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!
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!
In less than 24 hours, the Mundo has already found a new home. Within minutes of posting my ad, I had people contacting me with questions and ready to set up test rides. Used cargo bikes are a hot commodity for people who want to break into the cargo bike world, inexpensively (relative, of course) and easily. It's great to know that there are enough cargo bikes in the area that some are already on their second round (possibly even third!).
It's a bittersweet day for me to have to say goodbye to the bike that started it all for us. Had it not been for the Mundo, we might not have become a car-free family so easily. We wouldn't be neck-deep in the wonderful world of family biking. We probably wouldn't have made so many amazing new friends, locally and from all over the world, or connected with so many great bike advocates, especially in the Kidical Mass arena. We would have never realized how very simple it can be to replace car miles with enjoyable and exciting bike miles. There are so many new places we've explored, just because we wanted to get there by bike. I still absolutely love Yuba bikes and whole-heartedly recommend them to many people.
However, I didn't feel it was fair for me to be hoarding all the cargo bikes in the Sacramento region. Luckily, the Mundo has found a wonderful new home nearby with Monica and Elliot's family. She has lovingly been renamed "George," which I think is totally fitting. I look forward to seeing them rolling around town. Welcome to the club, guys!!!
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.
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!
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.
Continuing with our monthly Kidical Mass rides, November was our cargo bike food bank run to support Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. We got a few bins to place around the downtown area and asked participants to bring a donation. Unfortunately, the bins didn't get much attention, however, our riders certainly made up for it!
We met up in front of Practical Cycle and took advantage of their great big grassy area across the street. Our friend, Jarrod of 8legs2wheels.com, showed up with coffee that had been donated from Old Soul. People started trickling over, meeting one another, and checking out some of the awesome rigs.
Monica, of Carsick Designs, got some great photos of some of the individual cargo bikes and the ride that you can view here.
Just before we headed off, I climbed up my Mundo and did our guideline rundown:
Our ride was an easy 2.7 miles through downtown to Edible Pedal, where the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services' truck would come pick up the donations. We stopped a couple of times to gather everyone back up after getting spaced out between red lights, but everything went smoothly.
We collected 3 big bins of food and warm clothing! I think this is going to become a regular event and we already have begun figuring out ways to increase and improve the ride. I realized too late that it would be good to bring a bin to our local food co-op to gather donations and hand out flyers. We would also continue the ride all the way to the food bank next time. More advertising and outreach is needed to fill the bins ahead of time, as well.
After the ride, Little Brother hitched a ride home in Neil's Nihola and we learned that a trike with reachable wheels is not a good idea for children as curious as him. He did have a blast and only minimally terrorized his little friend.
It was a beautiful day for a ride and so much fun to meet so many new family bikers and catch up with our friends. If anything, the huge increase in ridership from these last two rides shows that Sacramento is a prime location for family biking and these rides are both needed and wanted. As long as we can grow comfortably and in control, our Kidical Mass rides are going to be quickly established into Sacramento biking culture (which will hopefully lead to Sacramento general culture, too).
A ride to Doughbot Doughnuts is the best way to start a weekend, always. A bike ride to Doughbot with 24 other fun folks is even better!
This was the first ride of our new riding schedule. Sacramento Kidical Mass now has a "board" of involved individuals and we are working on getting a real website up. We now ride each 4th Saturday of the month with varying times and routes. Our goal is to make Sac Kidical Mass a regular part of Sacramento's biking experience. It's hard for families to juggle additional activities already but by ensuring a fun ride each month, we are able to attract more people to the event and families don't have to worry if they can't come because there is always next month's ride.
A couple of the new "official" Kidical Mass plans are to include a waiver for parents at the start of the ride (which helps collect rider information to count participants, emergency phone number for the ride, and email address to keep them updated for future events. We also had the top 10 guidelines for rider safety and enjoyment.
Our September ride started at Grant Park. It's a great place to hang out while riders assemble. It was pretty awesome to watch the cargo bikes start filling up the park! We had three Yuba Mundos, one homemade bakfiets, one Workcycle bakfiets, and our Bullitt (that makes three bakfietsen for those counting and using proper Dutch terminology), one Fr8 bike from Workcycles, four kiddos riding their own bikes (!), an adult trike, and three other "regular" bikes.
Our ride was about three miles long, mostly down 24th street which had more stop signs but fewer car drivers than the main drag 19th street. We stayed together and followed traffic laws. Big Brother stayed with me as my co-leader. I was so impressed at his riding ability and how quickly he is improving--at each stop, he'd get his "power pedal" ready for a strong push-off! Seth, one of our awesome KM "board" members, played sweeper and kept everyone together.
At Doughbot, we piled into the shop where we were greeted with an entire tray of doughnut flowers! We made ourselves comfortable and devoured the entire platter. A HUGE thank you to Dannah and Bryan for making delicious doughnuts and coffees AND for allowing us to take over their shop!
After we had imbibed enough sugar, we all peeled off in different directions. A few of us headed around the corner to Southside Park to let the kids run around. Coincidentally, that was also where the Tweed Riders were gathering but we had other plans and couldn't join this time. It was great meeting up with old friends whom we hadn't seen for awhile and meeting new friends who will hopefully become Kidical Mass regulars! I'm already looking forward to October's ride--a Halloweeny ride around East Portal Park full of fun dress up and silliness! Be sure to save the date--October 26th, more details to follow.
This is us. We're fun.