A week ago Saturday we decided to ride the Mundo everywhere we went. This was maybe not the smartest move on a bike I wasn’t used to, but I figured it would be a way to learn. Also, on Saturday mornings we take the kids to swim class across town, near where my sister and brother-in-law live, which meant we could get their opinions on the Mundo, and see them for brunch. And then we figured we could pick up some groceries at Rainbow while we were in the area. Total overkill, but I’m all about overshooting my comfort zone.
We don’t ride much on the south side of the city. Once we got to the Panhandle, the entire route was flat, almost disconcertingly so. This must be the part of San Francisco where people ride fixies. On the other hand, although there are bike lanes and sharrows, the traffic down there is terrifying. It’s all giant trucks and long straight wide roads that encourage speeding and there are overpasses with freeway traffic thundering over at every turn. The whole experience of getting down there was nerve-wracking. It was a relief to reach the campus, which has a large protected quad in the center near the entrance to the pool, a bicycle and pedestrian oasis in a neighborhood that still hasn’t really transitioned away from industry.
After swim class we headed to brunch at Brickhouse, a child-friendly café with bikes hanging from the ceiling, including a push me-pull you tricycle with handles and pedals on both the front and the back (see link; as its practical value was nil, why not hang it from the ceiling?) And from there we headed to Rainbow to pick up groceries and downtown to get our mystery box from Mariquita Farms.
The Mundo I’m riding has Yuba’s new Bread Basket. This makes it possible to carry both groceries (on the front) and children (on the back). The inability of most long tail bikes to carry both kids and groceries is something that’s irritated me for quite a while. In general, if you put kids on the back, the bags can’t carry a week’s worth of groceries, because that’s where the kids’ legs need to go. I’ve found it hard to accept these bikes as being a true replacement for a car, let alone a minivan, either of which can carry both a cartload groceries and children at the same time. We don’t typically have time to split up these errands; we shop on the way home from work. I suspect our experience would be different if one of us was a stay-at-home parent, but that’s not how we roll.
So the Bread Basket is a total score of an addition to the bike. However, because it is attached to the frame, and it does not move when the handlebars and wheels turn, it is deeply and profoundly disconcerting until you get used to it. I tipped the bike over twice learning to ride because the Bread Basket’s steadfast unwillingness to reflect my steering made me try to yank the handlebars too far over. I accept that it’s the right decision to put it there because its attachment to the frame means you can casually dump unbelievable weight in there, but it still freaks me out a little.
So at Rainbow, I piled about two bags of groceries in the Bread Basket, including:
- Small bag of cumin
- 1 bunch of green onions
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 2 lbs russet potatoes
- 1 lb of cheddar cheese
- 1 block of cream cheese
- 1 box of Ak Mak crackers
- 1 lb of garganelli
- 3.5 lbs of flour
- 1.5 lbs of raisins
- 1 lb of couscous
- 1 lb of rye flour
- 1.5 lbs of dried anasazi beans
- 1 lb of dried ayacote morado beans
- Cupcake and chocolates for kids on the ride home
Isn’t that just fascinating? I can’t believe we’ve become such hippies; we might as well start eating dirt after a credibility-busting haul like this. Then we added a bag with our jackets (not needed for this ride), my daughter’s wet clothes after an accident at the grocery store, my U-lock, wallet, keys, etc. The kids climbed on the back. At that point I was riding very, very slowly, but I’ll admit, I was impressed that this was possible at all.
I forgot the milk, of course. Fortunately we live near a range of bodegas open 24/7.
Matt’s Kona was pulling its weight as well; he was carrying the mystery box, which contained:
- 1 bunch carrots
- 1 daikon
- 1 head savoy cabbage
- 1 head escarole
- 1 large bunch white turnips
- 1 bunch red radishes
- 1 lb peanuts
- 1 large bag baby tat-soi
- 2 heads cheddar cauliflower
- 1 bag of limes
- 2 heads couve tronchuda
- 1 bunch formanova beets
- 1 20# box of apples (bungeed to the deck)
We had doubts about what on earth we were going to do with the couve tronchuda (answer: gyoza). I digress. On top of that, we stuffed in his jacket and U-lock and the kids’ swim gear. Don’t let anyone tell you the MinUte’s not a real cargo bike. And then we rode 4 miles home.
We were really, really tired, despite the thrill of accomplishment. As other riders commented, “You’re not even getting any help from those two.” So true, but our daughter was passed out in the Peanut at that point, so it’s just as well. The Peanut is a bear of a seat to get kids in and out of, but I like the support; 5-point restraints, full leg shields, and even some side bracing for naps. This is a much better seat in every way than the other deck-mounted seat we’ve used, the Co-Pilot Limo. (Our other rear seat, the Bobike Maxi, mounts to the frame and as a result has pros and cons relative to the Peanut.)
The Yuba is a heavy bike, even heavier with all the stuff we had on it. I found myself really resenting red lights and stop signs because I hated losing whatever momentum I’d gained and having to start from a stop. Getting to the Panhandle path was a relief (no stopping). With a long uninterrupted route, it would have been much easier. That’s not the kind of riding we do most of the time, however. On the other hand, riding this kind of bike, loaded up as it was, meant that the entire city of San Francisco formed a cheering section on our behalf. Families walking through the park yelled, “Look at that bike!” and “That’s so cool!” and drivers kept stopping next to us, rolling down their windows, and filling me in on activities on the back of the bike (“Your daughter is sleeping in her seat!”) I find San Francisco a very friendly city in general, but on days like this it really lays on the charm.
Despite the fact that I blog, which could only be viewed as a desperate bid for attention, and haul my kids around town on my bike(s), which is attention-getting whether you want it to be or not, I have mixed feelings about all of this. I often prefer to ride quietly, solo, to work with all of the other less interesting bikes (although I miss the conversations with my kids when I do). But for a more hardcore family biking advocate, a Yuba Mundo would be a formidable weapon indeed.