Tag Archives: xtracycle

The Times, They Are a-Changin’

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.  ~Anatole France

This is a summer of change for us. In early June, our landlord notified us that they would be changing our rental terms; if we stayed we would henceforth be paying them a larger amount of rent, which would include utilities.

Unfortunately, that amount was about 200 dollars per month more than what we had been paying for rent and utilities combined. So we had to decide whether to try to manage the new amount or move someplace more affordable.

I had the prospect of a higher-paying job, but no certainty, and I haven’t had even a cost-of-living raise in three years. Steven has been getting step raises, but that’s not enough to make up $200 per month.

So, we decided to look for a lower-cost rental, and found one. It’s a three-bedroom apartment, just about a mile from where we lived before, and within the same school district. Everyone goes to their same schools in the fall. And my two (TWO!) middle-schoolers will get to ride the bus now, because we moved further away from the middle school (this is good, because before they had to walk over a mile).

But we’ve moved from a decent-sized triplex unit (about 1700 square feet) to a smaller, second-floor apartment (about 1100 square feet). We sold or gave away quite a lot, including some furniture, a piano and…my Xtracycle. But we’re still struggling to make everything fit.

And it’s just hard on everyone to leave our home. We’d been there for eight years. We moved in just before our youngest was born, so she had never lived anywhere else until now. She cries about having left. She’s not the only one.

But, here we are. And it IS a good apartment, and the complex seems well-managed. There is a pool. We are all together. We have enough money set aside for next month’s rent. The girls are still going to their camps, thanks to cookie sales and scholarships.

And we still took our family road trip that we had planned for June. We had reserved a rental car on Priceline back in April, which is GREAT for getting a lower price, but also means you can’t cancel and get any kind of refund. So we decided to go ahead with the trip (which was important to us because we were visiting family, as well), but canceled a few things we had planned to do. And we’d already planned to camp and stay with family everywhere, so we didn’t have hotel expenses.

But still, change is hard! And I’m seeing a pattern here…I keep saying BUT and AND. Obviously I am conflicted. There are good things happening, and there are disappointing things happening.

For instance, I didn’t get the higher-paying job that I was hoping for. I’m disappointed, BUT I am going back to a decent job at a good school.

I’m sad about not having the Xtracycle any more, BUT, I am glad that I was able to get money for it, which is helping us get through the summer. AND I still have a bike to ride; a Schwinn Avenue that came from a family friend. It has no carrying capacity as yet (I need to get a rack and/or panniers), BUT it is lighter and faster and can be carried up and down stairs.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.  ~Victor Frankl

Where do we go from here? I’m still feeling some uncertainty. We are working on income for the rest of the summer, but I’m wondering about my long-term career options as well. Every time I’ve applied for a different job within my school district, I’ve been told that my application was good, that I interviewed well, but that someone else had more experience. I’ve been there for eight years, two as a special ed assistant, and six as the computer lab specialist. I’m most interested in either library or technology jobs. I’m not sure how I can get more experience, unless I try for a lower-paying library assistant job, which is not really a feasible option right now.

So I’m pondering options. Should I take some technology-related classes to increase my skills? Get a teaching credential? Get some volunteer experience? Look for jobs elsewhere? Be happy where I am?

I don’t know. I sort of have time to think about it. I don’t go back to my regular job until the end of August, and I can’t really afford to take classes as yet. So I can work on getting this apartment unpacked and organized and take time to ponder things.

A Week’s Biking In Pictures

I’m currently coordinating Walk and Bike to School Challenge Month at my school. Our bike rack is small, but mighty. We also have a lot of walkers!

Meanwhile, in interesting loads for the Xtracycle, I biked a fully loaded crockpot to work for a potluck.

And on Friday I biked both of my younger girls to their school, where we had an early meeting with a teacher. I really wanted to get an action shot of our shadow, but I didn’t quite dare try.

Tomorrow, we’re going to give Sunday Parkways a whirl — this is an event in Portland where they close off a number of streets to auto traffic and let the rest of us play! That’s my Mother’s Day treat.

Bicycle Commuting Mama: Getting Started

I’ve chronicled my journey to becoming a full-time bicycle commuter here over the past few years. I’ve even gathered several of my posts into a Family Biking page, so that people who are looking for advice can find them.

Today, I’ve got a post over on Utility Cycling about getting started with family bicycle commuting. Please take a look!

Bicycle Commuting Mama: Just for Fun

It’s winter break, and I work in education, so I’m not bike commuting right now. We’ve had rain, rain, rain for days or maybe weeks or months now, and I don’t bike for pleasure in the rain. Nor do I bike to the grocery store or anywhere else in the rain if I don’t have to! So there.

But today, we had a bit of sunshine! People in various other parts of Portland and Vancouver, Washington were reporting SNOW, but we didn’t get any where we live; just more rain and then a bit of sun.

When the sun came out, I happened to be taking out some garbage and recycling. And I said “Hey! It’s actually fairly pleasant out here!” and I ordered everyone outside. My eldest child grudgingly went outside for maybe a minute, but I and the other two went for a short bike ride; about one mile.

Of course, the weather changed before we got home — we had a graupel shower! We were just a few blocks from home, so that was just fun, no big deal. And now we’re back to cold, wet and dreary — but we got outside!

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Car-Free Challenge, Day 2: To the Store!

Today I rode the Xtracycle to the grocery store. That’s not so unusual. I often stop by the store after work. In fact, I think it’s easier to stop on the Xtracycle than it is in a car. I pull in, lock up, and go inside — no searching for a parking spot, and the bike rack is close to the door.

But I don’t often ride from home to the store and back. I could, very easily, most of the time. But the car still tends to be my default choice.  So this car-free challenge is good for me, too — it forces me to make a different choice.

P.S.: Yes, those are plastic bags peeking out. I forgot the reusable ones.

Naked Xtracycle

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Yes, this is the 2009 Xtracycle Radish in its unadorned state. Why did I do that? Because it’s raining, and the Radish got very wet. When an Xtracycle gets wet, moisture can get into the holes where the racks sit and create rust.

The people at Clever Cycles had told me to be sure to dry off these areas, which I’ve always done, but when I took my bike in for a tune-up, it turned out that the racks had actually rusted in place. Oops. So today I unstrapped and removed the racks to clean them off and let them dry. This requires no tools. You just pull off the SnapDeck, undo the straps at the bottom of the FreeLoader bags, and pull the racks off.

I haven’t been doing this every time it rains, but figured it’s a good idea once in a while.

By the way, Xtracycle recently unveiled the redesigned 2010 Radish, and some new accessories! They’re also selling the remaining 2009 models for only $880. You should check it out!

I created this entire post on my Motorola CLIQ. Pretty cool, huh? Also, I’m on a horse. No, I’m not. Sorry!

Bicycle Commuting Mama: We’ve Got Groceries

I stopped for groceries on the way home today, and packed them into the Freeloader bags on my bike. I do this fairly often. I’ve carried up to four bags of groceries (big paper or cloth bags) and two gallons of milk at the same time. And sometimes I end up carrying both kids and groceries for a short distance! It’s a heavy load, but with the Xtracycle it’s totally do-able.

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I’ve done the farmers’ market by bike, too, although that’s more difficult. There’s a long and fairly steep uphill climb coming back, and loading up with fruits and vegetables doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, I haven’t made it up that hill without walking yet. Sadly, I’m much more likely to drive to the farmers’ market.

Blog Action Day: Climate Change and Me

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year’s theme is climate change. That’s, ahem, often a hot topic. Many people still don’t believe it’s real, and others believe we don’t really need to do anything about it. Or they don’t want to do anything about it. Or they don’t know what to do about it.

Personally, I think the most important thing we can do to diminish climate change is to get out of our gas-powered automobiles. And that’s just what I’ve been working on over the past year, but with a little extra push these last two weeks. I’ve been trying to use my bike (or my feet) for everything within two miles of home, and have been mostly successful. For instance, yesterday on my way home from work, I stopped at the grocery store, and cycled home with two full bags of groceries and two gallons of milk.

And right now, I’m downtown at a Portland WordPress User Group meeting, which is more than two miles from home, but I rode light rail down, so I’m still out of my car.  Unfortunately, I had to leave my bike behind at work in order to get here — my Xtracycle is too big to take on light rail. So tomorrow morning, I’ll make my way to work by bus.

Going car-lite isn’t easy. You have to deal with the weather, tiredness, and lots of inconveniences. And I don’t always have a good attitude about it.

But I’ve shared plenty about my bicycling habits. If you’ve been here before, you’ve seen it.  So what would change your mind? What would really get you to stop using your car, even for one or two days per week? Or for errands within a certain area? How can we make it happen?