When it comes to bicycling I’m learning how to manage hills, how to pedal at a constant rate, how to go an extra mile when I’m tired. I can tell I’m getting better at bicycling because I can get up hills faster, I stop to rest less often and my body’s getting more toned. I’m so excited with all that I’m learning but our family ride a week ago Saturday taught me some lessons about biking that I wasn’t expecting.
Here’s what happened -
Last Saturday afternoon we loaded up the van and headed out for a family bike ride on the trails near Minnehaha Falls in Minneapoils. We got there, unloaded our bikes and set off. It soon was clear that neither Owen nor I knew where the trails were and that we weren't in a good frame of mind to work together.
Guess what? It wasn’t a fun ride. We were all grumpy. Ryan cried. I yelled. I cried. I felt like a failure as a parent and spouse and I feared my kids would never want to go on a family bike ride again.
I guess you could say that this ride was “interesting” which is what my mother says when she doesn’t like something but doesn’t want to hurt my feelings. Interesting. Yep. But not a total disaster because here’s the good news - the ride ended with ice cream, we were able to laugh at our debacle and the kids want to go on more family rides.
Dairy Queen stop after our "interesting" bike ride.
So yesterday we tried a family ride again. This time I knew the trail, a quiet path along Lake Marion in nearby Lakeville. We rode in the morning when we weren’t tired. We all set out in a good frame of mind and Ryan set the pace. We stopped to play at a playground, got lunch afterwards and ended the adventure with a trip to our favorite bike shop where we always have fun.
Riding on my own teaches me things, riding with Owen teaches me others and riding with the whole family teaches me still more. Here are a few things about riding with kids that we have figured out so far. I’m sure we’ll learn more along the way.
•Know your route. If you don't, find a map or ask for directions.
•Get an idea of what kinds of obstacles you will have to deal with along your route -ie: traffic (car, foot and bike), sun (wear sunscreen), bugs (especially if you are stopping along the route), etc. and prepare for them
•Ride when everyone is fresh and in a good mood.
•Have one of the kids set the pace.
•Stop for breaks - especially if the kids see something that interests them (nature along the trail, a playground).
•Have full water bottles and some snacks (Rose and Ryan love Clif Bars).
•Have the kids help with ride planning.
•Work in a kid-friendly reward at the end of the ride (a special snack, lunch at a favorite spot).
•If the ride isn’t working out it’s okay to stop riding and call it a day.
and a few more things to remember....
•Be kind - to yourself and to everyone else in your family.
•Remember that we all make mistakes.
•Pat yourself on the back for getting out and attempting a family ride.
•Say you’re sorry if have a less than stellar parenting moment and screw up.
•Forgive yourself if you did have a less than stellar parenting moment.
•Get out and ride again.
Playground rest stop on yesterday's ride.
I’m relieved that our “interesting” ride was a blip on the radar screen of our days, that the kids are willing to forgive, that they are happy to set out on a family bike ride again. And guess what? Tomorrow is a holiday - Memorial Day - and Rose and Ryan are planning our next family ride on a nice flat bike path near our home. We’re looking forward to another nice ride. Yep, it’s time to move on and ride again.