Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Mom is visiting. She arrived yesterday just before noon and goes home tomorrow afternoon (after 6 year old's swim lesson). I got her on this carfree bug with me while she has been here, her car hasn't left visitors' parking. We biked everywhere! My Mom used my regular bicycle while I used the Xtracycle with the kids. We walked to the pool yesterday for the swim lesson, and then we bicycled over to visit my ex partner, then to downtown to catch the last evening of a local fair, then for pizza and home. We did about 8 km yesterday, and had a fabulous time. Taking the kids to the fair was a surprise, and we were only going to let them on a few rides (well the 2 year old is anti-rides, so I'm talking about the big kid here). We were standing outside the ticket booth deciding how many tickets we needed, when someone came up and handed the kiddo a 'ride all day' pass. Yay!! She was beyond thrilled, even though there were only about 7 rides, she didn't care and we stayed until well after dark. Then we bicycled to Pizza Pizza and got the kids pizza at 10pm. Good times!

Today we cycled to the swim lesson, and then to a city amusement park at the west end of town. One big downside to the Xtracycle with a babe on board, which I learned the other day when I dropped it trying to wrangle it thru my apartment building doors, is that it is VERY precarious to try to move the bike with the weight of a child on it. I don't mean to just walk the bike forward, but to actually lift the back end and set it down in a new position, still upright with baby aboard, is a weight and balance nightmare. So we were cycling along the deserted sidewalk of a very busy road today, when suddenly the sidewalk ended. I decided to get off, get the big kid to jump off, and hop the bike down the curb where I planned to continue riding on the road. Then I changed my mind, noticing a merge lane ahead which we would need to enter that had a huge blind spot for merging traffic. So I decided to hop the bike back on the curb, but couldn't just walk it up as the sidewalk was ending. This is kind of hard to explain, but suffice it to say I am glad my mother was there because it took two of us to physically lift the bicycle up to the last bit of sidewalk with the toddler aboard. Due to weight and balance I could not have safely done it without risking dropping the bicycle. So we had a bad moment where I was spotting and ensuring our presence was known to cars and an oncoming transport truck (who changed lanes to give us space far ahead of where we were - thank goodness I've found drivers so aware in this city, man,)and we lifted the bike successfully, I turned it around towards the path and we were on our way.

I will not do that stretch of road again. If I were alone, in the situation I got myself into I would have had to keep the bike on the road and remove the toddler from the seat, then have her big sis hang on to her on the sidewalk (she is awesomely reliable at that kind of thing), and lift the bike separately. Total crisis moment and I need to remember this characteristic of the bicycle, which I guess is similar to any bicycle with a child in a child seat (I just haven't used one for years), and make choices accordingly.

Once we got through that though we were fine, and most of the trip was lovely through the city's bicycle paths. I made it up a decently steep hill and was extremely proud! My mom didn't make it, had to get off and walk her bicycle, but then she doesn't believe in shifting gears so that is likely why. On the way back I encountered a too-big hill and had to dismount and walk the bike, which ended up being easier to do (getting big kid to hop off, then me off on an uphill incline) than I had thought. Otherwise totally smooth ride, 14 km in extremely hot, humid weather. Thank goodness the park has a fully decked out splash pad.

This is the longest journey I have done with the Xtracycle, and I carried both kids and was mighty proud. Actually it is the longest journey I have biked in recent memory, I did the same one last year on my own bicycle pulling the trailer I believe, with then-5-year-old on her own bicycle. Bodes well for my commuting to school plans. I love that I stowed an umbrella stroller in the Xtracycle panniers and used it to cart the toddler (and at one point, an overtired and overheated big sister) around the park. That is awesome.

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