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|What about kids?|
We are getting a new tandem for CO XIII. Grandpa and an RV are coming along to chaperone our two-year old son.
We are wary of using our usual system of hauling our son in his trailer on the CO course for fear of fouling up fellow riders.
Has anyone brought a child in a rear travel seat on any of the tours? We would like to bring him to the lunch stops with us on short days -- he loves to ride and we are training him early, but don't know how well that has worked for other families or what kind of seat to buy if it is even feasible.
In the nine previous Cycle Oregon's in which I have participated, I have seen small children on the ride, including some very small ones in trailers and travel seats.
On CO-4, there were two fathers, each with salt & pepper hair, each pulling a trailer containing a 6 or 7 year old up and down two mountain ranges - twice - for well over 500 miles and 28,000 feet of climbing. With the weight of the trailer, the child, and games to pass the miles, the additional weight was in the neighborhood of 100 pounds. My hat tips to them, even after nine years.
On CO-6, there was a father and his 3-1/2 year old son on a Counterpoint, a hybrid upright/recumbent. The boy was safety-strapped into the recumbent portion - out front. To my knowledge, it went well, but I did not have the chance to ask dad if he would do it again.
I have also seen several situations where grandparents and others who were watching small children would meet riding parents at lunch stops where there was no danger of interference with riders. Nowadays, there are precious few such opportunities - if they exist at all.
Short of the normal child care concerns of parents, I have never heard of problems with children who were on the ride. However, that said, be sure your little one is able to tolerate mile after mile of riding slow in what could be very hot or miserably rainy weather. (Can you imagine dealing with a small child on day 7 of Cycle Oregon 10, between lunch and the end?!?!) It could easily become a nightmare for everybody. If you are serious about bringing your little fellow, do lots of training with him on the back. If you can safely/easily/conveniently manage the situation under a variety of weather and road conditions such as CO-10-day 7 - go for it.
Perhaps someone who has actually brought along a little one can speak with the authority of personal experience. I cannot.
BIG CAVEAT - - -
It is extremely important for non-riding grandparents, etc. to avoid cyclists on the route. Cycle Oregon attempts to maximize the use of low traffic back roads - which are often narrow - and quickly get congested and dangerous for riders if "unofficial" vehicles are allowed. This is why Cycle Oregon is adamant about preventing the access of personal vehicles to the route. To get a flavor for their concern, check out the Rider Handbook section on "Rider Guests". Simply stated, Personal Support Vehicles (PSV's) are not allowed. One subtle but significant indicator is that rider guests do not get lunch as part of their fee.
As you are CO veterans, the PSV restrictions are probably well-known to you. To a great extent, I am preaching to those who may not be aware of the implications. It is not my intent to insult anyone.
We used molded plastic rear seats for our children until they got too big, and then graduated to the trailer. The seats came with really nasty tubular steel carriers, which I threw away. I adapted the seats to bolt onto the regular light-alloy rear racks that we had on our bikes, which were stronger, as well as lighter and more securely attached. Be aware that my little kids are now 18 years old, so my information is out of date. Visit your local bike shop for more recent product information!
I believe that trailers are safer for kids than rear seats. But they are also much more expensive, heavier and create more drag. The worse accident that I have seen with the rear seat is when a mother leaned her bike against a wall, with the child in the rear seat. A few moments later, the bike fell over, away from the wall, kid and all. Fortunately the kid was strapped in and wearing a helmet, and apart from being traumatized, was not seriously hurt.
If you already have a trailer and are happy with it, I see no reason not to use it on CO. I have seen quite a few trailers, and don't see why they should create any problems for other riders. (One famous rider always brings a trailer with his dog in it!) The reason to get a child seat instead would be weight and drag savings for you, not convenience of other riders.
While I would underscore what Curt said about PSVs not being allowed at lunch stops or on the CO route, there is nothing that says that Mum and Dad have to stay on the CO route for every minute of the day. You might pre-arrange a meeting place with grandpa and the RV OFF of the CO route at some point during the morning or afternoon, to load or unload a son, or just to meet for a snack.
People considering bringing kids should be aware that there are few kids around. This means you are going to be your child's "buddy" for the week. This can be a neat growing together experience or a real trial - somewhat depending upon how interested the adult is in being involved with what "all the other" adults seem to be doing at the moment (chattering, napping, Beer Garden, etc.). Also, there are few around-camp activities geared for kids. If this is not a problem, then go for it.
Attitude is extremely important. There is probably a somewhat higher chance that you will need to sag or even (yuck!) go home early. A friend of mine took both his boys on a tandem as each turned 10 (separately). The first caught a virus and they left early. With the second they had an encounter with gravel which left them with some road rash and stiffness, and, again they left early. In both cases they had trained together and had a good bonding experience throughout the summer and considered the whole experience a success in spite of not finishing. If he had felt like they had failed the kids would probably have faded from cycling. Instead it was a positive experience.
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|Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003|
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