Archive for the ‘Bicycling’ Category

Inspired by Others

Sometimes you read about other folks’ adventures and you feel pretty darn inspired. Being of a family who often travels by tandem bicycle, I am drawn to couples and families traveling similarly. We’ve been following Family on Bikes as mom, dad, and twin eleven-year-old boys pedal Alaska to Argentina (they’re past Panama now), and today I read about a European couple who rode for several years from Germany east. They bicycled Iran, India, Indonesia – wow.

Now they’re back in Germany with their baby daughter, and like adventurous parents everywhere, starting to think about family adventuring someday. The article that got me thinking is on the Times Live, out of Johannesburg, South Africa. I could relate to what the he said about really living while on the road, and how they felt welcomed by so many people as they traveled. It’s an amazing world out there. And important to share that and show that to our kids.


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P9130797While Noah and I camped out on Table Mountain (see previous post), his sister and dad slept 24.5 miles down the road. On Sunday morning, they lined up on their tandem bicycle with hundreds of other folks who were generally not on tandems. For a race. Uphill. 4500 feet of elevation gain.

While Noah read a book at the finish line, I scrambled down a trail and intercepted the road. Then I walked it chalk in hand, writing messages. Some directly for Tom and Dana, some for other friends riding, some general you-can-do-it type messages for everyone, and a few comments on others’ messages. “Podium girls ahead!” someone wrote. So I added, “Podium boys too!”

Two switchbacks from the top, I heard my name. I turned to find Tom & Dana cranking up to me, she smiling, he sweating hard. I ran alongside for a bit, but then they went on. By the time I got to them at the finish, they were accepting congratulations from people and fruit from the snack table.P9130807

My favorite tandem team finished in two and a half hours (faster than Tom had thought they’d be) and as far as I saw, Dana was the only girl involved in the event.

It was a beautiful day, an impressive challenge, another incredible Mount Baker Hill Climb. And I was just a little tempted to try it next year.

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Family Book Club

PC260401Books have been on my mind. In the last few weeks I was lucky enough to win Jane in Bloom by Deborah Lytton through Cindy Hudson’s Mother-Daughter Book Club site and two writer books from Christina Katz’ Writer Mama site. Thanks gals!

I also got my copy of Cindy’s Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. And in thinking about her perspective on sharing books with daughters, I reflected on our family’s book sharing.

On our bicycling trips, each person gets to take one book in their pannier. So after someone finishes their book, we often trade. Then we can operate as a family book club, discussing what we’ve read in the tent at night or over peanut butter sandwiches at lunch. I like reading the young adult literature my kids have read – I get to know more about what they’re experiencing, I read books I would not have ordinarily picked up, and we have interesting discussions.

When we lived in Mexico we shared even more books, because English language books were hard to come by. We packed 40 books along with us, then shared many of them. My son even made a calendar and filled in when he would read each book, so as to make them last the length of the trip (didn’t work, he sped through the books and we had to start trading with other families).

How often do families read the same book at home? For us, the Harry Potter books, but not too many others. But on a trip where space and weight dictate condensing our book possibilities? Family book club happens.

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The Sign for More

mail-3This incredibly cute bicycle traveler is my friend’s son, Alden. Funny how I just wrote a Family Bicycling article, and was remembering my own family wearing out our bike trailer. All the photos of my own kids at that stage aren’t digital – times change.¬†But I think introducing kids to bicycling at a young age is a timeless good idea.

Think of how much more fun bicycling is for kids then riding a in a car. Kids get to see the world at a pace they can notice the color of leaves or the pedestrian’s fedora. They can smell the blackberries, and lately, apples. They can feel the breeze or the raindrops. They will get smiled and waved at by other people, see their parents modeling fitness and healthy activity, absorb safety lessons about helmets and looking before turning. They will likely be excited about riding their own bike in a few years, and family adventuring by bicycle. Fun and fitness for everyone.

Start young, and you will likely see the sign for more – even literally like Alden is giving it. See him touching his hands together in the American Sign Language sign for “more?”

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mail-1The fall issue of Adventures Northwest magazine is out and about now, chock full of inspiring writing and good looking photos. My article on family bicycling, Smiles Per Hour, details how we’ve been cycling together over the years – starting with one kid and a trailer of diapers, but eventually becoming a family of four on parent & child tandem bicycles. We have pedaled thousands of miles, a number of different countries (USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg), and up to six weeks on a single trip (the US Pacific Coast). We sure have had amazing experiences together.

You can even read the article¬†right here if you don’t live where you can pick up a copy of the magazine. Let me know what you think, or if you have questions.

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P8040586 While on our recent bicycle adventure, we stopped by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s totem pole carving workshop.

We braked on the downhill into Blyn and scanned the beautiful tribal buildings for the House of Myths, which some friends from the area had told us about. Then we parked our bikes and lurked in the House of Myths’ doorway until we saw a welcome sign encouraging people to come in, look around at the totem poles in process, and watch the carvers.

The day we were there two carvers were at work, and when one took a phone call, the other chatted with us about the incredible art all around us. He talked about how the colors were traditionally made, how each one-of-a-kind pole is made from a single tree, and how the story and design process works. We were amazed.

P8040584You never know what a day will bring when you’re adventuring self-propelled. Sometimes we read about what lies ahead, or hear something intriguing from other folks, and plan to stop at a particular destination. Other times, we just stumble upon interesting places and stop, even if it is on a downhill, to look and learn.

Make sure to allow for experiences that weren’t on the itinerary. Sometimes they become highlights.

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The Five Ferry Tour

P8030576When we awoke in the tent on the first morning of our 12-day bicyling trip, Tom listened to the radio a little and heard that the Keystone ferry was not running. Cancelled until further notice due to a mechanical problem. And we had planned to be on it in a couple hours.

We did a morning hike instead, finally heading over Deception Pass bridge and on south, arriving at the ferry 5ish. And found it was running just fine.

All of our other ferries on the tour departed as scheduled, and no problem.P8130681 We ferried across international waters to get to and from Vancouver Island. We had a two-ferry day to get from Vancouver Island to Lopez Island. And we got quick at tying down our bikes on the car deck and scampering up the stairs to watch from the passenger areas.

The five ferry tour allowed us to vary our trip (not just bicycling each day), visit friends, and complete a circle tour with a water assist.

Any ferry destinations in your area? Consider including them on your itinerary.

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