Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kids and Bikes and Long, Long Rides

We like to take bike rides in our family. Well, that is, if we're on a fairly flat path and not a street -- I hate sharing the road with crazy drivers in a car, let alone on a bicycle toting my precious babies.

The past couple of years we've done some biking. And Daddy has tried to induce heart attacks, strokes and the eviction of my lungs through my mouth by taking me on rides up hills. By hills, I mean hills. Hills that would make Lance Armstrong think a bit about how he's going to ride up. A couple of years ago we went for a ride that should have been pretty flat behind our housing community in California. And that "flat" ride turned into a roller coaster ride that we had to power ourselves. It wasn't fun. There was tears and lots and lots of whining. And then Little Monster got tired of riding in the bike trailer and started crying too. Poor Daddy has to put up with a lot.

We found a flat path and rode it after that. But now, just the thought of a hill makes me wince. He mentioned that we should ride our bikes to the pool while visiting his parents, but he warned me of a hill once you leave. I whined and put off the ride and the pool thinking it was going to be something like the roads of California. And then I gave up and we went. And after we'd returned, I asked Daddy where in the world that hill he had talked about was. We decided there was a slight incline in the road for about a block. And it might have been a killer hill when he was ten on a single speed bike, after being in the pool all day. Before he met a real hill.

This past weekend we went up to Maine with the express thought of riding around some of the Rockefeller's Carriage paths on our bikes. We'd walked them a few years back when his frigate pulled into a town in a 'down-east' area with the dogs and had a great time. We have talked about going back several times.

We had seen these bike trailers everywhere that looked amazing. They basically make your bike into a tandem bike so the kids can ride and work, or just hold on and be part of the 'grownup' crowd on the bike ride. Of course, when we went to purchase them we couldn't find one in a store that we could take home to try before heading off on our trip. We ended up ordering one through our Sporting Goods Coop and it arrived the day before we left. As we were packing up the camper to go, we tested it out and set it up so that Little Monster could ride behind Daddy. The first try was really wobbly. We had a hard time convincing Little Monster to get on it after some adjustments. I think we may have even threatened a spanking. Eventually, after getting on the thing, Daddy and Little Monster rode around the block. And then they rode around the block again, per Little Monster's request. And again. And again. He loved it.

When we got there we couldn't park in the lot nearest our planned bike path because it was full, no big deal, we parked at a different spot and adjusted our bike route so that we weren't adding a zillion miles to the ride, considering we weren't sure how Little Monster was going to do on the bike ride. We got about a half mile into the bike ride and realized that "witch hole" meant that it was a witch to get our bikes up and over that hill. I felt like a big sissy whining and crying and trying to cough my lungs out through my mouth. I regretted all of those days I skipped my workout and swore I'd try to be better about remembering to pedal like a fiend on our recumbent bike at home. .

After a very painful 1 1/2 miles, we got to the parking lot where we had planned to start. I seriously considered wimping out and telling Daddy to go get the truck. I was so done. But then I looked back and Butterball was asleep in the chariot, starting to stir because we weren't moving anymore. Little Monster had started whining because we'd stopped long enough to use the bathroom, so I knew he wouldn't be happy if I said we were done and going home. So, I toughed it up and kept going.

I made the right decision. The first hill wiped me out, and I was tired, but once I got my second wind, it was fine. It also helped that the majority of the rest of the ride was gradual uphills and downhills. Little Monster loved passing me on the bike. I can't count the number of times I heard "Ha HA! I'm winning MOMMY! I'm PASSING YOU!" come from his mouth. About 2/3 of the way through the ride we stopped for a picnic. The kids ate better than they have in months. Little Monster was really excited to have a real picnic. Little Monster happily rode the entire 12 miles on the bike, only complaining that he was hungry before we had our lunch.

And then we got to the "witch" hill again. Only this time we were going down. There were caution signs warning about steep grades and sharp curves. The hills going down were no joke. I rode my brakes the entire time. I'm guessing I wasn't as big of a wuss as I imagined. On our way down, we met several people walking their bikes up the hill, just like I did.

The last night of the trip, I snuggled with Little Monster to get him to sleep and we talked about our favorite parts of the trip. He liked swimming in the ocean. And he liked riding his bike around the campground and having the campfire. But he said his favorite part was the bike ride.

Using the bike trailer gave him confidence that he could ride his bike. He hasn't wanted to ride his bicycle since we got it, because he, like me, was scarred by the crazy hills in California. Ever since we went on that bike ride, though, he's been excited about riding his bike and wants to ride all of the time.

The trailer was worth every penny to see the giant smile on Little Monster's face every time he passed me. It was a bonus that he now wants to ride his bicycle everywhere we go "REALLY FAST!"

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