Monthly Archives: June 2008

Fixing our Roads? Check out this Sightline Video

This Sightline video is worth a 44 second watch. 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

Have any Car-Free Vacation Ideas?

The Sightline Institute is looking for car-free vacation ideas. In celebration of their 15 year anniversary, they are giving away a car-free vacation in the Pacific Northwest and they want your ideas. Details here. Continue reading

Getting a Ride

Tim picked me up from an appointment on his Xtracycle last week. It sure was nice to be the passenger for once. We rode a little under two miles like this–not a bad way to travel.

I kept asking Tim if he wanted me to get off and walk and he repeatedly said, “No”. So I sat back, savored the view and the experience and enjoyed the ride. I have to say it was quite nice. Good thing Tim is a safe rider, you really have to trust your captain when you’re the passenger.

– Anne

Last Day of School

Last Day of School 2008

We met a group of kids and parents for donuts this morning for our last ride to school event of 2008. We had a pretty good turn out considering yesterday’s sun was long gone and the Seattle mist had returned. There’s nothing like sending your kid off to school with a nutritious breakfast in their belly. Continue reading

Snap! (Crackle, Pop) Goes the Xtracycle

Snapped Xtracycle Tongue

I broke my Xtracycle frame the last day of April and am only getting around to mentioning it on the blog now. It’s been so long I almost let it pass without comment, but figured the info may help someone else down the road.

First of all, I should be clear. It’s not really the frame—more the undersized tongue where the front attachment plate sandwiches the chainstays near the bottom bracket.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. I’d been hearing this creak, creak creak—first when climbing out of the saddle (which isn’t unheard of for someone my size), then later even when seated (which is unusual, even for us giant folks) and only applying moderate muscle. I kept checking the torque on the three attachment points and even looked for cracks on my Rockhopper frame and the X where it was visible. Everything seemed fine. Finally, the night before “Bike to Work Month” started, I couldn’t take the embarrassment of a noisy bike any longer. I vowed to pull the Xtracycle off the bike frame, coat up the “Special Nut”/dropout contact points with anti-seize and put an end to the creak once and for all!

It wasn’t to be. As soon as I backed off the Special Nuts torque, … CLUNK! What was left of the tongue snapped under the weight of the bare Xtracycle frame. On closer inspection, this piece obviously had been failing for a while. It’s hard to tell from the photo but there’s surface rust on the break, meaning the puny welds had been failing for a while. Sheesh, would it have killed them to beef that weld point up a bit? A small gusset perhaps? Still, at least it held until I got to the workstand, rather than failing on a downhill with kids on the Snapdeck!

So here I was, the night before the big bike commute month kickoff and me, the BikeJunction team captain without a bike. Or was I?

I looked across the garage and spied my spare Xtracycle. Spare Xtracycle? Everyone has a spare, right? I bought this as a loaner for friends and family but hadn’t got around to giving it a very needed tune. In addition to it being a couple sizes too small, the flat tires, rusty chain and ginormous exercise-bike saddle made it unridable for my commute. As a donor, though …

A mere hour later I had the old longbike frame joined to my Rockhopper and was ready for the morning commute. I figured I’d send my Xtracycle frame in for a warranty claim and do the swap again in a few weeks. That was the plan anyway; six weeks later is still hangs in the garage.

A few more notes/observations:

  • Check your tongue! Right now.
  • A bit of reinforcement with the original design would have gone a long way.
  • A gusset would have been great. Even better, a flat, plate-like tongue could probably serve a couple purposes — more metal-to-weld contact and the plate would spread out the forces on the chainstay bridge like an upper FAP.
  • The donor frame has some issues with the disc mount. I pulled the rear Avid brake off my original Xtracycle and it should have bolted right on the donor. Instead, the caliper rubbed the rotor, almost as if the mounting bosses were dialed in for 201mm rotors instead of 203mm spec. A presta valve “nut” worked under the mounts as a spacer, but I’m still wondering if they had a bad batch or something. Anyone seen this?
  • The Big Dummy and other custom Xtracycle options are looking kind of nifty. Less to break.
  • Finally, and I’m serious about this, check your Xtracycle for cracks! You might be able to do it with a flashlight and some creative neck craning, but if you have any creaks or squeaks you’ve been trying to ignore, pull the frame and check it out up close!

Snapped Xtracycle Tongue, other sideHas anyone else out there broken their Xtracycle? Had it warrantied? I’m starting to think it may not be worth the shipping hassle and time delay to send it back. I may just have someone tack the tongue back on there (reinforced, of course) and be done with it.

Summer’s coming, and with my luck I’m going to need a spare.

My New Red Basket Rules

I love my new red basket

Tim spent a couple of hours last weekend lovingly painting my new front basket cherry red. It looks great. Tim, you do good work– and you’re the best. Continue reading

Enough with the rain, already

Heavy rain in June?We thought we were done with the rain for a few months. After our horrible winter, we thought the worst was over. A few weeks ago it was 90 degrees for a couple of days. We enjoyed some nice evening rides, we got out our window fans, cleaned the deck and stocked the fridge with Mojito supplies. Mmmm–Tim makes a mean mojito.

But we were wrong, so wrong. Friday it was 50 degrees and raining, it even snowed in the mountains a few days ago. I finally had to turn the heat back on because the kids won’t get out of bed in the morning. And our mojito drinking days will have to wait. Continue reading

Bike-Ferry Commute Awesomeness

This is sweet. The volume of commuters is almost like something you’d see in Northern Europe. The video author says the state ferry system is thinking of bumping cars in favor of bikes because bikes generate more revenue per square foot of deck space. Makes sense to me—six or eight paying cyclists in the space of normally occupied by a lone driver is easy math.

Wasn’t it just last year they were saying passenger/bike ferries weren’t an economical option ? I guess they didn’t anticipate the impact of $125/barrel oil on the hearts and minds of SOV ferry commuters.

– Tim

via Greggscycles Plurk (-stream? -line? -uh…what is a plurk feed called?)

Pedaling for Food

Whole Foods Grocery Run

The question I get asked most often about our “biking lifestyle” is: How do you grocery shop on your bike? Do you shop every day? Can you really carry enough for a family of four? I think people can wrap their brains around getting from here to there, but dealing with the stuff is a whole ‘nother thing. It just seems too daunting. Continue reading