Category Archives: family cycling

Eighth-Annual Xtracycle Tree Haulin! (plus retrospective)

Tree and bikes_DSC8679 (Large)This is our obligatory eighth-annual Christmas tree by bike post. Tree-hauling is old hat by now, but I thought I’d post some photos of this year’s adventure anyway. You might remember that last year our daughter hauled the tree. When we discussed who would pedal the tree home this year, I realized I’d never done it. How did I pass on all of those tree-hauling opportunities over the years? Naturally I volunteered for the task.

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Confessions of a Bike to School Advocate

Panda enjoying the rideI think I’ve mentioned one or two (or a hundred) times over the past seven years that I’m a bike to school advocate. If you’ve been reading Car Free Days for any amount of time, you’ve most likely surmised that I’m a tiny bit passionate about encouraging kids and families to bike and walk to school.

One message I’ve repeated over the years is how easy it is to bike and walk to school. Since my first kid started pre-school in 2004, I’ve talked about the simplicity and the joy and the fun of biking to school with kids.

But lately, I’ve started to wonder about the ease of this whole bike-to-school thing.  Continue reading

Book Review: Washington Cycling Sojourner

Walk-in (ride in) campsite at San Juan County Park

An early-years, Carfreedays family tour, camped at San Juan County Park.

edit: Book Party! Book-Release event for Washington Cycling Sojourner at Washington Bikes in Pioneer Square. 5:30pm May 1. Details & RSVP at WA Bikes. 

The  family just returned from a spring-break, car-camping trip to Yosemite National Park. While the park was beyond beautiful, the amount of time spent in the car (and in close proximity to other car campers and RVers who don’t exactly share our “don’t bring everything you own” ethos), had us longing for a another bike tour.

As you may remember, we rode the Pacific Coast Bike Route over the course of the past two summers. The big adventure was, well, adventurous, and highly recommended, but this year we’ve promised the kids we’ll stick close to home for the summer (they mentioned something about friends and beaches and lemonade stands. Hmmm….).

cycling sojournerLuckily, we’ve got loads of awesome bike touring and camping starting right outside our door and extending through out the state. In fact, there’s so much good riding here, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with dreamy but vague potential, and fall back to the standards (our usual Mukilteo-Whidbey-Port Townsend-Bainbridge loop is always enjoyable, but getting a tad long in to the tooth). That’s why the timing of Ellee Thalheimer’s, (kickstarter funded!) new bike touring guide, Washington Cycling Sojourner is so excellent.

For just about anyone hoping to bike-tour Washington, Thalheimer’s guide is sure to contain a ride matched to your skills, interest, and available time. She even includes a route finder grid aimed at helping you choose the most appropriate tour. Continue reading

Tree Hauling, Year 7: Kids Hauling Trees

Xtracycle Tree Hauling (year 7)
Happy Holidays! It’s time for our seventh-annual Christmas-tree hauling post. You’re probably bored of our tree-hauling exploits at this point. But it’s a tradition so we’re sharing anyway!

Last year our friend, Charlotte, suggested that the kids need to start hauling the tree. And since our daughter now fits Anne’s bikes, Tim floated the idea by her a couple of weeks ago. As a new 13 year old, she’s lukewarm about even riding bikes, let alone hauling trees on bikes in public, where, you know, like, her friends and, like, the whole world might see her!

So we weren’t surprised then with her less-than-enthusiastic response.

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Hungry? 21 Go-To Family Bike Touring Foods

slurpees!Disclaimer: In general, food is a polarizing subject. Add bike touring, small town grocery options and it can get even more divisive.

I’m an omnivore. And so is my family. For those of you who don’t eat meat or processed food, just know I’m not trying to offend your food sensibilities. Same goes for those of you who can’t imagine bike touring without energy drinks, freeze-dried food and power bars. Sometimes we eat some pretty gross stuff on tours that we wouldn’t consider at home (gas station deviled eggs, 7-11 hot dogs and mystery meat burritos). If the mere idea of any of that makes you ill, you may just want to skip this post!

Kids and food

For all the parents out there: Do you agree that feeding the family is one of the most high maintenance tasks on your daily list? I like to cook but feeding a family day after day quickly turns into a chore.

A few years ago,  I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner one night when I remembered this site a friend had recommended (if you’re swear-averse, don’t click.) They said it was funny and that it would cure my dinner making blues. I ended up procrastinating for quite some time one afternoon clicking links and laughing. F-bombs and dinner resonated with me at that time in my life. It just didn’t get old.

In all seriousness, kids can be such a pain in the ass when it comes to food. They don’t {ahem} like that, or they say they like it but won’t eat it when the time comes. Or they won’t eat vegetables. Or they’ll eat only raw vegetables. Or they’ll only eat white food. The worst is when they tell you that the meal you just slaved over is gross. Ack! Help!

Add bike touring and meal planning gets more difficult

Grocery Store BBQ, YumYou think feeding two adults and two kids is hard at home? Try feeding them on a bike tour! Three times a day, for 22 days. After pedaling 50-60 miles a day, we all get hungry. And since we’re far from our favorite local organic grocery stores, we have to make do with small town stores that sometimes offend our high-brow-gourmet-food sensibilities.  We might even sink so low that we’ll {gasp} scrounge for anything remotely edible in nasty gas stations! But everyone must eat, so we roll with it.

If you’re interested in family bike touring and food, read on! Continue reading

Get Kids to Talk: The Modern Equivalent of Trapping Them in the Car

Parenting fact: one-on-one time with kids is where all of the good dialogue happens.

1977 Cadillac Sedan Deville

1977 Cadillac Sedan Deville from The Hartford Guy on Flickr

When I was in high school, my dad was well aware of this fact. I think that’s why he’d bribe me with rides to school in his 1978 Cadillac DeVille (or “the boat” as we called it in the family). Even today I can still hear the “thunk” of the automatic door locks engaging as dad backed this giant, baby-blue, swank sedan out of the driveway.

That “thunk” nearly always triggered teenage-cheek-flush and upper-lip-sweat as I realized I was trapped in the car with dad. On the surface it was a luxury ride, but in reality I was merely being held for uninterrupted questioning.

My 15-year-old brain swirled with thoughts of outsmarting him:

“Crap, it’s just dad and me, no one else to distract him or run interference, he can talk about anything he wants. I can’t escape, I have to answer his questions. Maybe if I just look out the window and feign boredom, he won’t try to talk to me.”

But my sweaty, flushed flight response of my lizard brain knew better.

He always asked questions. So many questions. And I eventually had to answer. Continue reading

Lies we Tell our Children (or how to get kids to go bike touring)

Pacific Coast Bike Tour Day 1

When Tim and I recount family bike adventures to friends and strangers, a typical response is, “What do the kids think”? “Do they like bike touring?”

If we were being completely honest, we’d reply, “of course not”. You’ll soon ascertain that we have a slight problem with stretching the truth.

We get kids on board and excited about these trips by over-emphasizing the potential highlights and skipping the parts we know the kids won’t like.

And sometimes we tell all out lies. Continue reading