BikeTexas

Support Texas Cycling

Join BikeTexas

IndividualBusinessClub/Team • Event

BikePedEd

Bike education materials for your classroom, youth organization, and more.

Shop BikeTexas Store

Bike LightsJerseys, License Plates, T-Shirts, and more 

Order License Plates

Share your love for bikes while driving your car

Donate to the Cause

Support Bike Advocacy & Education

Group Bike Rentals

 

Premiere Business Members & Sponsors

 

Safety & Education

SafeCyclist Training

Get certified to teach the SafeCyclist Curriculum 

Educational Resources

 Resources for teachers and community members

SRTS Event Handbook

BikeTexasJersey-2012-Front

News / Blog Member News
Member News

Bikes and Snails and Puppy-Dogs’ Tails: WOOMBIKES

BikeTexas Business Member Woombikes passed along this excellent article, which is reprinted here compliments of TexasBikeRacing.com.

057

By Kat Hunter

My son calls it “Bluebike.” His delight in it is contagious, but I realize I’m probably going a little overboard when Theo starts mimicking my exaggerated “Wowwwww” as he rolls around the house. There’s no drive train on the little two-wheeled machine, no pedals; what’s turning are the gears in Theo’s 23-month-old mind, working so hard to understand—or rather, absorb—how the bike is meant to work. And just like crawling or walking or speaking, it seems to be coming to him via little checks and balances that smooth themselves out so quickly they’re almost undiscernible.

The idea of the balance bike isn’t a new one—this was how some of the very first bikes were designed—but it’s only recently that their use has become widespread with young children. In “my day” we started with a tricycle, transitioned to a clunky two-wheeled bike with training wheels, and finally removed the training wheels in what I can still vividly remember as a reluctant and rather painful rite of passage. The balance bike, on the other hand, teaches what’s considered the most difficult aspect of riding a bicycle—staying upright—before the act of pedaling, in most cases eliminating the need for training wheels altogether. Children can start using a balance bike as early as 18 months, and with the concepts of balancing and coasting already well understood, often begin riding a traditional bicycle at age three or four.

Two weeks ago at the Driveway Series racetrack in East Austin, Theo had spotted the WOOM tent and its gleaming stable of test bikes before I did, commandeering a balance bike with the speed and self-assurance of a little pirate. WOOM offers a full line of high-end kids’ bikes, from the 12-inch balance bike to a 24-inch “big kids’” bike. For the purposes of this review, a blue 12-inch balance bike was waiting for us in a bag, along with a WOOM helmet, tiny pair of bike gloves, and wooden stand. Once Theo was coaxed onto the intended steed, my husband had the pleasure of tirelessly plodding after him through parking lot and fields while I raced. Jack said the WOOM had the immediate side effect of making Theo completely deaf to instruction, especially any sentence including “stop” or “wait.”

woom1

By the next day, Theo was already managing short glides, picking up his feet for a second or two after a running start. The surprised, sideways grin he’d get when he gathered up a bit of unexpected speed, zooming down a little incline or the slope of our driveway, made my Proud Mama Bike Racer heart melt. Not surprisingly, we had our first minor wipeout on Day 2. (The helmet was a good idea.) But at the end of the week, Theo was fully agile and moving with such confidence and speed that teaching him how to use the hand brake has taken on a new sense of urgency. He spends so much time on the bike some days that he gets chafing, and let me tell you, all the time-proven remedies in the world are no help when the cyclist in question is still in diapers.

On the WOOM, everything is a charming miniature, from the saddle to the “small-hand reach” hand brake; the downtube curves and is very low and easy to mount…

Theo already had a balance bike at home, purchased five or six months earlier—its name is “Redbike.” Relatively inexpensive, Redbike had been something of a disappointment to us, as Theo had walked with it a few times, but had shown more of an affinity for his tricycle. He had a great deal of difficulty maneuvering Redbike and would tip over easily, making him fearful and tentative. Compared to the WOOM, there are a few obvious differences in design. Redbike is larger and much heavier, weighing in at 12 pounds to the WOOM’s 9 pounds. Redbike also seems to have a much higher center of gravity, the saddle is more similar to the size of an adult’s, and the wheels are chunkier. On the WOOM, everything is a charming miniature, from the saddle to the “small-hand reach” hand brake; the downtube curves and is very low and easy to mount, reminiscent of those “women-specific” cruiser bikes that make it possible to ride in a dress. The WOOM also has a small strap behind the fork that prevents the handlebars from being turned backwards (which can be confusing and awkward for a toddler). My husband is, of course, a big fan of the low rolling resistance of the tires. In all the offered bike models, WOOM’s geometry and components are advertised as being designed uniquely and specifically for small riders.

124

Theo still rides his tricycle, sometimes switching between the two bikes like a pro Tour rider on a flats-to-mountain time trial. Ours has a long handle attached to the back that can be used to push or steer, which is helpful when Theo gets tired or doesn’t want to go home. The tricycle is much more clumsy and limited in where it can go, however. Bluebike can be taken on virtually any paved or unpaved surface, navigating broken sidewalks and tree roots or rocks easily, both because the bike can traverse bumps better and because Theo can lift it over obstacles. Overall, the WOOM allows for greater independence and ease of movement, which can be both a positive and a negative. On Bluebike, we stop for every single snail and roly poly that has the misfortune of crossing our path. The capriciousness of a toddler mimics that of the universe itself: you never know until the final moment whether he’s going to smash it or “save” it.

WOOM bikes have the glossy look of high-end steel bikes, slim and classic. Perhaps I should know better given my own minimalist carbon frames, but at first Bluebike’s lightweight feel and graceful curves made her seem overly delicate. As the mother of a toddler big for his age—in terms of both height and heft—who smashes through toys like Godzilla through a cardboard cityscape, that set some big red alarm bells off in my head. What had I agreed to, “borrowing” a bike that looked so expensive and breakable? I could see myself returning it in so many crumpled pieces: “We loved your bike, guys…annnnnd here’s what’s left of it.”

Fortunately, Bluebike is as robust as she is beautiful. Assessing the damages after two weeks of heavy use, there’s a scratch in the black paint on the bell. And we’ve actually decided to make her a permanent addition to the household anyway.

 

I won’t say it’s an easy purchase—you get a lot for your dollar with the WOOM, but everything for a young child has a very limited shelf life. The final selling point for our bike-racing-family-on-a-budget was WOOM’s “Upcycling” program. If you buy a new WOOM bike within 24 months of the first purchase, you can exchange the original bike for the next size up and get back 40% of the original bike purchase price.

We also like the idea of buying local. WOOM bikes are designed in Europe, but Mathias Ihlenfeld, the owner of WOOMBIKES USA and sole distributor of WOOM products in North America, is headquartered in Austin. Retail locations currently include Austinbikes and All Things Kids at The Domain, and WOOM ships directly to customers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Mathias’ brother, Marcus, along with designer Christian Bezdeka, operate WOOM in Europe. Though its roots are spread wide, the company has a very personal, family-run feel. A father of two, Mathias is also an avid cyclist and bike racer, which means I have yet to meet him in person; at the Driveway, one or both of us is always racing. But in our emails, his enthusiasm and passion for WOOM’s products are clear—it’s not just money, but a mission. Such is the nature of a small business and the person at its helm, especially in the world of cycling.

129

I race on pro team Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise4Good this season, and my husband coaches me. Cycling is an enormous part of our lives. We’ve sworn, however, not to be the kind of parents who try to shape their kids into a more perfect version of themselves. If Theo wants to race bikes, he’ll race bikes. If he wants to paint sunrises, or play chess, or fix cars, that’s fine by us. At the moment he’s pursuing a crash course in sentence construction, with a secondary focus on how to most effectively delay tooth brushing and bedtime. The time will come, though, when he’ll explore careers and hobbies and shape his own life independent of ours. I just want cycling to be in his tool chest, like swimming or reading, as one of those life skills that can be both utilitarian and a source of great joy.

I have to admit that I do have a very selfish wish, too. I spend a lot of my time riding, and I often feel guilty about being away from Theo and what I might be missing. A big part of me doesn’t want him to grow up, wants to slow down the clock so that I can watch more closely, but another part of me looks forward to the day when we can go on a real ride together. With no stopping for snails.

What’s new for WOOM?

Woom_city2

Right now, Ihlenfeld says meeting demand is the biggest challenge, and some models are in limited stock. The original WOOM line was red, so blue is a new addition as a color option, and the lightweight SUPRA models (20- and 24-inch) were recently introduced. Later this year WOOM plans to unveil new kids’ bikes designed for safe bike commuting to school, which include additional components like fenders, lights, and a backpack holder.

 

Meet BikeTexas' Fall Intern

haley biketexas intern with signBikeTexas is proud to introduce our fall intern, Raheleh "Haley" Kordrostami.

Haley is an accounting student at Austin Community College and started interning with us in September. In the short time she's been with us, Haley has proven to be an invaluable asset, working hard at everything we've asked her to do, from hauling bikes to data entry. Haley also proved her uber-volunteer status at the Austin BikeFest, when she and her husband Payam worked hard alongside BikeTexas staff from start to finish to make it a great day.

"I'm learning all about bicycles and bike advocacy," Haley says. "It's been good for me to start riding a bike again, because I had a bike when I was 9 or 10 but haven't ridden my own bike in a while. I really enjoy it."

Sadly, Haley is only with us until the end of December, and she's hoping to find an internship a bit closer to her major for the spring. We've been delighted to have her in the office this fall and wish her well as she goes on-- but until then, we'll make sure that she has lots of chances to explore Austin by bike.

 

   

Member Spotlight: Lorn MacDougal

lorn macdougal with bike“When I walk, I miss the feeling of the wheels moving me through space.”

Lorn MacDougal—dancer/Pilates instructor, electric bike owner, Austin resident, and BikeTexas member—says she started riding a bike when she was a kid and never stopped. “I hope that parents will instill the skill and bravery in children to ride together as families so children grow up on their bikes.”

Lorn switched to an electric bike about three years ago to make it easier to get to all her teaching jobs. She and her husband share one car so they can save money for more fun things, like vacations. She’s ridden a bike in plenty of cities, including New York, London, and Amsterdam. “Fifty percent of our going to Amsterdam was so we could ride a bike for transportation,” she says.

Lorn supports BikeTexas because “we need all of the help we can get to get the message out to people that it is possible to bike in our car-centric country,” she says. “And BikeTexas working with TxDOT is an important function. We need TxDOT to see transportation as more than highways. If we can get more people on bikes it will make a dent in our traffic, at the same time as making two-wheeled transportation safer in numbers.”

In the ‘80s, Lorn and her husband Alain Le Razer were among the first artists to put film and dance together for the stage, touring internationally. Lorn and Alain continue to produce dance theater and films for Austin audiences.

“You don’t see many old ladies on bikes,” she says—Lorn is 65—“but the electric bike can help older people. It’s wonderful to see an older body that hasn’t exercised much really make progress. Even with an electric bike, you still get a cardio workout because you have to pedal. It’s a delicous way to move!”

Lorn likes the progress that has been made in Austin during her six years here to give people who walk or ride bikes dedicated space in our road network. But she also says there’s more work to do to make everyone be truly safe while riding, both elderly and young alike. “I’d love to see more schools benefit from buffered bike lanes like the ones on Bluebonnet Lane near Zilker Elementary,” she says. “Moms get stuck in cars all day when they could be taking their kids to school, lessons, and activites on bikes.”

   

Hotter'n Hell: See You There!

Wednesday, August 13 2014 14:58

biketexas staff hotter-n-hellFor over a decade, BikeTexas staff have made the six-hour trip from our home base in Austin to Wichita Falls to attend the largest cycling event in our great state: the Hotter'N Hell 100. Now in its 33rd year, the event routinely draws nearly 15,000 riders. And for nearly as long as we’ve been going there, HH100 has been a BikeTexas Event Member, making a generous donation to bike advocacy efforts in Texas, as well as providing us with booth space to talk to Texans about getting involved through our bike giveaway and membership drive.

2014 is no different! If you're going to Hotter'N Hell, be sure to stop by our booth and say hello. HH100 is a great time to join BikeTexas or renew your annual membership, because we offer specials that are only available during HH100 weekend. (If you can't make the trip to Wichita Falls, not to worry-- you can take advantage of the specials from home, too.) Plus, joining or renewing during HH100 weekend means you're entered in the 2014 BikeTexas Annual Bike Giveaway-- a 2015 Trek 7.2 FX.

We're excited! See you at HH100 2014!

   

Updated: BikeTexas Annual Membership Meeting 2014: Register Now!

trek giveaway bike biketexas annual membership driveUpdated Sept 20: Registration to attend online is now closed; in-person registrations still available at the link below. Plan to stay after the meeting for happy hour!

----------------------

Updated Sept 15: Meeting times for Sunday have been clarified-- the BikeTexas Board of Directors will meet at 3 PM, and the annual membership meeting will begin at 4:15. Both meetings are open to the public, but the fun stuff starts at 4:15! See you Sunday!

----------------------

Every September, BikeTexas members come together for the Annual Membership Meeting. We hear from board members and staff about where we are and where we'd like to be in the next year. We share successes and setbacks.

2014 is no exception. We want you to join us on Sunday, September 21, from 3 to 6 PM as we celebrate the work of another year together.

If you're in Austin, we'd love to have you here at the office with us! If you can't make the trip to Austin that day, not to worry-- we'll have plenty of space on our teleconference for you to listen in from home, a coffee shop, public library, or wherever you may be. The Annual Membership Meeting is open to the public, but you must be a BikeTexas member to vote.

The Annual Membership Meeting is also when we'll have our annual drawing for a new bike! One lucky member will roll away with a 2015 Trek 7.2 FX bike in the color and size of your choice, which you'll be able to pick up from your local Trek dealer. Trek has generously donated this giveaway bike just for BikeTexas members. Not a member yet? Join here.

Register here to attend either in person or online, and we'll see (or hear!) you on September 21!

   

Page 5 of 18

Business Members, Sponsors, & Friends