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!
Big Brother didn't ride quite as far today. He rode about 6 miles to a friend's house where we spent almost the entire day. About a mile into our way home, he was ready to hitch a ride. Here goes our first Haul-a-Day towing test:
The bike tracked perfectly and despite the Little falling asleep and wobbling the bike around, we still managed to ride home. Big Brother sat side saddle because Little Brother's Strider bars took up a lot of the deck. Both kiddos were really tired on the way home and it was nice to have them well contained in the Hooptie.
I love my kids. The drive me crazy but I still think they're pretty dang awesome. Yesterday, I wanted to go for a bike ride and the weather was going to be manageable at just 90 degrees so I decided we'd make our usual trip to Hagan Park. The ride is 13 miles each direction, mostly on the bike trail. As I was pulling out the Haul-a-Day, Big Brother asked if he could ride his own bike. We had plenty of time and since he did so well with the rides to the zoo last week, I decided we could give it a go. Worst case, I would just figure out how to tow his bike on the HaD and throw him on board.
The first four miles are urban riding with a couple of big streets to cross, including one with no infrastructure and really fast drivers. Almost all riders end up crossing the street and riding on the sidewalk facing traffic--two of the most dangerous things you can do as a biker and yet, there's not much of an alternative. When I'm on my bike, I usually just take the lane but with Big Brother on his own, I didn't feel that that was a viable option for his skill level. We ended up crossing at the crosswalk and riding together very slowly on the sidewalk. Once we were on the bike trail, it was a piece of cake.
We made a snack stop along the way, with Little Brother devouring just as much as his Big Brother. The American River Parkway was packed and I was unnerved by the number of very fast riders passing us so quickly and often much too closely. While I'm sure that they're competent riders, I'd bet that they have no understanding as to how unpredictable children can be, even when they're on the back of a bike. Little Brother will often lean over, causing the bike to swerve a bit and Big Brother, although a great rider for his age, still has sporadic speed bursts and can drift when he loses focus. This doesn't mean that kids shouldn't be allowed to ride on the Parkway just because some bigger riders want to use it as a training route! Luckily, just about everyone was considerate and often broke out in giant smiles to see BB trucking away or LB face-down on the deck.
We made it the entire 13 miles to the park! I had packed our lunch for the park but hadn't taken into consideration the fact that Big Brother would be riding on his own and incredibly hungry, or the fact that Little Brother can pack it away just as much as the Big. I was working hard to make sure I was rationing our food appropriately and dolling it out in small but tasty amounts.
Big Brother was ready to hitch a ride when we started packing up at the park but I encouraged him to ride just a bit and see how far he could get. He loves numbers and counting so the idea of riding longer distances and increasing his mileage was appealing to him, even though he was pretty tired already. We only had a couple moments where he was ready to give up but we talked through them and with a little distracting and the promise of more snack stops along the way, he continued until the got his second (and third) wind. As long as he was still having fun and was able to ride safely while listening to my instructions, I was willing to let him go as far as he wanted.
We had one more playground stop and I had saved half a cookie for the final three miles in traffic. Little Brother got more riding practice in and the boys stayed in happy spirits.
Once home, Big Brother started to melt down but I was able to head it off with a hearty lunch and lots of water. He was so proud of himself for riding the entire 26 mile trip. I am so excited about his riding abilities--he's a great listener and follows instructions, he's understanding how to stay focused and what to look out for, how to react to dangers, as well as maintaining his endurance and appreciation of biking. If we hadn't turned around at Hagan Park, he could have ridden all the way to Folsom. Maybe for our next camping trip, he can ride his own bike up to Beal's Point. I'm sure he could make it if we took all day and had a huge amount of food with us. Once he's able to get to the next sized Isla Bike (which based on his brother's being able to ride the 16" with the seat up 4", it won't be much longer), he'll be able to have gears and a rack for better transportation and touring rides. My big baby is growing up!
As a side note, I convinced my mom to ride on the back of the HaD to go out to lunch. She's such a great sport! I just took the sides off the Hooptie. The lower deck made her feel a lot more secure and was easier for her to get on and off the back. The ride felt great and stable and she even remarked that it was "less scary than a motorcycle."
I am pleased to finally announce my newest adventure: Whimsical Cycle Tours! For many years, I have been trying to come up with a way to combine my love of bicycle travel with an actual career that would allow me to share that joy with others. My tours will focus on the Sacramento area and we will be offering overnight camping trips that cater toward families and casual riders who want to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Right now, we are still in the very beginning stages but we should be starting to offer beta tours over the next couple of months. I could not have gotten even this far if it hadn't been for the help of some very special people, especially Sami for her encouragement and drive to turn this into a reality, my parents for being my very first investors, and Jen who created my amazing logo and website banners.
Another happy announcement is that our Whine & Chocolate tour is BACK ON!!! It took some soul searching and some number-crunching but I've come to the conclusion that there's no better time than right now to start living our lives exactly as we choose. I want to be able to offer my boys a simple life filled with adventure and experiences. I want to be able to lead by example that one can travel and explore without the need of a minivan and highways. We want to relish in the slow-paced sights of nature and be able to immerse ourselves in purposeful wanderings.
Many of the exact details of our summer trip hinge on the availability of our Bike Friday Haul-a-Day. Its production has been delayed until mid-June and I'd need some time to test it out and break it in before I'd feel comfortable taking it on a long-distance trip. I'm staying hopeful and flexible with ideas for a "long" option and an "abbreviated" itinerary. I am also hoping that once we can nail down some relatively firm plans, we'll be able to open the trip up to others to join and/or meet us along the way.
There is so much that I am excited about and while I'm a bit nervous to be jumping into a brand new venture, I cannot wait to open Sacramento up to the world of Bicycle Tourism!
This is us. We're fun.