Sunday, June 14, 2015

In Which Safety Bikes Are the New Hot Fad

Getting ready for the afternoon bike ride today. A 5-year-old and 7-year-old confer. While a 2-year-old and 4-year-old tease each other. The 4-year-old will be a passenger on Francis, my unseen bike parked to the left of this photo.
I’ve not gotten in as many practice miles in these past few days as I would like. In fact, I missed the Raccoon River Ride this year, one of my favorite RAGBRAI prep rides, despite having a spiffy new bike that would have been perfect for that journey.

Why did I miss the RR Ride? I have a daughter who is on vacation, and my wife and I are tending their four children, who range in age from 7 to 2. It’s been a few days that remind one why parenthood is for the young—but don’t get me wrong. Despite major disruptions to my routines, including missing many bike miles, it’s been a blast.

And, while I have not gone on any 60-mile epic journeys since the near 60-mile experience that got me a new bike (which since that day has been parked in the garage), I have had a few very enjoyable short rides with the kids.

And biking has become all the rage among the younger set, something that they ask for and enjoy.

It began Saturday. Friday had been a big day—featuring a trip to the Children’s Museum in Coralville. We had planned to lay low on Saturday, recuperating, and lingering dampness in the world helped enforce that plan. But by late Saturday, it was drying out in the cloudy world, and the older two kids, age 7 and 5, were desperate to break out their bikes.

So we did. I put a younger child on the toddler seat on Francis, and the older kids all rode their bikes.

It was, for the most part, a fun outing. Near the end of it, however, the 5-year-old took several tumbles. It turned out that his right training wheel had become so loose that it would not support his bike, and if he leaned that way, down he would go.

He has a scratch on his head, but not directly from the falls. We’re not sure how or when he scratched his head originally—it’s a scratch, not a bike bump—but, nervous about the falls, he absentmindedly fingered his head while on the ride, opening the tiny scab on the scratch and leaving him slightly bloody at the end of ride, an incident which greatly perturbed him and his sister.

Well, grandma was out on a walk with the youngest child, so I had to play nurse—cleaning the wound, putting on antibiotic ointment, adding a Dora the Explorer Band-Aid. He took it like a brave 5-year-old, and was quickly recovered from trauma.

Clearly, the scratch incident didn’t bother him much, because the next day, today, the grandkids started the drumbeat early. “Can we ride our bikes to a park? Can we? Can we? Can we?” I got out a wrench and tightened some bolts first, but then we were ready to ride.

We headed out to Bowman Woods School playground, because it was an easy ride that involved no busy streets. When we got there, the two older kids, despite it being a warm, muggy day, refused to remove their helmets. And during playground play, they spent some of their time riding up and down an adjacent sidewalk on their bikes.

On the way home, the older child got a bit grumpy because the younger one insisted on always leading. We had a bit of a controversy over resting arrangement at nap time, and the compromise I suggested was that she give him the bed he wanted, and he would agree that she would the leader during the next bike ride.

And the next bike ride came right after nap time. The oldest child had not slept—she doesn’t always, she is a bit old for naps, unlike me—but she had been quiet and allowed others to nap, and that’s a “win” with this crew.

Anyway, this time we were headed to C Avenue Park, a slightly more distant location that did involve using lights to cross busy streets. The older grandchild proved to be a competent bike leader, and both she and her brother followed directions and paid attention to traffic and lights, I’m happy to report.

This time, in the hotter, muggier afternoon, they didn’t fight with my wife and I when we suggested one doesn’t need a helmet to play at the park, but they did don their helmets again in the midst of playtime for some extra sidewalk bicycle rides.

At C Avenue Park. It's a hot afternoon, with high humidity, but these young bikers are undaunted.

Bikes, it seem, are a hit with the generation after the next (their parents are the next generation).

I thought that the daughter, the oldest child, had bargained for the right to lead only on the ride to the park. But her brother, who is a bit rule-oriented and picky, would not have it. She had to lead there, on any bike rides that occurred there, and on the way home, too.

On the way home, the oldest child reminded me that I had suggested we might try a little practice of her riding without the training wheels. We’ll see. We only have them for half a week more, and we have at least one day trip planned in that time. But, maybe we’ll find a soft level place for some actual biking practice.

And, as if the enthusiasm for bike rides from the grandkids was not enough, there was a bonus today.

During recent rides I have noticed a few Monarch butterflies, but so far they had always been flitting quickly by and could not be photographed. Today, at C Avenue Park, I finally caught a little queen at rest. She’s cute, no? I’m hoping to persuade the Mount Mercy Bike Club to consider a Monarch-related service project (planting Milkweed), and I was pleased to see this butterfly on today’s new generation bike journey. Hope for the future.

Most welcome park visitor. Head over to my place, baby, I've just planted some Milkweed this year.

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