PDA

View Full Version : Riding with kids/family



repto
09-29-2003, 07:40 AM
Hey all--

I just wanted to post here that I am really experienced in riding with small kids (about 3000 miles or so in the past 3 years--WITH kids). If anyone has any questions about the how--or even the why--feel free to post here or to email me directly.

I've been teaching classes on this topic for the past year and half... mostly to bike clubs, but I've also helped with training the Chicago Bike Ambassadors this last spring. I don't get paid for doing this, because I want to promote people getting out there as a family. I feel that it's very important to promote exercise to children, and I like the values they learn about respecting the environment, safety, communication, and even how a community works.

I've ridden with bike seats, pulling a kid trailer (several varieties), pulling a trailer-cycle, and with a young--but fully independent--kid. If I can't speak on it personally, I know people who have and can contact them for you to find answers.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to ride a "bike train"--that is me, pulling a child on a trailer-cycle, pulling a kiddy trailer. I've seen pictures of this done with a tandem, but I've never seen it done solo... Anyone online in this community with experience with this?

If you've hesitated to get riding again due to fears of safety, lack of impetus or organization, cost, or *whatever*, post it here. I'm sure this community can help you solve your problem!

Jane <---Mom to Will (6), Katie (4) and Genevieve (8 weeks)

DoubleLori
09-29-2003, 08:18 PM
Why is is that on a family ride the MOM always gets stuck towing the kids? I was on a hilly ride a week ago and just after I reached the top of a steep hill and turned around for the downhill, I passed a guy who was going up. When I got back to the very bottom, there was his wife, with the kid in the trailer, going around in circles, not attempting the hill. I thought "what fun could that be?". If HE had been pulling the kid, they both could have ridden up the hill, probably together, and he could have gotten an even better workout, if that is what he was after.

repto
09-29-2003, 09:41 PM
I don't know about that mom, but I can speak about my own experience.

For the last three years, I've ridden just about every day while pulling a trailer. I did this because I bike commuted my kids to preschool/kindergarten (I'm not commuting right now due to having a newborn on my hands). Since my husband works so that I can stay at home with the kids, I'm the person responsible for getting them to and fro during the day. I am WAY stronger than my dh when it comes to towing! There is absolutely no comparison in our ability levels. I have far more stamina, speed, and 'wind' than he does--and that is due to all the biking I do. He's probably put 500 miles on his bike in the time that I've put 3,000 on mine.

When we do family rides, I tow the trailer, he tows the trailer-cycle. He gets the heavier child, but of course, they can actually help power the vehicle, so it's not as bad as it seems. Even so, I find it can be a bit challenging to ride with a trailer-cycle due to the awkward lurches that happen when the child leans or turns, so I'm happy to have him do the lion's share on that particular accoutrement.

I think that many times the mother is the tower due to the fact that she is usually the person who is responsible for caring for the children. She's in the habit of communicating and caring for the kids, so she automatically takes on that role when it comes to biking. Also, if a mom isn't working, she's the one with more time to bike--and needs to ferry the kids--so again, she is the tower by default. Many trailers have special attachment brackets that don't allow you to easily/quickly change the trailer to another bike. If you have to choose one, you'd probably choose the bike that gets used more to travel with kids, right?

All that said, I think it's a shame when a family splits up due to ability levels. The stronger rider should absolutely share the towing duties (buy another bracket or upgrade to a better trailer that has a universal hitch!) AND should pace with the rest of the family. The only exception to this that I can foresee is when there are several biking members of a family riding together. Sometimes it's nice for the older kids to forage ahead of the smaller kids/parent(s) to avoid boredom due to a pokey pace. I must admit that there are times I get frustrated over the speed (or lack thereof) of my 6 year old son!

Jane

herhusband
11-10-2003, 06:02 PM
Repto,

The Burley Piccolo I would recommend as the middle vehicle. Most of the seatpost mounted, er, mounts, are not overly robust. Put a 25 pound trailer plus child seat plus precious child, and the safety factor becomes less than good.

Take a look at the Burley web site. The rear rack mount is strong - they call it the bull moose rack.

More later.

Herhusband

herhusband
11-11-2003, 05:33 AM
Repto,

You might want to take a peek at the following links:

http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/

http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/Triplets.html

http://www.jacolope.org/familycycling/index.jsp

http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/hobbes.html

Good luck, and feel free to ask lots more questions.

Get out there, stay out there!

Herhusband

repto
11-11-2003, 07:30 PM
You might want to take a peek at the following links:

http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/

http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/Triplets.html

http://www.jacolope.org/familycycling/index.jsp

http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/hobbes.html


Terrific links! Thanks so much.

I am going to check out the Piccolo, although I think our seat post mount is pretty darn sturdy (it's by Adams, the company that invented Trailer-cycles). I can't imagine the mounting causing safety problems but I would have to check on the *seat post* to see if that's reliable for the extra weight.

Re. safety: I had to upgrade my rear bike wheel to a tandem wheel because I kept breaking spokes. This was when I was towing both of my big kids in a trailer on a daily basis--in the city, with all of it's potholes, curbs, etc. Since the upgrade, I've had no problems at all with my wheels.

Mike and I haven't considered getting a tandem previously because we don't ride that much as a family--mostly just the weekends and an occasional evening ride. I'm the one who's out there on a daily basis. I'm hoping that will change as the kids get older. I remember seeing some media coverage on a family of five that rode a quint bike across the U.S. a few years back and thinking how cool that was. We'd like to start taking family bike trips in the next few years. So far, we just take our bikes with us when we go on vacation.

When you ride as a family unit, do you ever do overnight treks? If so, how do you pull that off? Also, is it possible to travel by car/plane/train with a larger tandem bike?

Thanks--
Jane

herhusband
11-12-2003, 05:24 AM
Jane,

Glad you liked the links. Let me address some of your questions and give you yet more links!

The Burley Piccolo is expensive (about $360, including the rack) and rugged. Most of the seatpost mounted trailers have some slop in the hinge, a problem that tends to worsen over time. Adams also for several years made a tandem trail-a-bike (two kids), but those would be a real handful behind a single bike, let alone a tandem.

Strong rear wheels can definitely be an issue. Most of the discussions I've followed tend to recommend: 1) High quality hub, 2) 26 inch wheel size more rugged than 700c, but you would be limited by frame you already own, 3) Deep section (aero) and/or wide rim (like Mavic T520, Sun Rhino Lite, Velocity Deep V or Velocity Dyad), 4) 48 or 40 butted spokes, and, most importantly, 5) built by a reputable and knowledgeable builder (Peter White in NH, Mel Kornbluh in NJ, etc.). Most wheels are poorly built, and will not last. Well built wheels are wonderful and worth the added cost. Wider tires (28, 32, 35 mm) better absorb road shock and cushion the rims.

Family of 5:
http://www.rompfamily.com/

Easily configurable and shippable family triplet:
http://www.bikefriday.com/bikecat99.cfm?cat=11

Our longest family ride has been about 20 miles, but we hope to boost that to 30 next year. We're not (yet) into camping, but there is plenty of gear out there that would be suitable.

S&S couplers make transporting loooong bikes possible. See the following:
http://www.precisiontandems.com/arts&sbysteve.htm
http://www.co-motion.com/travmenu.html

Mark Johnson, of precision tandems (ya gotta see this guy) has a quint (5-seater) with S&S couplers than can also convert to a quad, a triplet, and a tandem.

Good luck,

herhusband