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Unusual Bike Commuting Needs

by Dara Marks Marino

In some past lifetime, long ago, in other words, before I had a child, bike commuting was pretty much what it sounded like: riding my bicycle to get from point A to point B and back again. I used racks and panniers, front and rear. Simple.

Then I had a child. And bike commuting looked a lot more like this:

Commuting with Adams Trail-A-Bike

Commuting family-style on the Adams Trail-A-Bike

Now that my daughter is 6 and in first grade, and now that I am working on my Masters degree, bike commuting suddenly looks more like this:

I know, I know. Don’t say it. Don’t post it in the comments. I realize I am driving my commuter bike on my roof around town. It is totally ridiculous. I get it.

And yet…it works. Twice a week I put my bike on the roof. I load my child in to the car. We pick up our neighbor for carpool. We drive to school. I kick the kids out of the car. I unload my bike from the roof. I put on my second pannier. I ride to campus and take classes about climate science and climate solutions. I ride back to the kids school. I take my second pannier off. I reload my bike on to the roof. I get the kids. We drive home.

Panniers on rack

Panniers on Racktime Addit Rear rack & ready to head to campus

The kids need to get to school. I need to get to school. It takes 35 minutes to ride the trail-a-bike there. But I can only take one kid. Our carpool (who drives my daughter the other half the time) would have to drive to school if we rode, so there would still be a car going across town. Might as well do my share of the driving so that I dont have to drive the other half of the time.

But in order to put my bike on the roof, I had to get my front rack off because it was interfering with the fork-mounted roof rack. So I got the Racktime Addit Rear Rack . It is sufficiently light, plenty strong, easy enough to install, and far less expensive than most of the other racks I looked at ($50.99). It has the Snapit system, but I have no idea about that because I dont have the attachments that make it possible to Snapit to the Addit. Looks like a great idea though.

I also still often need to attach the trail-a-bike for other commutes we do, and fortunately the Racktime Addit left plenty of clearance for the trail-a-bike and hitch mount.

Bike commuting has changed for me. I’m sure it will change again as my daughter gets older, and especially when her school moves down the street from my house like they have been planning to (for heavens sake move already!). In the meantime, Ill keep loading my bike on the roof and being grateful that I get to ride at all.

 Dara Marks MarinoFormer top pro mountain bike racer Dara Marks Marino now coaches cyclists and triathletes through TheMindfulAthlete.net. Most of her commuting these days is with a trail-a-bike.


 
BOB Trailer x 2

7 Responses to “Unusual Bike Commuting Needs”

  1. Peter Besson says:

    I understand completely. Gone are the days of loading a couple of bikes on to the car and heading off somewhere nice with my girlfriend for a ride. Now, we have 4 almost teenage kids between us and the logistics of going for a bike ride somewhere nice (we live in central London) are just mind-boggling. I’m thinking of investing in a bunch of folding bikes. Short of buying a trailer I don’t see any other way to do it.

  2. Chip says:

    I have a very similar problem, in that we have one car, two working parents and two kids in school. Mornings when I’m riding to work and the spouse is working go like:
    everyone in the car
    drop spouse off at work
    drop older kid off at school
    drop younger kid off at preschool
    back to the house, change into bike gear, load pannier with work clothes etc.
    put bike in back of car (finally figured out a reasonably simple way to do this)
    drive to spouse’s work
    take bike out of car, put pannier on it
    go in and give spouse the car key so she can pick up kids after school
    ride to work

  3. John Burnham says:

    In a previous life and job I could bike commute 19 miles one-way in 1 hr. 15 min., a few days a week.

    Now I live farther from my job- I drive half way, bike the rest and accomplish it in about 1:15. I’m still reducing my driving. With family and work, I just cannot commit to biking 25 miles each way to work.

    You do what you can.

  4. Javier says:

    Yep… that’s a funny feeling! But, I often look at the city buses with the bike racks loaded in the same way. So eghh, whatever… some good is better than no good! 🙂

  5. Island Dave says:

    I have raised two daughters from infancy on bicycles. Starting with a car seat strapped into a Burley deLite trailer to big sister in a bike seat on the back of an old mountain bike and little sister in the car seat in the trailer. Then when big sister was a few week before her 6th Birthday our Burley Tock and Roll Tandem arrived. Little sister was still in the trailer until she was 3.5 to 4 years old when she took the back seat on the Tandem with big sister on a Burley Piccolo Trail a Bike. In 2003 our Santana Triplet arrived.

    We are car free and still ride the tandem and or triplet, I with one or both of my daughters who are now 21 and 19.

    We even have our own post card with the link below.
    That photo is from 2003.

    http://www.pbase.com/onastone2/image/94518397

  6. Dan says:

    Multi-modal is the way to go. My house is at the top of a hill that is very difficult for my old legs to climb, so I drive my truck down the hill with the bike in the back. After that quarter mile, I park and ride my bike for the rest of the 5 mile trip to work. When I come home I don’t have to kill myself climbing the hill. (Another plan is to ride down the hill and on to work and ask my wife to pick me up at the end of the day.)

    Glad you get some bike time!

  7. Woodie Comer says:

    For those like Dan, and myself, with older legs, along with the rest of the body, I would like to suggest looking into one of the battery assisted bicycles that are available. Those that I have seen operate by pedal, battery power or both. The battery assist is very good for difficult terrain that one must traverse on occasion. I have recently purchased a three wheel device that is great for running errands and the battery cuts the hills down to size.

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