Thursday, April 17, 2014

Does Time in the Jogging Stroller Make Your Kids Better Travelers?

Subtitle: Race Report - Double Oaks Duathlon 2014
This is what the back of a minivan looks like with the following contents: 3 children 5 sleeping bags 5 mats 1 tent 5 duffle bags (full of clothes) 3 canvas bags (full of food, shoes, jackets, etc.) 1 Triathlon bike 1 Road bike 1 Stuffed Bear Plus other misc. items It is pretty amazing what we fit in there, really. It was a 12 hour drive on I-81 S to Alabama from Northern Virginia. (Spoiler alert: You can DOUBLE your trip time by taking the Blue Ridge Parkway the way home.) This is the second year I have raced at Oak Mountain State Park. It is just south of Birmingham Al. Luckily, the weather was warmer, sunnier, and less filled with pollen that last year's event. The course was the same which consists of a 5 K loop completed twice. The last mile or so of which is on a single track trail (yay!). A 13 mile bike loop of rolling hills, also completed twice. The 5K loop again completed in the reverse direction in order to run the trail section first on the final lap.
The new Trek Speed Concept totally stands out compared to the other bikes on the racks in the transition area. Awesome! There was another 9 series Speed Concept in my row as well, but his was blue so definitely not as fun as Lunar Orange! The first run went much better than last time. I did a better job of planning nutrition (that will need a whole other post, but Yay to Osmo, Clif and Power Bar). I warmed up before the race start. I knew that the race starts uphill. What I did not do better was I still went out to fast. At 6:30, my first mile was my fastest. Perhaps a bad habit for road races, this is the secret of my success in trail running. Get ahead of the crowd before the first bottleneck. In this race, the order we started the race was more or less the order we stayed. Going into the bike, I was ready. I am pretty sure the race organizers were having some sort of timing malfunction as almost everyone's T1 time was 1:!5. Suspicious. Plus my clock time was shorter than my chip time, but since I started in the second wave, it should be the other way around.
Maybe I will change my FB picture to the one of me riding away. The bike ride was solid. Not record breaking, but I got passed by very few men and was not passed by any women. I lapped many of the sprint distance participants. I never rode the brakes on the downhills except at the U-turns around the cones. The bike rides very well. I especially like that the front end with all the internal cables is much stiffer than previously. This bike feels very stable and likes to go in straight lines. I was able to climb all the hills while remaining seated. I have not risen with a computer for so long, however, I have to go back and figure out how to best make use of speed and cadence information in real time.
The last leg was not comfortable. I had an OK pace, but I definitely need to get more miles under my belt to strengthen legs for the longer and later runs. At the end of the day, I was the fourth woman to finish and the second in Women 35-39. Since they skimmed the top 3 off for overall awards, I was technically awarded first in the age group. I felt better today when I saw that the 35 year old who did beat me was a local AND was voted Triathlete of the Year by USAT!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How to Choose a Bike Trailer for Children

I have done a survey of good jogging strollers in the past, but this post is about bike trailers (some of which are able to convert to a jogging stroller). There are both single and double trailers available, though it is fine for just one child to ride in a "double". The retention straps can easily accommodate that. Best for economy: InStep Sync Single Bicycle Trailer $90 InStep Take 2 Double Bicycle Trailer $90 This is if you just want to try it out and don't expect to use this trailer more often than seasonal weekends. I am currently on my second InStep single trailer. Both we used for daily commuting but were only able to stand up to that by replacing the wheels early on. Considering the cost, it is actually amazing that even the second trailer still works at all. The double is not spacious, so would be best for two small kids. But again, for this bargain price, InStep does well. Best for Biking: Burley Solo $529 Burley Encore $450 You can purchase many great accessories for Burley trailers including a front stroller wheel or a larger front jogging stroller wheel, but Burleys excel as bike trailers. The Infant Snuggler adapter makes a more secure seat for the youngest riders*. The D'Lite is the top of the line so the Encore is one down, but is also great for being able to fold down the seat inside in case -like me- you now use your trailer for cargo while the kids are at school. Best for cross over use as jogging stroller: If you can find a used Chariot Cougar (1 or 2) those have always been favored for actually running with but since they were acquired by Thule (the car rack company) it is just not the same anymore. I really recommend a bike trailer for biking and a jogging stroller for jogging. The weight distribution in each is really different and will make a big difference when it comes time to turn a corner with that jogger! *A thought on how old you can start a baby in a trailer. My take on this is about 12 months, depending on the child. Absolute minimums would be that the child can sit up unassisted. I prefer that he/she can walk unassisted simply as an indicator of core and neck strength. Also once the child has at least a few words, communicating is much easier. You will stop a lot to figure out what is going on with a pre-verbal child riding around back there. Each manufacturer and pediatrician will also have their own take on the matter so listen to them. Every child riding in a bike trailer should WEAR A HELMET. Every grown up pulling a bike trailer should WEAR A HELMET. Seriously, one of my worst crack-your-helmet crashes was a leisurely ride pulling the bike trailer and I just hit a spot of algae and boom. If possible. Don't order your trailer on line. We stock bike trailers at our bike shop, as many do. Come try it out in person. Let the kids climb around in it. Have the salesperson SHOW you how to safely connect it to your bicycle. Finally, just as one should do for their own bicycle, make sure you have a spare inner tube and air pump in that trailer at all times. It can get a flat tire too.

Portable Music

Music to help you run is great. Listening to a fast beat both helps to pass the time and to keep your feet moving at a good clip. I like to listen when I am running on my own, running on the treadmill or riding the bike trainer. Sometimes, however, I absolutely will not put an ear bud in an ear. Cycling outdoors is never a time to listen. Neither is when I am pushing the jogging stroller. It is safer to be able to hear traffic and such sounds all around you, but with a child or children along, you have to be able to hear them too. For a long time I had the rule of thumb that if the run was 10 miles or more, the child could listen to the iPod. But on shorter runs like today, my rider was also my music. She sang the new version of the ABC song she has learned in school. We sang the oldies that I also know together: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," "Apples and Bananas," "If You're Happy and You Know It," and so on. This is hard. We are talking cardiovascular fitness here. So the time passed more quickly for her and we had a nice time together. She wasn't just getting dragged along and ignored. It is hard to find the right balance of dragging around and just staying home. Every year is a little different. This day reminded me of one of my finer memories of jogging stroller life. Maybe 7 years ago, I was jogging up the road as we belted out "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid, of course, as we passed this other dude out jogging. Yep. Like he was standing still.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

All Aboard

I still run quite a lot, but with the popularity of "multi sport" (triathlons, etc) plus the draw of being able to go farther and bring more, we have borrowed the concept of the road train! Certainly I am not the first parent to string together several wheeled devices, but we love it. We sometimes go to the grocery store or to cub scouts with all in tow. Even with several young children at home, you could train for a cycling event! Probably not a century ride, but these kids would be cool with 10 miles. Revisit Destination Running to break up the distance. You may be able to tell that I have all this fun stuff hooked up to my single speed bicycle. That means that there are no gears. If you wanted to try a trailer bike, a trailer, or both, I would recommend a geared bike and more specifically a mountain bike or hybrid bike because those types of bikes have an easier gear ratio than a road bike. Or do what I do if you just like things crazy hard :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Graduation Day

Talk about an upgrade! We are still riding family bikes and mountain bikes and all, but this is a very awesome bike. I have been previously riding a Trek Speed Concept WSD 7.8 for 2 years. This bike has been "on" the podium lots and has been on airplanes to Arizona and France! Trek took a great design and made it even better. Take note: there are no visible cables! AND - you know how I got to the point I can ride this bike so fast? I call it resistance training. Running with strollers and biking with trailers! These kids are still along for the ride, but not ON the ride every time. Stay tuned for great things to come.

Monday, February 17, 2014

As Your Kids Grow

As I return from a ride on a Fat Tire bike in the snow, I look forward to these beautiful summer days again. My 10-year-old has very much out-grown her jogging stroller days, but we have enjoyed our time together on the trailer bike. For kids ages 5-9 or so, the trailer bike is a wonderful way to travel a longer distance that your young rider may be able to do on his or her own power. We used the trailer bike to commute to camp this summer, hence the large backpacks, but it is also great for recreational riding. I have since this time, added pannier bags and a fender to the front bicycle and it all fits together just fine. If we are riding to a destination such as the park or ice cream store, I appreciate that the 5-year-old can be attached to me as we near traffic and not be left to her own navigational devices. Trek makes a few versions of the trailer bike. This is the MT 206 which has 6 speeds, but the MT 201 has a single speed. Both models have a 20" tire which is the same size as the bicycle that an average 7-8 (+/-) year old rides. The trailer bike clamps to any size seat post with the use of shims. It is not recommended for carbon fiber seat posts, so not a good addition to your Cervelo or Speed Concept. Burley, the company which makes many bike trailers for children, dogs, and cargo, also makes a trailer bike such as this. Their model clamps to a rack on the rear of the adult bike. There is also an add-on package available to convert their trailer bike to a 20" bicycle for the child to ride on his/her own.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Then and Now

Then and now. These 2 spent their entire lives to date riding around in a jogging stroller and it worked! They like to run! They like to bike. We bike to school. I still run- but also train more on a bicycle now. You can bring your kids on a bike too. This is chapter 2.