Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Encouraging Children to Bike Tour, or Not

Our 12-year-old will ride with me 6 miles to our camp. We stopped to admire the
cottonwood piles, which looked like snow on the bike path.

My husband and I avoid marathon bike rides with our children. Sure, we both commute by bicycle and complete a couple overnight tours a year, plus we spent last year's vacation on bikes. But when it comes to lengthy rides with our teenagers, well, we don't go there.

We've seen what happens when parents push children to conform to their pursuits. Children rebel, ask "why do I have to (insert activity of choice)?" I've heard friends' grown children recall the horrors of a toe blistering marathon backpacking trip. Or being dragged on a 50 mile bike ride. Those aren't the memories I want to bestow on our children.

I've discovered there's a fine line between expecting our children to reach certain physical goals and a knock-down-drag-out time consuming haggle which exhausts the patience of all parties involved. That's where I draw the line. If an excursion is strenuous and the planning becomes an all consuming nightmare, then I revisit the idea or drop it altogether. I came to that conclusion last summer when my husband and I considered taking our children on the GAPCO adventure. We were buoyed by another family's doable plan, breaking the distance into 10 - 30 mile days. But then I realized I couldn't endure ten days of prodding our boys, for the whole vacation, all day long. Family dynamics play an important part in any adventure and unfortunately our children lack interest in spending hours in a saddle. One's a self professed (and smart) computer nerd (his word); our youngest son is physically gifted, but lacks discipline and motivation.

However, our concession is treating cycling as transportation. When our 15-year-old asks us to drive him somewhere, we insist he takes his bike. He's a regular bus rider, getting to school on his own, but this summer he's learned to cycle to visit friends or to transport himself to a mowing job two miles across the city. My husband and I often come home and find notes written from our 12-year-old boy (who for various reasons we need to keep tabs on) who's ridden his bike 4 miles to hang out with a friend. We may not like what he's done (he often shows up uninvited), but it's hard to knock his resourcefulness and taking our suggestions to heart. He, definitely, gets it.

There is freedom in transportation cycling. If my kids understand that much, I've given them a skill they can take with them as they grow into clever, capable adults. It would make this momma proud.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Big Sky Bike Ride

Looking for wide open skies, I set out for an hour ride, free from life's earthbound trappings. On the causeway it feels like my bike sprouts wings, much like the character in The Man Who Rode His 10-Speed Bicycle To The Moon.

Also, others must experience this urging; I have company. Families and fisherman, walkers and runners.

New ferry docks. Waiting for larger ferry boat to arrive soon.
All, seeking solitude together. In our own little dreamy worlds. On two wheels under big skies.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pastries for Bike to Work Day

Earlier this month, I volunteered on Bike to Work Day, handing out juice and pastries. I especially enjoyed visiting with a variety of riders. Our station was one of five set up around Burlington. Year round commuters, a guy on a tandem who just dropped his wife off at work, two ladies who worked nearby that were tickled to be treated, even a family who were traveling to school stopped for a snack.

When I spied my neighbor huffing up a hill. toting her youngest daughter in a trailer, I hailed them over for a visit. Her daughter drank juice, shook her head at the sweets, but silently accepted a package of gummy fruit snack that she clutched to her chest. However, I noticed her gaze fixated on the balloons tied to the table. When we broke down the set up later on, I snagged the balloons and delivered them to the girl. She was all smiles. Little did I know that it was her birthday the following day! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Picnic at the Jazz Festival

The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival is a week long mix of statewide and national musicians playing at special venues. Some performers fetch top dollar: others are budding musicians, specifically elementary to high school groups, given a chance to play on the Church Street Maketplace. I go for a bike ride beforehand, toting a picnic lunch, mat, hat, and sunscreen, prepared to enjoy music for the afternoon.

Chubby Chucklers, from Middlebury.
Performances are ongoing at three outdoor stages, with staggered schedules, which allows me to preview the groups and relax and enjoy my preferred bands. Interestingly, high school age performers aren't necessarily the most talented musicians. For example, the Chubby Chucklers hail from an elementary school. Each student plays at least two instruments with several individuals performing solos. Amazing!

More from the Chubby Chucklers.
I also enjoyed Richford High School's performance and choruses from Camel's Hump Middle and C.P. Smith elementary schools.

New England Kurn Hattin Homes performers traveled from Wesminster, two hours away. I loved the brass section plus the solos, often accompanied by dance moves at street level. Later, I researched the band's name, discovering it's a residential school for troubled youth.

It's easy to tap to the rhythms. All are encouraged to dance.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bicycles at Ten Thousand Villages

I love these little masterpieces. Wire, colored string, recycled aluminum and ingenuity grace these two wheeled wonders.

Monday, June 9, 2014

What Not to Do with Creaky Pedals

Coffee is my preferred drink for morning dabbles in bike mechanics.
Before setting out on a multi-day ride, I needed to give my pedals some love. They've been creaky for sometime and slightly loose - not drastically loose, mind you - but nonetheless I wanted to give the pedals my undivided attention. As I began to clean and remove the bolt from the crank arm (remembering to turn the left pedal clockwise to loosen) it occurred to me that pedals may well be the most abused and overlooked part on my bicycles. They were quite dirty. Filthy is a better word. I cleaned the grime before removing the dust cap.

Inside is a recessed nut, hidden strategically beneath a protective metal arm, which in one sense has saved this pedal from major harm for more than 20 years. Yet this same arm makes it extremely difficult and, as I would later learn, impossible to get at the nut and properly dismantle and free up the ball bearings for a thorough cleaning. I tried my best, wedging a tiny wrench around the nut while gripping the other end for leverage.

What an ugly blemish! 
Unfortunately I never got very far. Ugh. The wrench gouged the metal. Neighbors must have heard my loud cry of dismay, "What?" I was beside myself, figuring I'd ruined a functioning pedal. But after a while I recovered and realized the damage wasn't that bad. But there was no way I'd be able to take apart these pedals.

Oil port hole after removing cap.
I shoved as much grease as I could along the exposed nut and replace the dust cap. The irreparable hole was only noticeable to me and not that grand a faux pas in the scheme of things. Then I poked more grease into the oil port half way along the pedal. I'd been oiling the pedal in this manner for years, but it needed proper grease. My make shift greasing would have to do. When the pedals eventually fail or loosen until they wobble, I'll replace them altogether. The funny thing is, these are very good pedals. Newer pedals lack oil ports unless they are of the clipless variety, according to a local mechanic. 

Morning coffee was tasting pretty good too. With this confidence, and quickly improving the other pedal, I also took apart the Ross's cheapo pedals and shoved grease along the crank arm end, then poked in a rather flimsy rubber gasket. I couldn't even remove the dust cap. I suspect these are disposable pedals, the kind you toss and replace. Yet, this simple fix took care of annoying creaking, at least for the time being.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Women's Ride Menu

I'll be leading Sunday morning social rides for women. Details and links below. Or follow Local Motion's Upcoming Events calendar (right sidebar on home page).

Casual Rides for Women. Not interested in fast paced group rides? Join a friendly bunch of women on Sunday mornings who are all about conversation, laughter, and sharing a good meal on a blanket. We will mainly stick to bike paths with detours for creemees, a beach stroll, support lemonade stands, or whatever whim strikes the group. It’s all about camaraderie and two-wheeled exploration.

Rides take place on Sunday (10 a.m. to approximately noon) and include a stop for brunch within the first half hour. Bring a potluck item to share with the group. Ride length varies according to participants and ability. Rain cancels ride.

Waterfront Tootle and Picnic - Sunday, June 22, 10 a.m.
Our inaugural ride will venture along Burlington’s waterfront path with possible additional miles through neighborhoods. Observe gulls on the sandbars, ferries, and trailside flowers. We’ll have brunch on the beach or in the Forever Young Treehouse at Oakledge Park.

Picnic on the Causeway - Sunday, July 13, 10 a.m.
Ride a few miles of smooth gravel onto the ColchesterCauseway. Enjoy stunning lake views. Picnic at The Cut - if wind is in our favor - or on any of the myriad of marble boulders en route. Observe sailboats, people fishing, stone sculptures, and wildflowers. Ride, smile, repeat.

Garage Sale Ride and Picnic - Sunday, August 24, 10 a.m.
This is a rollicking good time following a mapped route. Be forewarned: we may get sidetracked by unadvertised sales we discover along the way! Itinerary includes riding through the Intervale to reach Burlington’s North End (paved or dirt road/trail route). We’ll picnic at a park to fortify ourselves for the hunt.

Explore Rossetti Park Beach - Sunday, September 14, 10 a.m.
Head north along waterfront path, cross the Winooski River, then follow the Colchester bike path to picnic at sandy Rossetti Park Beach. Feel the sand between your toes. Return loop includes connections through quiet Colchester neighborhoods.

Autumn Colors at Wheeler Park - Sunday, October 5, 10 a.m.
We’ll explore South Burlington’s bike paths, a short hike on trails, and/or picnic at Wheeler Park. Bundle up for fall weather. In lieu of outdoor brunch - if morning is too chilly - convening at a café may be a welcome treat. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Middle School Students Ride to School - Encouraging!

I observed a nearly full bike rack at my son's middle school. My son confirms it's a common occurrence and not just because May is Bike Month. For whatever reason, a greater percentage of students ride to the nearby elementary school. Attendance at the middle school racks has, fortunately, escalated - a far cry from the embarrassingly low numbers only three years ago.

Either preteens finally discovered riding equals freedom or having a bike is "cool" again. What novel ideas!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Socks and Sandals - Versatile and Stylish Footwear

A girlfriend sent me a collection of mismatched socks. I love the style
 they lend to my biking wardrobe.
I still swear by socks and sandals as the ultimate biking footwear. Socks (lightweight to heavy wool) provide extra warmth on chilly morning rides. For warmer weather, I often ditch the extra layer in the afternoon, preferring to let my feet breathe. These sandals are from Nashbar; they're going strong after 4 years. I've been told that Keens' sandals (with enclosed toe box) work well also.

For a more indepth report on these sandals, check out Bike Sandals review.