Urban Biking Adventure

bikeride1Alternative titles for Sunday’s adventure could have been, “Almost There and Back,”  or, “How to give me a stroke on wheels.” Because while it was fun, and I’m so glad we did it, it was not a relaxing bike meander through a park.

Cameron had a huge goal in mind. He wanted to bike to the University of British Columbia, then back home, all in one afternoon. Uh, that’s roughly 20km. Each way. With hills.  On a bike he’s not yet used to, on roads (traffic-calmed routes for bike commuting), he would randomly slow to a crawl for no apparent reason whatsoever, and did I mention with hills? Often he reminded me of a teen learning to drive standard – forward, BRAKE! Forward, BRAKE! Thankfully I have nearly a decade to go before teaching this kid to drive a car.

The outbound trip was a little stressful.

Finally, a little past the halfway mark, Cameron accepted that 40 K is a long way. Sure, we were past half way there, but then we’d have to turn around and come back! So really, we were only around a quarter of the way. The final bit to convince him was telling him what our total distance would be, and he realized that it would still be a longer bike ride than Kate had ever done. Go, sibling rivalry!

bikeride3Cameron and I turned around to head home along the same route we’d come, and Leif took off out for a loop around UBC. He would’ve caught up to us had he not needed to do some emergency bike repairs on the way I’m sure.

The trip back was much more enjoyable. I no longer had the pressure of helping Cameron achieve his rather unreasonable goal, and he wasn’t upset about not making it in the least. It’s still there, for another day. There were a few heartstopping moments, like when the light across Granville Street changed just as he was getting going, and I had to haul him back out of traffic’s way. Then there was crossing Nanaimo. Again, he didn’t have enough time to cross, and so spent a cycle of traffic lights sitting in the median, traffic whizzing past on either side, while I did my best to stay calm on the other side. However, we balanced the stress with fun – a playground he hadn’t been to in years, and stopping to see neat things along the way.

bikeride2All told, it was 25.5 K, if that matters. But the good part is that the next bike ride will be easier. Perhaps longer, but he’ll know about traffic circles, about how long it takes to cross a busy road, and hopefully that he doesn’t need to ride on his brakes.  Even better than that, Cameron is proud and happy.

If you try something like this with your junior adventurer, don’t forget to pack water and snacks. Bring a cell phone for emergencies. Be sure that if you’re risking being out in the evening you have lights on your bikes! Review road safety with your child, of course. And of course, plan! Many cities have bike route maps, and google maps has a bike route layer too. Vancouver has a bike route planner, but don’t take this as gospel. If we’d followed its directions we would have been biking down Broadway, one of the busiest central corridors for cars in the city! It seemed to completely forget about the Central Valley Greenway. 

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