Forget Strava

If you don’t know what Strava is then head over to the archives and check out another post.  If however, you use Strava or another performance tracking tool, then read on my friend.  If you subscribe to the motto: “If it’s not on Strava then it doesn’t count” then commit this post to heart. Continue reading “Forget Strava”

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10 Tips for when it get tough

In the real world kids get tired, squabble, whinge and whine.  I live in the real world!  So what do you do if you are out riding and the kids are finding it tough going?  After making sure they are physically sorted (fed, comfortable) it comes down to emotional support and distraction.  Here are ten ideas you can adapt to suit your family:

Continue reading “10 Tips for when it get tough”

Pregnant Cycling

Mindful of the benefits of being fit and active whilst pregnant, I wanted to keep cycling.  I had my concerns, so I read up on the topic and consulted my doctor.  Here is what I learnt about each concern:

Injury Risk.   Collisions and falls present risk of injury to you and your baby.  This applies both on and off the bike, especially as your belly grows and you can’t see the kerb or other things which can be tripped over.  Walking,  being with kids and motor vehicle accidents all pose injury risk.  Overall the baby is well protected by amniotic fluid.  As an experienced rider with a good safety record I chose to trust in this.  I minimised risk by choosing where and when to ride, e.g. no mountain biking for me.

Heath Risk.  Sitting on the sofa eating chocolate biscuits posed more of a health risk for me than cycling did.  As with any exercise during pregnancy, it is key to avoid over-heating.  Pregnancy raises your core body temperature and raising it further can be bad for baby.  Because you heat-up from the inside out, you can’t just ask ‘do I feel hot’, as baby will be feeling hotter than you.  Because of this, experts usually advise monitoring your heart rate or perceived rate of exertion (PRE) whilst exercising, (your level of exertion will determine your core temperature).  They used to give a maximum of 140 BPM but this of course depended on how fit you were to start.  Cycling gently around town with the occasional small hill should be fine providing you don’t over do it.  Manage your core temperature with appropriate clothing, plenty of water and cool-down rests as needed.  Monitor your exertion in a way that works for you.  Follow general guidelines for exercising whilst pregnant.

Fatigue.  Growing a baby is hard work and it is important not to over do it in other areas of your life.  Listen to your body, when you are tired rest.  At the same time keep in mind that staying fit and active will make life much easier during delivery and beyond.  It is also great for your mental health, especially when cycling is something you enjoy.

The best advice I read was this:

“when your baby bump starts touching on the top bar of your bike it is time to stop”.

I happily cycled through both pregnancies.  With our first we turned up to our childbirth classes by bike.  With my second I towed our first child to daycare in our chariot cycle trailer, stopping at eight months when the baby bump got in the way.  Both times we had a couples weekend away, hiring a tandem and exploring bike paths in San Francisco and Napier.

For me, cycling when pregnant is a case of:

“if it feels good, do it”    ……..with a good dose of responsibility and sensible caution.

Did you cycle whilst pregnant? How was it for you?

Best Trail… and the winner is….

In February 2016, almost 10,000 New Zealanders voted for their favourite place to cycle.  With 2000 nominations to choose from, competition was hot.  The winners in each of the four categories are:

  • Nga Haerenga – NZ Cycle Trail: Otago Central Rail Trail
  • Off-Road or Adventure Ride: Rotorua Redwoods
  • Urban Trail or Commute: Napier
  • On-Road Ride: Taupo & surrounds

See BikeWise News for more details.

Which of these is your favourite family ride?

The Cycling Mum

I’m pretty noticeable around my local area, as I wear a high-vis vest with “mum” on it, and ride a long orange bike. Here I will answer some of the questions I am often asked.

That is an unusual bike, did you make it?  Is it electric?
I didn’t make it.  It is a Yuba Mundo cargo or utility bike from the USA.  You can get electric ones, however my bike is chocolate-powered.  We call it ‘Rocket’.

Where did you get your bike?
Daryl, from Maungaraki imports them and sells them from a cycle store in Upper Hutt.  I found his website, cargobikesnz, on the internet when I was researching my options.

What do you use it for?
I originally got it because I was sick of pushing a buggy around! I’d been doing it for 6 years and would estimate I was covering over 1000 km a year.  That is because I prefer to use active transport, like cycling or walking, for short trips.  I didn’t expect my young children to cover the distances I was, so needed something for them that I could power.  We have also used a kiddy bike trailer, but I have found the cargo bike much easier to use and park.  My kids mostly cycle and scoot themselves now, but I still use my cargo bike and love the fact that I can put so much on it, and thus use my car even less.

Why did you choose that bike?
It has room for my youngest child plus cargo like bags, shopping, etc.  Or I can take two kids on it.  You can hear us coming when that happens, as my son gets very very excited!  It is easier to use, maneuver and park than a trailer, although we did like the trailer for safety of toddlers and adventures.

How far have you cycled?
I mostly use this bike locally because it is hard to manage a puncture on the rear wheel.  But on other bikes I have had many cycling adventures in NZ and overseas.  I’ve cycle-toured in NZ, Australia, Slovenia, Scotland, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and Vietnam.  That was before kids!  With kids, we’ve done the Central Otago Rail Trail and the Hauraki Rail Trail, and recently I did the Nelson Great Taste Trail on my folding bike.

Where do you cycle?
On this bike I cycle around the Hutt.  I use my bike for school runs, errands, appointments, library trips, and my market shopping.  On my own I use the road and river trail.  With kids I will often use the footpath, depending on traffic and destination.

Why do you cycle?
Because it is good for me and for the planet.

Do you have a car?
Yes I do, but I prefer to keep it for longer trips and occasional use.  For short trips I like to use my feet or bike.  It is great not to have to bother with parking!  Plus I get fresh air, exercise and a greater sense of community.  I find it a bit sad when really little kids ask me “Don’t you have a car?”, it is like they have no concept of getting around other than driving/being driven.

Is it safe?
I’ve certainly had my moments, but mostly it is fine.  It is important to cycle confidently and be visible.  I wish there were more cyclists and more facilities for cyclists.  Anytime a motorist gets angry, aggressive or impatient, I just wish they would vent their feelings by campaigning for more facilities for cyclists.  If they don’t want me on the road then get me a cycle path!  There is a six-times return on investment for any amount spent on cycling facilities, so we all win!

Do you cycle on the footpath?
When I am with my kids I often cycle on the footpath.  I really don’t like doing this, but must put their safety first.  I’d like to invite anyone who doesn’t like cyclists on the footpath to send a letter to the council requesting safe, connected, separated cycle paths, especially around schools, train stations and the CBD.

What would you say to anyone who wants to try cycling more often?
I’d say get the right gear and give it a go.  There are great ‘Cycle Ready’ skills courses you can do.  You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!  And if cycling doesn’t appeal, just try walking more.  It is so good for you and your whanau.

What questions do you have about cycling with kids?  Please leave a reply comment with your question and I will endeavour to answer it.

This post first appeared on: organised-ok.blogspot.com

Cycle the Great Ocean Road

 

The ‘Great Rides’ organised by Australia’s Bicycle Network (formerly BikeVic) are fully supported rides with plenty of options to choose from.  Before kids we did two of their rides (New Zealand’s South Island in 2004 and Tasmania’s West Coast in 2006).  I observed that plenty of families were taking part, including toddlers in trailers.  If you want to give cycle touring a go, but the logistics put you off, then this is a great way to start.  In fact it is how we got started in cycle touring.  They make it very easy for you, and being part of a mobile tent city of cyclists is an unforgettable experience.  For more information check out their website: bicyclenetwork.com.au

Dear Diaries for Kids

On a cycling holiday kids love the chance to record their own memories of the trip.  For the very young, this could mean drawing pictures.  Older children can write about their experience.  Others will want to stick in pictures, tickets, postcards and other mementos.  Recording their daily distances will give them a great sense of accomplishment and pride.

For younger kids we pre-printed diaries for them based on the following template.

touring journal for little kids

Older kids can take a notebook and make their own record.

You can make this educational if you like:

  • Writing focus including spelling and using descriptive language
  • Maths: adding distances to make a cumulative total for the trip
  • Geography: observing and recording features of the landscape
  • History / Inquiry: reading signs along the way and recording key details
  • Science: observations and experiences of hills, wind, surface (physics)

Personally, we just leave it up to them – we are on holiday!

Here are pictures by a five year old recording his experiences on the Otago Central RailTrail.  For him it’s all about war wounds and weather.

My Cycling Story

It is hard to imagine now, but my relationship with cycling got off to a very slow and rocky start.  I inherited my sisters Raleigh-20 when as a teen she decided she was too cool to ride.  It sat in the shed rusting as I could not ride a two wheeler and had no one to teach me.  Occasionally I’d take it out and push it around the footpath.  That was until – at the advanced age of ten – a kindly friend of my Mum’s took pity on me.  It was probably my knees knocking against the tricycle handlebars that inspired her.  That was my first taste of freedom – I could ride to school, around the neighbourhood and to the shops.  It felt like flying.

I didn’t get too cool for my bike (I never got cool), but I wasn’t allowed to ride in high school.  Years later I borrowed bikes, but had no idea how to change gears, and the riding position of the racing bikes popular at that time (10-speed no less!) terrified me.  In my early twenties, my partner and I were given a ‘hybrid’ bike by a friend moving overseas.  We lived opposite a cemetery, and it was there that I slowly gained confidence and learned how to change gears.  When my husband discovered mountain biking, the hybrid became my bike.  I hardly rode it.  I was more interested in riding horses and driving powerful cars; I was a rev head.

We lived in Sydney, starting point for the popular Sydney to the ‘gong [Wollongong] charity bike ride, raising money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  When my Mum was diagnosed with MS I was inspired to take part.  My training for it was minimal – mostly riding to cafes.  Upon completing the short version of the ride I was exhilarated and inspired….. I had the bug…. the cycling bug!  

I rode more: 5 km to the shops, 10 km to a favourite cafe, 15 km to a scenic spot.  By joining rides organised by my local Bicycle User Group (BUG) I found new places to ride, helpful advice and great cafes.  I did the full ‘gong – my first 100km ride.  As I rode further I got fitter, and as I got fitter I was able to ride further and discover more scenic places to ride and yummier cake.  Yes, cafes are a huge part of social riding!

I was ready to try cycle commuting, and a fellow BUG member showed me the best route from home to my workplace.  It was such an eye opener: via back roads and cycle only routes I was able to get to work faster by bike than by train or car.  I arrived fresh headed ready to start my day.  No need for gym membership or lunchtime jogging.  It began to dawn on me that bikes could really take you places (other than cafes).  

My next goal was to complete a cycle tour. An organised and supported one seemed like a great option for a beginner.  Despite an overuse injury to my knees and about a year off the bike with my knees taped; I made it back onto the bike and focused on a training plan to get me ready for touring.  In 2004 I completed Bicycle Victoria’s Great New Zealand Bike Ride, around New Zealand’s south island.  We were a mobile tent city of 1000 cyclists.  It was the ultimate way to travel.  Listening to my fellow riders exclaim over the scenery  I felt like I was seeing my home country for the first time.  I quickly signed up for the Great Tasmanian Bike ride in 2006. 

2006 turned into our big year for cycling.  Together with my husband and four other guys we organised and completed our own cycling adventure in Vietnam.  Cycling meant we could explore the country slowly,  off the beaten track, and interact with wonderful locals.  We found that a bicycle starts conversations even if neither party can speak the others language.  We loved the immersion of touring without the barrier of glass and metal.  Later that same year – when my husband was made redundant – we took an extended trip to Europe.  We bought folding bikes and toured in Scotland, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Slovenia.  By the time we reached Slovenia we were ready to become ‘real’ cycle tourers and carried a tent and bed rolls so we could camp.

In Europe we saw how bicycles were just part of everyday life.  People didn’t put on lycra to go cycling.  Instead of panniers they strapped their little suitcases to the rear rack or used a basket for their shopping.  Children, dogs and groceries were carried by bike.  The bikes they rode were sensible, comfortable, and functional.  When I got back to Sydney I was inspired to cycle for everyday tasks such as shopping, visiting the library and friends.  Whilst pregnant I kept cycling, inspired by accounts of women who had done just that, (and with the blessing of my obstetrician).  My husband joked that I should cycle to the hospital for the birth.

At seven months pregnant with my first child, we made our ‘big purchase’ for our baby.  Everything else for baby was begged, borrowed or second hand; but not our cycle trailer!  After careful research we purchased a double Chariot CX trailer, and a baby sized helmet.  We were ready for parenthood!

For most of our son’s first year the chariot made an excellent buggy and stroller (we’d bought both kits, of course!).  Once he was able to sit independently we strapped him in, popped on his helmet and took our maiden voyage.  We took a weekend away with the bikes and trailer, exploring new places. We were ready for adventure…..  Of course life has its twists and turns…. I went back to work, we moved back to New Zealand. For a while, life became about survival rather than adventure.  We used the Chariot to take our son to and from his caregiver, and I continued to do so right up till the birth of our daughter.  

Once number two was old enough we slowly began to get out more and explore further with both kids in the Chariot.  My son moved onto two wheels and could be towed on his own bike using a TrailGator.  We took our towing aids to Napier and explored the amazing trails there.  After hearing about the Central Otago Rail Trail, we teamed up with cycling friends from our Sydney days, who now also had two kids, and completed the Otago Central Rail Trail. Our son rode on the TrailGator and daughter on a hired WeeHoo.  Finally we were touring again, with kids!

Now, via this blog I will share advice, tips, and stories from my experience of cycling with kids.  Welcome aboard, enjoy the ride.

As well as this blog I am working on a book about Cycling with Kids in New Zealand, I have started a Charitable Trust called Bikes Welcome, and I am advocating for the law to be changed so that children can cycle legally on the footpath.  I am passionate about getting kids active and giving children the opportunity to enjoy the fun and freedom of riding a bike as part of their everyday lives.  I also am a keen advocate for active transport and everyday cycling.