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Posts tagged ‘Big Dummy’

utilitaire 2.12

We didn’t get rained on.  Of course.  Because we brought rain gear.

Number 2 in the Utilitaire Winter Cycling games … and I’m having a hard time deciding how to log this one, but will settle on #6: Any Store That Is Not A Grocery Store.  Basically a run around town, from hardware store to bike shop (yes, again) to coffee, to groceries to cupcakes (!).  Mileage: 21-ish.  Rain: none.

It began with a trip to the hardware store, because we needed some new axe handles.   We do a lot of chopping around here, you know.  Well, maybe not me as in we … but still.  Can’t have those ax heads flying off the handle.

hardware store

needing handles

mission accomplished

Then we got to head over the bike shop because I had forgotten a thing or two when I was there the other day.  It was exciting.  We got to witness a really amazing explosion … (Charles, my bike guy has a great sense of humor with these things; he made the video).

From the bike shop, we stopped and met  Grant for coffee.  He was killing some time before heading to work, and we were just … killing some time.  And trying to test our fate with the rain gods.

We hopped on the Greenway and stopped for some groceries, and then headed over to Chattanooga Cupcakes for some desert for later on.   And while I doubt that I burned enough calories to even eat the sprinkles off of one of these things, I just cannot resist …






We got home just as the first drops of rain arrived.  Perfect timing.

When I thought about today’s ride, I often wonder what the bird’s-eye view of our route looks like.  We wind our way on less-traffic’d roads, hopping on the Greenway whenever it works out, and taking what sometimes feels like a rather circuitous route.  I know I could go on Google Maps or Map My Ride and officially map this thing out in an accurate way, but I decided to just doodle it.  Obviously not really to scale or accurate, but close enough.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t look as chaotic as I thought it might.

So two of twelve completed, ten remain.  Bikes: 2.  Rain: 0.

not in any way accurate or to scale

happy haulidays!


tis the season for festive Xtracycles ~ #330daysofbiking, day 236

It’s that time of year again … festive lights, festive bikes, winter riding, wishlists, and all of the riding that goes along with the holiday agenda – from the baking to the shopping to the shipping.  And there is no other bike that can get it all done-with-fun like an Xtracycle.

There has been a lot of chatter in recent months about the growing selection of cargo bikes on the market.  And kind of like the great Pillsbury Bake-Off, the cargo bike discussion seems to be taking on elements of a “Hauls(bury)Bike-Off”.  From Xtracycles to bucket bikes to bakfeits to beer-on-tap bikes, it’s a great discussion to be having … for in my opinion, any bicycle that enables someone to substitute bike for car is a wonderful thing – and nothing does that better than a cargo bike.

However, if we ever get down to casting votes, I cast mine without hesitation for Xtracycle.  If I could only own one bike, it would be my Xtracycle.  No question, no debate.  It is my favorite bike above all others, and the one I could not do without.   And as I’ve looked at and contemplated some of the other contenders, I’ve been able to reach a few conclusions about why Xtracycle rules the cargo bike contest….

  • No other cargo bike can accomodate irregularly-shaped loads as easily as an Xtracycle. You want to haul a Christmas tree,  a kayak, a weed-eater, a vacuum cleaner or another bicycle?  On an Xtracycle, it’s a piece of cake.  We’ve hauled them all; easy to load in a variety of ways, easy to secure, easy to ride with.  Even for a silly old lady like myself.
  • I like the fact that my cargo sits behind me.  Other cargo bike enthusiasts might like that Christmas tree or preschooler directly in front of them, but I like to have an unobstructed and distraction-less view of what’s ahead, thanks.
  • You won’t out-grow an Xtraycle.  While kid-hauling bikes like the Taga or the Feetz might be a fun way to carry your pre-schoolers, I can’t help think this is a short-lived use of a pricey bike.  Kids grow – quickly.  Why not carry your pre-cyclists on a PeaPod (or two) on the back of an Xtracycle for that short period of time?  In the end, you’ll continue to love and use an Xtracycle for countless things, rather than being stuck with a limited-use stroller-bike after a few short years.
  • If I need to take my Xtracycle somewhere else (out of state, or beyond timely riding distance) I can carry my Xtracycle on my vehicle.  Using an extended rail on our Thule roof rack, we’ve transported our Xtracycles out of state for vacations and other weekend cycling trips.  I can’t see putting a Madsen or a Bakfeit or a Feetz on top of my car nearly as easily, if at all.
  • Affordability.  The ability to convert an existing bike (from road to commuter to mountain or whatever you might already own) to an Xtracycle requires minimal investment when compared to buying an entire dedicated cargo bike.  And of course, if you’ve got some spare cash, the Xtracycle Radish or Big Dummy are beautiful, quality builds and very competitively priced – and the folks at Xtracycle are among the friendliest, most generous and helpful bike people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. (And they’re not paying me to say this. 😉
  • But the biggest reason of all to own an Xtracycle … it is beautiful bike  just to ride.  Even when I don’t have to haul anything, I love being out on my X.  It’s a beautiful ride – on the back roads or in traffic, in town or on the bike path.  I don’t have to make a conscious decision when I head out – like, “do I need to take the big bucket bike, or utility trailer today?”   I ride my Xtracycle like other folks ride a road bike or a commuter – and if I get a phone call along the way telling me we’re out of orange juice at home, I always have the easy ability to stop and pick some up.  I just can’t imagine that I would ever do the same amount of non-cargo everyday riding on bucket bike or bakfeit.

If I were Santa, I would bring everyone an Xtracycle … But in the meantime, I’ve combed through my pile of Xtracycle photos from the past few years to give you idea of the fun that you,  too, could be having on the best cargo bike EVER. Put one on your wish-list … because you never know what Santa has in his bag 😉

Happy Haulidays* and Happy Pedaling!

(*Thanks to my friend Rick for letting me borrow his clever homonym (haulidays) :-D)

easy-peasy on an Xtracycle ... haul your Christmas tree

... do your holiday gift shopping

... haul your other bike to the shop

... or haul your favorite bike shop guy 🙂

haul a little white snowman ...

... or a little white dog

haul a boat to the river this way ...

... or haul it this way

haul your groceries ...

... or your garden

take your friends on a bikepicnic ...

... or go on a bikamping trip

or just take a beautlful ride on a beautiful bike: Xtracycle


#330daysofbiking Day 40: the things we find

graduation "cap"

Tonight was Dillon’s baccalaureate; tomorrow is graduation.  Since the baccalaureate was being held  just up the road from our house, he decided to pack up his cap and gown and ride there on the Big Dummy.  With his tassel on his helmet. I think he was tempted to ride with his gown on as well, but decided it would be too much flap-age. 😉

off to the baccalaureate...

It’s wonderful to see your children finding their place in the world.  People will often ask me if I am sad to see the kids head off to college, and I never think “sad” is the correct adjective.  I will miss having them close, seeing them every day, no doubt.  But the feelings of excitement and gratification to see them moving forward, celebrating their successes, discovering themselves, finding and pursuing their passions … it all eclipses anything approaching “sadness”.

I rode by myself earlier today; Mason wanted a day off.  I think my mind was pre-occupied once again, and my “eyes” felt broken – I had a hard time finding anything to shoot, camera-wise.

The internet can be a crazy place sometimes.  I received an email from a long-lost and very dear friend – someone I had worked with nearly 30 years ago, at a now-extinct software company – who had amazingly, and randomly, come across my blog.  He wrote,

I have been trying to work out the logistics for driving the hybrid less and riding or jogging to work more. Checking out blogs of the like minded Sunday morning I found yours and then I found you.  I’ve heard about this phenomena. An event triggers a flashback and suddenly a person finds himself transported to an earlier time.

And I think that is exactly where my mind was today when I was riding.  Back then, when we worked together and became close friends, I remember him being quite the passionate cyclist – at a time in my life when I wasn’t.  I remember once, while riding, he was hit by a car – badly enough to break his leg.  If I ever imagined someone who would be likely to attempt a cross-continental ride, it would have been him – he was just that kind of person.

Although it can be quite incredible, and even a little unsettling, to be “found” after so many years, it was also pretty wonderful – and brought back some very fond memories.  Youth, energy, office pranks, friends, the city of Chicago …   I had always expected him to go on and pursue his talent in the graphic arts; instead, he has found his place in the world and established a successful non-profit agency serving autistic children and adults in South Carolina.  He still rides his bike.  When needing to drive, he and his wife both drive hybrid cars.  I think he is also working on a windmill farm project in Texas(?) … And as he penned online, “Global Warming. I fixed it.  By accident. You’re welcome.” Which is exactly the type of thing I would expect him to say – and probably why we became such fast friends back then.

So … everyone is finding their way in the world.  It’s a good feeling.  Now if I could just find my eyes….

the only thing I found to shoot on today's ride; evening primroses(?) by the side of the road

#30daysofbiking Day 22: a day in the life of a Big Dummy (10 photos)

Todays #30daysofbiking story will be in photos.  (Because it was a long one, and I am too tired to write coherently.)

Heading out. Paying respects to a "deceased" brother ...

Needed some cash.

Picking up a picture I had framed.

Picking up the tennis team snacks.

Mailing graduation announcements.

Dropping off some mail.

Taking the Greenway through town.

A visit to the bike shop; lusting after pretty shiny things. (Ltd. edition Felt Brougham in full chrome/white glory)

Sharing. (Another tennis match. Tennis team kids wanted to ride. Will hold many racquets.)

Watching Grant. Won both his singles and doubles matches today. 😀

After a long day, back at home. Good night, moon.

#30daysofbiking – Day 2: bicycle dinner party/picnic

I consider it my catering van...

Big Dummy: a better kind of "catering van" ...

Day 2 of #30daysofbiking … Another glorious weather day, beautiful balmy evening.  Sons Mason and Ross are home for the long Easter weekend (while sons Dillon & Grant are off recording with The Band).  Decided to plan a lovely dinner picnic, transported by bicycle to a great little picnic spot along the local greenway.  Didn’t know if it was going to come together until nearly the last minute, due to Mark and Ross driving home from Johnson City … fortunately, it all worked out.

Undoubtedly due to the beautiful weather and school holiday, the greenway was packed with people – walkers, bikers, skaters, scooters.  Everybody out enjoying the beautiful evening.  It’s so wonderful to have a community gathering place – a place where we can all get outside for a while, out of our cars, and just take a walk, socialize.  Take a ride or have a picnic.  Or any combination of these things.

Our dinner next to the creek was lovely.  Our ride was fine.  Another great day of #30daysofbiking. 😀

Pass the salad, please.

Springtime dinner by bicycle: divine

Springtime dinner by bicycle: divine!

the others ...

the rest of the herd


ap pur te nance  |ə-ˈpərt-nən(t)s| noun (usu. appurtenances)

An accessory or other item associated with a particular activity; accessories, trappings, equipment, paraphernalia.

(I'm) Just a Big Dummy with a camera ...

With memories of February’s “snowmageddon” starting to fade, the promise of springtime, warmer weather, and sunny roads gets alot of us dreaming of appurtenances … OK, bike stuff.  New bike stuff.  Maybe a new set of tires, new rims, a new pair of shoes, a new helmet, or even a complete new beautiful bicycle.  (You guys know who you are … finish the thesis & you get the Salsa!  😉

Trailhead Bicycle: better than a candy store

Trailhead Bicycle: better than a candy store!

To be clear, I don’t exclude myself from this Spring Fever.  Thinking that my favorite bike shorts have seen better days, my brake cable should be replaced, a colorful new jersey would be nice … Anyone who steps into the colorful wonderland of a bike shop in the grey days of late winter knows the feeling.

Lately, I have also added camera “stuff” to my appurtenance cravings.  Deciding to participate in a 365 photo project (a photo each day for a full calendar year) with ShutterCal, was big impetus to get a bit more serious.  In the somewhat futile attempt(s) to improve my photography skills, I have spent a lot of time – and yes, admittedly, money – in recent months taking classes, reading books, attempting to master new post-processing software – as well as buying a few pieces of equipment I “really needed”.

I have to admit that I struggle with that inner voice that keeps whispering, “it’s not about the equipment…”. I believe this: it’s not.  I know there is not a bike on the planet that will magically make me a super-human cyclist, yet I also know how pleasurable it is to ride beautifully equipped bike – whether an ultra-light road bike, an Xtracycle, or some stylish balloon-tired cruiser.  The bike does not make the rider – but good equipment can make the ride divine.

And just as with the bicycle, the camera does not make the photographer.  I’ve seen spectacular photos shot with a camera phone, or a cheap point-and-shoot.  An artful and skilled eye will always more-than-compensate for lack of technical equipment; yet good equipment (and the knowledge to use it) can enhance the results for those of  us who are considerably less talented, and make the process much more enjoyable and productive.  Just like riding a beautifully equipped bicycle, shooting pictures with a good camera and lens can be an inspiring experience.

I’m not sure where that leaves me in the end?  There is so much I want to learn, and improve upon – both in cycling and photography.  It will likely require appurtenances. I don’t need to win races, ride around the globe, win awards or exhibit my photos – I just want to reach some personal level of accomplishment.   I’m trying to find the right balance; I don’t want the desire for appurtenances to get in the way of the actual work.  I need to climb more hills, I need to take millions of photos.   Yet I also know that sometimes, appurtenances can help pave the path to getting there…

Spring is almost here…. dream on! 🙂

feels like Springtime...