Ryan on his little mountain bike - he rode almost 18 miles on the Tour de Cream
Rose came up with the idea to go to an indoor rock climbing place called Vertical Endeavors. I think this is a cool reward - indoor rock climbing is not something we've ever done as a family and it's unique enough to make it really special. I also think it's cool that Rose came up with an incentive that presents a challenge (rock climbing) and is also active. Hmmm, our reward for doing an active challenge is another active challenge. I like that. Much better than ice cream. Though ice cream rewards do have their place - and we often stop for ice cream on our long family rides.
Ah, the ice cream! Owen and Rose share a banana split at Alley Scoops in Elysian, MN
Like on Sunday when we went on an informal family-friendly group ride called the Tour de Cream. The ride is an annual event for a family we know which they started to encourage their kids to ride their bikes. The ride typically follows the Sakatah Bike Trail from the Dairy Queen in Faribault to Alley Scoops, an ice cream shop in Elysian. We knew our kids wouldn't be up to the whole ride so opted to start at Faribault and bike about eight miles then turn back. We then drove to Elysian for lunch and ice cream. The rest of the riders, there were eight others, went on to get lunch in Waterville and then planned on ice cream back at the DQ at the end of the ride.
At Alley Scoops after the ride. Ryan has coconut ice cream. I have a dish of bubble gum ice cream.
The ride was a good one for our family. It was pretty easy going on the way out with the wind behind us and more of a challenge on the way back to Faribault. Ryan, on his little mountain bike, was having the most trouble with the wind so we formed a double pace line of sorts to shelter him from the wind as best we could. We stopped a lot on the trip to rest but one stop was for the sole purpose of checking out a Wooly Bear caterpillar and moving him off of the trail.
It's stops like this that make riding with the kids so much fun. Rose and Ryan often show me things that I easily miss, like bugs and plants along the trail. When we ride together hey laugh, they sing, they ask questions about nature, about the amount of CO2 in things (Ryan's fascinated with CO2 lately), and point out raptors soaring overheard. Yes, sometimes they argue and a few times have cried with frustration. But as we pedal along I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have two kids who are healthy, generally good-natured and like to ride bikes to boot!
I've logged over 600 miles on my bikes this year, have improved my skills, have gotten stronger and faster. I read each issue of Bicyling magazine and spend hours on the internet reading about bicycling but sometimes I think I learn more about biking on these rides with my kids than I could learn from a whole army of bicycling experts.
My kids enjoy the moment. I get so caught up in the future sometimes, or in the past, that I forget to live right now. Rose and Ryan don't worry about things they can't control - like I do. They may get frustrated with each other but they forgive quickly. Uh, I've got work to do on that forgiveness bit. When we're biking they just pedal along and don't focus on the hill ahead of them or the miles they have left to travel. Instead, they ask things like, "Mom, can we stop and see that Wooly Bear caterpillar on the trail?"
Ryan and the Wooly Bear caterpillar he rescued from the bike trail.
And fortunately my kids have taught me enough about bicycling, about life, about being a mom, to know that the best response to that sort of question is to simply forget about bicycling for awhile and say "Yes!"