We have continued the string of injuries with Matt now out of commission due to an errant dodgeball at one of our son’s classmate’s 7th birthday party. Hello again, N-Judah.
However. A while back a representative of Yuba Bicycles, just across the bridge, wrote to ask whether I would care to borrow one of their bikes and write about what it was like to ride it in the city. Would I! But honestly, it seemed implausible. Let’s be clear: I know almost nothing about bicycles. This cannot be overstated. Many days, I am just grateful that I managed to get to work in the morning without tipping over.
(The other days I have been known to tip over. It’s less common than it used to be. At least I am strong, and get compliments from my son when he’s riding the Bobike Junior that “You go up the hills faster than Daddy.” Yeah! I’m sure that has nothing at all to do with the fact that my Breezer weighs 10 pounds less than the MinUte. Cough, cough.)
And yet, fortuitously, despite my skepticism, I picked up this loaner last Friday. It has taken some getting used to. I have an internal hub on my bike and this does not. I had no idea how to shift, you know, like normal people, and for the first ride, we sounded like the bicycle equivalent of a car without a muffler. In my defense, someone informed suggested that the gears probably needed adjustment, which I am about as qualified to do as I would be to repair the Mars Rover.
The Mundo is a big, big bike. It is heavy, and lurks in our basement like a small car. We are extremely fortunate that we can keep our increasingly ridiculous (albeit temporary) collection of bicycles in a very large locked ADA-accessible garage. Thanks to 50+ years of battles with the local neighborhood association, the university is not allowed to use the space to add another parking place (other residents’ preference) or a studio apartment (university housing’s preference). Thanks to a major flood last year that left everything 6-12 inches underwater for a few days, no one on our block, ourselves included, has the boxes of random crap on the floor anymore that typically litter garages. As a result it’s like a bicycle bar scene down there right now, assuming that people in bars were regularly U-locked to standpipes, that is.
Because I am all about overkill, we decided to see just how much we could do over the weekend on a bicycle that I cannot lift, can just barely ride (getting better…), and yes, tipped over. More than once.
So on Saturday morning we rode 5 miles to our kids’ swim class, to brunch with my sister and brother-in-law, to Rainbow Grocery to stock up, downtown to get a mystery box, and then back home. Our daughter slept for most of the ride home in her child seat. I learned that the bike lanes and traffic South of Market are flat, but terrifying.
On Sunday we went to Golden Gate Park to see the Sunday Skate and meet friends from school with their Big Dummy, where we rolled up, unbelievably, right next to another Yuba Mundo. Then we stacked various combinations of our four kids on different bikes and rode them around until it started getting dark. The Yuba Mundo lacks dynamo lights, which has also taken some getting used to. I learned that my kids can hold a thought in their heads longer than I had thought possible, assuming that thought is: “Can we get roller skates?”
Further updates on all of these experiences pending. Riding this bike has been a fascinating experience. Having other people ride it (family members, friends, all of whom are more informed than I am) has been even more so–their opinions vary dramatically, based largely, it seems, on how much experience they have riding cargo bikes.
I thought I got a lot of comments about my ride when I was carrying one kid, but it’s a whole new world carrying two and a few bags of groceries. Perhaps a signature moment of San Francisco was while we riding near the ballpark. A City CarShare Prius carrying two white-haired couples came to a dead stop in the lane next to us, at which point all the passengers started waving wildly to my kids while chattering in Cantonese. Presumably they were saying “Would you look at that bike!”