Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Kid’s cycling’

Every kid should be able to ride their bike to school. This right of passage, ushering in new freedoms and new independence for kids also brings with it the prospect of new angst and worry for parents.  Between 1969 and 2001, the percentage of school-aged students who walked or biked to school in the United States declined from 41% to just 13%. Traffic and safety concerns are cited as the primary barriers to parents feeling comfortable in allowing their children to bike- or walk to school.

The Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (ANCS) is taking the lead in creating a safer environment for students to ride their bikes to-and-from school; now through a partnership with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, ANCS  is providing middle school campus students with the knowledge and training needed to develop safe cycling habits and strengthen on-bike decision making skills.

Safe Routes To School (SRTS)

ANCS is the recipient of a $500K federal grant for a Safe Routes To Schools (SRTS) project to enhance walking and bicycling opportunities for students and the communities around each campus.  In conjunction with the Georgia DOT and the City of Atlanta Department of Public Works, which sponsor the project, ANCS will construct and improve campus-area facilities such as sidewalks and crosswalks and address safety issues by various programs—all designed to make it easier and safer for students to walk or bike to school.

Confident City Cycling 

On October 19th, 2011 ANCS has arranged for students to participate in the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s Confident City Cycling Course.  This compact yet comprehensive class covers everything students need to know to learn to “drive”  thier bike safely and confidently in a city neighborhood environment. It includes bike handling skill drills and an instructor-led ride with feedback to reinforce what students learn in class.

Our Family’s Experience

Woody Gap North Georgia Cycling Six Gap 6 Three Gap 3 Youth Atlanta Bike Bicycle.Since starting 6th Grade at ANCS this year, my 10 year old son Liam has ridden his bike nearly every day.  We rode together for the first couple of weeks optimizing a route that balanced distance, traffic and safety.  Our route includes the crossing of 3 fairly major thoroughfares.  Two of these crossings he handles solo, but for the third and busiest he has coordinated a meet-up with other students to safely cross en-masse.  Liam now rides by himself most days and I have noticed a new (though far from perfect) level of situational awareness in him on our rides together.    He has even modified his route slightly on his own to avoid a dog that enjoys chasing kids on bikes!    I look forward to the additional skills and knowledge that Liam will gain through his particiaption in the Confident City Cycling Course at ANCS!

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Silver Comet Trail Hurricane Lee Cycling in the Rain Atlanta By Bike

Hurricane Lee Spreading the Love Across Georgia. Thanks NASA Guys.

Cycling website Velominoti is “The Keeper of the Cog”,  the road-wizened rules of cycling by which we must abide. Liam, Ethan and I received our schooling today in Rule #5- Harden the F- Up [all rules here] See those nifty little spirals coming out of the hurricane, fanning across Georgia?  Those are called “rain bands” and they carry massive amounts of water in them to drop on cyclists heads- and can even spin off neat little tornadoes.  I did not know this before today.

Silver Comet Trail PATH Atlanta By Bike Junior Cycling Hurricane Lee
A Wet Ride All Day Long. Rolling By Mile Marker 12

We had planned to ride the Silver Comet Trail today for most of the week- before we had even heard of Hurricane Lee.  Yesterday I asked Ethan how far he wanted to ride. He replied “We should do a Century”.

Liam interceded “Dude, a Century is 100 miles”.

Ethan, looking insulted at Liam’s insinuation that he did not know how long a Century ride was, shot back sharply  “I know- can we do one on the Silver Comet tomorrow?”

Liam now jumped on the wagon too “Yeah, Dad- can we?”

Silver Comet Century Riding Atlanta By Bike Family Cylcing Junior Cycling Bridges

Looking Over The Edge. Many Scenic Bridge Vistas Along the Silver Comet

“Yes we can”  I replied, shocking them both by my acquiescence, secretly sparing them the details of the pain and suffering involved in such an undertaking.  I was aware that rain was in the forecast for most of the day, but so were cooler temperatures in the seventies…good for long distance riding.

The Silver Comet is a 61 mile long paved rail conversion running from just outside Atlanta to the Alabama State Line where it continues another 40 miles as the Chief Ladega trail.  Together, the Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet travel over 100 miles, forming the longest paved trail in America.  Doing an unsupported Century is no easy task, and there is a cyclist-friendly c-store at mile 35 on the trail that can be strategically used for resupply again at mile 65 after the turn-around at mile marker 50.  This means that we only had to carry enough nutrition to make the c-store, resupply, ride another 15 out to 50, 15 back to 65, resupply again for the final 35 home. 

Silver Comet Cycling Hurricane Lee Atlanta By Bike

Feed stop at Mile Marker 20. Cooler Heads Prevail.

The light drizzle at roll-out from the parking lot at Cooper Lake was actually pretty refreshing.  The sensation of the rain slowly infiltrating my shoes, shorts and rain slicker came with a silent resignation- it was just going to be a wet day, no need to try and stay dry.  The boys were in high spirits as we careened around the few joggers and other cyclists who also wanted the path to themselves.  Noticeably absent were the joggy-mommies that usually pack the first few miles of the Comet- jacked into their i-pods and oblivious to nature, their slumbering spawn and other people trying to get around them.  Yay!  

We settled into a nice cadence, I figured if we could keep the average speed around 14 miles per hour, we should be able to have a sub-8 hour finish including breaks- putting us back at the car around 4 pm.  We maintained this pace for about 20 miles when Ethan fell unusually far behind.  Liam and I pulled off at the rest stop and Ethan arrived less than a minute later- heaving his bike into the bushes nearly in tears in a full blown tantrum.  He then kicked Liam’s bike into the mud and the mushroom cloud meltdown came.  He did not want us to go that far ahead and we were going to fast and he wanted to stop.  He wanted to go home.  My heart sank.

As a parent, and especially a cycling parent, I always struggle between the line of  challenging the boys and being too pushy.  This was neither- Ethan was just scared that we would leave him.  He was wet and fatigued. I told him we could slow down, but all he had to do was say something next time.  I assured him we would not leave him behind and that, NO we could not go home now.  We had a little discussion about digging a little deeper and pushing a little harder- especially at the moment we most didn’t want to.  That is when the rewards come.  This is when the good stuff happens. Was he willing to do that?  This broke the ice and we continued on in better spirits.  I am glad we didn’t call it quits…yet.

The rain bands from Hurricane Lee would arrive in waves- washing over us constantly, but varying between a light drizzle and white squall downpour.  The boys took pride in the growing piles of road grime and grit accumulating on their bikes- debating who’s was dirtiest.  We made a game of shouting “It stopped raining!” as we passed under a bridge or traversed a tunnel.  We were fully soaked and loving it!  Soon we were back in our cadence and I would routinely perform a visual check to make sure the boys were in the right gear for the long haul- middle ring in the front, and low enough in the rear to keep a nice spin on the very gradual grade changes.  They both gravitate to mashing big gears.  The Silver Comet is an old rail line and with the exception of a few bridges and road crossings there are no grades greater than 2%.  This is nice, but it means you are pedaling all the time- no big gears.

Silver Comet Trail Atlanta By Bike Cycling Silver Comet Centrury Food

Shelter From The Storm. Gas Station Refueling Stop in Polk County

Approaching the C-store at mile marker 35 we hit the wall… a wall of rain.  It came down in buckets and our speed dropped to 5 or 6 miles per hour as the runoff on the path was higher than the rims of our wheels.  Visibility dropped to nil as we made the shelter of the gas station canopy and entered the store to buy food and drink.  The lady at the counter said it was supposed to get worse as she eye-balled us quizzically.    I ran through the scenarios in my mind.  If we could only go 5 miles per hour we could not reasonably finish the ride on this day.  It was time to head back to the car from here with 70 miles in our pocket and hope for the best.

Then the storm sirens came- these indicate that there is a tornado warning in effect.  Not a tornado watch, but a warning that a tornado is imminent.  The eerie howl emanated from a distance over the tree tops, sounding at first like a motorcycle topping out 3rd gear.  Then the sirens were not so distant and looking back from whence we came, I knew what that low-black sky meant.  Being stuck out in the middle of podunk Georgia during a tornado with my kids was not on our agenda for that day.  The boys were machine-gunning me with questions about what we would do when suddenly the sirens stopped and mechanical voice came through the air telling us that this was a “REAL emergency and we needed to seek shelter now”.  Shit. Shit. Shit.       [this is what it sounded like]

Silver Comet Trail Path Tornado Atlanta By Bike

The Boys Keep a Sharp Eye Out for Twisters from Inside the Mountain.

I remembered that there was a long railroad tunnel about a mile down the path.  It sure beat hugging a tree or lying in a wet ditch for shelter and I explained the plan to the boys as we began our sprint toward safety.   Inside the tunnel under the mountain we were probably as safe as we could be.  I viewed the prospects of us being sucked out into the afternoon sky as remote.  As the sirens continued their creepy whine in the distance, the boys  busied themselves with spotting twisters from the mouth of the tunnel.  It was dry, we were safe and could get safer fast by moving to the middle of the tunnel. We had food and water and could sit this out for awhile. 

We repeated this drill- next time under a bridge on the way back to the car, but we arrived safely and with a bigger adventure completed than we could have dreamed of when we started.  Even though we did not make the Century, we pushed hard and made good decisions that we were all happy with.  Still dirty with grime, but in dry clothes and shoes we discussed our near-miss with Hurricane Lee over large stacks of pancakes and hot cocoa (coffee for dad) at the IHOP near the trail head.  I am very proud of the boys for their accomplishments today- and thankful that we all lived to tell about them.  Well done boys- you own Rule #5.

Silver comet Trail Map Cheif Ladiga Youth Cycling Junior Atlanta by Bike

Three Counties in 70 miles (35 out-and-back)

Read Full Post »

aTLANTA BY BIKE DRAGON*CON DECATUR BOOK FESTIVALThe boys and I decided to embrace our inner freaks & geeks this weekend on our bikes to catch the Dragon*Con parade (freaks) then riding seven miles along the Stone Mountain and Trolly Line PATH  to the Decatur Book Festival (geeks). After a hearty breakfast at Le Petit Marche  we met up with Graham, Megan and Patrick and Lisa from the Kirkwood Sunday Ride to roll downtown.  

Dragon*Con Parade

Dragon*Con Parade 2011 Atlanta By Bike Peachtree Street.

Riding down Peachtree along the Dragon*Con Parade Route- thanks for the photo-bomb Patrick!

All I can say is WOW!  As we approached Peachtree St. from Edgewood Ave. I began to get the sense that our 9:30 arrival was probably too late- and that suspicion was confirmed as we turned onto Peachtree to see both sides of the road lined 10 feet deep with people.  I had taken Liam to the parade in 2001 and there were probably less than 3000 spectators- my guess today would be upwards of fifty thousand.  We rode our bikes along the entire parade route and it was spectacular!

Dragon

Ethan's Dragon*Con Parade Fist-Bumps with Chainsaw Hand guy- Ouch!

Finally carving out a spot on the corner of Baker St. and Peachtree for the parade’s final turn we had a great view of the entire procession;and what a procession it was!   Starting out with Lonnie Anderson as the Grand Marshal (she still looks good!) followed by a 90 minute march of characters from across the world of science fiction and the imagination.  As cyclists, it is not often that we get to see people dressed more uniquely than ourselves. My personal favorites were probably the Georgia Ghostbusters or possibly the Ghetto Stormtrooper, while Liam’s was the guy cracking the whip from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.  Ethan, who had positioned himself up front to get maximum fist-bump exposure from every passing character, said his favorite was the guy with the Chainsaw-Hand.  Yes- he got fist bumps from the guy with the Chainsaw-Hand along withabout 300 others!

I have always wondered why there was an asterisk in the Dragon*Con name.  After an exhaustive online search bore not the slightest clue. Graham said he thought it was because “Everyone is a star“.  ‘Nuff Said. 

Decatur Book Festival

Departing the utter chaos of the Dragon*Con parade aftermath we were able to filter through and completely by pass the gridlock as we picked up the Stone Mountain/Trolley Line PATH at Jackson Street.  As it meandered out of Candler Park we headed East along College Avenue and into Decatur Square in under 30 minutes from Downtown Atlanta.   The book festival was much larger than I thought it would be and we made lunch of Giro’s and lemonade our first order of business. 

There was a great selection of local and regional authors- Ethan picked up a copy of the new Skippy John Jones book and as we went to get it signed by the author we were told the line was closed.  Bummer.  I found a very handsome hardcover of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which I have never seen before.  Liam did not find anything that tickled his fancy.  

It was a book festival- that pretty much says it all! 


.

Read Full Post »

Linus Bike Grocery Getter utility bike commuter bicycle

G.G. with a rack of groceries.

Regular readers could probably sense a little guilt in last week’s Other Bike update-  while the situation has improved, money has been tight for me this past year.  I have gotten very accustomed to doing more with less and splurging on a bike did come with a little remorse.  However, I am really enjoying riding the new Linus  bike which I have done almost every day since her purchase.  I say her- because today she earned the name GG which is short for Grocery Getter. 

This morning I rode GG with Liam on his bike to school.  He has been expressing some hesitation and a little fear about crossing a busy intersection on his way to school and so I have been going with him until he becomes more comfortable and confident with the crossing.  As we were riding he mentioned several times that he could “get it from here” and then began quietly  dropping waaaay back from me as we got closer to the school (where other kids were walking).   I have been recognizing the beginning stages of P.U.E. Syndrome, or Parental Unit Embarrassment Syndrome  in Liam since the start of middle school last month.

Parental Unit Embarrasment Syndrome

Dale Price used "Costume Therapy" to overcome the affect that P.U.E. syndrome was having on his teenager.

Top research into P.U.E suggests sensitivity to Liam’s budding desire for independence and acquiescence to his presentations of symptoms that may include redness of the skin, looking at the ground and shortening temper.  I also came across an alternative approach that seems to have worked for one family to overcome the ravages of P.U.E   that is credited with tightening the father/son bond.  Dale Price, of American Fork, Utah, has spent the past school year waving at his high school son’s school bus every day while dressed in costumes as a lampshade, Elvis, and Santa, just to name a few.  While riding a bike in costume may pose some technical challenges I believe that adaptation of Dale’s principles holds a lot of promise. 

Dale and his son were even featured on Good Morning America:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/embarrassing-dad-170-costumes/story?id=13783709

Let it begin. 

Read Full Post »

Atlanta Cycling, Intown cycling, Kirkwood Sunday Ride, Atlanta Junior Cycling, Intown Bike Route

The Braves By Bike 

It was hot- damn hot this weekend!  The boys and I decided to venture over to Turner Field on Saturday night on our bikes to catch the Braves getting absolutely blown out by the Cubbies (8-4).  The 4 mile ride to the stadium was terrific- though the humidity was a wall through which we pedaled.   Team Eddie are not huge baseball fans, but it was a quiet Saturday night and I like to make one game a year because that’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re American.  Turns out it was a big night for baseball  and we had to buy general admission tickets “off street”.   

Once inside Turner Field we discovered that there weren’t any bike racks to be found- anywhere!  We ended up securing our bikes to the perimeter fence but with the Atlanta BeltLine Night at the Braves coming up on September 1st, and lots of folks hopefully riding their bikes- it may be a problem.  Just to be sure I didn’t miss anything I went onto the Parking and Directions, Turner Field Map and event the A-Z Directory on the Braves website to check- there is nothing about bikes or bike parking anywhere on their website even though there are hundreds of thousands of people within reasonable biking distance to the stadium. 

More information on BeltLine Night at the Braves: http://www.atlantabike.org/beltlinebraves

Kirkwood Sunday Ride

Click For Map & Cue

We had a great turnout today and the morning temperatures were agreeable for the ride start in front of Marchet’s.  There were 4-5 new riders to the group which always is encouraging!  This week we set out to do the “Intown Loop” route of 25 miles through East Atlanta, Ormewood Park, Grant Park, Cabbage Town, Old Fourth Ward, Poncey Highlands, Piedmont Park, Morning Side Druid Hills, Emory, Decatur and Oakhurst and back to Kirkwood. 

We had a hard time executing this route when we did it back in June, so I made a route map and cue sheet to ease the waiting and lost riders we experienced last time….and no one brought them.  It was still a good time with some good riding with good people.  We made the Krispy Kreme on ponce our rallying point to regroup and head through Piedmont Park, but lost half the group in the park anyway, so it didn’t really matter.   We all had fun and met back for brunch at Marchet’s.  Tip for next intown route ride: Sean will print cue sheets. 

Team Eddie Preview:

Grant Park Criterium, Junior Atlanta Bike Racing, USCF Junor Races Liam and Ethan will be carrying the Team Eddie colors at the Grant Park Criterium next weekend on Sunday, August 21st.  It should be a spectacular day of bike racing if you want to come on out and cheer us on!   Liam will be racing in his first USA Cycling sanctioned event, so we are going to get him a junior racing license (which I just think is cool).  He will be racing in the 11-14 Juniors category.  We just found out that Frazier Cycling will be there with 6 other racers in his age group.  We will be studying our strategy very carefully- breaking away, attack and setting up for the final sprint.  The junior’s race is 25 minutes +1 lap.  With the coordinated effort of a Team like Frazier on the course, Liam will have his work cut out for him.  He has the legs and ability to win- he just has to race smartly and aggressively.   Our goal will be to take it to Frazier and make them be defensively instead of assuming that thier coordinated team effort will roll everyone in.  I am excited! 

Ethan is too young to race in the junior category and is still on the fence about the “Big Kid Fun Race”.  More to follow!

Read Full Post »

In my previous post Brownwood Bike Rally 2011, I had written about having made “Go Team Eddie” signs that we held up to send my Dad pictures of.  He was not able to make the race due to his declining health and the pictures cheered him greatly.  I am visiting Jeannie (his wife) in Rochester and found the those pictures on their computer. Enjoy! 

 

Read Full Post »


youth polka dot jersey cycling north georgia six gap 6 three gap 3 atlanta bike cylcing bicycleSo after much pre-ride angst on my part as spelled out in my previous post  Cycling Parent: Fear and Self-Doubt, with additional angst provided by his Mom and Grandma, Liam and I headed up to north Georgia for his first ride at the Gaps this weekend.  We decided to arrive  early for an evening of camping on Friday, prior to the “big ride” on Saturday with an early 8 a.m. start time. 

Pre-Ride

We had our tent and gear all set up by late afternoon Friday when Liam suggested we ride our bikes to the town of Helen, located about 18 miles from our campground.  Helen is Georgia’s attempt at a Tyrolean Village and  as someone who lived in Bavaria for nearly three years, I can say that the Germans are not as into candy, knives, or anything air-brushed as much as shop owners in this tourist town would have us believe.   I was hesitant.  At 36 miles round trip, I did a quick calculation of our likely average speed, estimated time to both eat dinner and do a little site-seeing & people watching.  We should have just enough time to make it back before sunset- so off we went! 

Cycling North Georgia Helen, GA Bike Bicycle

Dinner in Helen, Georgia

It turned out to be a terrific ride and not only a chance for a nice warm-up before hitting the gaps the next day, but also to provide us with a chance to run through some last minute technical skills  and to shake out the bikes a bit. The route to Helen would provide us with many of the same types of roads (no shoulders) that we would be riding the next day.  Also, for most of our rides in Atlanta we are on residential side streets or bike paths.  The traffic on these roads, while lighter was also moving alot faster.  Liam and I practiced shouting “car back” or “car up” to warn about approaching traffic and move toward the side.  We also used the less aggressive descents to brush up on some braking and turning skills for the next day.  After a faux-German dinner we arrived back to the campsite for a fire and early bed time. 

The Front Three Gaps

Woody Gap North Georgia Cycling Six Gap 6 Three Gap 3 Youth Atlanta Bike Bicycle.

Liam Stroking Up Woody Gap

After a good breakfast of bagels, fruit and coffee (for Liam too) we met up with our group at Turner’s Corner, all of whom had woken up extra early to drive in from Atlanta.  We were blessed with a cold front which meant almost unheard of temperatures in the  sixties for the start of our first ascent up Neel’s Gap.  Liam and I settled into a nice rhythm and found our legs for the 7 miles of climbing ahead of us.   He pulled up a couple of times and I warned him to to put out too much too early because we had a lot of climbing ahead of us.  Neel’s would be the longest climb of the three  gaps we would be doing that day and as we rolled into the parking lot of the Mountain Crossing store atop Neels I looked back to check his expression- all smiles.  We re-grouped at the summit and did a bike-check (brakes).  I encouraged him to eat a Gu Gel for the upcoming climb up Wolfpen, explaining that the our breakfast had just been burned riding up this mountain. 

The winding decent down the backside of Neels was fast but safely paced.  My new friend Brigette hung back with us because she did not feel confident about her first big downhill either.  We made it safely to the turnoff onto Hwy 180 at Vogel State Park and immediately found ourselves beginning on Wolfpen Gap.  Wolfpen is not as long as Neels but is much steeper with several switch backs and pain inducing turn-ups at several points.  It is also deeply wooded making it difficult to visually guage how much longer  the suffering will last.  Liam dug into the climb and I could see that he was having a hard time with it, but then he relaxed, naturally focusing on breathing and turning the pedals.  I could also feel the burn and was glad for the shot of Gu Gel.  A short time later we emerged from the woods at the Summit of Wolfpen, re-grouped again and made our way down into the valley toward Suchess.  The Wolfpen descent was also taken at a moderate and comfortable pace.

Woody Gap North Georgia Cycling Six Gap 6 Three Gap 3 Youth Atlanta Bike Bicycle.We rolled into the crappy gas station rest stop at Suchess for a Gatorade refill.  There was a group of motorcyclists there and Liam was full of questions about the bikes- carefully pointing out that ours were pedal powered.  The turn out of crappy-gas-station-rest-stop onto hwy 60 threw us onto our final ascent of the day- the “short” climb up the backside of Woody Gap.   Liam was still pedaling strong, though I did see his line start to wobble a little bit at some of the switchbacks- a clear sign that he was getting fatigued.  Our group had already begun the descent before we had reached the summit, so we stopped for a brief photo op at the top before turning down ourselves. 

Now the dividends of the the previous 3 hours of pedalling and hell got to be cashed in with a nearly 8-mile long cascade down the gently winding roads of Woody Gap to the valley floor below.  At one turn near the top we were afforded a view of  patchwork  farms that looked like a green earthen quilt.  I accelerated next to Liam and pointed over too it which elicited a “Whoa!” from him.  I explained that we had pedaled up this entire distance and were going to ride back down there.   About 30 minutes later we arrived at Turner’s Corner General Store to meet up with the rest of our group for post-ride BBQ sandwiches and drinks.

I am obviously proud of Liam for this accomplishment.  Not many adults, much less 11 year old boys ever challenge themselves like he did today.  He rode 36 miles (72 total for the weekend) and climbed over 5000 vertical feet on his first ride at three gap.  This is something I did not even do until last season- and with great difficulty even then.  The completion of this climb is something that will continue to pay dividends for the rest of his life and will hopefully set a new bar for what he thinks he is capable of doing. 

In honor of the Tour De France currently underway, it was suggested that Liam should be awarded the “Polkapolka dot jersey mountain climbing Dot Jersey” for the ride he put in today.  The Polka Dots are awarded to the King of the Mountain for each stage- or the rider accumulating the most points (1st-6th) on each major climb of that stage.  Liam- you have earned your mountain goat jersey.  I am proud of you- on and off the bike.  Well done.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: