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Posts Tagged ‘Bicycling’

When our kids got invited on a sailing trip with another family, and we needed to pick them up in Egmont, Canada on the British Columbia coast, we started thinking about how we could fit in a little parent adventure as well.

We settled on a bike tour circumnavigating the area they would sail. So we drove to Egmont, took our bikes down off the car, and headed for the ferry to the next section of northward coast. We bicycled the curving coastal road and camped in Powell River, then the next morning took another ferry to Vancouver Island and headed south. Camping on Vancouver Island, we remembered our own previous bicycle adventures as we met German, Canadian, and American cyclists who were on the road for weeks or months.

We sorted our loonies and twonies (Canadian $1 and $2 coins) and enjoyed being in another country: the accents, the signage in French, the expensive groceries. Two more ferries later, we were again on the road to Egmont.

We arrived at the marina ahead of the sailors, and lazed in the sunshine until they arrived. It was amazing to see that little boat with four teenagers and our friends (the parents of the other two teens) aboard.

Two very different journeys – by boat and by bike – and one nice Canadian rendezvous. Our thanks to the Johannessens and their boat Mandalay.

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The car-free Ski to Sea relay race was so much fun last May, that I think we’ve moved into car-free eventing any time the race start is in our county. So this weekend, that meant my husband and brother-in-law teamed up for a car-free Bellingham Traverse. The multi-sport adventure race involves a 5.5 mile Run, 6 mile Mountain Bike, 18 mile Road Ride, 3 mile Trail Run, 4 mile Paddle, and finishes with a .5 mile Team Trek (a jog/run to the finish line).

Thus there are a number of start lines, one of which the kayak must be towed to by bicycle, for example. The logistics become an entertaining pre-race planning aspect, and make for more community involvement too. That is, non-racing community members seemed entertained by Tom riding his mountain bike to Lake Padden while one-handedly pushing the road bike that Ben would use when he arrived from running the first leg. Or community members smiled to see me tandem bicycling my brother-in-law to the race start. Fun stuff, and outdoor adventure even for those of us not racing.

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Previously, we divided our adventures into his, hers, and ours (the whole family). As the kids get older, and now that one set of grandparents has moved to town, we can parent adventure as well. The kids can stay home for swim team or cross country practice if they choose, and we can grab a little window of outdoor time.

We had two nights and 3 days to work with, so headed out on our bicycles early, were in Anacortes 3 hours later, and on the state ferry soon after. We rode on San Juan Island to our favorite hiker-biker site at the San Juan County Park, from which you get amazing sunsets and almost always see whales.

Except we saw no whales that evening. But then we spent the next day at Lime Kiln State Park, and there we were lucky enough to see thirty-some whales slowly passing by for almost four hours. I love hearing people ooh and ahh like they’re watching fireworks each time an orca’s huge dorsal fin breaks the surface.

We bicycled on Lopez Island on our third day and wandered some roads we hadn’t traveled on previous trips. We were lucky to have a simple parent bicycle venture with great weather, spectacular whale watching, and a personalized ferry pick-up from my parents. Pretty decadent to now have that option.

We loaded our bicycles onto the back of their boat, padded them with a couple towels, and bungied them in place. Then we watched little clear jellyfish by the hundreds as we made our way across the water towards home.

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We’ll be presenting our Go Local Bike Tour at the Bellingham REI on Thursday, February 25 at 6:30pm. Also being presented that evening is a bike tour from Bellingham to San Francisco.

Last summer we pedaled away from our house, and focusing on using bike trails and ferry links, two parents and two pre-teens pedaled 400 miles in a circle tour from Bellingham, Washington to the Olympic Peninsula to Vancouver Island and back home.

While we have a few tips for thinking local, and a couple funny stories to relate, mostly we want to encourage other families to cycle tour. It is an amazing way to travel an area, meet interesting people, and spend time together as a family. We find bicycle touring to be incredible do-it-yourself family adventuring. Hope you’ll try it!

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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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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 Well Filmed Trip

P8300746Once upon a time, my kids journaled when we went adventuring. We have notebooks of their words and drawings on our shelves, and I love how those can take us back to a trip as the kids experienced it. Nowadays, my son is completely into filmmaking, so it is camera and tripod, not pencil and paper, that travel with us.

On our last weekend-long backpacking trip, his equally into filmmaking friend came along. This led to the rest of us feeling rather well documented, as the boys each had a camera. And they spent a great deal of time with one filming, and the other calling out director notes.

This backpacking trip, on the heels of our 12-day bicycling trip which also included the son’s video camera, are getting me used to adventuring with a film crew. I suppose I need to modify our packing lists now, to include his video equipment. Or maybe I don’t. I doubt he’ll ever forget to pack it.

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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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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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P6230314With dad calling in every other day to tell us of his progress across the USA on his solo bike trip, Noah thought of making a “Tom is Here” sticky note and moving it along our wall map of North America. The kids learned that Havre, Montana is said “Haver,” and wondered about all of the town names that are replicating places in other parts of the world, like Malta and Glasgow. He rode through animal-named places like Wolf Point, geographically influenced places like Cut Bank, unusually named places like Brainerd, and famous person-named places like Voltaire.

We love following his trip with the atlas and wall map, but it also makes us a little ancy to get out adventuring too…

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