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 :)