliver’s Day

Yesterday began earlier than usual. We set out to meet up with Mike and Alex, on their new Yuba, to ride a small leg of both our journeys to school together. It was the first National Bike to School Day, and riding with friends seemed like the best way to celebrate. It wasn’t necessary to bring the whole crew, but it sure was more fun.

I intended to ride half way to work with Brent and Mike, but after climbing back up Norway I was done. This made three days of high miles and many climbs for me and I really was trying hard this morning to not slow down the other two adults. I split off and went home to get ready for the rest of our day and they carried on.

We had about two hours to dink about, gather our things, pack our lunches, then roll out. I knew this was going to be a tricky day, with multiple stops and smack in the middle of nap time.

I made a list of all the things I needed to do and organized them by location. We dropped off our CSA check, picked up Avery’s coat (forgotten at the Earth Day fair), deposited checks at the bank, checked for Skylanders at Game Stop, enjoyed lunch at Pullman Square plaza, walked the bike over to Third & Ninth Deli for a Create Huntington lunch meet-up, rewarded patience with a Tropical Moon, returned to Game Stop for the toddler to check out Skylanders (he was asleep the first time), then went home to unload, reload and ride up to the school for pick up.

Busy train tracks don’t stop traffic, thanks to early considerations. Cars, pedestrians and bikes just go under them. This train was moving and loud. Just what our little boys love. Only Oliver slept through it.

Still sleeping at the bank.

The white stripe on the right is the left line for the incomplete bike lanes. I know every city has this problem (delivery trucks or taxis in bike lanes). I look forward to seeing what enforcement and education will be instituted locally. Since we bike in the car lane, I just went around and made my right hand turn at the light.

Just after this Game Stop stop we had a pee-mergency. Avery really had to go. The nearest restroom I could find on the ground level, was the bookstore who had a sign on the door saying the restroom was for customers only. I also had the issue of the sleeping toddler. I walked over and parked the bike at the door, walked Avery in, asked (yelled over to) the check out lady if he could use the toilet and a stranger who was standing next to me made sure he made it to the back of the store (he had already ran off). I stood between the doors, watching Oliver on the bike (two steps away) and waiting on Avery. It was one of the “testing your parent strategy” moments.

Bladder relieved, lunch eaten, toddler wakes up.

Plopped the little guy on the deck and walked the bike across the street to meet up with a few Create Huntington members. This was my first lunch meet up. It’s an open invitation to everyone to gather on Wednesday at noon to talk about the direction of the city casually. Since we packed and ate our lunch before arriving (to save money and to please the children with things they like), I spent the entire hour hearing “we don’t need to be here, we could just walk out!” from Avery, who was “bored.” Hence the next stop, a shameful bribe, that didn’t keep him quiet, but made him happier.

The above photo was taken while I was arriving at Third & Ninth. The man on the right bike was smoking, and hauling a trailer with cargo in it. I had seen this bike the day before at a house on Norway sans-trailer, then spotted during yesterday’s pick up with trailer. I am very curious about what his is doing. The lady on the left is typical of downtown riders, who feel safer on the sidewalks and crossing at pedestrian lights, the one place in the county it’s not legal (downtown streets only). Ironically, to get to any bike rack that you find downtown (there are few), you have to go on the sidewalks, else lock up to street lights, also on sidewalks.

Tropical Moon for fro-yo, then Game Stop again, then onward toward home. We encountered the access to the park (where we cut through) blocked by tree cutters and the road around it closed, so we cut through a brick paved alley and discovered this backyard garden.

After slipping up onto the sidewalk we were able to get on the street next to the park and in between the barricades to mosey toward home. It wasn’t necessary, but this route was a bit more level and the roads smoother. I was growing increasingly tired at this point and couldn’t fathom another four miles I would need to go to pick up the other two children.

The End of the Toddler Mama’s Day

Yet, I did it. There were a lot more stops along the way just to rest. I made it up, gathered my things to set up an after school Scrip, SnackTaxi and reusable bag sales table (my new volunteer position, since I don’t have baby L.). We stayed for the end of year Chess Club party. Brent rode up to the school to ride the Yuba home and I took his mtb. I called him and let him know how worn out I was before leaving home and that I would appreciate an extra set of legs. He’s so wonderful.

Most of our ride home is downhill, but we have three decent size assents and one shallow one. I was taking the ups and downs very slow. I didn’t have my camera around my neck, I didn’t take on any cargo. I knew my limits had passed during the previous 11miles. We made it all the way home and I had this moment in my mind’s eye where I could see myself wrecking, and then I did.

At the bottom of our drive way, making that final turn to pull in, the bike slipped from under me and I lunged forward to catch myself. Everyone else was behind me. Brent likes me to set the pace, since I am the slowest. The bike flipped over, with my legs still entangled, and I just laid there. Bike complete upended. The children stunned into a semi-silent awe (you flipped the bike! so cool! are you ok mom? do you have a boo boo?).

It had started raining about a mile from home. As I said, I was going very slow. Brent had put road tires on his bike Sunday, and the roads around our house are broken, gravely and undulating. All of this, combined with my fatigue, resulted in this.

The bruising and swelling doesn’t show up well. My left hand was in so much pain I felt nauseous. I took a nap immediately, with ice under my hand as I slept. I woke up feeling better, but sore. I took inventory of the bruises on my knees and legs and cleaned my wounds. I haven’t stopped dreaming about biking (during my nap and last night), but I haven’t tried holding the handle bars yet. Today my left hand is weeping and I am sad. Sad because I saw it coming. I feel like I let the thought of it happening bring about the actual event. Knowing that it was just an accident.

Miles Walked: .5 Biked: 55.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 0 This week
134.6 2124.2 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011

The YMCA Kidical Mass Experience

The April 28th Kidical Mass was posted on Facebook and Twitter, but I didn’t have the event announced on the blog. So much was going on in April with my own family and time that it didn’t make the cut. I apologize if anyone was counting on a post and didn’t get to participate because of this. It was also likely to have been in the local paper, but I didn’t check.

Despite this, and despite the rainy morning, threat of rain, and many, many other competing area events, we had a good Kidical Mass. In some ways it trumped the first two. It was smaller, and a bit less stressful for me, and a bit less intimidating for the children to get to know each other. The ride was longer, a record breaking four miles, which for little legs with single speeds and 20 inch wheels, this is quite the accomplishment. We had new riders, who I knew from the community, and returning riders who had such a good time at previous events, they returned.

Spoke Rider artist Anna Spaceship was able to return, thanks to the generous sponsorship from Cabell Huntington Hospital. We had delicious post ride snacks of bananas and trail mix provided by the Phil Cline YMCA, who contacted me earlier in the month with the hopes I would organize this ride on Healthy Kids Day. The YMCA helped with marketing and were able to secure funding for Anna. It’s an honor to be able to volunteer in such a generous family oriented community.

When we left our house the sky was promising rain, and it did start in about half way to the YMCA. We got a heavy dousing, but managed to stay fairly dry thanks to the canopy of mature trees along the streets. The rain ended just as we arrived and we didn’t see another drop the rest of the day. I thought the wet morning would keep people away, but I was happy to be wrong.

Do these look like disappointed riders? These folks had a grand time sloshing through the puddles on their fenderless bikes along the PATH.

I don’t have a clear picture our Huntington Police escort, Lt. Dan Underwood, but he was our hero of the day. I don’t think many Kidical Masses involve their local PD, but we always have requested them. I think this community feels more comfortable with their presence and love devloping a positive relationship with the public safety officers. Saturday, Lt. Dan was able to enforce the speed limits of the oncoming traffic with a wave of his hand and few commanding bellows.It was of course unfortunate that he need to remind people to drive the speed limit and also that they when you are in a multi-ton vehicle and riding against the direction of a gaggle of children, some of whom are still unsteady, you should inch through and keep clear.

The officers we have had with us on rides have also provided leadership. Brent and I are busy with our children, helping with other children and trying to make some connections with the families. The HPD have been our support. They lead and sweep the rides and this weekend, for the first time, they corked intersections to get us all through safely. It wasn’t a dangerous ride, but there was more car traffic than we usually encounter. Kidical Mass is designed to empower families to be a part of traffic, not discourage them, but they need a learning period, and this is just it.

8th Street Hill

New NutCase Helmet. 10 year old London.

There was a lot of learning going on Tuesday. I thought it was going to be from that mountain I rode up, but it was from my daughter, who rode beside me.

My mind has been fixated on biking up the 8th Street Hill/McCoy Road to the art museum. I have been quoted saying we wouldn’t bike up there, especially with our children. The road is two lanes with no berm and while the speed limit says 10-25mph, most people, myself included, zip around the bend with what they can get away with. There are hair pin turns, a lot of foliage, some drop offs, and well, it’s a mountain.

It wasn’t just the sense of thinking I couldn’t that was driving me to try. Several weeks ago I got an email from the education coordinator at the museum alerting me to the fact they had a bike rack. Oh really? And they had an employee who bike commutes from Pritchard, 22 miles away through the mountains, somewhat regularly. Oh really? Then Cam, mentioned here and here, started posting pictures every time he parked at that rack at the museum. It was beginning to look like he rode up everyday. Then Mike, mentioned within those same Cam posts, took his son up on the deck of his new Yuba. All of this was beginning to settle in my mind as possible.

For the past several years I have done contract work for the museum. Usually I teach a course for preschoolers and their families, sometimes I organize and lead a Halloween workshop, I initiated their home school art classes, and I have been asked to represent them at the annual area early childhood education conference. The conference is tomorrow and I needed to picked up materials.

A plea on facebook for companionship and encouragement yielded plenty of support and great advice but no one available to brave it with me. I told London I was going up to the museum, one of her favorite destinations, but I was biking. She slogged off grumbling. A few minutes later she came out of her room and said she would like to come along with me.

Say what? London was approaching me about going on a bike ride? UP a hill? UP? As in, we would need to work really hard to get there. Alright. We gathered our things and said our goodbyes and took off.

London worked very hard. The mile and a half getting there was level, then we climbed. It was steep. We took a break at Prospect Drive, and then a collapse at a house on the bend. She really looked like she was in agony. She was crying to stop. I know the feeling. Every ounce of oxygen feels it has pooled in your chest to keep your heart beating and there is nothing left for your muscles, they are quivering and suffocating. Your breath is fast and heavy. It’s determination, and a bit of fear of falling off the side or being hit from behind that keeps you going to your safe spot. The niche off the road where you can finally stop the pain and let your body breath again. I was so wrapped up in encouraging London, I can’t recall how my own body was feeling.

After this bend, this break, we inched our way up the rest of the road, with out any further rests or complaints. The road leveled out a places enough for our legs to revive and then keep pumping us up.

The road caressed the hills and retaining walls and the cars crept up behind us, some of them started we were there. London maintained her place infront and to the right of mine. When we came up on a strighter area I fell back and gave the drivers some room to pass, even though the road wasn’t marked to do so.

My senses were very alert. There were so many places when we were going around turns were oncoming cars were driving left of center down the hill or I could hear a car coming up behind us before I could spot them, knowing (s)he couldn’t hear me and wouldn’t see me if I didn’t keep far to the left and take up as much of the lane as possible.

Then we were done. Our two miles climb was over. We parked at the rack, which was at the furthermost end of the parking lot, gathered our things, peeked in the conservatory and rolled back down the mountain. I thought down would be more fun than up, but I don’t think it was for me. We ended up in front of about five automobiles and riding our brakes in order to keep control and to stay with each.

To celebrate, I bought her a cone at Baskin-Robbins before getting home. She still doesn’t see what the big deal was. She hasn’t been going about boasting of her climb. I sure have been. What a beast of a hill! And my 10 year old made it up. I know I didn’t do anything to get her to climb up there, but I am still feeling proud. Her humbleness is grounding. Sometimes the reward is how you feel inside, not the pride misplaced by others. Perhaps she knew all along that she could ride up that mountain. Her self confidence overwhelms me, but not her, she knows her limitations, and they are not on 8th Street Hill.


Find more Bike Ride in Huntington, WV

Drizzle Downtown

Cara and I planned to ride downtown for the Chat ‘n Chew meeting last night. She expressed some reservations due to the weather.

It was a very light rain when we left the house at 5:40PM. We arrived nearly entirely dry and the bikes were not wet. We wore water proof jackets, both in red, jeans, ball caps under helmets, leather topped shoes for me, rain boots for Cara. Sorry, no photos of the ensemble.

We parked at the railing on the side of the Jockey Club, next to the entrance where the meeting was held. This turned out to be a wise choice for us. The small protrusions from the building kept Cara’s bike dry, but I packed a towel to dry off the Yuba.

We did our meeting thing, each of us having a combined agenda to discuss and each of us having a second individual purpose. It was all positive. Putting people together with online profiles and seeing how adults commingle in public is always exhilarating for me. My child centered world needs more balance with the other side of life. I find that if I haven’t been released into the wild for quite sometime, I don’t know how to behave. I get overwhelmed and talk quickly and forget to listen. Perhaps that is me all of the time, but outside the shelter of my children I take particular notice of it. It just feels like I don’t know when I might ever see these people again or be out without someone sitting on my lap and yelling in my ear, that I have to pack in as much as I possibly can at that very moment. The energy and momentum of inspiration fuels it all. I couldn’t sleep when I got home. Over thinking.

After the party broke up, Cara, Aaron-Micheal Fox and I walked the downtown blocks. I was particularly interested in potential family housing options in the city center. Aaron is currently living downtown, running for city council in District 3 and has been collaborating with me on a bike rack initiative for the city. Along our walk we noted places that would be ideal for bike parking, discussed graffiti reporting ideas, had our eyes to the sky scouting properties and discussing downtown development. Again, all positive. And again, with next to no rain.

Concrete islands in the middle of head-in car parking would be ideal for bicycles and benches. These were not sidewalks, just empty concrete lots.

Aaron walked across the street to his apartment (precisely the convenience I am scouting for) and Cara and I popped into the Tropical Moon for a yogurt creation by our own design. The place was packed, as were most of the businesses that were still open at 830PM. There was no where to sit, so we continued our walking tour around the block as we ate.

When we made it back to the bicycles, we unlocked, dried the Yuba and rode off for my house. I will express my disappointment with everything being so close that I was not able to ride around town more. There was also a frustration with the rain, as I was hoping to write up something about enduring a downpour. Of course these are not real disappointments but a testament to the conveniences of downtown and to our modest climate. Maybe I should work for the Convention and Visitors Bureau?

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 36.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 328.2 Carpool: 12.7 This week
119.5 1429.1 12.6 2564.7 56.9 Since August 14, 2011
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