Category Archives: Yuba Mundo

A long day on the Yuba Mundo

Yet another relative I talked into trying out the Mundo

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.

It's not just me that finds it disconcerting

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

The Yuba Mundo haul

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)

The Kona MinUte haul

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.

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Filed under cargo, family biking, rides, San Francisco, Yuba Mundo

Three, three, three

Daddy made it home in time for cupcakes

Today was our daughter’s birthday. Now she is three.

What she wanted for her birthday (among other things, including: a big girl bed, playdates with her closest preschool friends, a trip to the ice cream store) was to ride on the Yuba Mundo to school with her brother for morning Rajio Taiso (since that video was shot, the middle yard has been replaced with an edible garden and the wall has been painted over with a mural, but the tradition continues in the lower yard).

Since we started riding and our daughter started preschool near our house, her chances to visit his school, which she loves, have dropped significantly. Each of our bikes currently carries one kid, and the prospect of riding all the way there just to turn around and go back home is not especially appealing anyway. So trips to school have pretty much been reserved for times when one of us is on the road and the other drives both kids to school, as the alternative of dropping her off at preschool before 7am is unappealing to say the least.

But for now, we have a bike that carries two kids (and then some) and it was her birthday, and she was already disappointed that Matt was out of town. So I packed up the bike the night before, and in the morning, loaded up both kids. Just getting to the street in the morning on such a long bike is an undertaking, particularly when Matt is away. By the time I got outside, I realized it was raining. Fortunately the kids were in multiple layers.

All aboard!

Getting our son to school is a non-trivial trip, although most of it is a pleasant ride along the Panhandle before morning rush hour. However there is no avoiding the hills between home and school, and at some point we have to soldier up and pick the best of a bad lot. Our best route is a steep climb up to Alamo Square, then back down. On a bike that weighs over 50 pounds. With two kids on the back. In the rain. Round trip. I figured I could push the bike if I had to.

It turns out that with that kind of load, forgetting the rain gear was zero problem for me as the rider. I was so overheated after I got to the top of Alamo Square that the rain was turning into steam about six inches from my body, like a low-rent halo.  But I managed to make it up to the top without stopping. Yeah! I’m a mule!

When I stopped at the light on the downhill, a couple pulled up in a car next to me, and rolled down a window. Both were laughing. “Did you know that your little one signals when you do?” asked the passenger. “Like this!” laughed the driver, sticking out his left arm. “It’s SO cute!” I had no idea, but I was delighted.

Although it was a grind of a ride, it was a lot of fun. Along the path in the Panhandle it’s easy to talk with the kids because there’s no traffic noise, and for some reason, the acoustics of the Yuba Mundo are pretty good; I can hear both kids and they can chat with each other. Their conversations often make no sense to me, but they seem to enjoy them. And commuting on a long bike with two kids on the back is apparently more than twice as entertaining to the world at large as commuting with only one. Other riders frequently commented (“WOW!”), drivers stopped in the street to stare and grin and wave. As our friends with the Bug Dummy note, everybody loves a parade. I never enjoyed our driving commute, so it’s nice to feel that we’re now improving someone else’s, although it feels like cheating to get congratulated for doing something we love. Our son’s entrée into the schoolyard felt like escorting a visiting monarch, as kids walking to the school yelled his name and pumped their fists in the air when they saw us ride by. “Cool bike!” they shouted.

Riding back up the hill to Alamo Square was harder. It’s steeper on the return side, and I was tired. About halfway up I stopped for a while and invited my daughter to enjoy the view. “Are you going slowly, mommy?” she asked. She is no dummy.

By the time we got to the Panhandle again the bicycle commute was in full swing in the opposite direction. My daughter had taken to singing me songs, mostly Particle Man, a song that does not yet bore me even though she knows only two words. “Particle Man! Particle Man! Particle Man! Particle Man!” We saw hundreds of riders, mostly on their way to work, and with the rain, poison-frog-yellow Ortlieb panniers had sprouted off the side of many bikes like horizontal mushrooms.

"I'm a present!"

Every once in a while I’d see a dad (only dads for some reason) with a child seat on the back of the bike, or with a trailer-bike. I’ve realized that parent riders recognize each other instantly. They rang their bells in salute, we smiled and waved hello! Hello! My daughter was thrilled with the attention, which she seemed to take as worldwide recognition of her birthday. “I’m three!” she yelled. “I’m three!”

It was a hard ride, but I never could have imagined how much fun it turned out to be. There are so few of us with children in San Francisco; it’s not a family city. People give up on the schools without even visiting (our son’s lovely school is, astonishingly, under-enrolled). Parents flee the commute, not realizing they could ride as we do. We few, we happy few.

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Filed under commuting, family biking, San Francisco, Yuba Mundo

We have a visitor! (Yuba Mundo)

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.

Hello, Mundo! Let's go for a ride

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.

Even outdoors, it kind of dominates the landscape

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.

Saddle up!

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!”

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Filed under Breezer, cargo, family biking, Kona, reviews, San Francisco, Yuba Mundo