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Looking for a sanity check for my X plan

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  • p.shippert
    Hey there! I ve just learned about Xtracycle, and I m so stoked. I discovered you all during a search for solutions to a new challenge to my car-light life.
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 26, 2010
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      Hey there! I've just learned about Xtracycle, and I'm so stoked. I discovered you all during a search for solutions to a new challenge to my car-light life. Now that my eyes have been opened, I'm seeing them around town. One rode by my house (in Boulder, Colorado) yesterday with a kid on board, and I almost ran out in the street to call them over and chat. But it was snowing, they were going uphill, and they looked ready to be home.

      My new biking challenge is that my daughter and her next door best buddy got into a great school for Kindergarten next year, but it's across town. (The neighborhood school is problematic for many heartbreaking reasons I won't go into here.) So, I need to figure out how to tote two 5 year olds (total around 80 lbs. at the moment but ever increasing) 4 miles on rolling terrain to school, then 2 miles back to my work, then back to school, then home with the kids. So, a total of 12 miles per day, 8 of them with 80+ lbs on board. Lots of it on bike trails, and established bike routes. I figure I'll do this twice a week, and my husband maybe twice a week. For at least a couple of years.

      My current plan is to FreeRadicalize my Cannondale Quick CX 700. So, 700c wheels, Cannondale TKB18 V-brakes (disc). It's a pretty strong and versatile machine, which I love. Then I figure I'll add the Longtail kit, with a Magic Carpet (or maybe one of those sweet BottomSider Xtracycle deck pads), and probably Stoker bars, and a KickBack. I am not extremely mechanically inclined, and have no "free" time, so I'm hoping to find a bike shop in Boulder that will execute this magical transformation for me. I don't have tons of money to spend on this project, but I should have enough for this plan.

      I am no athlete, but I have a long history of bike commuting. I used to throw in some recreational biking (mountain and road), until I became a mom and lost all my free time. With the extra weight, this will be my longest, hardest bike commute so far, by a long shot. But I'm up for it, if my plan is not insane. I have not found an X to test ride here in Boulder so far, but I'll keep looking.

      Am I overlooking anything with this plan? Would you recommend going ahead even if I can't find a test ride? Do you have an X in Boulder, or know of a good shop here that has experience with Xtracycles?

      Thanks for any advice, comments, encouragements, virtual slaps to snap me out of my unrealistic fantasy, etc.

      Peg
    • Morgan Scherer
      Hi Peg, Welcome to the wonderful world of Xtracycling! If what we do is insanity, sanity must be pretty grim :) . I ve been Xtracycling my kids all around
      Message 2 of 5 , Feb 26, 2010
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        Hi Peg,
        Welcome to the wonderful world of Xtracycling! If what we do is insanity, sanity must be pretty grim :) . I've been Xtracycling my kids all around town for about three years now, and have absolutely loved it. We just went car-free this month (after being car-lite for 5 years or so), and to facilitate that journey I just got a Madsen bike with a Stokemonkey electric assist (in addition to my BD). But I've been hauling my boys all around town up until now without the electric assist on the X or Big Dummy, and it's been wonderful....we do a ton of bird and cloud watching from the bike, singing, and just comfortably hanging out together. When the hills are too steep for me to pedal up with my boys on board, I just ask them to hop off and run next to me.

        The main challenges for our family have been keeping them warm in the winter (after all, they're not doing anything but sitting there), and keeping my older son's chin safe from the younger one's helmet as he sits behind him on the snapdeck.

        Also, I did move to a Big Dummy when my kids were 9 and 6, as I was finding the wobble of the X to be too much for me with that much weight in that configuration. If my donor bike had had a stiffer frame it probably would have been ok. Or if I had put the lighter kid on the back. I had the heavier kid on the back so he could keep an eye on his younger bro.

        So, in other words, I think your plan is inspired, and am confident you will have a blast!

        Morgan Scherer
        Seattle
        -----------------------
        Sent from my Treo(r) smartphone

        -----Original Message-----
        From: "p.shippert" <p.shippert@...>
        Date: Friday, Feb 26, 2010 8:30 am
        Subject: [rootsradicals] Looking for a sanity check for my X plan
        To: rootsradicals@yahoogroups.comReply-To: rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com





        Hey there! I've just learned about Xtracycle, and I'm so stoked. I discovered you all during a search for solutions to a new challenge to my car-light life. Now that my eyes have been opened, I'm seeing them around town. One rode by my house (in Boulder, Colorado) yesterday with a kid on board, and I almost ran out in the street to call them over and chat. But it was snowing, they were going uphill, and they looked ready to be home.

        My new biking challenge is that my daughter and her next door best buddy got into a great school for Kindergarten next year, but it's across town. (The neighborhood school is problematic for many heartbreaking reasons I won't go into here.) So, I need to figure out how to tote two 5 year olds (total around 80 lbs. at the moment but ever increasing) 4 miles on rolling terrain to school, then 2 miles back to my work, then back to school, then home with the kids. So, a total of 12 miles per day, 8 of them with 80+ lbs on board. Lots of it on bike trails, and established bike routes. I figure I'll do this twice a week, and my husband maybe twice a week. For at least a couple of years.

        My current plan is to FreeRadicalize my Cannondale Quick CX 700. So, 700c wheels, Cannondale TKB18 V-brakes (disc). It's a pretty strong and versatile machine, which I love. Then I figure I'll add the Longtail kit, with a Magic Carpet (or maybe one of those sweet BottomSider Xtracycle deck pads), and probably Stoker bars, and a KickBack. I am not extremely mechanically inclined, and have no 'free' time, so I'm hoping to find a bike shop in Boulder that will execute this magical transformation for me. I don't have tons of money to spend on this project, but I should have enough for this plan.

        I am no athlete, but I have a long history of bike commuting. I used to throw in some recreational biking (mountain and road), until I became a mom and lost all my free time. With the extra weight, this will be my longest, hardest bike commute so far, by a long shot. But I'm up for it, if my plan is not insane. I have not found an X to test ride here in Boulder so far, but I'll keep looking.

        Am I overlooking anything with this plan? Would you recommend going ahead even if I can't find a test ride? Do you have an X in Boulder, or know of a good shop here that has experience with Xtracycles?

        Thanks for any advice, comments, encouragements, virtual slaps to snap me out of my unrealistic fantasy, etc.

        Peg
      • Elise Giddings
        Hi Peg- Welcome to the car-light world! I think your plan sounds great. I would highly recommend the stoker bar and magic carpet. My kids really like to have
        Message 3 of 5 , Feb 28, 2010
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          Hi Peg-

          Welcome to the car-light world! I think your plan sounds great. I
          would highly recommend the stoker bar and magic carpet. My kids really
          like to have something to hold onto and a pad for their butt. We also
          put mountain bike bar-ends on the downtube of the X frame as something
          to rest feet on. Sometimes they are used and sometimes, dangling feet
          seems to work great.

          It sounds like you have some commuting experience, so depending on
          your dedication, doing that trip sounds reasonable. However, adding
          the electric assist to the bike really did make a big difference for
          me. I found that with that, I could do the 5-mile one way trip very
          easily without sweating it. It made the excuses for not doing the trip
          go away (e.g. I'm extra tired today, I'm late today, I'm feeling sick
          today, etc). I've been able to get my car useage down to only 1 day a
          week most weeks, except in colder weather (I've also had trouble
          keeping my 2-year olds warm enough in the cold, but my 6-yr old does
          ok with snow pants and boots, and an under-helmet hat). There are many
          options besides just the Stokemonkey for e-assist. I'd probably try it
          without for awhile and see how it goes, then add it later if you
          decide it would help you.

          For a test ride and general information about longtail biking and car-
          free life, you might try The Stouts. They're pretty close to you I
          think, and have been car-free for a number of years. I think they're
          also plugged into the whole thing in your area. Their blog about their
          experiences is:
          http://longwalktogreen.blogspot.com/

          Have fun!
          -Elise G
          Cycle 9
        • p.shippert
          Thanks for the encouragement. And it s good to remember that they can jump off and run on the hills. I don t have many real hills on our route, but there are
          Message 4 of 5 , Mar 3, 2010
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            Thanks for the encouragement. And it's good to remember that they can jump off and run on the hills. I don't have many real hills on our route, but there are some slow climbs. I'm going to order the free radical kit and get started!

            Peg
          • p.shippert
            Thanks for the tips, Elise! An electric assist might be a good idea, especially as the kids get bigger. The commute is just too long to imagine that they ll
            Message 5 of 5 , Mar 3, 2010
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              Thanks for the tips, Elise! An electric assist might be a good idea, especially as the kids get bigger. The commute is just too long to imagine that they'll be able to ride it themselves within the next few years. We're strapped for cash right now, so probably the free radical is as far as I can go anytime soon. But I'm sure that will at least make it all possible.

              Thanks also for pointing me to the Stouts. I'll try to contact them.

              Peg
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