We got our first measurable snowfall of the winter on Friday and with the frigid temperatures we’ve had over the last several days, it didn’t immediately melt into a sickening brown/gray slush. My family has been waiting months for a winter wonderland weekend so we took full advantage.
On Sunday morning I sent the old man and big kid off to a friend’s birthday party on the tandem so the wee one and I could attend Dottie’s monthly Women Who Bike brunch. The snow was heavily packed by now but the roads were still a big old mess and the 13F temperatures had frozen the slush that was piled in the bike lanes. Thanks plow guys for only clearing the car paths and pushing all the run off into where I ride. That combined with bone chilling winds made for some seriously burning calf muscles as I pushed the Joe Bike through the muck for 4 miles on the way to brunch.
Photo by Megan Kearney
Luckily, I had some company to bookend both sides of my journey. After taking a 6 week hiatus from riding I’ve been feeling self-conscious about my abilities and speed, which, on that beast of a bike was never above 12mph anyway, but my friends were sweet as can be and didn’t abandon my corpse on the side of the road once.
After stuffing my piehole full of mimosas and Belgian waffles and doing some much needed catching up with the gals it was time to bid our farewells. I popped over to Comrade Cycles next door to smash my face into their display window and ogle all the shiny new bikes and accessories but we’ve been pinching our pennies lately and there’s no extra dough for impulse buys this month. I loaded the wee babe back into the bike and hit the road, now heading directly into the wind.
The sweat on my brow when I got home put my mind at ease about the thousand calorie carb load I’d enjoyed earlier that day.
Me and the babe hunkered down indoors today, staying cozy in our snuggies and slankets while the old man and heiress to the OLM fortune headed out to the aquarium via bike. A reporter at the Chicago Sun Times thought the act of riding a bike in single digit temps was newsworthy enough to snap some photos as they coasted through the Loop.
My better half relishes riding in bitterly cold temps. I can’t say the I feel the same but when faced with waiting 15 minutes in the same temperatures for a bus, cycling is the better option.
Subtitle for “How I Rigged a Baby Seat into my Bike”. Well, it might be a little bit of a death trap. I won’t know until we’ve done some 5+ mile expeditions.
I was hoping for some more unseasonably warm days before shuffling out to the garage with my newborn to photo document this set up. Today was supposed to be 44F but hey, I guess meteorology isn’t an exact science.
Sorry for the frost bite little baby, but my life’s work comes first.
As an aside, rigging this seat into the box of my bike was one of the first projects I tackled when I found out I was pregnant. I don’t want to go so far as to say putting a baby in a bike was why I got pregnant in the first place but I am thinking it. So, without further adieu, let’s document the steps, starting with a trip to Pep Boys for a bench seat belt and ending with Child Protective Services knocking at my door.
I’d drilled into the box of the bike already (as well as the bucket of the Madsen many moons ago) so I had no qualms about keeping it intact for preservation’s sake. Which is a good thing since I didn’t take any measurements when I started drilling to add a belt and buckle to the floor of the box and ended up having to drill two more times. I don’t learn from initial errors, dammit. The first time I drilled on the non-drive side of the box the bottom of the screw and nut interfered with the mechanism for storing the center kickstand. I tried just riding with it dragging across the asphalt but though the sparks were festive, it slowed me down considerably. So, I needed to move the holes further to the outside of the box’s interior. But hey, guess what, lack of foresight struck again. Once the holes were drilled and I proceeded to add the tie down pieces I realized the holes were too close to the box walls and would have to come inward significantly.
We’ll say those extra holes are for drainage. So, after the initial hiccups with power tools, we were ready to install the belt. Ten bucks from the auto store by the way, well worth the price after explaining to a teenaged clerk what my plans with it were and watching the expression of sheer horror on his face.
I knew I’d need some shock absorption for the bottom of the box so I took a box cutter to a foam letter tile. Just the first of many ways that the “new baby” was to ruin the toys belonging to the “old baby”. Lessons in sharing. I may need to reiterate that lesson shortly if I decide that a single layer does not provide enough bounce proofness for baby’s tiny head and more importantly, non-existant blood brain barrier.
See, fits like a glove.
After that comes installing the base. Be sure not to cut off any extra slack from the nylon belt since you’ll need to play around with lengths and adjustment in order to get the base strapped down snugly. I just got an infant seat and base for <$10 from the thrift store since I wasn’t sure which brand had the smallest profile for our tiny, single capacity bucket. As you can see the box begins to angle toward the front of the base so it does not sit flush against the box’s floor. I’ve strapped it down tight enough that there is still no lateral movement whatsoever despite the angle. In a couple of months when the babe is more sturdy she’ll appreciate the more upright seating position that the angling allows for. Better views, yo.
Now for clicking in the seat.
Ta da! I added that wooly seat liner dealie yesterday since the crappy fleece blanket I was using previously was not working out. This Bundle Me combined with the wind protection of the rain cover should provide for a toasty ride.
Due to the angle of the front of the box the seat sticks out about two inches further than where the rain cover normally sits. I went around this problem by lowering the handle of the seat over the top of the fork/head tube. It doesn’t interfere at all with steering though it does prevent the rain cover from being totally weather sealed. I don’t foresee it being an issue though, even in blowing slow or rain conditions because the backing of the carrier will shield the babe from direct exposure to the elements.
As we expand our riding radius in the coming weeks I’ll continue to update on how this set up is working out.
After I dropped the big girl off at school this morning, (via car -boo hiss- I still haven’t gotten my act together enough to get both out of the house in bikeable time) the wee one and I ventured out in the brisk 10F air for a short trek to a near-by breakfast joint. She’s still such a peanut that none of the winter bike gear I thrifted fits yet so she had to hang in there in a fleecey footie PJ and blanket combo. But, that ensemble paired with my cargo bike’s glorious rain cover kept her snug as a bug in a rug. What a trooper.
I plan to write up a little post about the way I rigged the infant carrier into the bike but that will have to wait until I can hang in my garage without seeing my breath. With the way this FakeSpring(TM) season is going, that will be any time now.