We just returned from a day of family Xtracycling. If you’d asked where we were going when we left the house, we probably would have mentioned something about the Bicycle Music Festival. Sure that’s where we were headed, but in reality we were out for a dose of every day cycling adventure.
In the course of an hour or so on the bikes we picked up the youngest from a play date, helped a friend install a basketball hoop, took some photos, stopped at the library, saw a ton of boats and houseboats, took some more photos, and picked up some excellent free stuff on the road near said houseboats (some BRAND NEW Ikea LED lights plus some high-quality nickel-plated light fixtures with sconces that will go nicely in our bathroom. SCORE!)!
And that was just on the way to the music festival.
On the way home we hit Whole Foods for picnic fixings, gawked at two totally different wedding events at the South Lake Union Park (one a typical slacks/skirt affair, the other boasting big cowboy hats, boots, shiny belt buckles, and some very tight dresses, though not all at once), watched the South Lake Union parade of sea planes, and even came face-to-face with the rudest 7-year-old boy we’ve ever seen.
Seriously. The following is our best memory of the actual exchange:
Boy: I’m really thirsty, give me some of your water.
Us: Um, no, I don’t think so. Maybe you should ask your parents first (thinking that maybe his parents wouldn’t want him asking for and taking food from strangers).
Boy: Nooooo!!! No! You are a meanie. If you don’t give it to me I’m going to punch you in the face!
Us: Yikes! Where are your parents? Go away little boy!
And on top of all those experiences, the festival at Denny Park was a good time, too. The crowd, pulled mostly from the hippy-like biking demographic, came with lots of long hair, beards, and very little spandex (that’s a good thing, in case you must ask). The vibe was very mellow. No surprise there, though we thought more families would show. Maybe they, like Totcycle, chose the morning gig? Still, a bikey crowd is a bikey crowd. No complaints here!
We arrived at Denny Park about half past three yet still managed to be on time. My kind of crowd! We caught the first(?) band, Bend – a tight group with a kind of a Dave Matthews like vibe. They were followed by Nettle Honey, a electric Bluegrass combo complete with Anne’s favorite instruments: fiddles! We enjoyed both, all the while marveling in the human-powered amps, mics, and speakers.
Along the way we did some people watching, the kids threw a Frisbee, we checked out the people-power system up close, observed some hornets, and generally got our groove on, in a mildly distracted ’cause we are watching to see if the kids would chase toys into the Denny Way traffic kind of way.
Unfortunately, as is often the case with whole-family events, we had to be flexible with THE PLAN. We soon realized the kids’ attention spans plus our parenting skills combined for a two-band limit, max. So after about 90 minutes of music (pleasantly scented by aromas from the nearby Hostess Twinkie factory), we hit the bikes again in search of the previously mentioned picnic dinner and ride home
As we we rode, it became clear to me that without the Xtracycles, our day would have been pretty one dimensional. Our fun didn’t come from the music festival alone. It was the whole adventure (the ride, smells, the bands, the jerk, the junk, the food, the picnic, the weddings, all of it) that made our day.
A Musical Festival by Car Instead?
Let’s look at how the day would have gone, had we decided to drive to a music festival. The event was set for 3 pm, so around 2:30 we’d pile into the auto, buckle up and drive. I’m guessing we’d fight traffic for about 30 minutes, maybe flip off a bicyclist or two along the way, and likely listen to the kids beat the crap out of each other in the back seat. Upon arrival downtown, we’d then look for parking for another 10 minutes—it’s gotta be free because I’m cheap as hell —and pile out of the car.
We’d walk to the park and probably experience a lesser quality 90 minutes of festival; I’d be cranky from driving and the kids would be cranky from being cooped up in the car.
Then we’d do it all again: Walk back to the car and drive somewhere for dinner. We probably wouldn’t have gone to Whole Foods to purchase wholesome picnic fixings, because getting in and out of the car with kids is, frankly, a pain (drive-thru is America’s dining choice for good reason. Well, not good reason, but easy reason for sure). Maybe we’d just eat at home since we’d get back there a lot earlier. The speed of the car might give us more free time in the day, but we’d probably just squander it on TV or surfing the Internet.
By car, I’m pretty sure it would have been a day without adventure. That just makes me a little sad because that means lots of folks are going adventureless every day.
Fact: Every Day Adventures are Key to Family Cycling
The title of the Xtracycle blog, Every Day Adventures, has it nailed. That’s exactly what we experience when we ride. Junk on the side of the road, interesting smells, hills, wacky people, cool sights, sweat, rainstorms, shouts of “you rule,*” speed, found money, and of course, our smiling, happy children enjoying fresh air in the city. We feed off this stuff. Our kids enjoy riding. We enjoy riding.
The camping trips, music festivals, ice cream cones and the like are wonderful, but are really just icing on the everyday cycling cake.
Unlike car travel where you are always in a hurry to get somewhere, when we’re on the bike the trip is the adventure. On the bike, the trip is living.
How about you? Will you share some of your every day adventure stories?
*(Anne got that on Friday; I got the middle finger on Tuesday. I think her better legs must tip the odds.)