While I'm bouncing between crazy busyness and quiet reflection, my parents are off galivanting around North America by train on a Grand Tour Indeed. I hope to be as adventurous as they are when I grow up.
Until then, I'll enjoy my mini vacations--from our commuting journies to weekend overnights which will eventually build up to longer expiditions in the future.
Today, we added an extra kiddo to our Crazy Train and explored our way to the playground and to get a pizza. Maybe not as exciting as my parents' day, but still quite fun!
Last week was exhausting. I ended up driving to work more days (have I mentioned that I have a car sitting out front for the next month while my parents are away?). The 38 mile days were getting to me and the boys were both up frequently through the nights as they were both still feeling the effects of their colds. The incident with the van driver really threw me off, too. One of my readers sent me a message with some info based on the email address on the van, along with all the great online support from other bike riders, which gave me the confidence to report the guy to the police. They took my report seriously and sent an officer to my house to document the "assault." I wish I had had more information about the guy or the van but I reported what I could. Thanks, awesome community!
Since my boys couldn't go on the Gibson Ranch Kidical Mass Overnight last weekend, I had told them that I'd take them when they could. Another of our friends couldn't make it with his son, either, so they joined us. They'd never been bike camping before.
Our friends took the HaulaDay, which is a fantastic cargo bike for newbies because it fits everyone with its OSATA adjustments, light weight, and easy maneuverability (however, my friend did manage to drop with kids on the back on his first attempt but they were on the grass so it didn't count. Everyone drops a kid now and again).
I took two of the kids' bikes along with much of the other gear because the Bullitt is way too easy to overpack. Now that I have the Cycle Truck Caddyrack, my cargo capacity has doubled! It's so easy to tow bikes.
Big Brother was forced to ride on his own because I ran out of room for him on the bike and because I thought he could. The route is mostly bike trail, except for the first four miles and last 2 miles.
Once we were on the bike trail, our friend's son got on his bike, too. This was his longest ride and he did really well! There are quite a few intersections along the Northern Bike Trail (which is probably why it's not too popular with the roadies). Both boys on solo bikes did a great job on listening to my directions and making good judgements while they were riding.
It took us about 4 hours to get to Gibson Ranch. We were told to set up in the grass around the cabins. It was nice and grassy but a little close to the cabins and their occupants for my liking.
The boys had a fantastic time riding around the site and the playground. After dinner we ran around in the dark until the boys passed out. I was exhausted about 4 hours before they finally were.
In the morning, we packed up fairly quickly, as quickly as one can with children present (we finally left around 9:45am). One of those children decided he was hungry every 30 seconds and we ran out of food.
None of the boys wanted to ride on their own and since I hadn't really planned on carrying Big Brother, I had to do some quick (relative to me) thinking to arrange everything between the two cargo bikes--three bikes, three boys, everyone's camping gear, and all the toys.
It was a long, hot 17 miles back home but we managed to get there at about a 7mph pace--just about half our arrival time! It is great to know there is such a convenient bike overnight, especially for having the kiddos ride much of it on their own. The last .5 to Gibson Ranch is on a busy stretch of road without much shoulder. There are many "Share The Road" signs but it is still unnerving, especially for less-experienced riders. Our friend's kid was back to sitting on the HaulaDay deck by that time on our arrival while Big Brother, who has more road riding experience, rode on the street with us in traffic. On the way home, he was too tired to navigate and maneuver that same stretch of road back to the trail so I was glad he had chosen to hitch a ride.
Another successful camping trip! During this busy time, I'm so glad to have been able to escape for a few days and get in some rejuvenating adventure.
I'm looking forward to our next bike trip!
It takes a lot to shake me when I'm riding my bike. We get honked at on occasion and buzzed every once and awhile but this experience was terrifying. I was glad that my kids weren't with me.
As I started riding through the intersection, I noticed the van behind me was too close. The next section of road has a stripe of paint in the door zone and because oncoming traffic was heavy and the van was wide, I didn't give up my spot in the lane to be squeezed out. Sure enough, the driver of the van lays on his horn and starts screaming. That's when his engines revved and I had to swerve out of the way to avoid him running me down within inches of my bike. Right after he passed me so dangerously, he attempted to right hook me and slammed on his brakes across my path, still screaming at me.
I followed him around the corner to try to get a photo of his license plate but he pulled over and got out of his van, yelling that if I "want rights, I need to get in the bike lane!"
I was shaking so badly when I got away from him and unfortunately, I didn't get any other photos of his license plate or van. His plate was an old style blue with yellow numbers and the van had an email address: SBCracing@aol.com although the third letter might have been something different.
It makes me so angry to think that someone is horrible enough to believe running me over is an appropriate reaction for me slowing them down 10-20 seconds.
I don't have any info on this violent and dangerous man to report him nor do I know where/how to go about having it taken seriously.
I am positive that my rights to not be murdered by a psychopath in a van are valid whether or not I happen to be in the bike lane at the time.
It didn't help that on my way home, I had two other drivers pull out and turn right in front of me. They were both older women who didn't bother to notice me in their path. I know that overall, biking is not a very dangerous activity but today definitely felt overwhelming. I am glad to be home.
Sorry for the big gap between posts. I've been working up in Natomas teaching Project Ride Smart to a fun group of 5th graders. It's made life a little extra crazy these days but is so worth it. I love that job. During this three week contract, I also somehow managed to book up my weekends--last weekend I volunteered to assist at an LCI seminar. This weekend was our first official Sac Kidical Mass campout at Gibson Ranch Park.
Last year, we threw together a longer trip up to Negro Bar in Folsom but because of the distance and hills, the trip was less accessible for new bike campers and families. This trip was a flat 13 miles that mostly followed bike path until the last few miles of rural roads. We had 20 people for our adventure, many of whom had never been bike camping, yet.
We managed to get to Gibson Ranch in about 3 hours, just above the 4 mph average we accounted for. It was a lovely, quiet route that was mostly free of traffic and road bikers. Perfect for our heavily-ladened riders and the solo kiddos who kept trucking along.
We had a beautiful shady spot and could spread out all over the lawn. The central tables were immediately covered in food and the adults rested and refueled while the children ran around.
One of my favorite parts of bike camping with a group is checking out all the different and awesome set-ups people have.
As the sun went down, the neighboring wedding party cranked up the music and the large Boy Scout group turned on a movie, something about going to space camp. It was noisy but I fell right to sleep. We were rained on a bit throughout the night. Good thing we had such a sturdy group of campers! Even though we were relatively close to home, no one called for back up in the middle of the night. I consider that a success!
There were more sprinkles on the way home but I didn't hear any complaints, not even from the adults! We bypassed the playground and lunch stop to get home quicker (although we lost a couple to Thrift Town at the end of the journey). Our riders peeled away toward their own homes as we rolled off the bike trail.
We had a great group of riders and a very successful trip. A huge thank you goes out to Keith, Melissa, and Jarrod for all their planning and preparations! I can't wait for the next Sac Kidical Mass Campout!
California's 3-foot passing bill finally went into action this week, which legislates higher fines for drivers passing bicyclists too closely and mandates that if passing is unsafe, drivers must slow down and wait for a clear berth to overtake the cyclist(s).
When we started riding with our kids, it always felt like a rolling freak show because of the stares and comments we constantly received. However, the more we rode, the more we found our community (and our community found us!). It seems like every day now we bump into our friends or meet new cargo biking friends. It's also so much easier to stop (or keep riding) and chat for a bit than it would be if we were all driving. We don't feel so weird anymore (relative, I suppose, to our general weirdness). Check out just a few of our awesome local friends and their get-ups.
Our family biking tribe is growing every day! It's hard to feel out-of-place when you're in such great company!
I needed to get a table from my folks' house. I called my friend Neil who has a truck--a giant flatbed Cycle Truck, that is (actually he also has a pickup but that never occurred to me and it wouldn't have been much fun). You might remember Neil from that time we moved a couch with his homemade bamboo trailer.
Since Neil was on Dad-duty (doody?) today, we caravanned over with his two cargo bikes, the other a Nihola Trike.
I got to ride the Flatbed and was really impressed. The fat tires and long wheelbase made for a smooth ride. Neil has it set up as a very upright riding position which was really comfortable. I might need to turn my Bullitt's stem around to copy him.
At my folks' house, we surveyed the load, piled it on, and strapped it down. I think the lamp in front makes the whole package. One of the biggest differences about the Cycle Truck vs. my Bullitt is the ability to strap things down. The Bullitt's narrow bed and our wooden cargo box don't leave many spots to attach tie-downs or have a solid base for a wide, heavy load. Cycle Trucks, however, have numerous attachment points and a nice, wide bed.
Riding the first couple of feet was a bit wobbly and turning was nerve-wracking but then Neil added some air to the front tire and the whole thing rode much more smoothly once I got my balance.
We were quite a site to behold! I had no trouble taking the lane and other drivers slowed down to give me a wide berth. I almost think I should carry a table around at all times! It's a great reminder for drivers to give 3' when passing. It was fun to see other people, especially guys in trucks, take a double-take as we rolled by. I didn't have any issues starting/stopping or keeping my balance.
On the way home, Neil didn't want me to have all the fun with his bike so we traded. It was harder for me to ride the Nihola with it's trike-steering and having to counter balance on the banked roads. I am not a trike fan.
Such a fun morning adventure!
Keith and his son joined Little Brother and myself on our reconnaissance ride out to Gibson Ranch. Keith is an essential member of our little "Sac Kidical Mass Board," a team of wonderful folks who help plan and run our monthly Kidical Mass rides. Another board member, Melissa, had found Gibson Ranch and talked to them about the possibility of using it as our Kidical Camping trip in September. Emboldened by our recent trip to Eugene for their 4th annual campout, I was really excited to get ours established, too. Last year, we took a group of about 20 people up to Negro Bar in Folsom, a 30 mile trek that was not for the faint of heart! This year, we wanted a trip that was more approachable for our larger Kidical Mass group. Before we could make this event official, we had to scope out the route and ensure its safety for family riding. (So of course, Keith and I used our children as guinea pigs)
This is Keith's second homemade bakfiets since his first was stolen last year.
Little Brother started the day pretty restless--still wound up from our weekend adventure. It didn't take long for me to offer him over to Keith's bike so the boys could play together. It was a perfect playdate on wheels!
The ride was even better than I had imagined. There was one section of the trail that was closed due to levee construction but the detour was short and easy (at least it was on the way back). After the Northern Bike Trail, there was a section along the rural back roads, most of which had a wide shoulder or designated bike lane. The last 1/4 mile or so lacked a shoulder and had busier traffic but it was over quickly and then we were there! Unfortunately there was a giant sign proclaiming the lack of water and bathrooms but we've since established that they'll be available when we reserve our dates.
We have a great trip planned now for Sacramento Kidical Mass's Campout! Send me a message if you are interested in joining or have any questions. Hopefully, this will be the first of many more to come!
The summer was almost over so I did what any rational and responsible mother would do--pack up the children and a giant bike and drive 10 hours north for a weekend camping trip the day before school starts. To be fair, this wasn't just an ordinary camping trip, this was the founding Kidical Mass's 4th annual bike camping overnight. The Eugene Kidical Mass's co-founder, Shane, had also arranged for us to stay with Bike Friday's president, Alan, and his wife Theresa! There was no way we'd miss out on such fun opportunities!
On Thursday, my dad came by to help load up the Haul-a-Day. I had bought a new rear rack since the one we had was pretty old and the straps were brittle. I broke one on the last attempt at driving with the HaD and I didn't think it would survive such a long trip at freeway speeds. While I was at the bike shop, I asked about a top tube adapter for the rack. When I mentioned I had a Bike Friday, the guy handed me one from the shelf. Sadly, when I got it out of the case, I realized that it was going to be useless. It was too long and didn't clamp down. I decided to try the upside-down trick again but with more straps.
I think I did a brilliant job! Ten hours later (yes, I drive slowly), the bike hadn't moved a centimeter. My boys are amazing travelers, both on the bike and in the car. This was no exception. Despite one initial freakout when Little Brother decided to unbuckle his seatbelt (lots of screaming followed), most of the time they played together and read books.
We got into Eugene well after bedtime. The boys were really wound up but Alan welcomed us in and had set up a big tent in the backyard with nice foam mattresses. I was glad to not have to be cooped up in our tiny 2-person tent (yes, I know it's too small but I keep bringing it because I'm a weight weenie) for two extra nights. We also got to meet Fraeda, Alan and Theresa's daughter and also works at Bike Friday, who was busy building wheels on the couch.
On Friday, we got a chance to visit Bike Friday (seems appropriate). I wanted them to take a look at the Haul-a-day and make any necessary adjustments. We got to meet some of the great folks there--Mike got right to work on our bike while Eamon took us for a tour around the shop. It is amazing back there! Just about every aspect of Bike Friday building/servicing/production goes on in that tiny but very organized warehouse. We even bumped into Alan who was working on a front frame-mounted basket that I could use for the camping trip. I feel like we are now a part of this awesome club! I cannot say enough about how friendly everyone is and how incredibly hard-working they are!
While the team was bending over backward for us, I took my hooligans out to run down some of the residual crazies from the drive. They sure had a lot of crazy left over. Luckily Eugene has some beautiful paths. I was sorry that we didn't have more time to explore.
The rest of Friday was spent hanging out with the MacRhodes clan and picking Shane's brain about Kidical Masses and bike stuff while the kids biked and played as children should.
We got back to our "campsite" to find Alan working on our Haul-a-Day until 10pm just to make sure our front basket would work. That's what I call dedication and fantastic customer service!
The next morning we packed up the Haul-a-Day. I was surprised at how much the bike could handle and how easily it all fit. I was worried that it'd be cramped since I hadn't tested it out and it's smaller than the Mundo (and we usually fill the Mundo up to capacity). We packed fairly lightly and Big Brother was on his own bike but there was still plenty of room when we were loaded up.
We met up with Shane's crew to get to the starting point for the ride--a parade! It was great to be able to go with someone who knows the way since I would have been lost on my own.
The parade was fun but it was tiring to go at such a slow speed. I was really thankful for the reflective vests because it made spotting my renegade child much easier. It was great to get a chance to check out the other families' set-ups and meet some more awesome people. I think we had about 60 people in our group.
My adorable boys. Little Brother got a little too wrapped up in the parade attention and after doing wheelies and weaving around the group, he decided to break free and check out the floats ahead of us. I finally caught up to him about 6 floats up. It was quite an entertaining chase (for everyone else watching).
After the parade, we had a quick lunch before we packed back up and headed out toward the campground.
It was about a nine mile ride with a few stops for water, snacks, and playtime. Big Brother rode his bike the entire way and was really great about following directions. The Haul-a-Day felt wonderful to ride, even loaded down. Family biking always seems to be a slow journey but that's often what makes it extra fun--there's always time to check out the scenery and chat with whomever you happen to be next to.
The campground was beautiful. There was a river just down a little trail and plenty of shade. The kids took over the road with their bikes and striders. We had a potluck dinner with an amazing amount of food that just seemed to keep appearing.
It was nice to be around other families so we didn't feel like the only ones who have children who wake up at the slightest hint of daylight. All the kids were ready to get back onto their bikes and roll around in the dirt some more. There was a pancake feast then we packed up a bit early to head back to the car for the long drive home. I would have like to have been able to stay longer and enjoy the leisureliness of Kidical Camping but I also didn't want to be stuck driving late into the wee hours of the morning. We met so many great people and the boys made so many new friends. I think we're going to have to make the trip up again next year! Thanks, Eugene Kidical Massers!
Emma was kind enough to lead us home along a more direct route. We got a chance to experience Eugene's river path and Big Brother made it back the entire way (with a little coaxing and chocolate chip bribery).
Back at the car, Theresa helped me load the bike back up and pack up our stinky gear. We made it on the road around noon. We were all pretty worn out from the long weekend adventures and our fuses were shorter than what we had started with. Luckily, we still had plenty of snacks and books. I'm pretty sure that Big Brother didn't stop talking for at least eight hours straight. Little Brother thankfully took a long nap.
The boys were asleep when we pulled up to our house and stayed asleep all night. I threw them into their beds and decided we'd deal with the dirt in the morning.
My chipper kiddos were up bright and early as usual. Big Brother was excited to start Kindergarten and was especially happy about his new cycling gloves that Theresa and Alan had given him. He didn't want to take them off when he got to school!
We had such a wonderful time! It was totally worth the long drive and exhaustion to get the opportunity to meet new friends and ride around Eugene. I look forward to coming up to visit again. Hopefully next time by train*!
*I should mention that while I would have loved to take the train more than anything, tickets cost about 4x more than what it cost for us to drive and the long train trip would have cut into our already minimal amount of time.