I've received quite a few e-mails expressing curiosity (and incredulity) about the new family bike, so I decided to post some pictures. It's a 1964 Schwinn Racer (3-speed) that was all original but missing the lamp and generator setup. It had been stored in a shed for at least twenty years, and after an evening of scrubbing it looked pretty good.

I brought the bike down to the good people at the Wheelhouse (a full-service bike shop on the Detroit Riverfront that also rents bikes and gives bike tours of the city) for a tune up and to make sure the bike was in good enough condition to push its ridership capacity a bit. I also had them install a cheap temporary child seat in the back.

Juniper and I took daily rides while we waited for the handlebar bike seat I'd ordered from the Netherlands to arrive. The inspirational Sarah Gilbert in Portland bought a Bobike seat for her amazing mamacycle, and seeing all those photos of Monroe sleeping on it convinced me to use the same brand.

I love riding with him on the handlebars. It's like a 15mph hug. I don't mean to disparage those who use bike trailers, but there's just something really special about being able to point to things and talk to him and hear what he's saying while we're on the bike. The Bobike seat was simple to install myself. I do occasionally find my knees brushing the back of it while we ride, but it doesn't really impede pedaling or steering. I also removed the original kick stand, installing a heavy-duty one to prevent tipping over.

I wasn't happy with the big, clunky contemporary child seat installed on the back of the bike. Juniper complained about not being able to see things to the side and my back blocks most of her forward view. So I looked to eBay for what other options there were, and found a deadstock 1965 Leco child seat that I won for $9.99 ($12.99 shipping). It arrived in its original box still stapled shut:

This seat was easy to install, but it didn't have a seat belt so I had to sew one on myself (it's actually much nicer than anything that comes on a store-bought bike seat).

She tells me she likes this seat so much more than the other one, and occasionally I feel her arms wrap around me and her head rest against the small of my back.

I wanted the bike to have some cargo capacity for my camera or any shopping we do during the day. The way the seat attaches to the frame made it impossible to install a rear rack or any panniers currently on the market, so after flirting with the idea of installing a CETMA front rack, I decided just to hack some wicker baskets onto the seat and fender struts, choosing a couple of fishing creels ($12.60 each). I connected each of them to the struts using hose clamps wrapped in electrical tape as well as some wire, and they are on there TIGHT. We tested the creels after our weekly trip to the cheesemongers with a gallon of milk in one and five pounds of cheese in the other and later with a couple 2-liters of soda. They work great! The creels also serve as a comfortable footrest for the kid in the back.

So at this point I think I have put almost $200 into this bike, but the pleasure we've already gotten out of it has far surpassed any cost. With the new bike trail in our neighborhood we can get to the riverfront without crossing any busy streets, and from there we can ride for miles on trails (and easily get to Belle Isle). In picking the kid up from school, I've been amazed at how different the experience of the city is from the car. You see things differently, and better. People are friendlier. We've seen a lot of rubbernecking smiles.

"Pops, Last summer was the summer of the jogging stroller," Juniper announced to me on the way home from school yesterday. "This summer will be the summer of the bike."