There must be a better way...
Previously, I wrote that after my wife, four month old son, and I moved from Pasadena to Silver Lake, I was missing the easy walkability of downtown Pasadena. It had been over seven years since I'd lived in a neighborhood where I had to drive to complete every little errand.
The ironic thing is: I love cars. In my circle of friends, I'm the guy who everyone consults before buying a car. I still have Porsche brochures that I begged from a dealership back when I was in the second grade. My first car out of college was an NA Miata, engineered with a suspension based on the legendary Lotus Elise. This marks me as a car guy:
A metrosexual car guy, but a car guy nonetheless. But, there is a world of difference between slicing a mechanical work of art over Mulholland and crawling through gridlock for ten minutes to pick up a gallon of milk.
Since the errands I needed to run were too far apart to walk and driving sucked, the only option left was dusting off one of our bikes that had barely been ridden for the past seven years. But, how do I put a kid on a bike? Can I put a kid on a bike? Most importantly, how do I hide this plan from my wife?
When I started exploring the brave new world of family biking, I owned a full suspension mountain bike:
And a Bike Friday folding tandem Two'sday:
I soon discovered that my mountain bike was incompatible with every single child seat on the market. That left the Bike Friday folding tandem.
The Bike Friday tandem had originally been purchased to prevent my wife and I from breaking up years before we made a child. When we first started dating, I liked to bike. I didn't own any Tour de France lycra unitards or anything, I just liked to pedal my mountain bike around town or on the occasional foray up moderately inclined nature trails with my German Shepherd.
My wife CLAIMED she liked to bike. I did not understand that young women have been known to try on their boyfriend's hobbies before returning them like a barely worn dress once they've settled into long term couplehood. So, I bought her a lightweight bicycle that would enable her to keep up with me on my slower, heavier, knobby-tired mountain bike as we blissfully explored the quiet, tree lined streets of one of North America's great cities...
But, she was so sloooowwww.
It could be argued that slow is subjective, She would insist that I was riding too fast and acting like an insensitive, judgmental jerk. But, she is obviously wrong. Thus, in order to end our bickering and expand our range beyond riding down the driveway and back, I purchased a folding tandem. We could throw it in the trunk, unfold it, and casually ride down the beach boardwalk. Problem solved.
What's important here, is that when our Little Dictator turned a year old and I was itching to put him on a bike for the first time, the Bike Friday was the only bike I owned that could carry him. But, how? The options were a front mounted child seat like the one below (notice how it's mounted securely on the stem under the handlebars, so the kid sits IN FRONT of you):
Or a rear mounted seat like this one (to restate the obvious, the kid sits IN BACK of you):
I also could have purchased a trailer, but I quickly dismissed that idea (they're cumbersome, they're heavy, they don't fit on many L.A. sidewalks, the kid sits too far behind you to see what's going on with them, etc).
I will write a post with a guide to child seats soon, but for now, I will just say that front-mounted seats are THE BOMB. They are my personal favorite BY FAR and it's not even close. Unfortunately, the Bike Friday did not have a enough room for me to pedal without my knees hitting a front-mounted child seat. Sadly, I had no choice, but to purchase a rear-mounted seat.
Okay, we had a bike. We had a rear-mounted child seat. We had a baby on the cusp of toddlerhood wearing a bike helmet. We were ready to launch. All I needed was my wife to leave for work, so I could sneak the little cherub she carried for nine months in her womb onto the back of a bike...