Mama is in the backyard packing our bike with sleeping bags, pads and the tent. She's using all of our bungee chords. She says we're going to an island and we can each bring one toy. I'm bringing polar bear and I'm tying him on with a leash so he doesn't fall off. Papa can't come, he has to work on the weekends, but there will be other kids and families. It's the first time we are going camping by bike.
Can you take our picture? Wait, let me do a test ride. I'm not sure I can even ride it, with such a big load. I'm really nervous. What if I'm last and I can't get up the hills? My lungs are so tight today, my asthma is really acting up. Will I make friends? I feel like I might throw up, but it's a beautiful day and I'm really excited to try this ride.
photo by Amy
photo by Malora
Wow what a loud horn on the big boat! A ferry! Uh oh, Mama almost hit that car trying to put the big lock on our bike. Now its alarm is going off. Ita had to help push the bike up the ramp, it's soooo heavy. Mama said, "Stay close and do not go near the edge." I have Sealy, I want more snacks, I tired, and I have to go pee pee.
I'll take some pictures with Mama's phone, this marina and restaurant are so pretty. We at the bottom of a big hill. Mama's got a lot of riding to do! She wants me to eat more. My brother needs a nap. Mama said I have to drink more water.
Alright! We are on the road. Hmmm . . . the group is really far ahead and I am last. Will they look back? Will they wait for me? This is my last chance to turn down toward the ferry and go home.
I caught up to the group, we're all together, so far the hills are do able. I can see the city skyline from across the sparkling blue water. I think the endorphins are affecting my perception, because that has got to be one of the most beautiful views of Seattle I have ever seen. I feel great. Oh no, now I don't. This hill hurts. I'm gonna vomit. I've got to get off the bike. "Alita, jump off. Help me push." Okay, I can ride again. Oh no, now I can't. Repeat.
"Do you want me to take one of your kids on my bike?" asks one of the Dads. "She can ride back there behind my son." Yes please, and thank you. 54 lbs. lighter makes quite a bit of difference.
We made it! From our house to campsite and back by Mama power only (and a little help from some friends.) I was fearful that I might fail and look stupid or incapable. My sense of empowerment that I could do the ride with help from a group was delightful. Each time the hills became too steep, there was pain, but at the summit there was immediate relief. On the downhill, we rode so fast and swift that I felt like a child going fast on my bike for the very first time. As my son napped on the front of the bike, his face resting on a pile of soft pads, I used a homemade sling to keep his helmet and head from flopping over onto my handle bars. My new invention worked! I was thankful for the conversation with a mom who rode slowly with me. As I looked up at the line of riders ahead, I felt content within a pack of support.
I loved unloading my bike, setting up camp and knowing that everything we needed was with us. We were warm, comfortable, well fed, slept soundly, and had made new friends. The next day we went home and made many stops on the way: cafe's, a blueberry farm, ice cream, and a ferry ride. I was blissfully tired as we rode toward our home at sunset along a trail that follows the Puget Sound. We passed some of my favorite graffiti, bike minded is how I would describe my sentiments perfectly.
If you want to see more pictures, Madi over at Family Ride wrote a wonderful post about the trip and made a flickr slide show. Some of my favorite images are over there of Julie riding her Madsen at eight months pregnant and a camp stove that can charge an iphone, wha!? Meanwhile, I'm packing up to do it again this week with my husband. I'm cuckoo for bike camping!