Bike Camping Gibson Ranch, part 2
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!
Sac Kidical Mass Campout!
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!
2 bikes, 2 boys, 1 Haul-a-Day!
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.
Big Brother Brag
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."
Kidical Mass and work changes
We had another wonderful Kidical Mass ride, a park-to-park jaunt with about 20 of us. While I was a bit nervous that no one else would show up, suddenly, a hoard of awesome looking bikes pulled up. It was a great group of mostly regulars and a new father-son duo with an awesome Weehoo. We got to check out Melissa's new Follow-Me-Tandem and test out our Bullitt-train. Somer's son also had his zippy Isla Bike that he's been tearing up--in fact, he just learned how to skid. As we rode the 2 miles, Jarrod and his family showed up and tagged along.
Have I mentioned too many times that this month has been flying by? I managed to squeak out my May Is Bike Month goal by hitting my (personally) modest goal of 250. The boys are nowhere near their pledges of 100, though. We're doing our best and riding when we can so that's good enough for me.
I've been thinking lately about how lucky I am to have children who love to ride. Big Brother's biking skills have progressed so incredibly. He's scanning over his shoulder like a pro and working on using his hand signals as he rides. Today, I made the mistake of offering lemonade when we got home and he got so excited that he started to lose control. Amazingly, he was able to hop off the bike and keep it upright enough to come to a stop without biffing it. This is probably at least 75% of what we teach our 5th grade classes in the bicycle education programs (minus the attempted biffings).
Speaking of bicycle education programs, this is the result of the hard work and dedication that the NNTMA has put into their Ride Smart programs and May Is Bike Month encouragement. More bicycles and trailers showed up at the end of the day as parents came to pick up their children. Put some money into an alternative transportation management association and look at all the rewards a community gets! I love teaching the bicycle and pedestrian classes!
And then speaking of teaching, last week, I made a major decision to pull back away from working part-time at Practical Cycle and invest my time and energy in the classroom and on the bike. Although I love being apart of the wonderful team at PC, I wanted to be on a more flexible schedule that allows me to be doing what I feel I'm best at: riding a bike and teaching others to do the same.
And I get to spend more time with this awesome kiddo, too.
May's Kidical Mass #1
We decided to go big this month for Kidical Mass and attempt one each weekend. It's so helpful to have such a great board of Kidical Mass parents who are willing to plan and organize these rides with me. Today, we branched into South Land Park territory for a ride to Fairytale Town. The part that I was most excited about for going to FTT was how much they wanted to be a part of our group. David, their grounds manager, had contacted me months ago to find out if we would want to head over there and test out their new bike parking at the front entrance. Of course we did! He even passed along discount coupons for us to use.
Sadly there were more conflicts and other activities going on this weekend than we had realized so the turnout was a bit smaller than usual. We weren't even able to stay at FTT because Big Brother had a t-ball game this afternoon. It was still great to get out in the fresh (and extremely pollen-filled) air and get a good bike ride in with some wonderful folks.
Today was also the opening day for the Oak Park Farmer's Market--the best farmer's market in Sacramento. To make it even better, they just installed a new bike rack that was filled with three cargo bikes in the first half hour. I was very impressed at its lockability and how many bikes it fit while still being a pretty cool design.
The boys and I all got more miles to log for May Is Bike Month and our Tiny Helmets team. This year, I went easy on myself by only pledging 250 miles for myself and 100 each for the boys.
It's also been busy in the bike education arena for me lately. Last week, I had an awesome day working at one of the local schools during their bike rodeo. We had kids from 1st grade up to 5th grade riding bikes, scooters, and skateboards. There was an obstacle course for them to practice stopping, weaving, scanning, and merging. I was so impressed at how well they all did, even with such a short amount of time. I'm really looking forward to the next month because I have bike and pedestrian classes every week until mid-June!
For the last few weeks, I've been back to work at Practical Cycle while the guys have been taking well-earned vacations. Even though they're both back now, I decided to continue working a couple days a week, at least for the next few months until our bike summer trip. This may be a dangerous decision because I always seem to come home with some new bike upgrade or accessory after a day's work. However, Tim's also helping me learn some new bike mechanic skills! I've learned how to put together some of the mostly-assembled bikes that arrive at the shop and now he's teaching me how to fix my own bikes that I drag in for repairs (which is usually at least a bike per week).
On Tuesday, it was Big Brother's Isla Bike that we still couldn't figure out why it kept going flat. We couldn't find a hole and (to be totally honest) hadn't really put that much time looking into it. Big Brother was suffering on the Fire Bike and was not getting to ride as much as he wanted. Tim was able to diagnose the problem almost immediately, it was a leaky valve. I didn't even know you could replace the valve. Now his bike is holding up nicely and the kiddo is thrilled!
We also finally replaced Little Brother's rainsuit. We decided on a Muddy Buddy because many of our bikey friends have them. It seemed like a good way to go, considering we don't get a ton of rain around here and it wouldn't be used too often. It packs up in it's own waterproof case which could also probably fit Big Brother's rain gear, too. Little Brother was really excited when his package showed up!
Jose and I got to enjoy a kid-free night out on the town this week, too, because we had tickets to go see Ani Defranco (thanks, mama!!!)! My folks had the kiddos over for a slumber party and the husband and I rode out for dinner and the show. The concert was just downtown at the Crest Theater, about 3 miles away. We locked our bikes up together with three locks because that part of town can be a little sketchy at night. I was amazed to see how many other bikes were also there and many of them locked with crappy cables. I was glad because they'd be much easier to steal than ours. I couldn't believe how few racks there were, considering the number of bikes that showed up. We found this prime spot:
Our bikes ended up being totally safe that night and the show was incredible! The ride home was lovely and it was great to be able to keep that wonderful feeling after an awesome concert and not have to get stressed driving home. Bikes make everything in life happier, especially date night.
January Kidical Mass to Iceland
Today, Big Brother and I went over to Grant Park to go to our January Kidical Mass. Big Brother's Isla Bike has had a flat tire for the past week, I picked up a new tube for it but it didn't fit, despite being the right size. Since he still wanted to ride, we pulled out the old Fire Bike. We got about halfway to the park when I realized that Big Brother was pretty slow and wobbly on the Fire Bike and I didn't like the idea of him riding the next section that we had to go through. With some convincing, I got him to agree to get on the Mundo with me.
It was a bit of a tight squeeze with the Fire Bike in the Mondo Sling since we can't tow bikes with the Peanut Shell on the back but it worked. When we got to the park, I was surprised to see it already packed with some pretty awesome family bikes!
I think we set the record for most bikes ever in that little park. There were many Mundos, two Edgerunners, an Xtracycle, a Cargo Joe, a Weehoo, an Isla Bike, a couple kids bikes, a Brompton, and a few single bikes. Some folks could only stay for the picnic but it was still nice to get to get to catch up with them, too.
The ride was a bit over two miles long, mostly on the Northern bike trail. The kids on their own bikes did an amazing job getting up the "hills." Big Brother had a grin plastered to his face after one particularly long downhill where he realized he didn't have to brake the whole time. It was great having a group that didn't mind that we were moving at a 6-7mph pace or that downhills were almost slower than the uphills. These are my kind of bike riders!
There was one section that Jen and I had been a little concerned about during our practice run because we had to get from the trail to the street. We knew that people could use the crosswalks if it was too busy or if they were more comfortable doing so. Luckily, there wasn't as much traffic today and we were able to walk our bikes into the traffic lane. Dan knew to hit the crosswalk button so we all had enough time to get across on one light. I'll have to remember that trick for our future rides. So despite the last part being pretty urban riding, we all got to the ice rink pretty easily.
Then the real fun began!
We spent over two hours at Iceland and when we got ready to leave, Big Brother wanted to keep the skates. This had been his first time skating and he loved it! Now that we know how easy it is to bike there, I'm sure we'll go more often.
We had a smaller group heading home because most of the other riders had trickled off earlier. I was nervous about BB riding home because I knew how tired he was. I wasn't sure if he would be able to follow directions well enough to stay safe. However, he proved me wrong and did a fantastic job getting through the urban section and back to the trail. Once we got back to the park, I could tell he was flagging. It was getting a little dark and he was getting a little fussy. I didn't want to go through the busy section of Sacramento with him on his own so I forced him back on the bike. He wasn't happy but got over it quickly. We stopped to pick up dinner then finished our ride. Once we were back on neighborhood streets, I asked if BB wanted to ride again. He didn't hesitate for a second.
I don't think Big Brother sat down the whole way home. The Fire Bike just doesn't fit him and he was more comfortable stretching out.
We got home (after stopping to chat with friends along the way. I love that biking allows us to be so social!) and Big Brother was all smiles! I'm so glad that we learned how to bike to Iceland and go ice skating with Big Brother for the first time--Kidical Mass is so great!
We just finished another successful Kidical Mass. Despite it being winter (although 60 degrees still) and a night ride, we still had 42 riders come out to join in the fun! Riders met up at Coloma Community Center, which has a great big playground for the kiddos but sadly, no access to potties after-hours. There were trail-a-bikes, trailers, Xtracycles (and Sacramento's very first and only Cargo Joe!), Mundos, a Nihola, our Bullitt, Melissas Fr8, and two solo kiddos on Isla Bikes as well! Sacramento has such an awesome family bike culture!
We rode up and down T st. with a few detours, covering about two miles. The sun went down as we were riding so it was imperative that all our riders were properly lit up--red in back, white up front. Many riders added extra holiday baubles, reflectivity, and glow sticks. We were quite visible!
The ride went smoothly until towards the very end when my own child bit it big time when his bike got "too wobbly" and he went down hard. He was behind me so I just heard the thud and the subsequent wailing. I didn't see any blood or broken bones but he wasn't up for riding. I threw his bike over the Bullitt box and had him in the jump-seat. He cried most of the way back while I promised him cocoa and tried to distract him with the colorful lights. By the time we got back, passed out cocoa, and munched some sugary treats, Big Brother was fine. It was nothing a little rocket ship bandaid couldn't fix. He even biked back home on his own.
This is us. We're fun.