I’m a city rider for the most part – I ride my bike to work everyday, run errands on my bike, and our family does as much as we can on our bikes.
Two things occurred this Spring that inspired me to start this blog:
- Dutch Bike Research – I’d been looking to buy a new bike and as I focused on bikes that fit my current lifestyle (city riding, daily commutes to work and using my bike as much as possible for errands, and basic transportation) I realized that an upright, dutch-style bike would be another kind of sturdy steel-frame bike (my preferred kind of frame) that I could love. These sorts of bikes have mega-cargo hauling abilities , step-through frames, fenders and skirt guards to protect your everyday clothes, and internal dynamo -powered lights. During my research I also discovered a plethora of great blogs written by women riding city bikes and looking great ( the “Cycle Chic” category of bike blogs) in regular clothes . I realized there were lots of people riding bikes everyday for transportation, for fun, and they weren’t only the folks wearing skinny jeans on fixed-gear bikes.
- Adaptive Bike Research – This spring we also got an adaptive trike for my six year-old stepson – aka “Little Ding”. He has Cerebral Palsy and while he is able to walk with a little help from a pair of leg braces, we’ve never found any sort of tricycle that he could really ride. In late winter/early spring the folks at Loyola put together a trike that fit him perfectly and he took off on that thing like a bat out of hell. It was exciting to find something that he could ride. Unfortunately he quickly overpowered it, and we were wondering what sort of bike we could get him. My significant other did some research online and discovered the brilliant folks at The Bike Rack out in St. Charles. The owner of the Bike Rack also runs Creative Mobility – an organization devoted to getting special needs kids on bikes. Along with selling all the standard bikes and usual bike gear, they sell a variety of two and three-wheel recumbent bikes, and even their own custom-designed, upright, three-wheel adaptive bike. Their mechanics are also trained in adapting standard bikes to suit different riders. They were very knowledgeable and determined that we could probably adapt a standard kids Trek bike to suit the needs of our young rider. They had an orange bike in stock – favorite color – and we came back in a week to pick up a super-cool new bike.
A couple of weekends ago we did a short family ride around the neighborhood. There was a lot of coaching to remind our newest rider about the importance of momentum – i.e. keep pedaling when you get to small inclines so that you don’t stop or roll backwards. At some point during the ride though, he got into the groove and was singing to himself as he rode along – and I could almost feel the freedom he felt by being able to propel himself down the street. It may sound cheesy, but it really did make me appreciate the power of a bike.
So that’s it. I’ve spent 20 years riding a mountain bike, but I’m a new believer in the usefulness of upright, city or dutch-style bikes. And I have to say, they look quite cool too. So many more folks can ride upright bikes — you should see some of the nifty three-wheel upright bikes I’ve seen! There’s a place for all kinds of bikes, and I’ll be riding my mountain bike from time to time, but I’ve got a renewed sense of excitement about biking in general and I’m learning more about adaptive bikes and may even learn about handcycles. I’ll be sharing my adventures riding in the city alone or with my family as my contribution to encouraging everyone to ring that bell and get out and ride a bike!