Category Archives: kids

Bike Touring with Kids (building character one pedal stroke at a time)

Too many months have passed since we returned from our family bike tour last summer to justify a trip report. But I think just enough time has passed to allow me to reflect on the experience and look forward to the next one. 

IMG_0006Last summer we loaded up Tim’s Big Dummy (with most of our gear), the tandem (equipped with 3 Ortliebs and a bucket pannier) piloted by Anne and the 8-year-old and the 10-year-old’s bike (toting her clothes, sleeping bag and thermarest) and  pedaled away from our house on a sunny Saturday afternoon in August.

We ended up in the San Juan Islands 5 days later.

SunsetThe family spent 5 more days camping, relaxing, reading, playing on the beach and enjoying the tranquility of Lopez and San Juan Islands. We then hopped on the Victoria Clipper and motored back to downtown Seattle (covering the same distance on the passenger ferry in a few hours that took 5 days on the bike).

The trip came to an end after a 5 mile ride back to our house in North Seattle on a quintessential Seattle summer evening.

Sounds nice, huh?

Recounting the trip in that manner makes it seem like a piece of cake. We pedaled, arrived 5 days later, hung out on the Islands for 5 days and took a ferry back to Seattle.

Truth be told, there was plenty of suffering mixed in as well. And some grit and definitely some character building.

This  NYT education piece about education, failure, building character and ultimately success reminded me of bike touring.

(stay with me for a bit). Continue reading

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Riding with Tweens

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Mother/Daughter Panda

We’ve been getting some flak these days from our 10.958 year old about our lack of car. She’s entering those tween years: asserting her independence and trying to blend in with everyone else. And this whole bike thing sometimes cramps her style.

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but you kind of stick out when your family rides bikes instead of riding in cars.

Continue reading

Soccer Mom, Hold the Mini-Van

Soccer without a car question from TwitterCan a kid participate in soccer if their family doesn’t own a car?

Tim and Maddie had a conversation about that very subject on Twitter today…she was surprised to learn that our kids play soccer and we don’t have a car. (She knew about the car part, she just didn’t know about soccer). Continue reading

Nostalgia

I’m feeling nostalgic today. My kids are growing up. Gone are the two-kid-hauling days when they read books and ate snacks and wondered and giggled with pure innocent joy while riding on my Xtracycle.

And took rides then ran a little bit and hopped back on:

Continue reading

Brompton: It’s a Utility Bike

Portland on BromptonsIt’s been a year since we bought our matching yellow Bromptons.

Of all the bikes in our fleet, our Bromptons garner the most notice. Why? Obviously because of the tiny fold. And because they’re matching. And lemon-yellow. And we’re both quite tall and we look a little ridiculous riding them. And so on… basically they are not bikes for the shy.

Quite honestly, at the time of purchase Anne doubted our families’ need for Bromptons: we don’t travel much, we don’t have a shortage of bike storage space at home, and we aren’t big bus riders.

Tim’s purchase pitch smelled like bike lust to her: more of a want than a need.

But his negotiating skills (with Anne not the seller) prevailed and he eventually convinced her. He even pulled out the habitual-bike-purchaser’s classic line: “At this price, if we don’t ride them, we can easily sell them for more than we bought them!”

Anyone heard that one from a spouse before?

And we’re both glad he won the negotiation because in the past year, we’ve discovered so many uses for our Bromptons. Continue reading

Learning advanced bike skills. Or look Mom, no hands!

Maybe some of you parents can relate. One day your kid is on training wheels or a balance bike, the next they decide they can ride no hands.

It starts out simple enough–one hand up for a split second (see “the beginner in the video). Then two (for a split, split second). They start stretching it out. Longer and longer. The wobbles get bigger, and more dangerous because they aren’t going too fast to start out with and usually stop pedaling as soon as the hands come off. But still they wait even longer before returning to the safety of hands on. Eventually, they’ll realize speed is a good thing. It stabilizes the bike. But until they do … yikes.

The boy right now is in the early stretching-out stage. And it scares the crap out of me. Continue reading

I Spy a Family Biker

Brad's Big Dummy

Yesterday, while heading to REI, I heard my name and friendly shouts coming from a biker in the distance. It was something like”Hey Anne, you’re not normal” (referring to the post I wrote the other day) Continue reading

What’s Normal?

IMAG0239Yesterday, I got a Zipcar to pick up the 10-year-old at my parents house in the suburbs. On the walk to the Zipcar parking spot, the 8-year old negotiated a chance to play with my phone in the car. His excuse:  “we never ride in cars, won’t you let me play games on your phone while we’re in traffic?”

It’s hard for me to resist that sweet boy at times, and he had a point, we would be stuck in traffic for awhile.

Later I found it kind of interesting that while playing with the phone, he chose to snap this photo to document something that seemed odd from his perspective: his mom at the wheel of an automobile. Continue reading

Biking to School in the Rain (don’t be a wimp, mom)

IMG_2358We woke this morning to the sound of raindrops pounding the roof and splashing the windows. So hard to accept after the lovely sunny and warm weekend. Yesterday we were at the beach and there were kids in their skivvys playing in the sand and dipping their tiny toes in the Sound. We slathered on sunscreen and sat in the sand eating pizza and drinking beer out of plastic cups (and talked about how summer had arrived).

And today we woke to rain. Really? On day one of Bike to School Month? Can’t we catch a break?

I was ready to ditch the bike-to-school-plan and walk instead. (We only live 5 blocks from school, it’s easier to walk). But we _are_ the organizers and during Bike to School month, we ride. Continue reading

Bike to School Month 2011

Here at Car Free Days HQ, we’re busy with preparations for the fourth-annual Bike to School Month kickoff (this Friday on the school playground).

Bike to School Month Family Bike Extravaganza

look how little...and cute

Four years already?  Seems like just yesterday, we were planning our first event.

Tim and I love planning Bike to School month: it’s become a much-anticipated spring tradition at our kids’ elementary school.  We share the planning and execution with our friends and fellow family riders, Clint and Leslie. Each of us brings the perfect mix of enthusiasm, mellowness, last-minute surprises and creativity that makes the event a super fun spring tradition at our school. And this year we’ve recruited some new bike riding parents who will hopefully carry on the Bike to School month tradition long after our kids “graduate” from elementary school. Continue reading