One problem I’ve never had on my  Miyata 1000LT

is Sudden Unintended Acceleration.  Nope, never been an issue!  More like extremely tepid, very intentional, mild acceleration.  That’s more like it.

Even when I do have a breakdown, as I did just this week, I have a back-up bike (or two…) in the garage.

Monday morning was a real Monday this week.  I heard a timid squeaking sound coming from my chain, but chose to ignore it.  Bad move.  Nearing the top of the hill on Donnelly, it snapped. Pow!  Everett seemed impressed with the pop as we coasted to a slow stop in the driveway of a house that has been in various stages of remodeling for months.

Immediately a car pulled over.  Wow, I thought – people are so helpful around here!  Two older men stepped out, and walked deliberately around us to get a closer look at the phone number on the dumpster behind the house. “Is that an 818 or 810?”  “I think it’s an 818.”   “Oh, hi.” And that was the extent of that.

I fiddled with my chain for a few minutes, on the off chance I could somehow bend the link back again with my bare hands.  Superwoman though I am, that proved impossible (must have been the light chill in the air…yeah, that’s it).

But then another bike rider pulled up.  “You got a chain tool?” I asked, hoping, hoping.  “No, but let me see what I can do.”  Five minutes later, we both gave up.  Everett was miraculously quiet and chill the entire time (thanks, kid!)

“They say you should always carry a spare chain and a chain tool,” he noted.  (Here’s Mike at Intown on what to carry.)   I gave our new acquaintance a set of lights, and he took off for the library (after offering to walk us home – I demurred).

It didn’t take long to get back to the house since we we were just about a mile away.  We coasted down hills and pushed back up (well, I pushed – Everett just continued to be cooperative, but heavy).  Home before we knew it, I rolled my bike into the shed and picked out another bike from our collection.

That’s another nice thing about bikes – you can afford to own a backup (or two)!

Thursday afternoon, one of Atlanta’s few remaining bike messengers came in through the open door at ABC.  He came bearing a gift – a rusty but very functional multitool…with a chain attachment.

In case you’re interested, here’s how to fix a broken bicycle chain.  (Your chain is pretty sure to break if you don’t click on the link, and unlikely to snap if you do.)

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The helmet was strapped down properly and the cover placed over the trailer before leaving.

For those interested in the trailer, click here for info.

Last night, on the way home, a minivan slowed, then stopped next to me at a red light. “What’s that contraption behind you called…and where did you get it?” the woman behind the wheel wanted to know.  “Would my daughter fit in one?  She’s four.”

People want to know – what is that?  What’s in that?  And how far am I pulling that?  Answers: a trailer; either a) a baby if it’s in the morning and I’m riding on neighborhood streets or b) my bag and stuff if it’s in the afternoon or evening and I’m lugging it down Cascade; and everywhere I go!

I’m on day two of keeping the trailer attached to my old steel bike everywhere I go, and I’m loving it.

I’ve counted zero honks, zero buzzings, and zero close calls while pulling the trailer.  Two cars letting me pull out from driveways in front, four people wanting to know more about my “contraption,”  and too many grins and slow head shakes to count.

For everyone wondering what kind of trailer I’m pulling, it was a gift from the ABC Board (thanks guys!) – the Baby TransIT rumble seat.  Any trailer is a big improvement over the old bike seat my dad rode us kids around in – much safer and much easier to maneuver and balance. And it’s a huge improvement over tying your kid’s Red Radio Flyer wagon by the handle with rope to your seat post and hoping for the best (true story – I still bear the scars and my mom still brings that story up whenever my father has a harebrained idea…)

Anyway…Consumer Reports has an article about trailers and reviews here.

Bottom line – in a town like Atlanta where not everyone is bike friendly (yet), pulling a trailer that could be concealing a baby is not a bad move.  It does weigh 20 pounds and Everett adds another 28, and I’m not a light packer, but I had been meaning to lose the baby weight anyway, I mean eventually, not by dieting or exercising, or anything extreme like that.  More in a roundabout, if it just happens, kind of way.

But now I’m hoping that a few months of pulling double duty I’ll be able to shake “So when are you due again?”  (no joke!  happened to me three times on one day a year after the baby was born) and move on to, “So where do you work out?” without ever having to set foot inside a gym.

Over the last year or so, I’ve moved from mainly commuting by bike, to mainly commuting by running.  And as Rebecca said earlier, we also gained a family member, so schedules had to be adjusted, routes tweaked, methods of mobility modified and weather watched closely.  Eliminating the car crutch altogether made us excited and meant we were going to have to have to pedal/run harder and farther and plan ahead more.  Luckily, we love us some planning!  Here’s what we came up with:

Morning: Josh runs to work.  Rebecca takes E to daycare by bike.

Afternoon: Josh runs to daycare, picks E up, walks across the tracks to the West End MARTA station, takes the #71 bus home.  Rebecca bikes home.

On any day if the weather is bad, whoever is transporting Everett takes MARTA.

Simple.  Easy.  Relaxing…

Just in case Everett decided he didn’t enjoy the bus ride, his momma very smartly packed a “Flip-Out Bag©” full of snacks, drinks and whirligigs to keep him occupied for the 15-minute ride and brought it to me.  Awesome!

I left work at 4:00pm and started my 2-mile run to daycare.  It was over 60 degrees and sunny when I exited the building; a fantastic change from the snow we had two weeks ago.  Once there and buzzed in, I grabbed Everett and his diaper bag/backpack and went outside.

Problem #1 – How do I carry two backpacks and a 30-pound baby to the station a half-mile away?

Solution #1 – Tie the backpacks together so they stick out 3 feet from your back.  But hey – two hands free again!

A train was moving along the tracks I needed to cross to get to the MARTA station, so Everett and I went across the street to Adair Park and I let him run around while we waited.  After playing for a while (Everett running around pointing at everything saying “dog”,) I realized the train had not only stopped, but had not moved for the last 10 minutes.

Problem #2 – How do we get across the tracks and get to our station?

Observed Solution – Walk up to tracks with baby in stroller.  Remove baby.  Throw stroller between two train cars so it lands on the side of the tracks you want to be on.  Hold onto baby while climbing over the space between the cars.  Replace baby in stroller.  Continue on your merry way.

Not wanting to endanger the little guy – as well as not being too comfortable with trains lately – that solution was entirely off the table.

Solution #2 – Walk down the tracks to the end of the train and then cross the tracks behind it.

Finally, back on the road again, Everett pointed to the train behind us and said, “dog”.  Yes, my son.  Yes…

We arrived at the MARTA station just in time to watch our bus pull away.  Being rush hour however, I was more than happy to see the already overloaded bus depart without us crammed in there.  So we sat on a bench and waited for the next one.

Sometimes being out and about in the city, you’ll catch a brief whiff of some strange smell.  Thankfully it usually passes quickly or you walk through it.  As Everett and I sat there, a funky smell arrived, and I hoped the breeze would change and send it elsewhere.  Unfortunately, this smell came from close by.  Way too close…

Problem #3 – Everett dropped a deuce and I’m at a MARTA station.

Solution #3 – Commence the longest sigh/headshake EVER and then head to the bathroom in the station. Take off both backpacks and dig for the materials needed.  Stand Everett up on the heat register in the bathroom.  Change him while standing.  Wash up, suit up, and head out.

At first I thought this was going to be a giant disaster, but it turned out to be a surprisingly easy task.  The bathroom was not baby-friendly, but we made it work.  Everett was in a good mood and that really helped a lot.  Sometimes his diaper changes look like Greco-Roman wrestling matches.  Thanks for cooperating buddy!

Finally, the #71 bus arrived and we got on and grabbed a seat.  The ride was relaxing and Everett really enjoyed seeing all the people get on and off.  I never even had to break out the Flip-Out Bag©.  We got off at our street and walked home, enjoying the last of the day’s sunshine and looking forward to doing it all over again.

Dad’s Mileage

Running Miles:  5.5

Walking Miles: 0.75

Transit Miles: 1.8

Today was not the first time I’ve biked E to daycare, but it was the first time I did not ride around our car to do so.  Because we don’t have a car!  Not anymore.  We crashed on the highway 3 weeks ago and after three weekends lost to obsessing over finding an inexpensive car with had 4 doors and good gas mileage, we decided to give up the ghost.

Somehow from a starting budget of 3000 we inched up to 5, then 6, 8, and finally $10,000.  We found a car that met our criteria, bargained for an hour or two, then walked away. Left the deal on the dealer’s table.  That was the highlight of our aborted car buying adventure.

We borrowed my parent’s “extra” car for a few weeks, then once they needed it back, decided it was time. We’d talked about it casually for years, and it took a wreck to give us the push out of the car-dependent lifestyle so common to Atlantans and onto our feet, bikes, and buses (plus the occasional offered ride or borrowed zipcar) full time.

Today I woke up, showered, dressed, and fed the little guy…wait, did I mention we have a kid?!  That’s what made this decision tough.   We’ll get more into that later, but suffice to say our parents are not as excited about this as we are.

So anyway, this morning I woke up, showered, dressed, and fed the little guy…and after searching for my keys for 45 minutes (he’d hidden them in the pantry behind the cereal), we were off.  I popped him into the trailer in the shed behind our house, and wheeled it out of the gate, then brought my bike around and attached the trailer.

E was fine and dandy til I put on his helmet, which set him off crying (he hates the helmet).   But once we got moving, he stopped crying immediately and started his baby hum.  He hummed louder as we crested the first hill (owww…) and picked up speed on our way down.

It took me about 20 minutes to bike to his daycare.  When we pulled in, his class was outside on the playground.  The look on their faces was shock and awe.  If E were a little older he would have felt like a rock star, but as it was he’s 15 months and toddled through the gate, blissfully unaware that this was anything less than an ordinary commute.