1 0 Posts with the tag: Preparation
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Our one-year Bike-iversary!

Posted by on May 21st, 2012 8 Comments

One year ago today, when we left on this bike tour with nervousness, fear and anticipation, I spent a lot of time thinking about our return home every day. My mind would dwell for hours on the idea of the glorious ride down the familiar escarpment rail trail to our home in Hamilton with a year of cycling under our belts. I would grin from ear to ear as I imagined pedaling into my driveway. Maybe thinking about the ending of the trip motivated me to continue, or maybe it was just a pleasure in the happy thoughts of the trip being over, this goal being accomplished, a return to be my own house, my own bed, my own kitchen.

Depart Jenn Stark Photographers 548x364 Our one year Bike iversary!

Rolling out of our driveway on May 21, 2011

But a few weeks in, a momentous transition hit – a moment I remember reading other cyclists and travelers having – where this vague fear of the road is replaced by a wonderful sense of freedom. And then there was no looking back. For me, this also meant I no longer thought about the end of the trip – I was living in the moment and loving every minute of it. Home had become the company I was with, my bicycle, my tent, the playgrounds and libraries and campgrounds we stayed in, and the homes we were welcomed into.

September 05 2011 DSC 3903 548x362 Our one year Bike iversary!

Cooking breakfast in Oregon

Now, we are living in the moment that I used to dream about. We are 10 days from home after being on the road for a year. While I do feel accomplishment, I do not feel the great sense of relief I had expected to feel when dreaming about this time so many months ago. In fact, I feel just as nervous and anxious and sad now about coming home as I did about leaving it. I LOVE my life right now. I love being outside almost every hour of every day. I love pedaling on my bicycle and the tingling in my legs at the end of the day that means I worked hard. I love buying only the groceries I need each day and only thinking about the 24 hours that lie ahead. I love having so much time to play with my kids – and that I feel so connected to my husband. I don’t really look forward to the return to household chores like vacuuming or cleaning toilets – and the idea of waking up to an alarm clock and sitting at my desk for 35 hours a week is pretty undesirable.

November 12 2011 DSC 5902 548x362 Our one year Bike iversary!

California

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DIY Xtracycle Sun/Rain Cover

Posted by on May 15th, 2011 37 Comments

As many of you know, xtracycles are awesome, child-transporting machines. They really come into their own on missions around town with the kids, making things possible with a bike that used to only work well with a car. Out on the open road, things are a little different. The longer rides through rain, heat, and cold that we’ll encounter on our journey call for a little more protection from the elements – even with the multiple seating options that we have planned for.

Big Dummy 548x364 DIY Xtracycle Sun/Rain Cover

We're pretty happy with our DIY seats, but they left the kids a little exposed.

Our answer to this problem was to construct a sun and rain cover to shelter both kids. Inspired by those who have gone before us, we set out to find a solution that worked really well, was lightweight, portable and easy to take on/off the bike.

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Anxiety and Inspiration

Posted by on March 23rd, 2011 25 Comments

The last 24 hours has been an emotional one for me as I internally process our upcoming bike tour. As boxes are getting packed, passports ordered, and immunization appointments booked, I’ve begun to realize that this dream of ours is actually coming true and I don’t quite know how to feel about it. A few years ago, before heading out on a cycling adventure with her family, an equally apprehensive mother articulated her nearly identical feelings much better than I am able to at the moment:

I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff – about to throw myself off into the abyss below. … But mostly I’m scared that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be as magical as I think it will be. -Nancy Vogel (Family on Bikes)

I don’t fully know what life will be like on the other side of our departure! I’m scared. I’m absolutely terrified at times. But it’s families like the Vogel’s and many others that have inspired us to abandon a ‘normal’ life and have proved the possibility of living out this dream.

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Comfortable toddlers while touring

Posted by on March 20th, 2011 4 Comments
Sleeping on the bike 300x199 Comfortable toddlers while touring

The bike ride nap. What greater comfort is there?

When it comes to adventures, part of the attraction for most people is actually discomfort. As humans, we enjoy challenge, and experiences can be enhanced when they are hard to come by, or when they require some sort of physical hardship. Positive memories form when we rise up and overcome that difficulty. However, this fails to hold true when the adventure becomes a family affair — especially with toddlers involved. Young children like ours generally experience adventure at the whim of their parents, so for them, a high level of physical hardship is detrimental, and frankly, just plain unfair.

This is the challenge of adventuring families: how do you capture that thrill of adventure for your family and yourself without subjecting your kids to torture? As parents, we can push through long days of cycling in extreme situations and come out the other side with good memories and a great story — but at a major disservice to our kids. For this reason, one of our biggest concerns while out touring is the comfort and enjoyment of our children.

This goes beyond simple pacification with a hope that they can endure the each day. We desire to find ways for them to not only want to be riding with us, but to thrive while on the bikes. Most of the time this simply boils down to taking it easy, making the right toys and activities accessible, getting off the bikes when they need a break, and keeping them well hydrated and fed. When these needs are met, the kids can make it through almost any situation without issue. However, the entire subject needs to be re-approached when stretching family bike travel from a short vacation into a long-term way of life.

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Babies, diapers, and traveling by bicycle

Posted by on March 8th, 2011 7 Comments

Before we even had kids, we were convinced that cloth diapering was the only way we would ever diaper our children. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that cloth is more environmentally friendly than disposable diapers. 21 billion disposables end up in landfills every year in the United States alone. All of these diapers will still exist in a landfill long after the baby who soiled them grows up and has children of their own! Cloth is also far more economical. And don’t forget natural – no nasty chemicals against the skin.

Diaper Change 300x232 Babies, diapers, and traveling by bicycle

A quick change for Harper on a weekend tour last summer

However, cloth diapers require laundry facilities to remain convenient. So, while undertaking previous bike tours with our toddlers, we have always chosen to use compostable diapers. We were not ready to cope with the added weight and bulk of cloth, not to mention the washing of diapers while on the road. This choice has always bothered us, since even compostable diapers are still disposable, and if thrown in with the regular garbage, will never properly decompose in a landfill. However, the choice made sense since we were only switching to disposables for one or two weeks at a time.

Laundry Day 300x247 Babies, diapers, and traveling by bicycle

Laundry Day can be a big deal while cycle touring

While planning our Big Adventure we faced the reality of 12+ months on our bikes with a diapered toddler in tow. During that time period, Harper would be using five or six diapers a day, or almost 2,000 diapers in total. The idea of producing that much landfill waste was too much for us, so we began to consider using cloth once again. After a little research, we discovered a cloth diaper system that would potentially weigh less and be less bulky than the pocket diapers we already have. We had found Little Beetle diapers made by Better for Babies. …continue reading this post »