Sunday is family day over at my house.
Whatever might be on the agenda that day, Anne and I try to clear out at least a little space to make sure that the two of us and our 3 kids spend some time together doing something fun…..like going to the zoo….or the park……or the swimming pool. It’s just a way for us to re-connect as a family before the craziness of the work week starts all over again.
So this past Sunday, after some discussion, Anne and I decided it would be a good day for a family bike ride.
Sounds like a Normal Rockwell painting, doesn’t it? Smiling family on bicycles gliding peacefully through the Sunday afternoon sun, enjoying the great outdoors and each other’s company. Yeah….right.
Preparations began in earnest at about 9am Sunday morning.
Step 1– pull all the bikes out of the garage and make sure there’s air in the tires. Field endless questions from the kids like “Are we ready to go yet, Daddy? Can I pump up my tires? Can I go ride my bike in the street while you finish getting ready? Can I bring my baby doll on the bike ride?” Answer to all questions is “No”. Send kids inside to help Mom get the water bottles ready.
Step 2– Fold down seats in Subaru. Stick 2 kids bikes in the back. Begin the lengthy process of attaching strap and pulley bike carrier to the back of car to carry the other bikes. Drink Gatorade. Perspire profusely. Use a variety of 4 letter words. Wonder if family bike ride was such a good idea.
It’s now almost 10 o’clock. Feels like it’s a hundred degrees out. I’m an hour into preparation and we’re nowhere close to actually getting onto our bikes. Everything is running pretty much on schedule in other words.
Step 3– Realize that with the seats folded down in the Subaru, Anne and the kids will have to ride in the other car. Stop to think about gas prices and whether or not it really makes sense to use TWO cars to take a family BIKE ride. Realize it’s too late to turn back now. Debate about drinking something stronger than Gatorade but decide that’s not a good idea at 10 o’clock Sunday morning.
Step 4– Jo Jo is 6 years old. She’s got a tri-cycle she can ride but I can’t see her riding it for 5 or 10 miles so I pull the old bike trailer out of the garage for her. Quickly realize I don’t really have anywhere to PUT the bike trailer other than the roof of the Honda…..unfortunately, it seems that I don’t have any rope to secure the bike trailer to the roof. Plan B? Remove a passenger seat from Honda….drag it over to the porch….and wonder why the engineers at Honda couldn’t have made a seat that weighs less than a thousand pounds.
Step 5– try to find a way to squeeze bike trailer into the mini van through the side door. Turn it this way….turn it that way…..use more 4 letter words……wipe brow for the 11hundreth time…..realize that if the Ford engineers were standing over my shoulder they’d be laughing hysterically at me right now. Finally manage to jam the trailer into the car. Notice I scratched the paint on the doors and that I’m not sure how the two older kids will get AROUND the bike trailer to get into their car seats. Decide that’s Anne’s problem and head back to the house to get sunscreen, water, and possibly a few valium…just in case.
Have vision of Chevy Chase loading up the family truckster in National Lampoon Vacation Movie. Realize it was funnier when he did it. Much funnier.
Step 6– Put family in car. Decide to use a bike trail that’s only about 3 miles from our house. Realize it took me 90 minutes to load up the cars for a 4 minute drive. Consider laughing at the irony of the whole thing but decide against it.
Step 7– Get to bike trail. Take everything off of and OUT of the cars. Due to some strange law of physics, the bike trailer that managed to go into the Honda seems to not want to come out of Honda. Use more 4 letter words. Wonder if the benefits of riding bike for exercise will offset the 100 point increase in blood pressure.
Step 8– 2 hours after beginning process, family ACTUALLY gets on bikes and begins riding. 11 yr old son yells at his sister because she’s riding too close to him. 8 yr old daughter is upset because her pedals squeak. 6 year old daughter says it’s too hot out. Spend most of the time telling kids “Stay to the right. Use your brakes. Keep your eyes in front of you.” Stop to re-adjust son’s helmet. Stop to fix the chain on Anne’s bike after it pops off. Stop to drink water. Calculate avg family speed at 2 miles per hour. Realize I probably got more exercise loading the car than I will on this bike ride.
Step 9– Get back on trail and get annoyed with the riders who think they’re in the Tour De France and are winging past us at 40 miles an hour yelling “ON YOUR LEFT” and scaring my kids. Realize I’m probably just upset that someone else is actually going fast enough to feel the wind in my face. There’s a lady walking a 3 legged dog on the side of the trail. She’s going about the same speed we are.
Step 10– Ride for an hour or so. Get to a good spot, turn around, ride back to the car, load it up all over again….. take both wheels off the bike trailer and bend the frame jamming it through the side door. Get kids back in car. Drive 3 miles back to house. Unload car all over again……and wonder who’s idea it was to take a family bike ride in the first place.
There are 4 days between now and next Sunday. Which means I have exactly 4 days to convince Anne that staying inside and playing video games all day is a worthwhile family activity.
Honestly, I think I can do it. Wish me luck.