Monday, May 17, 2010

Family Fun on the Cannon Valley Trail

I'm glad to report that I'm back on my bike! After biking 32 days in a row for the 30 Days of Biking challenge I took what I thought was going to one or two days off from riding. No worries, I figured, I'd be riding again soon. But then a day or two turned into four and then it rained for days and I got sick. Bummer. I was pretty much out of commission all of last week.

I was finally back into nearly normal form by the end of the week so we decided to head out Saturday morning for a family bike ride on the Cannon Valley Trail. The trail is about a 30 minute drive away in Cannon Falls and as we drove there I worried at first that the day wouldn't go well because Rose and Ryan were picking on each other. But once we go to the trail head an started unpacking the bikes the kids got so excited to ride they forgot to pick on each other. Owen go the bikes ready and we all put our helmets on and got ready to go. Soon Rose was ready on her mountain bike, Owen was on his hybrid with Ryan on the Trail-a-Bike behind him and I was on my road bike. The Mibus Family was ready to hit the trails!
Here we are at the Anderson Memorial Rest Area - Myrna, Rose, Owen and Ryan

The longest ride we've done as a family has been about 6 miles. The Cannon Valley Trail is about 20 miles from one end to the next and we knew we didn't want to tackle 40 miles of riding so we decided Rose's endurance would determine how far we would bike that day. If she still felt good at the Anderson Memorial rest stop, about four miles into the ride, we would continue on to a five mile marker and turn around for a total ten mile ride.
Our first of many stops along the trail. Ryan standing next to my bike. Note the 30 Days of Biking/Raccoon Rally water bottles

When Owen and I biked the Root River Trail two weeks previous we set out at a good pace and kept it going until it was time to stop. Riding with our kids, we soon discovered, is not about riding at a good pace - it's more about enjoying the adventure. Within the first two miles Rose had to stop and see what was on the other side of the trail so we stopped and climbed a little hill and discovered a farm field. In the process we found a cool mushroom and some wild raspberry bushes. Another mile or so up the trail we just HAD to stop to see the people canoeing on the river. All along the trail  Rose and Ryan marveled at the nature around us, at the utter quiet, at the fact that there were no houses, that other than seeing other bikers, we were out in the middle of nowhere riding our bikes on a trail built on an old railroad line.

By the time we made it to the Anderson Memorial rest area we had stopped at least three times but the kids were happy and having fun. At the rest area we ate Clif bars, talked to some other bicyclists, looked at water striders in the stream and looked for salamanders (we didn't find any). We checked in with the kids to see if they felt up to another mile or two before heading back. Rose saw a sign that stated we had six miles to go to the Welch rest area and said she wanted to bike all the way to Welch. Owen and I had our doubts. If we went to Welch and back we'd end up biking a total of 20 miles instead of our planned ten. But the kids were willing so we decided to give it a go.
Rose having fun at the rest stop along the trail. Note her "biker chick" jersey

And go we did. Six more miles to Welch and without a complaint from the kids. I'm not kidding. We made Welch in fine style had a snack and rested a bit then got back on our bikes for the ten mile ride back to our van.

I was a little worried about the ride back because I figured the kids would be tired and crabby. But, except for a couple of minutes when Rose panicked because an inchworm was hanging from her handlebars and then she was sure she was covered in spiderwebs, the whole ride back to town went very well. Ryan got a little tired but since he was on the Trail-A-Bike he just stopped pedaling when he needed to. We kept biking and stopped from time to time but for the most part we kept up a decent pace while we sang songs, well, mostly I did (several bits of songs including Over in the Meadow with most of the verses out of order and the words all wrong. No one seemed to mind). We talked a lot. We stopped to investigate a pile of big bird feathers along the trail and look at flowers (Columbine and others). We watched a turkey cross the path ahead of us - it was huge!  Before we knew it, we were just a few miles from the end of the trail. And the next thing we knew we were back in Cannon Falls! We biked 20.4 miles in over 2 hours and 12 minutes. It was time to put the bikes back in the van and get some lunch!

We found a great little spot, The Old Market Deli, in Cannon Falls. The kids split a chocolate shake and Ryan drank his half so fast that he got a tummy ache and couldn't eat his hot dog. Oh well. I had a latte, a great sandwich and pasta salad. Owen and Rose had sandwiches and everything we ordered was good!

Ryan with his chocolate shake

As we ate lunch we we talked about our ride. We were all tired but all agreed we were so happy that  we could ride so far and do so well. And, you know what? I almost cried happy tears right then and there because we are so lucky. So lucky to have bikes, first of all, a relative luxury to many people. And to have a family that likes doing things together, that's a blessing in itself. And I feel especially lucky that we are all fit and able enough to head out on a Saturday morning and ride our bikes for 20 miles. And to have trails to ride on and, well, I could go on and on.  I like the fact that I'm getting more fit now that I'm bicycling, that I'm setting goals as a rider and making them. It's all important stuff. But riding with the kids, taking time to stop and take in the sights, to notice feathers along the trail, to look for water striders in the stream, to have lunch together after our ride. Yeah, that's the part of bicycling, about becoming a bicycling family, that's I really like.
Looking for water bugs and other fun things in the stream

2 comments:

Loving the Bike said...

A great family, and bikes.....looks like a recipe for an awesome time to me. Thanks for sharing it.

Myrna CG Mibus said...

Thanks, Darryl. It was an awesome day for us. Perfect weather, great trail, kids were wonderful. Can't wait to do it again!