Today we took care of two little friends; E (6 years old) and L (2 year old) so we were car free with five kids (ours are 9, 5, and 21 months). Fun! Even when we had a car, we could barely fit our three kids in the Subaru let alone any friends. I understand why people with cars go for the minivan. Luckily, we didn't have to worry about car seats and smooshing kids into a vehicle.
We were ready to hit the road for the farmer's market by 8:30am. Our eldest was on his bike, E was on his (he and his family just got back from the Netherlands where they biked everywhere so biking to the farmer's market would be a snap for him), L in the Chariot, and my youngest two on the Xtracycle. All set....except, wait...hubby has a flat. No biggie. We'll just ride around the park while he fixes it and be on our way. Bang!!! The new inner tube explodes. Annoying, a little frightening to the little ones and exciting for the middle ones, but not a deal breaker. Bang!!! The second and last inner tube explodes. What the heck? We look at hubby's wheel and it is split. Did the first inner tube explosion break his wheel frame? Wow! The wheel is pretty dented so who knows what came first, but the wheel is shot. Grumble.
I'm starting to think biking four miles (one way) with five kids is not in the cards. I'm so glad I didn't go with my first thought and head out with the kids and let hubby catch up to us. My husband's Xtracycle still needs some repairs so that isn't going to help. Hmmm. As we are trying to figure out what to do (send me to the bike shop? take a zero on the farmer's market?) our sweet and cycling neighbor comes by. Aviva to the rescue! She came by to ask for an Ergo baby carrier for a trip to Chicago and we told her our wheel woes. She offers us one of her wheels. Excellent! Problem solved. Thank you!!!
Off we go, a little later than we like, but still in plenty of time to buy some local produce at the farmer's market. We definitely had some comments (all good), looks, and one person even took a picture (okay, that was a little much) about our cycling train. When we cycle with kids, especially younger children, we put an adult in front and an adult in back. This seems to be the safest and most efficient way to ride. In Illinois, you can ride two abreast, but I find that children, especially younger children, have very little "line awareness" and the adult riding next to them spends a lot of the time just making sure the child doesn't run into them. Our eldest is nine and rides often and knows our style and also takes responsibility for his own riding. He keeps pace with us, knows the drill, and has a great line, but we still often ride with him between us. E was a trooper and did great, but he is also six and is slower and less aware on the road. He was so cute looking around at all the houses and buildings, but I had to remind him to stay to the right. Most of our journey is on very low traffic side roads so things were smooth. I just always worry a bit when I have a child with us who I'm not used to riding with. I would have felt better with him on my Xtracycle, but he wanted to ride his own bike and he did fine.
On the ride home we stopped at Zyggyz Grill (more about this on my other blog) on Green St. for some lunch. I took the lead this time which was much more relaxing. I took us onto the sidewalk bike path (we don't usually use it because it is on and off the street and starts and ends so it can be more hazardous than riding in the street) since we were a long line of bikes and harder for vehicles to pass and we were riding pretty slow.
When we arrived home with L asleep in the Chariot and my youngest asleep in the Peapod, Rob and I felt like taking a nap, but we didn't.
All in all, it went very well. The traveling was definitely the easy part of having five children. I think if I ever end up having five kids (not gonna happen), I will just stay in perpetual motion.