I had saved the kiddie cart or wagon or whatever you want to call it for a good 20 years, but I hadn’t really thought about who would be pulling it when grandkids came along. When our kids were young, my husband had always pulled the current youngest in it, because no matter how fit I am, I am nothing compared to his stamina and strength. There was just no sense in slowing me down on a family bike ride and him chomping at the bit. So we weighed him down, and he applied himself to the job cheerfully. (click on any photo to enlarge)
I don’t know when I realized that I might actually end up pulling the kiddie cart with grandkids in it. And it wasn’t that I was necessarily opposed to it. It just seemed like it would be a Herculean feat. Opportunities came and went, because it was always just too overwhelming, I thought, on the days I contemplated it. Until last Tuesday. Finally, there was no good reason not too AND I was motivated to give it my best effort, no matter how embarrassing it might be.
My husband’s help was crucial in set up, because I am still no good at dealing with flat tires. He taught me some about it all again, and patiently helped me finish fixing it. Then, he talked me through removing the kick stand and securely attaching the kiddie cart. Okay, he did give it a shove to fit the bike frame snuggly in the notches. And he kept jiggling something so that the bolts would tighten it in the right place. But I helped, too.
The kiddie cart was only going to be loaded with one grandchild for my maiden voyage. She was dressed in one of her GoPa’s sports pullovers and looked like a miniature wizard. She was quite excited about the ride, but it was not her first time in the kiddie cart. One of her 20something aunts had pulled her a few times over the summer. I hoped riding with me wouldn’t be disappointing or scary for her.
It was chilly that day, but with exercise, I knew I could get warm. The covering of the kiddie wagon can pull down to fully encase it and block the wind. Add an oversized teddy bear and a microfleece blanket, and you have the makings of a cozy den for the granddaughter.
There is a bike path a short way from our house. I only needed to go on a quiet country neighborhood road for a couple of minutes. Since it was 10:30 AM, I wasn’t too concerned about traffic. My mirror was helping me keep an eye on the cart and the road behind me.
Once I had pulled into a side road that connected to the bike path, I called out to ask the child how she was doing. No answer. I stopped and got off my bike to check on her. Her head was nodding like a bobble doll. Her eyes were half closed and glazed. Five minutes into the ride and she was asleep! So much for enjoying the scenery, but the ride was also for me, so I kept going.
I was going much slower than I usually ride. The kiddie cart does not have shocks, and it has hard plastic tires. I didn’t know how it would turn or ride over bumps. I was soon at ease with how well it turned, but it definitely hit bumps harder than the bike. I watched the bike path diligently and slowed down for almost everything, getting very good at judging how this four-wheeled, three-way balanced contraption would straddle various formations in the asphalt.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that dealing with the flat tire issues had adjusted my gears without me knowing. Fortunately, my husband had recently explained the gears to me to a new level of understanding, so I was able to make changes that made the slight rolling hills much more manageable.
About 20 minutes into the ride, I was desperate to remove my heavy coat. I stopped and stuffed it into the kiddie cart where the large teddy bear wasn’t. Dear granddaughter was still sleeping peacefully on the stuffed animal. I felt her nose. She was warm, but not sweaty. I got back to cycling, with more and more confidence.
The couple of times I crossed roads at crosswalks for the bike path, all the vehicles were extremely careful to stop and wait while we crossed. There were only very sporadic instances of other walkers or runners on the path, and no other bikes. I guess that is one good thing about less than perfect weather.
Finally, about 15 minutes from home, my young charge woke up. She was quite happy to find herself being pulled along and began jabbering about what she saw. It was pretty impossible to answer, but she didn’t seem to hold it against me.
Then, about 90 minutes after we had started, it was time for that last little section of road to get to the house. There still was next to no traffic, but it was mostly uphill and my legs were getting tired from the extra pulling. I geared down quite a bit and was peddling mightily over a 10 foot wide section of road mix from recent road work when a car slowed down to drive along side me.
I naturally assumed it was just passing carefully, but then the woman rolled down her window and began to lecture me about how dangerous what I was doing was. From her tone of voice, it is safe to assume she thought she was talking to someone much younger. I waved her on on with a grimace, and she sped away in a huff. She was the most dangerous thing I had run into, distracting me like that from watching the road and keeping my balance! She obviously cared less about our safety than she was pretending, as she sent a few bits of gravel spinning in her disgust.
However, we arrived home in good order and refreshed from the exercise. Well, I was refreshed from the exercise. Dear granddaughter was refreshed from napping and didn’t need her usual afternoon siesta. Oh, well.
Now, I am making plans to visit other grandchildren and drive them around their own neighborhoods for fun. I think I will wait until it is warmer, though. I’m glad I got over the hump of being intimidated by the kiddie cart, because I think a whole new way to have fun with grandkids is now available to me!