Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When the bike is not optional

I discovered something today related to commuting by bike. I stayed home with the girls this morning so that Hannah could take Ian to an appointment, and our plan was for me to bike over with the girls in tow and pick up Ian to bring him home while Hannah went to a different appointment. The first part of the journey was no trouble, a pleasure in fact.
We were set up in our bike train configuration as shown in the beautiful pic, with Eliza on the tag-along trailer and Caroline in the enclosed trailer. A cool, partly sunny day with a pleasant breeze. What could be better?
We picked up Ian and headed to a nearby park for some outdoor fun. When it was time to leave, though, it became apparent that Caroline was not such a great trailer-mate, especially with her sister. I had been counting on Ian to be able to help some with the uphill portions of the ride home, but he was much better able to handle the antics of his tired, hungry, cranky two-year-old sister, so it became necessary to install him in the trailer and let Eliza ride the tag-along.
Thus began a 40 minute ride home with wailing toddler and 45 lbs of extra dead-weight to pull home up hill. All of a sudden it was not so pleasant anymore, and the prospect of the 5km jaunt home was not so enticing. The problem was that there was not really a choice anymore. Ian and Eliza did their very best (a noble effort) to distract, entertain, and encourage Caroline, but she was not to be consoled. Needless to say, I did make it home eventually, but I was pretty wiped out, physically and emotionally from the ride.
I probably could have made it a lot easier on everyone by bringing snacks along, which is much more of a parenting issue than a biking one, but conditions were less forgiving of my shortcoming. This brings up another point: It's a lot easier to feel good and conscientious about bike commuting when you are actually leaving a car behind that you could have taken but chose not to. But when there's three kids to tow with one not happy about it, it ain't necessarily so. After some lunch and with Momma home, we all felt better, and I was able to hop back on the bike and ride in to school (felt totally different) and even enjoy the ride despite worn out legs. I guess the moral of the story is that relying absolutely on pedal power takes more planning than I did today.


Jenny said...

Wow, impressive that your kept your cool and made it!

Samuel said...

Hah hah, classic Timmy adventure! Thanks for helping the rest of us learn what not to do!

Anonymous said...

On thing I have learned about utilitarian cycling is that snacks should always be on board, whether hauling children or not. I always have several in my bag, as well as an emergency energy drink (which I tend to break into about twice a year, in extreme situations),and I have never regretted carrying food. I know that I have occasionally regretted not bringing any. Food is fuel. Don't leave home without it. Val