Category Archives: shopping

Bike Lights that Last Forever, a Kickstarter Campaign

Can you believe it’s already fall? Seattle has been hit by some nasty weather this fall: rain, clouds and wind storms. And most disturbing of all, darkness! Time to start pulling out our bike lights.

What type of lights do you use?

Anne's got the cinder block

Even though we talk about upgrading to generator lights, we haven’t made the leap yet. We’re still using battery-powered lights. And not even bike-specific battery-powered lights, we use a variety of AA flashlights that we connect to our handlebars with DIY guy’s signature re-used/re-purposed inner tube mounts.

Bike Light Kickstarter

We’re not serial product testers and endorsers here at Car Free Days. We don’t blindly endorse every Kickstarter campaign that shows up in our inbox. In fact, the last time we got excited about a Kickstarter campaign, we were emotionally attached (a documentary by one of the Xtracycle founders). It’s been two years already and so far, the promised movie has yet to materialize.

That said, the latest Kickstarter campaign we’ve been asked to review looks pretty good. These guys have a track record for delivering on time and as promised. Continue reading

Groceries by Bike: Turn a Chore into Fun

slowbikecart

Carfreedays and Shopping: the Journey to Bikes

Tim and I didn’t always grocery shop by bike.

Before the summer of 2007, other than an occasional walk to the store, we bought and transported groceries exclusively in cars. At the time we owned a bike trailer and we could have used that to grocery shop. But dragging it out of the basement or garage and hooking it up to the bike just to go to the store? Nah, too much trouble; the car was easier. Panniers were the same,  I had plenty of those lying around. But I was a busy mom and shopped for a family of 4, I could barely fit a days worth of groceries in two panniers, let alone groceries for a week.

August 2007, enter two Xtracycles. Those bikes changed everything. Continue reading

“Borrowing” Mom’s New Bike

2010 OctoberI wasn’t prepared. In fact I was completely caught off guard.

Aren’t they supposed to borrow your shoes before they borrow your bike? Continue reading

Third-Annual Xtracycle Tree Haulin’ Adventure

Xtracycle Tree Haulin 2009

When the already short Seattle days end at 4:18 pm (the earliest of the year!),  the window for an after-school tree-gathering-family-bike adventure is small.

We tried to grab the kids right after school, bundle them up in extra (or is it Xtra) layers and hustle our way over to the local summer berry stand/temporary pumpkin patch/Christmas tree oasis while the feeble sun still shone.

ChoosingThough we did our best to make our selection in the waning light and hightail it home before everyone turned into a Popsicle, it wasn’t meant to be. Not to point fingers, but damn, those kids are picky. I think we liked it better when they didn’t get to vote. Instead, we shivered up a storm while we picked up, fondled, and rated what seemed like every Noble Fir on the block. I finally stepped in with fatherly veto power to break a three-way tie (no surprise to anyone who knows me: The winner was $11 cheaper) and get us on our way with a minimum of bloodshed.
Tree Haulin

Then it was on the bike for a should-be-quick trip home in the dark. And Did I mention it was cold?

Hell yes. We even resorted to ducking into a Starbucks for cocoa and cider so the kids’ little piggies could thaw out before the final leg home.

Said Fir now sits in a bucket, hydrating in preparation for its month on stage in the lights. And me? I’m already over the voting scandal and looking forward to the fourth anniversary adventure.

More photos here

-Tim

And I’d like that delivered, please….

Carfreedays Dry cleaning delivery service

carfreedays dry cleaning delivery service

our neighbors dry cleaning delivery

our neighbor's dry cleaning delivery service

How does everyone feel about delivery?

In these new fangled modern times you can have just about anything delivered: Thai food, Indian food, groceries, pet food and even dry cleaning. The possibilities are endless. Continue reading

Riding, Pedaling, Everyday Cycling, What do you call it?

The girls' bikes
Awhile back, Tori over at Gracie’s Wrench asked for suggestions for a new term to describe cycling as transportation or everyday cycling. “Commuting” usually refers to going to and from work. “Riding” usually refers to sport riding.  What do you call everyday cycling? I read all the comments to her post, and quite frankly, none of the terms really spoke to me. Not in the same way “commuting” does.

I’m looking for a good one (maybe two) word term to describe using a bike to go to the store or to get coffee or out to dinner.

Does anyone have a good one?

– Anne

Trader Joe’s

via YouTube from carlsfinefilms

Tim and I often profess our love for Trader Joe’s on this blog. We mostly enjoy talking about how much we spend there and how much of that overspending we can fit on our bikes. I’d say I’m not quite a number 2, but almost. I really do love my family a lot so I can’t say I love Trader Joe’s more.

I did chuckle a few times while watching the video. Most of the reasons in the catchy jingle do it for me.

But the one I don’t have to worry about is, “It’s the cars that don’t fit in the parking lot”

The U District Trader Joe’s has plenty of bike parking right out front. There’s always an open rack spot when I roll up. And I get to listen to the guy playing violin while I lock up my bike. All in all a pleasant shopping experience.

– Anne

btw – for those of you who are getting sick of me and miss Tim’s perspective, he promises he’ll post soon.  ; – )

A chill in the air? Get studs for your tires

Seattle’s once-yearly cold snap has me thinking traction. Sure, so far things have been pretty darn easy. Aside from the University Bridge (no, apparently they _don’t_ read the blog), the roads have been in great shape.

But the weather folks tell me this won’t last.We’re supposed to get some snow tonight and maybe tomorrow. Then they tell us to expect the teens to the low 20s (in Seattle!) for a few days, followed by more white stuff.

That’s tempting me to up the ante in the grip department. Studded tires are a logical choice, but hard to justify for two or three days a year. Even if I wasn’t such a cheap bastard, by the time I got around to ordering them it would be 50 and raining.

So what’s a tightwad with a hankering for traction to do?

DIY of course. Chains seem pretty nifty, but the process is kind of  high maintenance, even for me. That leaves self-studding as my only option. You don’t need me to point you to a studding tutorial — the interwebs are loaded with them. Totally cool studding videos are in shorter supply. Luckily, the Google delivers with this awesome video from Finland:

Even Anne, who doesn’t give a rip about studded tires,  watched the whole thing. It kind of makes you wanna grab the cordless drill and a beer, huh? If I don’t get snowed in tomorrow, I think I’ll head to Tacoma Screw for some #6  pan-head screws and give it a whirl.

Do you have some studding plans or experience ? (I can’t imagine what our Google search referrers are going to look like after this post). Let us know how it goes.

-Tim

Holiday Shopping for Kids

exercise-bike-for-kidsAfter a nice string of crisp fall weather, the rain and wind returned to Seattle this morning. We donned rain coats and brought along the trusty umbrella for our walk to school this morning.

Who wants to walk and ride bikes in the rain, anyway?  Instead, I’m thinking we’ll forget about getting the kids outside for exercise this winter and buy them a few of these lovely contraptions this holiday season. This exercise bike even comes with an interactive video game. Continue reading

Big Loads, the Friendly Competition

Bulging FreeLoaders
Tim and I are engaging in a friendly “big load” competition. We both know Tim is bigger and stronger and can carry more but it’s still fun for me to pretend I’m in the running. (Ah it’s the little things that keep marriage interesting).
Trader Joe's Haul

The loads are really hard to gauge since we don’t have a scale that will register that much weight. So our method for determining who is the burliest Xtracycle grocery shopper is how much we spent at Trader Joe’s. I hauled $205.68 back in January. Tim’s latest load was $209. I’m pretty sure he bought more wine and cheese and other expensive stuff than me so I know I’m winning. ; – ) Maybe we need to bring in a neutral third party to be the judge?

Happy Friday! It’s a beautiful day in Seattle – I hope it’s nice where you are.

– Anne