Getting Klutzy on the Cargo Bike
My adolescence was fraught with klutziness.
There was the time I ate too many cinnamon hearts and had a swollen tongue for days, or when I got a second-degree burn on my foot from spilling hot coffee, or when I chopped off a piece my thumb with the meat slicer at my deli job. And those are just highlights of 1992.
Now that I’ve reached the ripening age of 35, the clumsy attacks are back with
a vengeance. And they’re all directed at my shiny new cargo bike. It’s as though my new vehicle gets my juices flowing, in an overly confident, hormonally induced, illogical sort of way and rational flies out the window. Like being a teenager.
I went to visit a friend across town a couple of weeks ago, and thought I’d cargo bike my way there. It’d work out the thighs, I thought. And my patience, it turns out. At one point, a jogger passed me. It took over two-hours to get there. Google maps told me the trip would take 45 minutes.
Misadventure #1: riding in a cargo bike is about the journey, not the destination (because if your destination is far away, you’ll never get there).
On the way back from my friend’s, I decided I could potentially go faster if I inflated the tires. I stopped for air at a gas station. That was when I learned that my bike has European valves, and, more importantly, that I don’t know how to work them. At Dufferin and Dupont, I got two flats after I deflated, rather than inflated, the tires.
Misadventure #2: don’t inflate the tires with the fancy European valves for the first time when you’re far away from home and actually more likely to deflate them rather than inflate them.
I walked to the one store that sells my Babboe cargo bike, Curbside Cycle at Bloor and Spadina. I got rained on, twice, sweated like a pig when it wasn’t raining, and had to re-schedule a story. The friendly mechanic fixed my tires without condescension in about two minutes.
You’d think I’d have learned my lesson. But a mere two days later, I rode over to
Home Depot to pick up sand for the patio stones we were laying in our backyard. I thought, 180 lbs of sand — no problem, my Babboe can handle at least 200 hundred.
I put in one bag, she was fine. I put in another, my Babboe sunk down. I thought, it’s fine (klutzy teenager thinking). I put in the last bag, and the tires gave out. There I was stranded, with two flats on the cargo — again, and a whole lot of construction sand.
Misadventure #3: she can take it, but only to a point: don’t overestimate the
hardiness of your cargo!
Riding home was nasty. The construction sand was out of my bike (to be picked
up later) but the two flats in front made me feel like I had a heavy load despite my abandoned purchases. People on foot were passing me.
Misadventure #4: maintaining your dignity when pedestrians pass you in your
cargo bike is tricky.
My local bike store is a minute away from daycare. Ever the multi-tasker, I thought I’d drop the kids off, and then bring in the bike to be fixed.
The other morning, I loaded up the cargo, with kids, two flats, and a full-force heat wave, and rode the load to day care (we were going to walk, with the kids out of the cargo, but that proved to be harder than riding it with the kids in it.).
Regardless, I think we could have gone to day care faster crawling with my hands tied behind my back. I was sweating from my eyebrows. Which brings me to:
Misadventure #5: Men who spot flat tires must point out the obvious.
What is it with some men? There I am, in the heat, pushing two kids with two flat tires in a bike that’s the size of a monster — and every other man we pass says, “Do you know you have a flat? oh, look you have two flats.”
When we got to daycare, dripping, exhausted, a woman walked by us.
“I feel your pain,” she said. “That happened on my bike trailer with my two kids
Bit of luck: sometimes strangers say the right thing
I made it to the bike shop, the guy behind the counter told me, “All it would take to fix this is a couple of $5 tools, you know. But in case it’s complicated, it’ll cost you $50 an hour in labour.”
Yeah, well. I don’t think I should I should mess with these tires anymore.
And I’m thinking a new Bunch tag should be ‘cargo bike misadventures’, because I see more in my future.
Bit of luck: It only cost $20 to fix.
Previously on Queer as Moms, Meri shares how her family celebrates Father’s Day
Photo from Tom and Katrien via Flickr