Balloons, longtail test rides, and the plague

The good news is that I am alive, though I’ve felt less-than-lively since being hit by a respiratory virus on Sunday.  Illness plus a heavier work load on the part-time job front equals precious little time, energy, and brain functioning for this space.

I ended last week’s heavy biking log with a trip to Forest Park for the balloon race on Saturday afternoon.  The ride was notable because it’s probably close to the highest single-trip mileage I’ve completed with Gabriel along in the front seat, and it’s the first time I’ve been up and down the Macklind hill with him along.  I made it up on the return trip, thanks to my granny gear!

And then of course there were the balloons . . .

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We enjoyed a picnic dinner as we watched the balloons  inflate, rise, and fly swiftly south under a heavy breeze from the north.  I thought the last few balloons might accompany us on our ride home, but they must have taken a slightly different route.

On the ride home we discussed Sunday plans to test ride some longtails, and Matthew, who’d put in over twenty miles on the bike on Saturday while leading CyclingSavvy, requested that we use the car to get to our Sunday destination since he was having some knee pain.

I reluctantly agreed, having liked the idea of showing up on our bikes to test ride the other bikes.  Come Sunday afternoon (post cold-pocalypse), feeling like death-warmed-over, I lacked the energy to bike anyway.  Only the fact that we’d  been trying to set up these test rides for quite awhile (over a year, in one case!) persuaded me to abandon the couch and get in the car at all.

I perked up enough to ride the two longtails (a Surly Big Dummy and a Yuba Mundo) around the block.  Once again I failed to photo-document the fact that I was on a longtail, but it happened.  Gabriel also rode along on the Big Dummy.

Both bikes handled well, and Matthew and I agreed that either could potentially meet our needs.  I slightly preferred the ride of the Mundo, while Matthew slightly preferred the Big Dummy.

Of course, just to make things complicated, some other options, including the Xtracycle EdgeRunner and the question of whether a longtail is really what we want at all (would we be better served by a midtail?) entered the picture recently.  Enter the “too many choices” phenomenon!  We’ll have made a decision by the time Gabriel’s twenty and the question of how we transport him by bike is completely moot.

Anyhow, a variety of factors (distance, cargo, sickness) conspired to make this week quite the opposite of last week: a number of car trips (will be up to four after tomorrow morning) and no bike trips.

So far, this virus is outwitting my usual weapons (i.e., lots of liquids; salt water gargles; neti pot; soup with lots of onion, garlic, and ginger).  The only thing missing there is rest, which is hard to come by when the symptoms make it hard to sleep at night and there is too much on the to-do list during the day.  Hoping at the very least to be back to normal by this time next week, when I’m on for a CyclingSavvy gig!


  1. I’m not sure what path led me to your blog–probably that someone on Facebook “liked” the entry, which makes sense, given that I’m a recently-minted CSI.

    I read with interest your discussion of the Ute, MiniUte, Big Dummy, and Mundo. I went to your comparison chart from your May entry, and noted that you dropped the Big Dummy due to pricing.

    I was faced with a similar set of choices in May of 2012. The bike shop where I was working was about to close its doors, and I was planning for a bicycle-based handyman service. I had recently gotten a Bikes at Work trailer, but wanted the right cargo-hauling beast to pull it.

    Of the three primary options you mention, I went for the Big Dummy. Yes, it was a bit more expensive–especially at retail prices. I’m partial to CroMo steel compared to Hi-Ten frames, for some probably-purely-emotional reason. It also has a more suitable drive train (for me, at least) and MUCH better brakes than a stock Mundo, along with better-quality rims, and more perceived flexibility (being based on the Xtracycle open source format). I could also get one in the time frame to which I was limited. Yuba didn’t have any frames I could buy at the time, and buying a bike PLUS upgrading the brakes and such didn’t appeal to me.

    That said, I like the Mundo quite well. It’s a neat platform, and appears to have better mounting systems for kid seats on the deck than the Dummy–which is a more important issue for you than for me. I like that Yuba mounts the front basket on the frame, rather than on the fork. The bike does ride well, although I haven’t had a chance to ride one carrying a load as I have with my Big Dummy.

    In short, I don’t think you could go wrong with either one. Let some emotion guide you (but not too much).

    Heal well, and quickly, so that you may enjoy the bike you choose!

    1. Karen Karabell says:

      Glad you two are “meeting.” You’ll be delighted when you meet in person one day. Melissa, when the talk turns to bikes and their bike-ability, I trust no one more than Tom 🙂

    2. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Hi Tom, thanks for the feedback. It definitely helps hearing different owner experiences. With the Mundo, we were leaning toward the model with the NuVinci hub — that model comes standard with disc brakes, plus some other nice features like built-in lights.

      The Big Dummy is back in the running, while the Kona Ute is probably out (due to higher wheel base). We like the idea of a longtail frame with a slightly more aggressive geometry, but that doesn’t seem to be how they’re made.

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