Sunday, September 28, 2014

How do you carry your kids?

I've now gone the whole gamut of carrying kids on my bike (realizing that other bikes, such as mid and long tails and bakfiets, are out there, but I don't yet have one of these).  I started out with a Burly trailer, which didn't work out with my first child - he is a talker and I wouldn't hear him until he was crying and then it would be too late.  On the other hand, my second child enjoyed the trailer and sometimes prefers it to a bike seat.  Next came the bike seat, although I did carry the older child in a bike seat and the younger child in the trailer numerous times.  By the way, that is hard, especially up hill.  It's like an awkward touring bike, with, for me, a hundred pound load.

Next up, is the trail-a-bike, or third wheel, or whatever its proper name is.  In any case, I finally had cause to try it out this weekend.  My wife, whose schedule makes it harder to get outside, wanted to ride to the Wright Locke Farm, which has a pretty big raspberryfield.  The field is ancient, with some plants as much as 30 years old.  The picking is usually good and, if you are lucky and are interested in such things, you might see the Yellow Orb Spider (hopefully the link stays around for a while), which we saw a couple of years in a row.  Or you might not want to see it and still come across it.  Anyway, we knew we are outgrowing the bike seat for our oldest boy.  I picked him up after school one day a couple of weeks ago and realized that there is no longer a place for his knees, unless you count poking into my back.  So when we planned on riding to Wright Locke Farm, we also decided to install our hand me down trail-a-bike.  Unfortunately there is no longer a quick release (it seems frozen up so I couldn't pull it apart) but I managed to install it with the knowledge that I would have to take the bolts off before my next commute to work.  I recall that long ago I spec'ed a steel seat tube with the thought that one day I'd be hanging a trail-a-bike off my Surly and that day, five and a half years later, has come.

So, how do I like it?  First, let me say that my wife was a bit jealous that I would have my oldest boy helping me push the bike up the hills.  That didn't happen.  While we were taking a tour of my street, my child complained of his pedals being loose.  It didn't occur to me right away but what he was complaining about was that his gearing was so easy that as long as I was pedaling, he couldn't pedal fast enough to make any impact.  He eventually got used to this and my wife understood that she wasn't missing his effort.  Instead, she had our younger son in a bike seat and that was a known effort.  What I had was the big boy on what turned out to be a very challenging ride.  I urged him to not lean the bike, which I've seen to be a challenge for the rider, and he avoided leaning.  But he did turn around, something that amounts to a lean and it was hard to handle.  I constantly felt like I was being pulled into the street or the curb.  I never could let go with one hand and I was constantly ready to pull us back in line.  In short, someone ought to teach a class on how to handle this kind of rig.  I know it was pretty tough for me.  I can take hope that my child is now interested in riding his own bike, though training wheels seem to be part of the deal for him.

My wife had a hard day as it was, her first time riding this year - 470 feet of climbing in 6 miles, carrying a 35 pound boy on her bike.  But she was a trooper.

So how do you carry your kids, or do you?

Miles for the month: 314, miles for the year (2200).

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