Street Party – No Cars Please

17 Apr

This past weekend, the AUTOtropolis also known as the City of Angels hosted the semi-annual CicLAvia.  If you don’t know what it is, the basic premise is that the city closes down a couple of miles of city streets to all car traffic.  Check out the Marketplace report.

Austin is going to host our very own version of the event in just over a month.  Viva Streets Austin will be on May 20, with a nice section of 6th Street closed down to all car traffic.  Get out there, ride your bike, take a walk, or just sit on the curb and watch the people go by.


Welcome to the Herd

1 Feb
  Since becoming a parent, I have had the chance to celebrate many different milestones along the life of my boys.  Most of the milestones experienced thus far have been more significant as a parent, then as a kid (no toddler is excited about the sore gums appreciated with a first tooth).  Now that my boys are over two years old, the milestones more exciting to them are coming fast and furious.  The most significant recent event was a perfect combinations of dumb luck, motherly patience, and fun.  
Read the rest of the post over at Austin on Two Wheels.

Five Important things

31 Oct

Recently a coworker came up and asked me how I did it all. I had recently talked with a group of 4th grade students about writing for a national bike blog based in Austin. On top of that I work as the technical director in a local universities theater department, sing in a community choir once a week, write a monthly article for this blog, play in the local amatuar soccer league once a week, as well as be a father for 3 wonderful boys, and a husband to one very understanding woman. We also help with our church, ride bikes as often as we can and try to be a normal family. My coworkers question, got me thinking I was just a little spread out at the moment. I was able to keep all of the plates in the air….but just barely somedays. The people feeling the greatest effects of all of this over commitment was my wife, who was spending bunches of time acting as a single parent, and my boys, who always want to spend as much time as possible with dad. The following week, my wife went to the our Doctor for her annual well-check, and when he was sitting down with her, he asked her what her top five things were, and then if she was making sure those top five things were getting the most priority.

All of this conversation about setting priorities, just confirmed what I secretly already knew, but wasn’t willing to address, I needed to pair down my time commitments if I wanted to make sure I kept my family as the top priority. For me this is not an easy thing to admit, and I found myself trying to group things together so I could justify keeping multiple activities (ie. soccer, bike commuting, and cyclocross = physical activity) or (community choir and theater work = Fine Arts). I decided that in order to really get this under control, I was going to need to be more discerning, there would be no cheating. So here goes, this is my current top five. This five is an attempt to put what is important at the top of my time commitments, does it mean I won’t do the other things, no, but it does mean I am going to now prioritize and say “NO” if time doesn’t allow for the important things in life.

1. Family
2. Work
3. Bike
4. Friends
5. Theater

The hardest thing about this list, for me, is admitting that soccer is just taking up to much of my time, and it isn’t even a priority. I will still religiously follow my favorite teams, and watch way to much soccer on TV, I will also continue to run my Fantasy Premier League, but the days of me getting out there and limping around trying to hold on to the illusion of youth are over.

As the boys become old enough to start participating in organized activities (soccer, biking, theater), I will have to move that up the list. For the time being this is my list, and I am going to enjoy it while I can.

Commuter Buddy

16 Sep


Surly McClain Reporting for Duty

I have been using my bike as a mode of transportation on and off for the last 10 years. At this point, it does not seem extraordinary to ride to the store to get a sixer of Fat Tire, take the boys to get donuts on a Saturday morning, or to ride to work.  Maybe I am getting old, or maybe it wasn’t that significant, but I don’t remember that first time I rode my bike to work.  I wanted to try and remember what that felt like, so in my post a couple of weeks ago, I put out a request to let me be a ride along commuter buddy.  I hoped that having somebody to ride along with them, would persuade somebody to give commuting by bike a shot, and one brave soul came to my rescue for the story.  Enter Future Commuter Girl, she was looking to make that leap and start riding to work.  

To read the rest of the story head over to Austin on Two Wheels…….

Fall = more bikes and less heat (we hope)

16 Sep
Last week we got just a taste of the wonders of fall.  The days of 100 degree temperatures vanished in a night (to bad they came back 5 days later) and we were out side enjoying the cooler temperatures of fall.  Now that is a funny statement, because those cooler temperatures were in the low 90’s, oh how I have changed from that kid from the upper midwest.  Fall is my favorite season of the year.  Now don’t get me wrong….we don’t actually have what I would consider fall in Austin, it just isn’t blazing hot outside….but other than that it is still pretty much summer.  I digress.
Now that the temperatures are getting a little cooler, the boys are wanting to be on the bike more (theirs and mine) and we have started watching “bike baces”, as the Boy calls them, each evening before going to bed.  Thank you for suppling a nearly endless supply of cyclocross races each and everyday.  We are entering the sweet spot for central Texas weather.  The next 8 months are the reason people are moving here in droves.  The Baker house will be going out and enjoying this fine weather (once it gets below 100).
The Boy catching up on the cyclocross reports from the States and Europe….I wish I could say this was staged, but it isn’t, he actually would sit down with the Velonews Cross edition and flip through the entire issue while on the potty. He could look at pictures of muddy bikes all day long.
Finn will do whatever it takes to ride a bike with you, he is the boy with no fear.
There is nothing quite like having all your tools neatly organized.

Fall = Cyclocross

12 Sep

Great video from last years National Championship in Bend.  Great song and great video work.

Is it worth a coin?

3 Sep

The Boy recently has taken to the idea that he would like certain items. Well this is not actually a new idea, but he is old enough to understand that there is value associated with something and it does not actually just fall from the sky. Previously he just assumed that Mrs. B and I were a bottomless pit of money. We would say things like you can’t swing your hockey stick in the house because you could break the TV and it wouldn’t work anymore. His typical response to this statement was something like this “That’s okay mama, we just go to Wal-Mart and get a new one”. 

No to the TV. 

No to the Wal-Mart. 

No to swinging the stick in the house. 

Recently at church, he indicated that he would like a juice box as his snack. To dissuade this, I just asked him if he had the money to pay for the juice box, which was $.50. He indicated he didn’t have any money. Although he did remind me that he swallowed a dime one time, and it came out in his poop. I asked him if he had that dime on him. He didn’t. Problem solved.
On the way home from church, the Boy asked if he could have some money…..obviously the problem wasn’t solved. Mrs. B informed the Boy that he would need to earn money if he wanted it. The whole earning thing is a bit of a stretch for his little 3 year old brain, so we started brainstorming ways he could make money. Below is a sample of that conversation. 

Mrs. B: What could you do to earn money? What job could you do? 

The Boy: I could play. 

Mrs. B: Well I was thinking about something that would help around the house. 

The Boy: I could play with my brothers. 

Mrs. B: Sometime a job is something you don’t want to do. 

The Boy: I could not hit my brothers, when we are playing. (Now we were getting somewhere) 

Mrs. B: You know how mama and dada pick up dog poop, we don’t really want to do that but it has to be done. 

The Boy: I don’t want to pick up dog poop (I don’t blame you partner). I could ride my bike. 

It went on like this for the rest of the ride home (20 minutes), and the closest we got to an actual chore was picking up toys at the end of each night. Now that we have at least entered the world of chores, he as quickly realized the potential of negotiation. Now when we ask him to do something, he quickly responds with….do I get a coin. Although this is a marginally effective way to get him motivated to do things, I don’t know how comfortable I am with him associating every single task he does as a way to get money…..I would much rather he do it just because it is good for the family. Holy Crap….now I sound like Mrs. B.