Monday, July 6, 2009

The Second Trimester Special

Having lived car-free before our move back east and our adventure in rural home ownership, Dave and I were looking forward to returning to a simpler and more earth-friendly carless lifestyle. Portland makes this sort of thing easier than most places, of course, with the excellent MAX lines, streetcar, reasonably functional buses, zipcar, and so on. We're making use of all of those things. But at the end of the day, we prefer bikes.

We moved with a stable of four: Dave's two "nice" bikes for mountain and road, his Surly Steamroller fixie, a valiant commuter, and my long-loved, much-abused Bianchi Volpe. The Volpe was a replacement for my first "grown-up" bike, a vintage pink Schwinn cruiser whose frame was bent beyond repair in an ugly right hook car-bike collision back in college. Fortunately, I was dating a mechanic at the time (Dave again) and we specced a new bike with the insurance money from the accident: something light enough to ride fast and far on the weekends, but still sturdy and stable enough for every-day commuting.

With only a few further modifications, this is the bike that I've used for pretty much everything ever since: I've commuted on her in Eugene, OR, Washington, D. C., and Chicago, IL. I couldn't imagine wanting to change the Volpe: she fit me perfectly.

But when we moved to Portland, I was 3 months pregnant. When we got the car sold and the bikes out of storage, that was more like 3.5 months, and growing. The aches and pains of getting back on the bike after years of car-based living were substantially compounded by the aches and pains of pregnancy. My Terry Damselfly saddle, chosen explicitly for comfort and well-broken-in, didn't agree with my re-positioning sitbones. Bending to my drop bars made my newly-ample boobs ache.* And, perhaps most irritatingly, my growing belly bumped my thighs with every rotation of the pedals. Not. Cool.

Enter Clever Cycles. We found Clever Cycles before we even moved, walked across town to visit them when we were here to scope things out before the move, and knew then that where practical cycling was concerned, they were our shop. We'd been in several times already shopping our new cargo bike (more on that soon) but this time we had a different agenda. I'd admired and petted the gorgeous Electra cruisers for sale at Clever and elsewhere in town, but I couldn't adjust to the idea of riding a different bike. The Volpe and I have a lot of history, and I wanted to keep riding her.

We started by looking at more upright handlebars, and the awesome sales guy helped us figure out which of them would take my bar-end shifters. He asked what my goal was in making the changes, and I explained about, you know, the belly thing. He said they got that all the time, which made me love the shop, and Portland, even more. Then owner Todd comes around from the back and comments: "We see this so often, I think we ought to call it the "Third Trimester Special."

Volpe Side, originally uploaded by melanthius18.

I ended up with North Road bars from Nitto, and a nicely sprung brown Brooks B67 to replace my trusty Damselfly. Add some platform pedals and new brake levers from the awesome City Bikes and an evening of wrenching in the living room from my favorite mechanic, and I had the new Volpe: still sleek, steel, and slightly battered, but now configured so that I can ride her for miles in comfort, belly, boobs, and all.

*Hi, I'm Katie, and apparently I'm a blogger who writes about boobs. I'm pregnant. Get over it.


sara said...

Your 'new' Volpe is looking good. So love my Brooks saddles. Looking forward to hearing more about your Mundo as it progresses.

julian said...

yay! another new family going by bike! nice volpe conversion, and I'm looking forward to your Mundos family bike builds, and seeing how you do the baby by bike thing. you definitely found the right shop. was that Patrick Barber's christiania trike (of henwaller, velocouture blog renown)?

inkandpen said...

Sara, we'll definitely post on the mundo as we build it-- FedEx managed to mangle our frame the first try, but Benjamin at Yuba was very helpful, and the replacement should be here tomorrow.

Julian, that is absolutely the trike! Thanks for giving me the keys to track Patrick down. Your post on baby by bike has given us some useful things to think about, and I love the new Madsen baby seat. I hope you'll keep posting about it as you break it in!

Kitty said...

Hey Katie! Thanks for the link. Y'all are my heroes. But that should go without saying. My one bike trip pregnant was in Napa on something rented while Mike conferenced and drank the wine I couldn't have. Can we clone Portland somewhere sunny?

Angela V-C said...

Yay! I'm excited that there's soon to be another car free family out in the world. Great blog!!