Entries Tagged as Family
I can’t shake the impression that these mountains know what’s coming and that they are preparing for it. The water in the Payette River between upper and lower Payette Lake is far below the high water marks, and the surface is smooth and unhurried. Waiting. The leaves on the trees and the “needles” on the tamaracks are turning, preparing to drop. It rains off and on throughout the day, heavier towards evening, soaking the ground so that when the temperature drops, the first snows will stick. These are the thoughts that go through my mind as we work our way from McCall, up to Burgdorf, Idaho, 30 miles away.
Not many moms get to share their favorite hobby with their 19-year-old on his birthday weekend, but that is what my son and I did when he returned from his first year of college this past May. We rode from the northern suburbs of Chicago to Richard Bong State Recreation Area in southern Wisconsin, a distance of about 55 miles. Once there, we met up with fellow touring cyclists from Milwaukee's Cream City Cycle Club and camped out for two nights. We went on a beautiful loop ride to Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, and stopped at a local winery that makes hard ciders and brandies from apples!
What had I been thinking? I sat in the ditch with my exhausted ten-year-old son, Max, chugging Gatorade and sucking on gel packs, our be-panniered bikes splayed on the grass beside us. We were attempting our first ever bike trip together, an overnight from our home in west Edmonton, Alberta, to a campground in the town of Devon, about 35 km (that’s about 20 miles) southwest of the city, on mostly country roads. Things went swimmingly for the first 20 km; sure, we took lots of breaks—for water, Clif bars, even to check out a playground we passed—but the pace was steady, respectable. I was sure we’d make it.
I’m trying to establish bicycling traditions. Every summer our family of four goes on a long multi-day (or multi-week) bicycle tour, a tradition that we hope to keep alive for many years. But sometimes one tradition is not enough. My son and I are working on new tradition, where at least once a year just the two of us go bike camping for a weekend. Daniel is six years old, and Labor Day weekend 2011 was our third such trip. To keep the rides simple, every trip has started and ended at our house in Fort Collins, Colorado, yet each trip feels unique. I keep them that way by planning new events or activities into the rides, and this past Labor Day weekend offered a great selection -- a bike parade, a mountain festival, a picnic, and crystal hunting were all on the menu.
We cancelled this trip once. Originally scheduled for March, the plan was to get a group campsite at Falls Lake State Recreation Area and invite some folks to pedal the 20-ish miles out to the lake with me. But the fickle North Carolina spring shifted quickly from unseasonably warm to seasonably miserable so we pulled the plug and successfully averted a cold and wet bike overnight. The people with NC State Parks were quite accommodating, and we were able to reschedule for early June, a timeframe that was nearly certain to be a bit more pleasant. "More pleasant" turned out to be an understatement. We saw a repeat of the March weather pattern, unseasonably warm through the week ending in a seasonable weekend, finding that it is a far better formula for a June camping trip than it would be for a March trip. In fact, we enjoyed perfect weather for our bike overnight.
Though the boy is pushing his Trail-A-Bike’s pedals for all he’s worth, we still can’t make it up the sharp slope from the parking lot at Channahon State Park onto the Illinois & Michigan Canal Tow Path. He’s only eight years old; his locomotive contribution is marginal at best and negative on ascents. I stand on my pedals, but the rear wheel just spins in the loose gravel and I quickly put a foot down to keep the bicycle upright.
A multi-day bicycle tour has been on my to-do list for years now. Not having the gear or time yet though, we did the next best thing. An overnight bicycle camping trip at one of the local state parks! It turned out to be a lot of fun, and the best family camping trip ever. Here is the story of our trip.