Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Riding with Two Kids

I'm out of the blogging stride, with nearly a month since last posting. But now that Jasper is temporarily transfixed by his new fish mobile, I'm going to jump right in and see about managing some of the backlog of bike fun that I'd like to share with you!

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My sister-in-law, her husband, and their little boy came to visit us over Presidents' Day weekend so that they all could meet the baby. They live in Roy, UT, home of wide streets and big cars. But they know we don't have a car, and wanted to know if they needed to rent one when they visited. We said no, and then set to figuring out how we would all get around without one.

The grown-ups were no problem, of course-- they are both able-bodied and terrifically good sports, so they borrowed a few bikes to get around. Our local shop very sweetly loaned us a couple of helmets for them to use, and we were good to go!

But their son, Forrest, is two-and-a-half, and while he walks and runs with more agility every time I see him, he's certainly not big enough to get himself around on a bike.

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Dave's sister and I had talked about her wanting to get Forrest around by bike before this, so I took the risk that she would be pleased by our surprise for them: a seat for Forrest in the Yuba box! Dave and I set to work on design, and then Dave took over the construction: a small, plywood shelf, firmly but temporarily affixed to permanently installed cleats inside the box. We put two holes in the shelf to pass an NRS strap through for a seatbelt, and voila! Kid seat. We picked up a kid-size helmet at Clever Cycles, and were good to go.

We got to take three rides on the Yuba with both kids. First, to brunch-- Forrest was a bit stunned on the way out, but was cheerful on the way home. Later that afternoon, we mentioned taking the bikes out for bagels, and when we were too slow to get moving on that, Forrest wandered away and came back with his helmet on his head, holding his parents' helmets for them: "Come ON guys, it's time to get back on the bikes!" So off we went, into the drizzly twilight, for a mid-afternoon bagel snack.

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The next day we first set to wrestling with carseats and zipcars to get to a lovely suburban Valentine's brunch with friends. We loved the brunch, but found the whole carseat/driving ordeal a bit draining. On the other hand, I did get to make and give out bikey valentines!

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After that, we took a cleansing, longer ride to Trader Joe's, where Forrest's folks wanted to pick up some things. It was five miles round trip, long enough for Forrest to compose and sing me a song about bumps, to soothe the crying baby beside him, and to wave at lots of dogs and kids we passed along the way.

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In each case I was struck by how little Forrest cared where we were going: the point was to get on the bike and go. Even in the rain--put on a raincoat! Even in the dark-- turn on some lights!

His mom tells me that the bike rides, and his helmet, were his favorite parts of the trip, and that he talked about them on the plane all the way home.

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It will be a while yet before Jasper can tell me what he thinks about riding on the bike. But I hope he loves it that much. And though I know he'll sometimes be grouchy about it, I hope he can share with me some of that childish enthusiasm about getting on the bike. No matter where we're going. No matter if it's dark. No matter if it's raining.

12 comments:

Julian said...

That is double cool. I still really like your setup. That physical but not verbal separation between the kids would come in handy on of our family rides ...

imaginarybicycle said...

I love this path you're riding - makes me *almost* wish I could start again and make my "Biking Family" truly a biking family. You're making this world a better place for your son to grow up in.

Matt in Tacoma said...

Kudos to your in-laws for being so open to the no-car plan. And who knows how big of an impact these few rides will have on the young, impressionable mind of Forrest!

keller74 said...

Good on ya for spreading the gospel! I'm not sure I'd have the gumption to offer my house guests my bikes as transport, but I'd lend them my car...it's just we are locked into a set way of thinking. Australia is I think, even more car mad than the US. The Premier of New South Wales was recently called "eccentric" by a popular radio host because she cycles to work!

sara said...

Love it!!! I am guessing that Forrest took his cool bike helmet home with him. Is Roy, UT suddenly going to see a new family cargo bike zipping along its roads any time soon?

Yes, I do love biking with my kids. There is much to enjoy on the ride, no matter the destination, but yes, the seat separation might perhaps add to that enjoyment down the road.... Yes, I have said, "If you don't stop it [bickering/fighting/ picking], I am going to pull this bike over."

Jim said...

Fantastic post. Keep speading the word !
We are getting to the point where the (3) kids are leaving the Yuba and wanting to pedal on their own. They are flying the nest...LOL, I get my own two bike escort infront of the Yuba, which has also become somewhat lighter.
Great days out, nothing beats it !

Malia said...

Love hearing about your newest baby biking adventures. Thanks for the update!

Melissa said...

Yeah! I met you guys on the Tweed ride and you rock. I loved this post. I'll remember Forrest next time I get grumbly about riding in the rain, and instead make up a song. Thanks for this.

Murray said...

Great post! I'm glad the seat worked so well for Forrest. Thanks for dealing with the car seat troubles to join us for brunch.

Kori said...

you guys freakin rock.

MamaVee said...

pretty nifty!

Anonymous said...

I love this story! This was so much fun and Forrest is still talking about the bike rides. He liked seeing these photos and said "my baby" when he saw Jasper! We're still trying to find a second hand bike seat for him so we can take him along on rides.

Julie (Forrest's mommy)