I’ve always loved biking with my kids.
Back in the day, I’d tell my freelance clients I had a “meeting,” load the toddler version of R-boy into the Burley, cram R-girl’s purple bike into the tiny seat next to him (i.e., on top of him), and pedal the three miles to her preschool, where we’d pick her up and bike home together.
Cruising along on two wheels with my kids by my side is still one of my favorite ways to spend an hour or two.
That is, if we could just get to the biking part.
Lately we seem to be hitting every literal and metaphorical bump in the road.
Last week, for example, our outing to Betty Danger’s in Northeast Minneapolis for a round of mini golf resulted in us arriving at said destination, securing our bikes to the bike rack, walking a few feet toward the establishment, and then walking those same few feet back because R-boy wanted to adjust his lock.
We then spent the next 90 minutes fighting with his brand new lock, which is apparently so impossible to pick that you sometimes can’t even open it with the actual key. That you own.
We sat on the pavement taking turns wiggling the key in the lock, flagging down strangers for help, calling the bike shop where he had just bought the fancy new lock, calling locksmiths, calling his dad for help, and finally breaking in with a paper clip.
By that time, R-boy’s tire had somehow become flat and he had to get a ride home.
Needless to say, no mini golf.
So, last night we tried again. No one had the energy for mini golf, but maybe we’d bike back to Betty Danger’s for a treat of some sort.
R-girl’s tire was completely flat when she rolled it out of the garage. This has happened before. What has not happened before is that after the tire is pumped up, we can hear air hissing right back out of it.
“Think we should still go?” someone said.
“Well I don’t want to just stay here,” someone else said. We all agreed.
“That tire might not make it.”
“But it might.”
“I think there’s probably a gas station or two near the route if we get desperate.”
“Hopefully they have air?”
“Hmmm. What do you guys think?”
“This might not work.”
“Let’s do it.”
And we were off.
Within minutes, R-girl was saying, “It’s getting lower.”
“Should we turn back?”
We soon learned that the front tire on R-girl’s bike had a shelf life of approximately three miles. Three and a half if you detoured off your intended route, rode the last few blocks on a completely flat tire, and continually said things like, “This is impossible to pedal! I can’t steer. I think I should walk it now. How much further?”
Almost exactly at that point in the ride, we reached Gas Station A and paid fifty cents to refill her tire.
We jumped on our bikes and headed back the way we’d come.
The shelf life was shrinking. Now it only took about two miles before R-girl was saying, “It’s almost flat again!”
“Should we make R-boy ride home and grab our bike pump?” I said.
“No,” said R-boy.
“I think I can make it to the next gas station,” said R-girl.
And after a 75-cent refill at Gas Station B, she made it home.
Probably never to ride that bike again.
Also, she’s requested that our resident cycling expert (R-boy) find her a great (totally hip) road bike for her birthday.
So the adventures will continue. Hopefully a little smoother next time.