Family Bike Ride: The Gear
Now that we're well into summer, we're hopping on the bikes pretty often. The sunny and not-to-warm days are perfect for riding into the sunset. Thought I'd just share a few things that have worked for our pedaling family of four.
I've shared before about our riding around with our bike trailer (and which one we bought, at that). Last year, our great addition was our tag-along, the Adams Trail-a-Bike. We decided to get one when Philly was about 4 years old, and when she was getting awfully heavy to ride in the trailer with her sister. Plus, she had already been on her two-wheeler with training wheels for several months, and she was getting good at the pedaling. After testing out a couple of tag-alongs, we decided on the tag-along that: (a) folds and (b) has 5 gears. (we felt lucky to have found what we needed on craigslist.) The fold-up aspect comes in handy when we go on a trip, we can fold it up so easily and put it in the trunk. We first tried the non-folding tag-along, and it was a bear to fit into the car! The gear-shifting is wonderful when we hit higher speeds. WIth the fixed-gear tag-along, when we were cruising along, Philly would stop pedaling at some point because the gear was much too low. She couldn't keep up. Now, with the gears, she can even share in some of the work.
When we're both riding around with the girls, one of us pulls the tag-along and one of us pulls the trailer. Sometimes, when we are riding solo, we have attempted the caravan: daddy pulling the tag-along pulling the trailer...
I guess a couple of my biggest tips for pedaling around town are:
Map it out. It's good to know where you're going. We have great bike maps of the CIty and even touring around Oregon. There are routes with bike lanes, no-car paths, low-traffic streets, then high-traffic, super scary streets. When you have the kidlets in tow, it's good to make sure you avoid those high-traffic, no-bike-lane streets. We've once mapped poorly and we ended up with the kids on a major, major two lane, higher-speed thoroughfare . Man, was it scary! Here is a complete list of maps.
Underestimate. I have a tendency to think we can go that extra mile with the kids, thinking we can do the full 10-bridge/36-mile Bridge Pedal without incident. Easy does it, slow going, safety first. I like to put a small radio/CD player in the trailer with Tati so she can play her favorite music for us and everyone we pass by. If there are prolonged complaints or discomforts, we have learned to stop and take breaks! It's all supposed to be a fun and healthful time.