This past weekend was our annual Kidical Mass Overnight Extravaganza to Gibson Ranch and #BikeYourPark day for Adventure Cycling. It was quite an adventure, as always. Our group was small, just 13 of us total, six adults and seven kids. Both Big and Little Brother were able to join us this year. We met up with Neil and his kiddo with their Nihola packed up and rode to the meeting spot. It's so great to be able to load up the HaulaDay without kids on board, although I had planned to save room for Little Brother in case he bonked toward the end. This would be his longest ride, yet, at 17 miles. Little Brother doesn't have a rack on his bike and I decided it would be better for him to just concentrate on the ride but Big Brother was carrying all three of our sleeping bags and all our clothes for the trip.
It was a hot day to ride. Our route was mostly along bike trails so the kids had a great time pedaling along a relatively peaceful path. We had a nice stop for lunch at a big playground where the kids somehow had energy to continue running around.
The last section of the ride is in traffic on quiet rural roads until the last 1/4 mile where we are on a busy narrow stretch. Little Brother started to ask to go on "someone else's" bike (Neil's, in fact) but I told him if he finished riding to Gibson Ranch, we could talk about him hitching a ride back the next day. He managed to pedal the entire route without any problems, including the final part on Elverta as he proved to be a great rider and listened to all my instructions while navigating the busier section.
We had a large grassy (and soggy) spot to ourselves to set up camp. There was a wedding party next to us and a Boy Scout group on the other side of the lake. We knew this meant it would be a noisy night, unfortunately. Next time, remind me to pack extra ear plugs. The kids loved playing with Melissa's kids' bow and arrow and the stomp rockets (as always). They ran around, checked out the playgrounds, and kept moving all afternoon. I don't know how they had the energy after all the riding!
Sadly, nighttime was a mess (literally and figuratively). The wedding was noisy, the staff rode around on gas-powered carts throughout the night, and Big Brother ended up throwing up multiple times all over the tent. Luckily, our wonderful friends helped me clean up and gave him a blanket and towel to sleep on. I had to give up my sleeping pad and his sleeping bag was unusable. Little Brother slept peacefully through it all. In the morning, Big Brother still wasn't feeling well so I called their dad to pick them up. That left me with all the gear (minus a bag of barfy stuff Jose took home for me, thank goodness!). I packed up the rest of the camping gear, food, and both bikes, probably my biggest load on the HaulaDay, yet.
The ride back was nice but a bit sad without the boys. The bike was really stable and easy to ride. I'm looking forward to next year, hopefully with healthy kiddos and possibly to a new wedding-free location. It was great to see Little Brother break his riding record and Big Brother loved riding a loaded up bike. We're getting closer to doing more family touring!
Always good to start the school year off with a bike ride! Kiddos on their own Islabikes, even though jose was picking them up after school. No need for a minivan, Babe the Blue HaulaDay did a double bag-and-drag to take the bikes back home.
This summer has been spectacularly busy and yet, like always, we never quite get to everything we'd like to. After an awesome trip to the Columbia River Gorge with Adventure Cycling Association, an amazing two weeks in Portland at the United Bicycle Institute, and another wonderful Paul Bunyan tour (again with Adventure Cycling Association, I have to admit that I'm ready for school and work to start!
I had a ton of fun exploring Portland's bike infrastructure, both the good and the not-so-good. Despite its status as one of the top bicycle-friendly cities in the US, there are many areas in which Portland still fails its bike riders. On the last day I was in town, a bike rider was killed by a car driver just a couple miles from where I was staying. I had a difficult time with the route Google suggested I take on my daily commute as it was fraught with impatient, aggressive drivers but I was able to find a better route after a couple days of stressful riding. In one of the more poorly designed separated bike stretches, we were almost creamed by a speeding and scary driver. Still, what they do have available is incredible compared to the typical US city, including Sacramento.
I only had two weeks getting to know the routes and city, I'm sure people who have lived in Portland have many strong opinions about the bicycling culture and support. I welcome all to share their experiences as these are just a small sample of some of the things I got to explore in my PDX travels.
So far, bottom brackets, chains, and cassettes have been added to the week's instruction. There's been lots of hands on practice and this evening, actually took apart Oscar's hubs and cassette to overhaul. Surprisingly enough, it actually wasn't as bad as I had expected. There was some pitting in the front hub and it was all in desparate need of a good scrub and lube but everything was still usable. On my commute each morning, I had been having more and more trouble with the drivetrain skipping, leaving me unable to ride in 2/3 of my gears. Not fun in a town with real hills. Tonight's ride home was like flying! I couldn't believe how smoothly Oscar rode with just those simple maintanance skills (and lots of help from my awesome instructors). Still so much to learn and practice but I can tell that Oscar is going to be such a happy bike by the end of this class!
After an incredibly frustrating 18 hour long train trip, I finally made it up to Portland to take UBI's mechanic course. I had applied numerous times through their women's scholarship but decided to go ahead at sign up. The mechanic portion of the bike world has always mystified me. Although I had gotten to a point that I could do basic repairs and change flats pretty comfortably, there was still so much I felt useless at fixing. I'm excited to get a chance to get more confidence in wrenching and also build in a new set of knowledge and self-sufficiency into my bike work.
Day one had us already overhauling hubs and I was grateful to have had Neil's help already with the Troll's hub. Today, we used our hubs to build a set of wheels! I can't believe how much I've learned already!
Summer is officially here with both kiddos out of school! We celebrated by taking both boys on our river trail ride. Big Brother was an old hat at it, already riding the route once before but this was Little Brother's first try. Although LB has been getting mch better at riding predictibly and cautiously while being a good listener, getting him in the gravel was difficult. After the first 5 miles or so, he started getting tired and frustrsted. There were some crashes and tears but mostly smiles. I have to remember to stay alert to their energy levels and patience so we can head off the major meltdowns. After all, the whole point of these adventures is to instill a lifelong love of cycling. For me, riding a bike is my stress relief so as soon as it stops being fun, it's time to reevaluate and pull out the emergency lollipops. Thankfully, by the time we were done, the boys were full of sticky smiles and happy memories (with some proud crashing stories).
This weekend was also my kid-free time and I got in some great rides with friends.
Rolling back into real life was difficult after my work-ation. It's never easy to sleep on the overnight train even though it's so much more relaxing than driving. Big Brother finished up first grade last week and Little Brother still had a few days before he graduated preschool (today!). Biking has always been the way I'm able to find my balance again after busy times so I was really excited to have some fun bikey adventures with my biggest monster this week.
Tomorrow, we're celebrating having Little Brother join our silly summer by taking him on his first dirt ride. It'll be one of his longest rides so far as well so I'm a little nervous about taking them both on my own, but I can't wait!
I just got back from a week of working on the Adventure Cycling Columbia River Gorge tour. While I didn't get much riding in, the whole trip was incredibly beautiful and the group was super fun. It was a lot of work but it didn't feel that way.
I carpooled up to Portland with Cindy, another staff member, and stayed at my brother's for a couple days, getting coffee with Kath, and stopping in to Gladys Bikes to get Oscar a functioning front brake and kickstand.
This job is incredible! The participants ranged from 23-73 years old, rode 387 miles, and climbed over 25,000'. I was so impressed! The routes were mostly quiet rural roads. Despite the challenging ride and chilly (sometimes pretty wet) weather, everyone stayed in high spirits and got along well. There were mountains, waterfalls, and so much food to eat.
I loved getting to know the riders and their interesting stories. I think I had as much fun being on the staff as the participants. Plus, the bonus riding I got to do up Lolo Pass and in Trout Lake was amazing. I definately look forward to coming back and riding it all myself. Although I'm not sure I'd be able to do all the climbing, yet! Certainly something to start training for. If I can get the legs those riders had at 60+ years old, I'd be thrilled!
Last weekend was the national Bike Travel Weekend! We arranged an overnight camping trip to Camp Pollock but I was offered a chance to go mountain biking and didn't have the boys to enjoy the family overnight with so I decided to just head over with the small Kidical Mass group from the Capitol for the afternoon.
Even though it was hot, there was a nice breeze. The five mile route took us through the Pride festival downtown and along the American River Parkway where even the youngest rider was able to pedal on his own.
Then, I just couldn't give up the opportunity for more dirt! I can't seem to get enough of trail riding. There's a possibility that I have a full suspension bike coming my way, but for now, I've been bouncing along on a beautiful Surly Troll (affectionately known as the Trollop now).
I dragged another friend up to Cronan Ranch (again) and we checked out a longer loop along the South Fork American River Trail. The next day, we headed up to the Confluence Trail in the Folsom State Recreation area. This section was mostly too steep and too technical for me but it was some good practice on harder trails at a slow speed and extra hill climbing. I don't have any photos of these areas as I was hanging onto my ergonomic cork grips for dear life! My friend did give me his full suspension Trek to test out and I have to admit that it was pretty lovely for those rocky chunks. The weekend rides ended with Olmstead Loop in Cool which somehow managed to be uphill in both directions. We were tired and hot and there was a lot more bike pushing than before. Somehow, I magically avoided most of the poison oak that encroached the trail on both sides. A very satisfying weekend of bike playing!
Now, I'm headed up north for the first of my big summer adventures: working the Adventure Cycling Association Columbia River Gorge tour! Today was a long day of driving up but tomorrow I have a day to repack, organize, and grab breakfast with a friend. Then, it's off down the road to meet up with the rest of the CRG crew to explore the gorge for the next week!
Headed up to BLM land at Cronan Ranch for some riding this afternoon. We rode the Down And Up trail with some lovely downs and one horrible up. This Valley Girl needs more climbing practice!
This is us. We're fun.