Bicycle Dreams

I haven’t had a bicycle of my own since I left home almost 16 years ago. But I want one. I like cycling rather a lot. I see the many upsides, both in terms of me getting exercise and the planet not having to choke on car exhaust fumes because I’m driving. Whenever I pass by a bike shop I eye the pretty, shiny bicycles with envy.

There’s been a bit of a hitch in my cycling dreams, though. Or, more accurately, two hitches – my lovely children, Hannah and Jacob. Whereas I could see riding my bike on a solo outing, I have a hard time picturing myself loading up two children, with a combined weight of almost 65 pounds, and towing them along behind me. Uphill. When I haven’t ridden regularly in over a decade. You see what I’m saying? Even if I had a bike and a bike trailer, I would prefer a gentler re-introduction.

Jacob pushes Hannah's bike around
Jacob has cycling dreams of his own

But things recently started looking up for my bicycle dreams. Hannah decided that two-wheelers are for 5-year-olds. Not 4-year-olds, she refused to even entertain the notion before her birthday. Now that she is 5, though, her grandparents gifted her with a very sparkly bicycle of her own, and she loves it. She wants to take off the training wheels and learn to ride it properly. And when she is on that bike, she is fast.

Suddenly, the vision in my head is of Hannah on her own bicycle, and me pulling only 20-month-old Jacob in a trailer. It feels much more manageable to me. I think I could actually manage that. The mere idea does not make me break out in hives, or cause phantom muscle pain in my legs.

Hannah riding her new bike
Hannah on her new two-wheeler

Working up some speed
Working up a little speed

I think it will be a while, yet, before Hannah has the cycling skills to really ride along. We would have to start on side streets, of course, and work our way up. But I definitely see the first glimmers of how it would work. And that’s enough for me, because if I’ve learned anything as a mom, it’s that things change before you know it. If I see the hints of how I could ride my bike places now, I’ll blink my eyes a few times and I’ll be ready to actually attempt a trip to the library or the grocery store with kids in tow.

I’ll just need to track down the prettiest bike ever for myself, first. I’m thinking powder blue right now, with a basket in the front. And maybe some handlebar streamers. Why should kids get all the bicycle bling? In the meantime, if you have older kids I’d love to hear when they were old enough to actually ride their bikes alongside you. What skills did they have to master first? What kind of learning curve was there? Tell me all about it!

PS – On a completely unrelated note, do you remember when I wrote my passionate post and entered the Mabel’s Labels BlogHer contest? Whether you do or not, I am tickled to say that I am in the top 10. Thank you so much to the contest judges – I am really, truly flattered!

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  1. I have a bike (with off road tires) and I haven’t taken it out of our shed since (oh my) maybe 2005? But I have been debating about getting a baby seat for it so I can take J for small bike rides around the neighborhood. The thought of going on the main roads with him scare me, but I think staying along the country back roads could be a fun adventure for the two of us.

    PS-I say go for the streamers!! 🙂

  2. My 6 year old refuses to even touch his bike. He’s terrified. Even after we tried and tried again to show him there’s nothing to be afraid of. So you’re already doing better than us over here.
    .-= C @ Kid Things´s last post ..He Misses Out on All the Fun =-.

  3. My bike has been living in my in-laws basement since we moved out about 6 years ago…someday I’d love to start riding again but I’m not looking forward to the inevitable climb of my hill to get home…
    .-= Carrie´s last post ..Wordless Wednesday: How does your garden grow =-.

  4. My 7 year old Wee Guy will be spending part of the summer at bike camp cos I am desperate for him to peddle on his own!!!!! Forget the in-his-own-good-time, child-led nurturing parenting stuff – he needs to ride his bike now!!!

    I know eventually he’ll ‘get it’ but right now I’d love to be out cycling or running with him on his own two wheels. I blame our trailer bike and bike trailer for de-motivating him 😉

    PS: bike seats are fine but you need to be strong enough to manage the combined weights of seat, bike and child. I couldn’t and dropped the whole thing plus child to the concrete. Put me right off.
    .-= pomomama aka ebbandflo´s last post ..wordless wednesday: heading up to the surface and the light =-.

  5. My husband and I were just saying how we want to start biking again. I dont think I’ve been on a bike since before I was pregant (which is now 3 years ago!). We started by buying our 2 year old son a helmet (which thankfully he loves!). Now we’re deciding if we should get a bike seat for him (either in the front or back of the bike), or a trailer…hard to know what’s the best choice!

  6. Check out the ibert. It’s a bike seat. Available soon in Canada, I think Norco has picked up the Canadian distribution.- my husband the bike nerd did a tonne of research and concluded it was best option. Also, for bikes, I highly recommend New West Cycle here in New West, on 6th Street. Custom made and refurbished vintage.

  7. I haven’t ridden a bike since before I had my oldest. Argh! I used to ride my bike everywhere. I miss it dreadfully. But I think the time is coming when I will ride again and it looks like we might be moving (shh!) and if that happens there is a lovely park nearby I think we can ride to together. But like Hannah my 5 year old is stil a bit wobbly. Her training wheels have come off but she isn’t riding solo yet.
    .-= Melodie´s last post ..The Skinny on Being Skinny =-.

  8. I still want a bike. Despite living on a hill. Wherever I go I will have to go up and down hills. Still, I miss the bike. In Munich I rode my bike ALL THE TIME. To work, to meet up with friends, to the market, to the park. I was a good bit lighter then unsurprisingly. It took 30 minutes to get to work. Our employer provided showers for the departments so even in the summer it was fine to ride your bike.
    .-= Mel´s last post ..An expat life =-.

  9. I’ve got one of the ibert bike seats Jen referred to above and it is AWESOME! The kids and I rode bikes to school this morning. They are now 6-1/2 (Amy) and almost 8 (Trevor). They both learned the same summer when Amy was 3 and Trevor was 5 – it was a back-breaking few weeks running up and down our cul-de-sac while they figured it out. As a mode of transportation, we started being able to go places two summers ago (at 4 and 6); basically they just have to be reliable listeners who follow directions such as, “We are stopping at the corner and waiting for everyone to catch up.” Even last summer they rode a bit while I jogged with Gavin in the stroller but they really had to wait for me!
    Now that Gavin is old enough for a bike seat, I am LOVING getting out on our bikes again. I ordered my bike seat through Trelia Enterprises, they’re in Ontario and were the only Canadian distributor I could find. It’s easy to mount, the baby is more centered (less wobbly) and I much prefer to the old bike trailer I used to drag my kids around in.
    Hmmm, I feel a blog post coming on.
    .-= Jill´s last post ..Tiger is Icky =-.

  10. oh, ya – powder blue for sure! i love the cruiser style bikes with fat tires and cushy seats. 🙂
    .-= michelle´s last post ..Mama, That’s Too, Too Boring! =-.

  11. Fat tired and cushy seats sounds good. And a basket. I want an old lady bike :). I love the idea of biking, but I’m scared of traffic. And clowns. Probably traffic would be more of an issue while biking, though.
    .-= allison´s last post ..**************Stupid stuff addendum =-.

  12. My daughters are eight years apart in age, so we haven’t faced your dilemma. My wife is the bike rider in the family, so she could probably respond to your question better than I. Regarding the learning curve: It did take a while for each to become proficient at riding — with a couple a bruises to kiss and make better along the way. It took a little longer still for the level of parental worry to ease down toward a manageable range. Helmets and padding are good things. Have fun on the road! Ray

  13. Well I sort of hoard bikes. I have 4. I don’t ride every day…but would still consider myself a bike fanatic. Prior to kids I rode my bikes a lot more. I did commute (short distances) to work on my cruiser bike during both my pregnancies. The first time I pulled a bike trailer I caught the edge of the curb while turning and turned the trailer on its side. Needless to say I was freaked out enough not to pull baby behind the bike for another year. I am much more conscious of the trailer now and I recently pulled my 2 month old and 3 year old along on a ride to the library, park and beyond. I would reccomend riding around with the trailer empty for a while to get used to it before loading up your precious cargo.

    Currently our 3 year old is ripping around on her tricycle these days and I suspect I will have to keep her on a leash when we start riding together. I will probably also seek out parks and bike paths that minimize the need to cross busy intersections etc. Will also take the kids and bikes to nearby Waterton National Park where (during the shoulder season) we can take advantage of empty roadways and paths.

    One of my future dreams is to do a Backroads bike trip with the kids when they are older
    They do supported bike tours which would make a big adventure with kids a little more manageable and stress free…like this tour of the Canadian Rockies:

    Yay for bikes!

  14. I think Patrick might be ready to have his training wheels off soon. They grow up so fast!
    .-= Joni Rae´s last post ..Wordless Witchy Wednesday: After my babies grow up… =-.

  15. I need to start biking again now that it’s not so dang rainy all the time! I’m not that intrepid a bicyclist, you see.

    Can I put in a word for my Wee Ride front-mounted bike seat?
    Major love. Jacob can sit in front of you and see everything, and your weight of gravity and your concentration won’t be thrown off, which is a plus for someone coming back to riding as I was, too.
    .-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last post ..Wordless Wednesday: The toddler and the puzzle =-.

  16. Well, you know how I feel about bicycle riding – it’s my new favourite thing to do! I second the wee ride recommendation, that’s what I use with The Imp.

    No advice for bicycling with 2 kids, though. I’ve never liked the idea of the trailer thing – feels too exposed to me strung out way behind like that. Plus with the front-mounted bike seat, The Imp is engaged in the process. He leans forward on the handlebars and says, “Vroom vroom” when we go fast down hills.

    You should ask @AnthonyFloyd & @LeftCoastMama about their setup – it looked pretty sweet to me when I bicycled with them (and their two boys) to the meetup back in March.
    .-= Alexis´s last post ..Food Revolution Fridays – Blueberry Pie Edition =-.

  17. I can’t get Jonas on a bike to save my life – BUT – I got a bike last year and my aunt bought us a bike trailer 2 Christmases ago and I have to say, hauling both the boys around is a BREEZE! I love it – it’s one of my favorite activities with them. The bike trailer weighs almost nothing and the wheels are so huge that it pulls weight like it’s nothing.

    I really like ours because it’s also a stroller, so I can bike the boys over to the zoo, then use the stroller part while we walk around. The trailers are stupid expensive, but I really think they’re worth it if you like to get out.

    Whatever bike you get, make sure you get a great seat! That makes all the difference for me. Mine is more like a tractor seat than a bicycle seat. My toosh stays nice and comfy. 🙂
    .-= TheFeministBreeder´s last post ..Forget Everything I Said About Breastfeeding… =-.

  18. Congratulations on the passionate post Amber! My boys were riding with no training wheels by age 4, but we had nowhere (flat) to go, and so they just rode up and down a short distance until much older (something like 6 or 7). My little girl at 3 and half hasn’t even ever ridden a bicycle, because her older brothers played a little too much the “let’s take apart and fix” the (little) bicycle game years ago … When we go for family bike rides, my husband carries her in a seat, I don’t think I could manage, but to be honest I’ve never tried. We never considered the trailer, it wouldn’t have been a good investment for us.
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..Corner View ~ thank you Jane! =-.

  19. Q-ster got a bike from Santa this year, but it coincided with my husband’s knee injury. Hopefully we’ll be back to bike training by summer time, followed by adding a extension to my husband’s bike (seat and pedals, which turn an adult bike in to a sort of tandem for adult and child.).
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..Very Two =-.

  20. I do on occasion actually ride my bike with both kids. K sits in the bike trailer and Em sits in the bike seat on the back of my bike. Theoretically the trailer is big enough for two but one pushing match in there while I road down the street was enough to prove that wasn’t going to work.

    I’ve been having a little dilemma though since K is now too big for the trailer (he’s the size of a 5-year-old). He’s also too young to ride on his own. It makes me a little sad because going out for a bike ride is such a great release. 🙁

    My Aunt just bought herself a touring bike with a basket on the front. It’s a fucshia colour with flowers on the basket and the tire treads are in the pattern of hibiscus flowers instead of regular bike tread. I’m a little envious of it.
    .-= Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves´s last post ..Tickle Monster =-.

  21. we love going biking with the jellybean. he is in the bike trailer at the moment. and it would seem that he will be in there ever! he refuses to try the tricycle. he tries it, then says he can’t do it and never goes back. the hubby is determined to get him riding it this summer. we can’t wait to get one of the tow bikes for him, hopefully next year. i think you should be able to get out now with jacob in the trailer or seat and hanna on her bike. there isn’t any reason why you couldn’t. you just need to go the same speed and not expect to get anywhere fast. have fun!

    oh, and congrats on the top 10 finish. that’s totally awesome! good luck.
    .-= smothermother´s last post ..Sugar shack and Easter =-.

  22. I stumbled across another blog: From me to you
    I thought of you when I saw this picture:
    .-= Sara´s last post ..Closet Cleansing =-.

  23. I just last week bought a bike trailer to tow my 31lb toddler and 17lb baby. And you know what? It’s really not that heavy. Honest. You can tell you are pulling something when you go from a dead stop but it’s not that hard to get going and pretty easy once you’re at it. If you are looking for exercise, I say give it a try. You can get one at CDN Tire for $149 (I think they even have the CCM one on sale this week).

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