Sunday, November 25, 2012

Team work

Every year our church has Christmas Carols on the church ground, with lots of entertainment, often including bouncy castles and a live nativity.  We promote this to our local community by delivering about 6,000 invitation cards.  This is a joint effort with many people taking a bundle of a few hundred cards and delivering them. We help out most years.

In the past we have walked, perhaps with the pram with one or more kids on-board.  It takes somewhere from 4 to 5 hours to do the delivery run we normally choose, in large part because of the overall distance to cover.

But now that we have the bakfiets, it occurred to me that a child on board would be at about the right height to post the letters, and of course we could cover the ground more quickly.  So that is what we did.  Here is Isabel being super-helpful posting one of the slips.  It was both lots of fun, and much faster -- we were all done in just under two hours.

Carols this year will be on the 9th December, Marion Church of Christ car park, Corner of Marion and Alawoona Avenue, Mitchell Park.  Entertainment begins 5:30pm, with carols starting at 7pm.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Video: Bakfiets the SUV of bikes

While I was thinking about getting a bakfiets, I looked around for any videos that would help me understand whether it was worthwhile.  This video, and several others by the same person, were really helpful for me to realise that having a cargo bike can make a big difference to your lifestyle and quality of life.  

I have found pretty much everything in this video to be true, especially that it makes for a much more social time with the kids, as we can now yabber away happily while we pedal our way around practically for free, and enjoy not having to fight for car parking at work or the shops.

Another video with the same people that explains some of the variety of bakfiets and other Dutch style practical bikes:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

First Flat Tyre

Last week I got ready to leave for work one morning, only to discover the rear tyre was dead flat.  As the back wheel is tricky to remove (think about internal hub gear and brake attachments and no quick-release on the heavy duty axle), I opted for the partial removal method.  

This turned out to be easier than expected.  The Schwalbe Marathon tyres can actually be debeaded by hand, without so much as a tyre lever if you really need to.  Found the hole by listening for air, patched it, and put the tube back in.

The hole was right next to the seam of the tube, so I suspected that it might leak.  But I really needed to get going straight away, but didn't fancy pumping the tyre up with a tiny little pump.  No problem with a cargo bike: just throw in your floor pump (or compressor and car battery if you like).  Caleb also enjoyed pumping while we rode.
In my haste, I failed to clear the tube of the offending item that caused the puncture, so we did indeed make use of the pump three times on in the 45 minutes from home to childcare to work.  Much easier being able to pump the tyre up in less than a minute each time.

Once at work, I used lunch time to investigate, remove the 1cm metal shard from the tyre wall, and repatch.  Still had the problem that the holes were near the seam, and so the patches were liable to leak. As a result pumped the tyre up once on the way home.

Of course I had been meaning for a while now to buy some tyre slime/goo in preparation for caltrop/three-corner-jack seasons, but my purchase was now expedited as the easiest way to deal with two leaking patches.  A quick visit to Standish Cycles a Marion solved that, along with a "aren't you the guy with the bakfiets?" from the guy at the counter. Turns out he was at the Flinders Uni Ride-to-Work Day breakfast.

This whole episode also answered a niggling question for me, which is whether the Schwalbe Marathon tyres could be considered puncture proof in Australian conditions.  My concern was confirmed.  I had already ordered some Marathon Plus tyres, which by all accounts should be practically puncture proof.  The main difference between the two seems to be the Plus tyres have a built-in version of "tuffy-tape", i.e., a kevlar band.

The advantage of it being built in is that the two main shortcomings of tuffy tape are avoided, i.e., the tape is not wide enough to protect the side walls of the tyre, and the overlap of the tape tends to bite through tubes after a year or so.

So overall an educational experience.

Since then I have also replaced the rear tyre, which involves the whole procedure required to remove the back wheel, which would also be needed if replacing the tube.

November 2012 Adelaide Cargo Bike Picnic

Yesterday we made it to the Adelaide Cargo Bike Picnic.  We perhaps got a little over-enthused on the picnic arrangements, with foldup table, chair, a large piece of watermelon as well as sandwich making equipment and undoubtably too much water (probably abou 7L). We also took the bike path along the tram line, which is a pleasant way to get to the city from our place. As a result riding in was a bit slower than hoped, so we arrived around 12.30h, about half an hour later than planned.

The photos don't capture it well, but there were a lot of families with multiple little people, a number of whom were trying out various bikes. At least a couple of the distributors were represented and had bikes for people to test ride.

It was fun watching people get the hang of the steering on the long bakfiets style cargo bikes.  The first couple of minutes are a bit wobbly as they get used to the linkage steering and barge-like turning circle. But after that, everyone seemed to be enjoying the ride.

Our Caleb is almost 2, and still needs a mid-day nap, so I bought along the sheets we use as his comfort wrap, with one for wrapping him, and the other for shade.  However, it rapdily became apparent that Isabel was the more tired of the two. Apparently got up in the middle of the night to clean her room. It was later discovered that this was to make sure that Father Christmas wouldn't trip over anything on the floor.  Nothing like getting ready early.

So, anyway, neither of them slept while at the picnic, but once we were trying to ride home, and all the excitement wore off, both were swaying around like reeds in the wind in the bike.  So we stopped to rearrange them for a lie down.  They still didn't sleep, but 20 minutes of poking each other while laying down seemed to give them the second wind they needed for the rest of the ride home.