M is for Metrofiets (Part 1)

The beginning of the "build a bike" journey
Don't hate me when you read this.

I think ever since I saw my first cargo bike in 1995 I always wanted a front cargo bike. Living in Denmark will do that to you. We had friends who worked for the Danish Post Office and I thought it was so cool they delivered the mail by bike. So cool! So what prevented me from buying one? Money was a factor for a very long time. Then we moved to Seattle and it became terrain. I worked with a woman at the public school who was pretty discouraging about getting a Workcycles bakfiets despite her family owning own. I tried one in early 2007 and loved it but could understand that the weight of the bike might make it hard. I had nobody to consult about this and did not know people who were putting electric assist on bikes. So, I put the idea away.

Then I had the love affair with the Bullitt (Part 1 & Part 2) bike and had the opportunity to bike with one. It was fun but not the bike for me. My love was smothered by my short legs and the ouchie stand over issue. When you have to stand tipy toe over the bar, ouchy!

One day my daughter was biking next to me and she said, "Mommy, what would be your dream bike?" I told her, "A Metrofiets, I think it is the happy medium between a Workcycles bakfiets and a Bullitt". She rolled her eyes at me and we didn't talk about it again.

Later during my downtime, I was looking on Craigslist for fun and the most extraordinary ad pops up. It's an ad for a Metrofiets frame at the most ridiculous price. It was one of those, too good to be true ads. I had my doubts about it so I asked one of the owners of Metrofiets about it. As you can see, the picture was grainy and the price, CRAZY!! He confirmed this was the original owner and he had dismantled the bike  I put off the idea because how would I pick up a bike in Portland? I have no CAR. Oh whine.....I need a car to get something.

I sent an message to my two bike friends who would understand this bike lust. It happened to be the week that one of these women was going to Portland. What!! It was also the week we got our tax return. Um, how could I not? The three of us kept this a secret! My enabler friend and family drove down to Portland and on the way back to Seattle picked up the bike. When the bike finally made it to my home I couldn't believe what I did and felt pretty guilty about it. I have another a bike. This time it's a frame. I don't know how to build a bike. You can tell I didn't think this through. Yes, I had guilt. I had guilt I had the money to throw cash on this and I had guilt because I had another bike BUT we had discussed another set-up because the toddler is very physical on the Edgerunner despite being buckled in. He has plans to be a stunt double for movie babies.

You have no idea. Baby Peyos is one strong little person. He sleeps wonky, despite our best efforts to make him cozy, shakes the bike like their is no tomorrow and the worst offence, he throws stuff off the bike. He is a champion at aim and throw. We have hit a few people and in his latest incident was quick, grabbed my helmet camera and tossed it.  My husband understood my need for a better baby bike prision, especially the part where he throws all his body weight around while on the back of the Edgerunner. It looks bad too. The tween likes to warn me about his crazy wiggling. Usually with screams of, "he's going to make you fall. YOU ARE GOING TO FALL!"

So, I end up with a bike frame. What to do now? My bike shops are ones that I picked because they were on my route home. The bike shop that has been kind to me since 2008 has been 20/20 Cycles in the Central District. They helped me fix my bike in cold rain and when the tween was little it was her favorite place to go play with a My Little Pony puzzle while we waited for bike repair.

It is also the shop that sold me the Redline Metro 9. That bike was so well loved.  Never once were any of us treated like the loco religious family on bike, some shops would snub us. Yes, some shops were complete a-holes to us.  Some shops have learned how to change their attitude to customers showing up to shops but other's have a lot to learn.

In any case, we LOVE 20/20. I sent Alex, the owner of the shop a picture of the frame and asked if he was interested in a project. Why didn't I take it north to G&O where I bought the other bike? It's far! I feel like it's always some epic adventure to bike up there from the Rainier Valley. I wanted to be close enough to check on my bike from time to time. It's 7 very hilly miles to the shop but it was worth it.

The story of the box:
I interrupt the bike build to give you the story of the box. The frame came with a plywood box. The owner had built but it weighed a bazillion pounds. Did you know the Metrofiet branded box weighs 10 pounds? It cost so much money! After a week or two wondering about the box component I had these silent conversations with G-d about it. I know, some of you can't even go there but I DO! Then like a miracle, someone was selling the box and rain cover at the most extraordinary price. Again! You hate me so much.

Nerds make cardboard replicas
I had the dilemma of bringing this box home. I didn't know what it looked like but it was in Portland. I consulted my bike women friends and after several conversations I figured the best way was for me to take the Bolt bus to Portland with my light bike to pick up the Metrofiets box. Did I know it was going to fit? I had no clue but what I did was build a replica out of cardboard. It came pretty darn close to the actual dimensions of the real thing, except it didn't weight 10 pounds. do you like my attention to detail?

So, I loaded a regular bike on the Bolt Bus and headed down to Portland. My adventures in pictures.

Yes, it's so crazy. I have a bike that doesn't have electric assist. How will I manage? Can I bike? I love the assumption that I am not able to bike on other bikes.

Bolt Bus is really accommodating. The other bike belongs to the owner of Back Alley Bike Repair. We fit. Then again, I consider the Soma Tradesman a normal bike. NORMAL.

Did I mess up and take a weird picture. NO, I didn't. That's that weird back thing. It's a foot. The guy behind me wouldn't move it and kept it there until I turned around and did a silent staring contest. 

It didn't smell all that much but it was annoying. 

Hello Portland on a Sunday. Where is everyone? Hello bikey people. My destination was North East Portland and had no idea where I was going. I had a general idea how to bike there but it was dubious how fast I would bike. When you live in Seattle you think hills, hills, hills. I was told on the phone, Portland has hills.

Eventually I would like to bike in Portland with my whole family but I feel I have a duty to find out if Mr. Peyos can get across bridges because, vertigo. This looks like our best crossing. It's low just like his native Denmark. 

Way finding was really good. It was hard to get lost. I am a master at getting lost.

I was told that this is a hill but waited a long time to catch the hill. This is N. Williams which I enjoyed and thought it was nice but this is a Sunday and the weekday traffic is nowhere. On a Sunday I would find this okay for my tween to ride. 

Speed hump humping. I like how the paint extended over the entire hump. I wonder if it was too low and wide to cause drivers to slow. Again, Sunday, where are people. It's like I arrived to a city without people. 

The seller of the box and rain cover helped me configure it on the bike. This gave the most room for handlebar clearance. The cardboard box helped me figure this part out before I dared bring that bike. Like all things in life, it starts raining and hard. I have gear, it's called a poncho and funny shoes. Don't make fun of me. 

Just in case you wonder how I managed to bike this load, easy. I even stood in a huge puddle just to take this picture. Only smart choices here.

Since this is Portland I felt bound by the fact that someone might steal my box. On the way south I talked to a homeless man about the box. He told me to not leave it unattended because someone might steal it. We chatted mostly about the wood and construction. Another guy yelled, "take a picture of that!" What Portland? Don't you have people who do this every day? My hopes of going into Powells to buy books was crushed. I had 2 hours to kill, it was raining and was very afraid. 

Just another picture of my magnificent awesomeness. 

Meanwhile in Seattle the toddler falls asleep on a pile of cloth diapers. I was told that he slept like that for 2 hours. Diapers are cozy.

Again, Bolt Bus staff were accommodating. They let me bring both my bike and box on the bus and didn't even blink. Amtrak, you could learn so much. I contemplated taking Amtrak home but they canceled the train due to a mud slide. I did bike to the station to ask if they could accommodate my box in addition to the bike. I didn't get a clear answer. I think that means no.
I decided to take rest in a Starbucks so I can watch my bike and charge my phone. Of all the places, why didn't I choose some other place, hah. In this time period someone saw the bike and box and somehow it was assumed it was stolen. I saw one couple eyeing it so I suspect them. In turn they made me nervous. I wasn't sure what they were doing so at that point I went outside and decided to walk around. When you are brown you are paranoid when gringos start touching your stuff, no kidding. Downtown is a weird place to bike so I wasn't interested in hanging out.

I walked past this place and it looked interesting but it felt too hip to go in. Pobresita, she can't afford a home so she is walking around with her portable house. I had a whole Mexican soap opera going on in my head from this point on. 

The ride home was mostly boring and I was tired. Nobody put their foot on my face and I got two seats all to myself. I even got a workable plug for my phone. Look what I did, I brought the whole thing on the Light Rail. It's against the written rules to bring a CARGO bike on the light rail. Like I said before, this is a perfectly normal bike and I happen to have a box on the front rack. 

I made it home in record time to eat tacos, nurse a kid and go to sleep. Note to self, fix that kickstand.

The toddler didn't know what to think about it but he enjoyed eating his taco in here.

A week later I biked the box the complete 7 hilly miles to meet the frame. Hello Lake Washington. This might be the first Metrofiets box ever to get a grand tour of Seattle.

There you have it, the whole saga of the Metrofiets box and how it got to Seattle. Part 2 will be coming soon, including the parts about how the frame got to the shop. 


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