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Archive for the ‘Bicycling’ Category

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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P8020554Bike trails and paths allow safer riding away from cars, and as a parent, I breathe easier when we get to use them. This tour allowed us time on a number of different trails, so here they are in photo form.

This first one is the Padilla Bay Shore Trail. Just a couple miles, but great meandering next to the water. And an interesting gateway to keep motorized vehicles out.

P8050598The Discovery Trail starts pre-Sequim and goes to Port Angeles, winding mostly through woods and farmlands. We appreciated learning about it from our Warmshowers stay in the area (thanks Heidi and Dick!). There are amazing bridges built by volunteers to span what was once railroad trestles, and some odd detours, such as around a superfund site outside Port Angeles.

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And the Gun Club.

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Then after camping at Fairholm on Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, we decided not to brave Highway 101 back to Port Angeles. Instead we used the mountain bike path on the north side on the lake, marked as the Spruce Railroad Trail on our Bicycling the Olympic Peninsula map. Yes, we had to push our bikes a couple times, but it was awesome to circle the lake far away from the car traffic.

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On Vancouver Island, we got to ride from Victoria to Sydney on the 30km Lochside Trail. It also goes on to the ferries at Swartz Bay as well. This section was special because we got to ride partway with our cycling pals Mark and Jade.

Our final trail was from Anacortes to Bayview on our last day. It was raining, so I didn’t snap any photos, but the converted trestle across Fidalgo Bay was impressive. I’m definitely a fan of rail-trails now.

You can find them by googling a town or area with “bike trail” or check with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

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Swim Time

P8070626While I think Lake Crescent on the Olympic Peninsula is rather chilly, my children are in it and then in it some more. We’re camped at water’s edge, so they can swim from our site. And it is incredibly clear water, with beautiful forested hills rising up like we’re in Switzerland.

The kids spent more time sitting on a partially submerged tree and wading than actually swimming, I suppose, but they are getting a lot of water time on these two rest days where we are not pedaling the bicycles at all.

Noah and Dana also got an unexpected playmate, when a childhood friend of Tom’s arrived with his wife and 8-year-old. They didn’t mind the cold water and the whole family went in. P8080630Impressive.

Swim time here is a good reminder that kids look at trips differently. While an adult might define adventuring as the part where we are actually traveling along, they find adventure in every place. Yes, we got here by bicycle, but right now it is simply playing outside. A very good thing, wherever we are.

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P8030564The new bicycle configuration, with Noah on his own bike, means that he’s quick on the uphills but the loaded bikes get far ahead of him – or need to brake a lot – on the downhills. This makes for interesting riding if it is very hilly, as it is hard to keep the group together.

We rode about 120 miles in the first 3 days. And then Noah was really tired. Even with Dana occasionally trading places with him, that was too much too fast.

So we’re feeding him much more (above he even has a lollipop in his mouth), scaling back the mileage, and planning some rest days.P8020553 There have also been a few unplanned rest stops. We’ve had a flat tire every day, with two for me in one hour, until we figured out I actually needed a new tire. The tube was bulging out through a thin spot in the tire sidewall, and when I applied my brakes it was just enough additional pressure. Next came the unpleasant pop that signals another flat.

Tom patched the tire with the largest patch we had, even left the backing on for more strength, and we bought a new tire at a nice shop in Sequim, Washington. We’re now hoping for more planned, rather than unplanned stops, although the one in the photo was a good spot – even had a little bench to sit on.

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P7240482We’re heading out on our 10-day family bicycling trip towards Olympic National Park, returning home via Vancouver Island and Lopez Island to visit friends. We may name it the Bike & Ferry tour. Or the Stay Near Water Because It Has Been Incredibly Hot tour. Or the Tour de Changes, because our 13-year-old is, well, a teenager, and that changes things.

He’s going to ride his own bike instead of tandem with a parent this tour. So we’ve scaled our mileage back to 30 miles a day, figuring we can adjust from there, depending on how it goes. This puts mom on a single bike and one tandem as the dad-daughter team. Dad wants to haul most of the weight, but we’ll have to see how that goes too. It is also possible Noah will be so speedy we’ll have to weight him down a little to keep up with him.

I like the adjust-as-you-go flexibility that seems to happen while bicycle touring. So we’ll pedal on into the changes, and see what we notice as we travel.

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P7020355While we often bicycle on tandems with two people, and when the kids were young we added a bike seat for a total of three, we have now met an amazing bicycle set-up that carried four kids with ease.

Mr. B, boogie woogie pianist and bicyclist, now has a bike for towing his piano. It has a low platform for the piano, places for two more bikes to hook in and push, and without the piano on it carries quite a load of kids. We tried it on the dirt roads around his home. I found it like the tandem in terms of extra length, but very different in turning and of course, weight.

We got to hear him play his piano in his workshop, but he’s taking the show on the road quite literally in southern Michigan. What a great idea.

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P6290337Tom’s 2436-mile ride from Washington to Ann Arbor, Michigan concluded in his parents’ driveway with a crepe paper finish line. The kids and I had rigged the line between two trees, but gusty winds knocked it down before the big arrival, so we tried several other configurations and multiple crepe paper lines to get the concept to work.

The kids and cousin Ty also made signs out of Grandma’s new oven’s boxes. There was “Congratulations!” “MI to WA!” and Dana’s P6290338“Good Job!” depicting a rocket bike with a special place to store candy. I also liked her use of found materials. When I smashed a bug on my sign, she circled it and wrote “Hope you don’t have too many of these on your face.”

We entertained the neighborhood with our set-up, cheered when Tom and his brother Ben arrived (Ben biked two days with Tom), and marked Tom’s accomplishment.

My sister still wins for best finish line, when she had music, signs, cold watermelon, and pretend Olympic medals handed out ceremoniously by my niece as we arrived in San Diego. She set the standard inspirationally high, but in a good way.

Here’s to lots more finish line shenanigans.

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