Tuesday, April 10, 2012

For Lindsay of You Ain't Got Jack: Basic Budget Tool Kit.

UPDATE MY BLOG HAS MOVED TO Bike4Heck.com Please comment on this on the new site!

The Tool Holder
Which Tools do you need?
I recently replied on a blog post by Lindsay of the blog "You Ain't Got Jack". I really like the fact that Lindsay has taken it upon herself to get healthy by riding a bicycle. This is the same reason that I originally took up cycling again. My reply to her post was about the need to carry a spare locking cable for the Yuba Mundo inside the giant Go Getter Bags. This is an idea that hatched like a new born baby chicken with the incubator set in overdrive when I realized on a grocery run that I didn’t grab the key chain with the key for the U-lock that lives on my Yuba. So I rode over to Home Depot and bought a combination cable lock which now makes its place in my go-getter bags. I figure any lock is better than none in my low crime area.

So on to helping a fellow cargo biker:

A basic budget minded tool kit (what I carry on my bike):
  • $1 Small Adjustable Wrench (that fits the Yuba's rear axle bolt and front bolt)
  • $5 Basic Inter-tube without Slime
    • Slime tubes are good but it makes the tube thick and harder to store in a saddle bag.
    • Make sure it fits your needs (know your tire size)
  • $2 Bicycle Flat Repair Kit (old fashion glue kind, none of those peal and stick jobs here).
    • I remove the patches, sand paper, and rubber cement from the container it comes in (that just takes up space)
    • Practice! If you've never repaired an inner tube before learn how to!
    • I usually just replace tubes and only patch to "get home," wasteful, I know, but I don't like slow leaks and patches are hit and miss. 
  • $10-12 Compact Air Pump
    • Just be careful you don't damage the inner-tube's nozzle thingy filling it up (it can get cut on the rim if you don't support the pump while airing up the tire)
    • For the reason stated above, I sprung for the CO2 Air pump and I carry 1 extra CO2 Cartridge for good measure. The CO2 route cost usually between $25-$60 depending on the model and you will have to shop at a bike shop to get these. 
  • $1 of spare cheap-o AAA Batteries as back ups to my lights. 
    • Get what fits your needs and I like cheap-o non-alkaline batteries are because  cheap and most importantly they are very light weight.
  • $7 Bicycle Multi-Tool
    • Something similar to one posted in the link above. 
  • $10 Under the Saddle Bag just a cheap department store (Target) one is fine, just make sure everything fits. These are also know as wedge packs.
  • $2-3 Plastic Tire Wrenches - These help get that tire off the rim. You need 2 or 3. 
    • I like the kind that fit together for storage  (more compact)
Hank the best Bike Mechanic in Texas
Hank Repairs My Yuba Mundo Cargo Bike
So the grand total comes to $38 to $41 for the basic pump set up and $51 to $86 for the option with the CO2 Pump which will not make your arm fall off when installing a new tube, and it gets you back on the road faster. Plus you want to have a $20 bill tucked away in there too as well as a couple of band-aids. 

In researching the options out there I saw some things that I liked that could form the basis of a kit, personally I think that an extra inner-tube is a non-negotiable item. 
For home use I'm more advanced setup with a Park Tool Bicycle Repair Stand, Turing Stand, and a Tool Kit from Performace Bicycles. Perhaps I'll a blog on that later... I was able to completely rebuild an old cruiser with those tools. 

My Blog has moved to Bike4Heck.com Please comment on this on the new site!
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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bill Nye: The City of the Future

I was amazed to see this short clip of Bill Nye the Science Guy... I like his idea only I'd add air conditioning to the bicycle paths he is talking about - Matthew

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bcycle Adventure

Bcycle Start to the day.
Blue Star Bcycle Station in San Antonio, TX
Yes you read that title right... Bcycle Adventure! No "i" there on purpose. Bcycle is San Antonio's Bicycle Share program. Users can rent bicycles from kiosks around town for a minimal fee of $10 per day. Tina and I are annual membership holders and thus there is not a charge for the bicycles; it's included with our membership fee. We bought the membership on sale for around $30 each and thought that would be a great investment since downtown usually means parking fees and with the Bcycle membership we can park at free lots and ride into downtown. Thursday, March 15, 2012 was a great day to make use of our Bcycle membership. We drove to the Blue Star kiosk and checked out two bcycles and rode the river walk to Main Plaza for a quick check in of the bcycles (they must be checked in every 30 minutes, or you'll be charged $2). At Market Sqaure we did some shopping and purchased a Penny-Farthings bicycle decor item for our patio.
Bcycle in a Bicycle
Tina's bcycle at Market Sq loaded with Penny-Farthings decor.

We realized that the thing was too big and heavy to carry around all day, so we rode back to Blue Star to put it in our Honda. Then we headed to the Shops at La Villita and checked out some local artists work. Then we decided to sit and watch people at the Arneson Theater for a while. After getting our fix of people watching we check out the bcycles again and rode to Main Plaza then walked to Mexican Manhattan for dinner. Afterwards we returned to main plaza to sit and listen to local jazz artists play live. It was a fun day and thanks to Bcycle we didn't have to worry about our personal bikes being locked up in a rack while we were in shops. Give Bcycles a try!

More Photos Below:
Colorful Art
La Villita Art Area in San Antonio, Texas
Sitting on a Wall
Wall Sitter at Arneson Theater - San Antonio, Texas
Camera G12
Tina at Mexican Manhattan
Venus and Jupiter in Main Plaza
Venus and Jupiter over Main Plaza (Jazz Band pays in Background)
Jazz at Main Plaza
Live Jazz Band sponsored by KRTU FM at Trinity University.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bicycle Dates: Spring Break 2012

What Are You Looking At?
Tina and Matthew's Bicycle Date Adventures! 
Tina Ready to Ride - Blue  Star
Tina Ready to Ride
Monday, March 12, 2012 was the first official off of work for Spring Break of 2012. I’m a third grade teacher and my wife, Tina, is a 7th grade English teacher. This school year has been a crazy year for my wife and I. That is thanks to budget cuts, larger class sizes and pushed emphasis on the new standardized test the State is pushing out and other stuff! So this Spring Break was one we were looking forward to. On this day we decided to make a date day via bicycles. We started at from the Blue Star Arts Complex and our first stop was only a few tenths of a mile away at Tito’s Mexican Restaurant on S. Alamo. We had never eaten there before, but were very impressed. The salsa and tacos al carbon were mighty tasty!  We had to park our bikes and lock up on to the rails of the porch because the on street bicycle parking stand was removed due to some red tape glitch. 
Missing On Street Bicycle Parking
Tito's Mexican Restaurant- Notice the black rectangle where there was once on street bicycle parking. 
While sharing tacos with my beautiful bride of the past 6 years, I learned she hasn’t ever been up in the Tower of Americas.  I had to solve that, so that was our next stop.  It was nice to see some bicycle parking next to the tower entrance although three of the four racks we saw weren’t fixed to the ground. Tina and I hitched the iron horses to the rack that was bolted down. We enjoyed looking down on the city and planning where we would ride next. We spotted other cyclists from above and a new red public art statue on the other side of the interstate and made it a point to ride over there.

Best Parking at the Tower
Bicycle Parking at the Tower of Americas
Downtown San Antonio, Texas
View from Tower

Red Art and Condos
Public Art Downtown
From the Tower of Americas we headed over to the Alamo Dome then Sunset Station. Sunset Station was a bust with nothing going on there except for a fire truck racing though, so we decided to search down the red statue we spotted from the tower and it was only a few blocks away. From the statue we rode down the bike route on Mesquite St. to the Hays Street Bridge. We stopped on the bridge and rested as it was now about 80 degrees and sunny and a rest was in order. While there we took some photos and noticed someone fitted the bridge with a helmet. (picture below) It really is funny how when you sit and rest for a while your body will tell you of its other needs, like thirst. We didn’t take water along and since the tower was charging $3.00 a bottle, we hadn’t had a sip of anything wet or cold since Tito’s which was a few hours ago at this point.

Cruisers at the Hays St. Bridge
Hayes Street Bridge
We decided to ride on over to the VFW hall and get some refreshments. On first Friday rides, the VFW has been anti-bicycle, meaning they will not even let you put you bicycle on their property, but today we rode right into the parking lot without incident. We didn't catch any grief from anyone at the VFW hall and they weren't that busy, so I doubt they even noticed the two bicycles there. Hopefully, someday their official policy toward bicycles will change. For a place that is meant to honor those that fought for our freedoms they sure don’t like to let cyclist or even motorcyclist be free in where they park.…enough of that soapbox. We did enjoy our sodas as we sat along the San Antonio river listening to the music playing.  

Next, we decided to ride over to the remains of the San Antonio Better Block Project and see what was left. We took some photos of the Better Block and rode past the San Antonio Fine Art Museum. From there we rode past Central Catholic High School and to the City Auditorium which is undergoing remodeling.   I was ready to chill by the Vietnam Memorial on a nice lush green hill of grass when Tina said, “Let’s go people watch at Main Plaza.” I have to give my wonderful wife credit; she knew where the party was. At Main Plaza there was a live band playing and what I was most excited about was that the fountains were back on! They had been shut down for so long due to the drought water restrictions that I had forgotten they were there.  It was relaxing to sit with my wife and listen to music while we watch people. People watching it really fun and if you haven’t done it before I highly encourage you to give it a try someday.  We saw a teen age couple making out on the steps of the Central Cathedral which is kind of funny place for Public Display of Affection (PDA). We also saw a woman with four or five others come up and sit on a bench with a clay sculpture and looking at the cathedral they added to it… we never figured out what they were doing, but we had fun trying to guess.  We watched the Segway tours roll through the plaza and concluded that cycling looks more fun than those two wheel contraptions. We saw another cycling couple who looked so cute, and like they were having fun together. Tina said, “That’s cute. We should do that. Oh, look. We are!”    Tina had been trying to incorporate this day into her self portrait project. I made her laugh and thwarted her efforts, but the pictures ended up being kind of silly and fun.

Smile Really Big
Silly Face Self Portrait at Main Plaza
After sitting for a hour or so, we decided to ride to Schilo’s Deli and get some good German food. After riding to Schilos's we locked the bicycles up at a pole near the Deli and went in to eat some tasty food. Once done eating we rode over to the Alamo and decided to people watch there. At the Alamo we saw many things like a college aged couple that obviously was fighting with each other, a thug looking man with a Carpe Deim t-shirt eating a blue snow cone, etc.  We talked with an older female park police officer who admired Tina’s bicycle about riding along the river walk. Apparently we can ride the entire main channel along the river. So we will have to do that sometime soon.

We ended the night by riding to The Friendly Spot Ice House. Their bike rack was full when we got there, but we still watched several other cyclists roll in as the night progressed. As we sipped our fruity drinks, and listened to drunken hooting and hollering over the Spurs game while Jupiter and Venus huddled over our heads in the night sky, we reflected on how this day was the most fun we’d had in far too long. If we had not ridden our bikes, we would have missed out on the smells of the mountain laurels in full bloom, and the sound of the ducks squawking on the river below. .. a sensory buffet...

 So, if you’re looking for a date full of fun and adventure, try heading out on the town on a bike!

Below are some more photos from the day:
Two Planets Align at the Friendly Spot Ice House (3/12/12)
Venus and Jupiter from The Friendly Spot Ice House

Feet at Alamo
Kicking Back and watching people at the Alamo.
Access Issues???
Strangest Bicycle Lock Ever... Shall I call the Number?
Best Friends at Hays St. Bridge
Skyline view from Hays St. Bridge.
Teleconference Ice House!
Screen at Friendly Spot Ice House 
Painted Loading Dock
The remains of the Better Block Project in San Antonio, Texas
Crowded Bicycle Parking - Friendly Spot
Nearly full bicycle rack at the Friendly Spot Ice House
Hays St. Helmet
Helmet strapped the top of the Hays Street Bridge

Art at Main Plaza
Art we saw the people making. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

6 Months With a Well Used Yuba Mundo!

Yuba Mundo at Pearl Brewery San Antonio, Texas
My most fuel efficient vehicle at Pearl Brewery Farmer's Market - San Antonio, Texas 

I just came to the realization that I've had my used Yuba Mundo (Version 1) for a few days over 6 months and I thought this would be a good time to give an update and a more long term review of my well used (well used by the previous owner and myself) Yuba Mundo V1. 

I purchased the bike Oct. 8, 2011 by chasing down the owner of a version 3 at the grocery store to ask how much he liked his bike...in talking with him he mentioned he had a Version 1 he needed to sell. So I made and deal and took it home later that day but it needed work. The tires were flat, the rims needed to be trued and the headset was shot as well as the rear derailleur cable. 

Hank the best Bike Mechanic in Texas
Hank of Helotes Bicycle Shop
A few trips to Hank's bicycles in Helotes, Texas and about $100 the bike was road worthy. It didn't have a kick stand when I got it so I used a paint can for a while while I fixed it then I order a V1 double kickstand from Yuba's website. I learned from Hank how to replace a headset races (even though we carked one of the replacements now the bike has a mixed head set chrome/black).

I found that I really enjoyed riding the Yuba Mundo and it has become my primary bicycle since I took ownership of it. I've not ridden my other bikes more than 2-4 times but the Yuba sees weekly usage. This is because the utility of the Yuba. I regularly use it to ride to the HEB (grocery store) about 1.5 miles from my house and I can easily fit a week’s worth of groceries on the bike. At first I used ratchet straps and plastic containers but quickly learned that doesn't work well with the Yuba's rack which as diagonal supports, the straps fall and the box got loose quick. 
Load of Groceries
All Strapped In! 
YMCA at O. P. Schnabel Park on Yuba MundoAround the first part of December the Yuba company announced new Go-Getter bags which are a stupid white and light grey color (those are going to look ratty after a trip though a puddle!) the new bags also use plastic retainer clips to latch on the Yuba rack and that is a problem since my version 1 Yuba has a larger rack and a larger diameter tubing used in the rack. So I went on an internet search and called Yuba most dealers across America and didn't find any older style yellow go-getters. While visiting family in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex area at Christmas time I decided to check out Trinity Bicycles a Yuba Dealer in Ft. Worth. They had the yellow bags! So I bought them right then and there. They cost more than I paid for the used Yuba, but increased the functionality 316.97%. I can now easily get groceries without fear of the ratchet straps loosening and spilling everything on the road. 

Also the Go-Getter bags carry some things like a bike lock, rain poncho, and even a full sized floor air pump when I go on rides with large groups (who likes those small 6" pumps when you have a flat anyways!).  The bags also make the bike more grab and go friendly I just open my garage (where my car once was) and hop on the Yuba and ride! I’ve taken it on some extensive   trips, for a cargo bike, away from the house. I rode to a library (a hilly 10-12 mile round trip) to assist  with a lecture on using your bicycle for utility. I carried a multimedia projector safely in the go-getter bags.  

Great Northwest Library
Utility Cycling Session at Great Northwest Library - San Antonio, Texas
Thanks to my extra sturdy Hollywood Sportrider 4  bike hitch mount rack I can easily take my Yuba on my Honda Element to different areas of town for various reasons like an occasional tune up, but most of all it goes on social rides. The Yuba has made many treks on the back of the Honda Element to downtown San Antonio for pub crawls and social rides. The Yuba works out good for party on wheels rides because I’m a photographer and I love to carry my SLR camera with me and once again the rack and the go getter bags come into play here. I can carry my medium format camera and my digital SLR camera with extra lenses in the bag along with my air pump, a jacket, a hat, even a tripod and even studio strobes! And I can have what I need and want to take photos while cycling in social groups and at events like the San Antonio Siclova event.  

The bags are not only useful in carrying camera stuff they are also nice because they keep honest people honest! I was able to leave my bike within eye sight at the recent Siclovia event with my camera gear left on the bike knowing that it would take some balls to go open up the go-getter bags and go snooping around. I realize the bags are not a metal trunk and that is why I kept it in eyesight and no more than 30-40 feet away from me like when I did the drum circle, but it’s still nice not to have to carry that stuff around my neck or just having it sitting in a basket where anyone can see it and be tempted to steal it.  

Siclovia 2012 - Drum Circle
Siclovia Drum Circle - March 2012

Enough on the bags…. What about other utility usefulness?” I’m glad you asked. 

The bike has had its share of cargo loads over the past 6 months primarily groceries from the grocery store.  Some of the rather odd things that I’ve carried were other humans, k-9s, hardware, and more! My wife and I rode on the Yuba to Sea Island Shrimp House and Half-Price Books on the bike. Carrying people is different than groceries because they can shift their weight and you’ll notice it as the driver of the bike. It took some getting used to but driver and passenger always felt secure. I even hauled my wife’s beach cruiser on the side racks just by putting the front tire in the side and strapping it in. I admit there was no reason to do this other than I saw other Yuba Mundo owners doing it on Flickr and I wantedto do it!  Being a verison 1 I don’t have a rear deck or side platforms but I think that side platforms would have helped with the towing of my wife’s bike since the straps holding the tire came loose and the front wheel started to slip down the rack.

 Another unique item that I hauled was an 8 foot grounding rod from Lowe’s hardware for a Ham Radio antenna I was installing. This was to longest item I’ve carried on the Mundo and it was easier than hauling the grounding rod in my Jeep Wrangler. It was fun using bungee cords to strap that on the rack and frome then using the red plastic flags to let people know that I’m hauling a large item…ON A BICYCLE! I rode the 2.5 miles back home without anything going wrong with it. Below are some pictures of the strange hauls so far, including the K-9 and the grounding rod. 

Yuba Tree Cargo
Yuba Mundo decorated for Christmas Light Bike Ride... complete with Tree
Phoebe's Ride
My Dog, Phoebe, as Cargo!

At Lowe's after loading 8 foot Grounding Rod

First Load: RC Airplanes to the Stadium for day of flying
Yuba with my RC Airplanes ready to go to the flying area!

The Yuba mundo attracts a lot of attention. I’ve had people come up to me while I was loading the cargo and ask about it. One conversation that sticks out in my mind was a mother and her 12-15 year old son at HEB (grocery store). The exchange when something like this: She started by saying, “Hey cool cargo bicycle so you can fit all that in your bike?”  my response “yes, I do it all the time” Her response “Well I ride my road bike 20-30 miles at a time but I take my car 3 miles to the grocery store… I think I need to look into this Yuba Mundo.” 
That is what I hope I inspire-logical thinking about being green and living healthy. 

It’s amazing that people are so stuck in the Lance Armstrong idolizing spandex sport of cycling they don’t even realize the utility it can be until see me on the big Yuba Mundo. I love it when I see them realize for the first time that it is possible to ride a bicycle for errands especially when they pedal their road bike 20 to 100 miles just for fun. Believe me utility cycling is way more fun that riding just to ride because you get the joy of cycling and the coolness that comes from knowing that you are rejecting the social norm of thinking that bicycles are only exercise equipment. For me cycling for utility has a trill in it that comes when you return from a shopping trip with a load of groceries. If you search around the internet you will get some inspiration from fellow car-free/utility cycling people like Anne and Tim at Car Free Days. They have inspired me to make just about every Sunday a car free day! Thanks Anne and Tim. Y'all should check out their site CarFreeDays.com

3rd Stop Target via Yuba Mundo
Pre Go-Getter bag Yuba at Target in NW San Antonio
Lunch at Sea Island
My wife and I rode this to get some sea food and we got the best parking spot too!

Barnes & Noble Via Yuba Mundo 
Starbucks break! 
My well used Yuba Mundo isn’t without it’s unique quirkiness due mostly to it's age. The previous owner used it as a daily commuter 10+ miles one way rain or shine and the Yuba Mundo shows its wear proudly with scrapes of paint and small rust spots. The head set had indexing when I got the bike so I replaced it. The front derailleur can be hard to shift into 3rd sometimes. The tires are well worn but have enough grip but I’m thinking of replacing those soon. Somewhere in the rack there is a loose burr of metal because I can hear it rattling around at times then I’m parking the bike. The kick stand plate is warped and the kick stand continually needs tightening but thanks to those big bags I can carry a tool kit and tighten as needed. I wish I could use the wide loader kickstand that the newer Yuba Mundo’s have because my double kick stand is narrow and the when loading you have to balance your load or it will tip over. I could use the new wider one Yuba has but that requires welding and I don't want to deal with that and painting the bike once a new plate is welded on. 

The saddle is the original one from Yuba and is comfy enough but I’ve been thinking a Brooks Saddle would be nice to try. Some future plans include upgrading the shifters and possibly the front derailleur. I might get around to making a rear deck for times when I haul a passenger, stoker bar for the rear passenger and some padding for the rear passenger. I’ve also thought of adding disc breaks to the front but that means replacing the front end again but I feel safe the way it is. 

Yuba Tree
Yuba Mudo at 2012 Siclovia - San Antonio, Texas

Life with the Yuba Mundo is good! My version one has been useful and I enjoy owning it but sometimes I long for a newer lighter Version 4 with disc brakes, but then I remember the low cost I paid for the used version 1 which was comparable to a mid priced Walmart mountain bike and I’m happy. I’m sure the version one is here to stay at least for another 6 months. When I have children I might upgrade so I can use the integrated child seats on the rear rack (they don’t work with the wider V1 rack).  Right now this system works for me. 

Thanks for reading please leave your comments!

Ride on! 


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Siclovia 2012 - Drum Circle

Siclovia 2012 - Drum Circle by MPR-Photo
Siclovia 2012 - Drum Circle, a photo by MPR-Photo on Flickr.
Get your Hippie on with a Yuba Mundo and a Drum Circle at San Antonio's 2nd Siclovia Event... go play in the streets. I drummed after checking out the community garden and then after drumming we checked out urban knitting and the one street (complete street) bistro. Hippie was oozing out of my chaco sandals today!