Spotted at the Co-Op Bike Rack, Vol 3

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. The bike rack in front of the Madison Market food coop should have a floor pump and a play table, it's such a family biking magnet! It's like a Kidical Mass over there. It's like Eckstein Elementary or something, with all the cycling kids and parents constantly coming and going. I think to fill up this "Spotted Out and About" feature all we need to do is sit still at the co-op for a few hours and we'll have enough photos for at least the next couple months.

It's awesome. Madison Market, or "Central Coop" or whatever we are supposed to call it, is an amazing place. We are delighted to spend a third of our income and an embarrassing amount of our time there. The staff are super-kind to Little Oil and they have been extremely accommodating of me over the years.

For example, before I built Wheelio up into her current configuration as an xtracycle:

like so.

I did most of our grocery shopping solo, on Ruby, this charming cycle truck that Haulin' Colin helped me put together out of a 30 year-old Raleigh Twenty that Tyler had given me.

Ruby.

The folks at Madison Market were so kind that they used to let me bring the bike inside and, when it came time to bag my groceries, I'd wheel the bike to the bagging area and just load the bike right up. It was like driving your car right into the store. This is actually exactly how I feel taking Lil' Oil to school and then almost all the way to the door of her classroom on Wheelio, even in elevators. Like, not only is the bike saving us on parking fees and hassles, we aren't even gonna deal with leaving our vehicle at the curb. When we say door to door, we mean, "Door of your bedroom to door of your classroom" service.

Anyhoooo, they are nice at Madison Market.

Other Nice People to be found at Madison Market; Willa and Gabriel.

Willa and Lil' Oil are friends, as are Mama Oil and Willa's own mama. Aaaand, Willa's mama is the amazing crafter who fashioned Little Oil's darling riding cape!

does this kid ever stop snacking? every photo! and, Nice Cape!

Now, rumor has it that these capes and other delightful objects from the "dandy" label will be available for sale over the internet soon. I promise to let you know when I do. It's a great cape, and perfect for the layered Seattle biking kid.

About a year ago, Gabriel approached me about modifying his bombproof commuter, a Surley Long Haul Trucker, into a bombproof kid-hauler. (This is something that I love doing, by the way! If you know anybody trying to figure out how to bring a kid along on their bike, contact me via this blog's contact page.) It was a fun project, and pretty easy! Gabriel and Willa's mama liked the stem-mounted boBike seat we were using on Wheelio at the time, so I switched the cockpit of his bike from drop bars with bar end shifters to Soma Sparrows, mounted downwards, making for some awesome mustachey/agressive north roady bars that could keep the bar-end shifters. This was to make room for Willa up there between her Papa and the handlebars. Drop bars do not usually work with front-seats. I think Gabriel had the same revelation a lot of people have when they switch a speedy road bike they like to a semi-upright position, that such a conversion is awesome and fun and still sporty feeling! I know that Willa liked the position because it didn't take long before Mama's bike got a mount for the seat, too.

For more on front seats, check out this fantastic post from Totcycle. Some new products have appeared since the article was written, but the advice is all valuable.

Another useful addition to Gabriel's bike? A Pletscher two legged kickstand. I find kickstands incredibly handy for utility cycling and can't really imagine not having one for loading and unloading my kid. (We have the Rolling Jackass centerstand on Wheelio. I think I might love that kickstand better than I love my left pinkie. Or my earlobes.) I only know of one biking parent who forgoes a kickstand on his family bike. Tyler, the crazy randonneur you met in the last Weekly Daily Ride Journal. Tyler holds the front wheel steady between his legs while he lifts Frances up into her seat and says he doesn't need a kickstand. I say he's nuts, but it looks like it works really well. I'll try to get you a video of the technique before Frances grows out of the boBike.

Willa's ride, mark 2

Anyway, the tale of Willa's bike takes a turn for the worse when, a couple of weeks ago the Long Haul Trucker was stolen from the hallway outside their apartment! But then, it get's better because insurance will probably pay for the bike and they were able to go in for some upgrades! Yay! From Long Haul Trucker to Disc Trucker, from Soma Sparrow bars to Nitto Albatross (my favorite bars,) and from the boBike mini front seat for Willa to a Yepp Maxi rear seat.

This is actually the same seat as the seat we have on Wheelio, that xtracycle calls the "Peapod 3." It sounds like all the features we like in the seat; easy removability, solid construction and relatively light weight, are all just as satisfying when it's mounted on a regular length bike. Gabriel says that, like us, they miss the closeness of the front-mounted seat, but that Willa is very happy with her new ride.

the seat's mount is attached very securely (and nice and low) to the frame's seat-tube

Gabriel was able to upgrade their bike security, too. The Ti Gr lock is hot looking, and made of titanium, so strong and light.

hot lock

Nice Ride, right?

What about you all, family bikers? Any thoughts on kickstands? Security? Insurance? Comment!