lessons of the bike child seat

When I was a boy in Hamburg, New York, my mother took me all over town on her bike.

Then we moved to California in 1980, and I do not think I have seen a child bike seat in the United States since.

So when I bought a bike last summer and put on the child seat, I was, well, not an expert.

While I managed to keep toddler and bike intact, I also learned some hard lessons.

1.  A bike will not balance with a child on the back.  Do not try and run around the bike to get on the other side.

2.  I need to do a sort of running, rolling start – as if I were seven years old again – for getting enough speed up with a toddler on the back is not easy.

3.  Keep the tires pumped up.  The hardest bike ride of my life was the short ride to daycare last week with underinflated tires.  The mountain stages of the Tour de France are not harder.

4.  Realize you will have two bike helmets with you after you drop the kid off at daycare.  Make plans to drop these off, or end up walking around Stockholm all day with them on your shoulder.

5.  Stay in the bike lanes.  Taking a toddler on a bike into even normal traffic will give you a heart attack, especially if the toddler loves it and starts screaming about the big red bus.

Then there were the unintended consequences of the child seat, such as aerodynamics and drag.  An empty child seat acts as a huge parachute behind you.  It makes riding exponentially harder and leaves you vulnerable to big gusts of wind.  I suppose it is a good workout tool, adding that extra resistance.  But, let me tell you, with two small kids and choppy sleep at best, I do not need extra resistance.

Still, I love riding with the kid on the back yelling “Faster!” or “Slower!”  I love that she calls it “our” bike.  And I love the exercise and the ability to get somewhere with her fast (since we have no car, we have little speed in our life).


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