Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cycle Sunday

A two-wheeled wonder by the EcoWonder!

There is an evening Michigan chill in the air as we leave the restaurant. Without coats, it's going to be a chilly ride home. That's one area of thinking you have to adjust when you switch to pedal power. You don't have air conditioning, heat, automatic windows, heated seats or a stash of extra coats and blankets hidden in the stow-and-go. You've got the clothes on your back, some cash, maybe a lipstick in your pocket, a helmet and some water.

We coast out of the parking lot, hugging the right hand side of the busy street as we push for home. We've got a lagging child and I cycle back, moving to the end of our caravan of 5 cycles and 1 trail-a-bike pedaler, to find him huffing, puffing and sweating a little in the cool breeze. He's tired, winded and uncomfortable. Getting around by pedal power is much harder than it sounds, especially when you're not used to using those muscles. I help him adjust the gears of his mountain bike and pedal onward, hoping we get home before the temperature drops too much further.

About 6 weeks ago, I made the commitment to cycle more, get back to taking time for myself and my family. We ride a few times a week, putting in anywhere from 20-30 miles a week. Our youngest son, pedaling his trail-a-bike behind Dad is thrilled. We've dubbed Sundays - CYCLE SUNDAY, and either ride to breakfast or lunch and sometimes again for ice cream in the evenings. Early on Sunday mornings, he races into our room telling us he's ready to bike to breakfast, let's go, let's go!

Deciding if we should eat out, take the kids for ice cream or grab a morning coffee takes a little more thought and planning when you are heading out on two wheels (or in my family's case 11 wheels!) Everyone needs a helmet! Did anyone put the dog in the crate? Who needs a water bottle? Yes, you need a jacket - it's going to be cold by the time we head for home. Remember! Stay to the right, watch for cars, stay together!!

Yes, our trips take longer. It takes a good hour and a half to grab and ice cream or a coffee, but what we get in return was worth the time. No cell phones, no radio blaring in the van, no arguments over who's going to ride "shot gun". We smell lilacs, we guess how many miles it is to the local library, the older boys dare each other to jump the speed bumps by the golf course, but no one has actually been nervy enough to give it a go. Our youngest is getting so comfortable pedaling behind Dad, he barks out directions to the older boys. We're going to turn here! Watch out for the pot hole! Not too much longer now!

Cycling is good for the environment, yes. It's good for your lungs, your heart and your muscles too, of course. We started the adventure to get a little exercise, save a little gas money and do a little good for the environment. What we got back was so much more! Why not start your Cycle Sunday (or Monday, or Tuesday...) today? You never know what adventure you will find around the next corner!


Heather @ SGF said...

That's wonderful!

Something else I notice when I bike from Point A to Point B on a bike instead of driving in a car: When I bike, I arrive at my destination relaxed vs. driving where I'm usually frustrated and angry with other drivers. Not to mention you're doing it as a family, getting your exercise and having fun all at the same time.

Yeah for pedal power!

Sarah Jo said...

Great idea. Now if i can just get my hubby on board. He likes to make the less-than-1-mile trek to the ice cream shop via car. Yet he cycles for exercise. Go figure.

JessTrev said...

Love this! I particularly like the little one barking out orders to the biking team from his seat on the back of dad's bike!

Heather said...

Great post! Realistic and positive.

I too, like the other Heather, arrive more calm, but sweaty, out of breath and with plugged up ears. Still worth it!

I have trouble keeping my bike ready to go at a moment's notice. It always takes time that I haven't budgeted to fill the tires, oil the chain, find my helmet or basket.... But hopefully I will improve with practice.

Green Bean said...

Fantastic idea! It doesn't have to be every day but even one trip a week. Biking as a family is a real adventure - fun, and frightening (at least for the parents). Kudos to you. I'll have to talk to my fam about our own cycle sunday.

ruchi said...

When I was 11, I decided that I was too old for my parents to drive me to school. So my dad and I did a practice bike ride to the school on the other side of town. I nearly died!

As a result, I ended up taking the city bus to school.

But I still remember that bike ride... Just as I bet your kids will remember cycle Sundays years from now.

Anonymous said...

I've been envisioning a family critical mass on one lane of our 6-lane suburban road that is virtually empty on Sunday Mornings. Some of my family members think I'm crazy for "endangering" my kids in such a way. (it really isn't) I think there is safety in numbers and reasonable organization (and common sense). What a great ride for the kids, what a great visual impact for your typical anti-social activism suburbanites!


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