27 August 2009

Low speed stability

I ended up on my wife's bike again after she toppled over on it coming to a stop at a badly placed motorbike obstacle on the cycle path, with N°3 child in the childseat on the way to the beach. After this unfortunate but not too serious accident she asked for a swop to the Yuba and that was it. She finished the 20 Km of the ride with child and beach gear easily.
She rides a hybrid with 700 c wheels which places the centre of gravity high up. That with thin tyres, a child perched up in a child seat over those tall thin wheels makes for a top heavy bike that whips along, but understeers, and is not as stable as a 26 inch bike. It really wants to fall over when loaded anytime you take your rear off the saddle. The frame might be a tad too big for her too, with these big wheels. The Yuba even with a larger child, beach bags, with its smaller wheels and lower centre of gravity makes for a safer ride and a bike that goes round corners... even if slightly slower !
We saw a lot of rabbits and partridges on the way back, but they were too quick to catch on the camera.

We will start looking for a replacement for the hybrid as she uses this bike every day and there are probably better solutions out there.

21 August 2009

Bad Pizza and sharks

The kids nagged me all morning so that I would take them to a pizza restaurant a mile down the road for lunch, one of 70 in a national chain. Being weak and after three hours of mental assaults I gave in. We turned up on the Yuba and I parked up on the side of the restaurant near the terrace leaving the Yuba on its kickstand. A very rude server came up as I was doing this and told me not to throw my bike in the bushes. Good start, I nearly left there and then... cyclists are obviously freaks to this person, and one with three kids in tow obviously put her stress levels up.
Access to this fake Tuscan style villa is on a busy main road, stuck between car sales emporiums, a parking lot and a supermarket. It was not nice to access it on a bike. We were the first to arrive, we ordered our pasta and pizzas with the scowling server and I tried to relax. Gradually people started to park up and get out of their cars, some had driven only a few hundred yards from their workplace down the road. Then every single person who came to the terrace started to smoke, repeatedly. The fact that it is now illegal here to smoke in a public place, and that there were 3 children present didn't seem to bother anybody. The food was bad, there was about double the food needed, especially for the kids, and I spent my time calculating how fast we could get out of there. Then came the moment when I understood why the kids wanted to come to this nasty place and why they had been unusually well behaved. ( Appart from an incident when N°2 child came back from the toilets mid meal and said, no shouted - Boy, I am really constipated ! - I tried not to laugh. At this point I would have been pleased if they had started throwing food.) At the end of the meal they get a toy wrapped in 3 layors of plastic. They came for the toy, not the food.... the joys of marketing. The toys were cheap swimming goggles, so I suggested that we go test them at the beach, and we were out of there...

We were soon out of town and alone on the cyclepath that takes us the 15 clicks to the beach, we managed a park stop on route and were soon in the water. I found out that you can fit a 1.5 litre water bottle in the frame in front of the rear wheel and it won't fall out. A great find for hot days.

Also I like taking my bikes onto the beach where I can see them, the Yuba even loaded up with beach towels, toys etc rolls along nicely on its fat tires on fine sand. And when you put it down on the sand the side bars hold the chain and hub high off the sand so it all stays clean.

We had a cool wind with lots of waves this afternoon. Had great fun rolling in the waves all afternoon and left the beach at about six in the evening. I found the ride back with the three kids (65 Kg) on the back harder than usual, but there had been a head wind on the way out and I am not in my usual physical condition after a lazy holiday period.
Alot of people were in their cars going home too (looking hot and cramped), and this cycle path is not too far from the road so we had tens of people slow down on the road to look and point at us. It is not often you see 4 people on a bike after all. Its not often that you see a bike with 1 person on it either unfortunately... We must have been overtaken by about 3 bikes on the 15 km trip back, mostly kids who would probably been on motorbikes if they were old enough. Happily we got alot of smiles and thumbs up and looks of surprise from people who might think of doing the same thing as us. When I get stopped in town and chat to people I am often taken back by their surprise at the distances we travel on the Yuba. In most people's minds a bike is not a method of transport anymore.
When we got back there was a piece on national TV about 2 six foot Blue sharks that had been sighted a mile from where we had been paddling all afternoon ! Unheard of here... Anyway I doubt they would have come into 8 inches of water where we were.

20 August 2009

Back in the saddle.

Our holidays were pretty much bike free unfortunatley. We thought touring Italy in a Fiat would be different. It was great, and the sights and food amazing, but the closest we got to a bike was taking photos of vintage Italian racers. I finally got to jump back on the yuba yesterday and resume bike based life with a trip to the beach with the three kids. Mrs Yuba joined us in the fun after work.

It was great to pootle along with the kids in a car free environment under the blazing sun. The Yuba was on top form, I had spent some time that morning fettling the gears, brakes and pumping up the tires. I fitted some panniers to carry the beach toys, and I think I will use them to go shopping. We were pretty loaded up and I can feel the 30 km in my legs this morning. Not suprising after nearly 3 weeks lazyness.