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Parade of Giant Puppets, Quebec City, 2008One of our last, magnificent late night family bike rides
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The Fun Lasts as Long as the SnacksThe fun lasts as long as the snacks
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Capital VeloFestSee you tonight!
Is anyone else amazed and delighted by all the cycling festivals and events this spring? This afternoon Michael Colville-Anderson of Copenhagen's Cycle Chic was in town to share fun, cheeky, practical and wise advice on increasing cycling in Ottawa by focusing on how quick, easy and normal it is to get around Copenhagen by bike. This evening was the official launch of Mississippi Mills' Bike Month and Montreal's Tour La Nuit. And tomorrow is Ottawa's first ever Capital VeloFest and our very own Tour La Nuit.
I was very excited to hear that Michael Colville-Anderson was in town. He's a blogger I admire and he's done so much to increase the number of cyclists in cities around the world. He's kind of a rock star in the everyday cyclist world. But when I invited the kids to come and hear him speak, Anna Sierra asked me, "Is this another one of those events where you stand around and everyone says how great cycling is?" I agreed that it would be something like that. She said "I just like biking, not talking about it." So the kids stayed home with Grandma and I went to a wonderful presentation that began with an introduction Anna Sierra would have loved about how people in Copenhagen consider cycling so normal that they can't understand why Michael keeps getting invited to talk about it. so although I'm disappointed she doesn't want to come with me to cycling talks, I'm happy that Anna Sierra also considers cycling so normal that she doesn't understand why anyone would want to talk about it.
Now that the kids are older -- Jasper is four and Anna Sierra is seven -- they have pretty definite opinions on the kinds of events -- both cycling related and in general -- that they do and don't want to participate in. They're done with presentations on the merits of cycling. But they both really, really want to stay up late for tonight's Tour La Nuit.
When they were little, Derek and I often took our children to evening events. I have fond memories of Anna Sierra nursing to sleep in my arms while Derek and I stayed until the last set at the Folk Festival. When it was time to bike home, we'd gently tuck our sleeping babe into her Chariot and ride home along the river. Those night rides were pure magic.
There is something special about riding at night. The air smells fresher. The streets generally have less traffic. Restaurants are lit up with fancy folk having lively conversations. I love riding through the city at night and don't do it nearly enough these days.
A few years back we happened upon Quebec City's 400th Anniversary Party Parade. Giant historic puppets filled the streets. It was spectacular and we stayed until the very end. Riding back to our campsite out of town turned into an extended and glorious night ride. Jasper fell asleep in his bike seat behind Derek. Anna Sierra was on her trail-a-bike behind me feeling like she was part of a huge adventure. She still talks about that wonderful night.
The thing is, now we are the parents of big kids who like to go to bed early. Last summer the children and I were at a samba party at our neighbourhood park and by 8:00 they were begging me to stop chatting and dancing and please please go home so they could go to bed. We have some funny pictures they wanted me to take of the two of them pretending to be fast asleep on our front porch -- too exhausted to even go inside and up to bed. I'm telling you, our kids love to go to bed and are proud of it!
Most of the time this is a blessing because bedtime is rarely a struggle at our house. It usually sounds like this: Me: "Time for bed." Them: "Okay Mama." But it does make late night family bike partying a bit more of a logistical challenge.
So I'm wondering how our family Tour La Nuit will go tonight. But our basic family philosophy is if the kids want to bike, we'll do what we can to facilitate their participation. The thing is, at 4 and 7 the kids are too big for bike seats or trailers where they could just cuddle down and fall asleep if they get tired. Tonight we'll take them on our bikes -- Jasper will ride on the back of the Kona Ute and Anna Sierra can ride on the back of our Bike Friday Family Tandem. So at least they won't be steering while they're tired. And half way through the 17K ride, we'll be a 5 minute bike ride from our house, so if that's when we need to go home, then home we'll go. I'm hoping the lights, magic and thrill of riding at night under the stars without any cars will keep them both awake and happy.
I'm planning to bring lots of lights, lots of snacks (as a dear friend of mine says, 'the fun lasts as long as the snacks') and warm clothes for when the sun sets.
And tomorrow morning we can all sleep in. Because that's what kids usually do on Sunday, right!
Got family bike stories to share? I love hearing them. Email me, Kathleen Wilker at: familiesonbikes [at] momentumplanet DOT com.