Of the last few leisure demonstration rides I've planned, I haven't succeeded in picking a meeting location that isn't confusing, nor have I been able to be on time. Try as I may, it seems lazy Sunday morning tempo is our everyday tempo. For the most part, we've adjusted our schedule and expectations to accommodate our lifestyle... for the most part!
Hastily, I changed out of my pjs and into my uniform: leggings, a tank top and a long sleeve T-shirt. I found my cowl and my trustee pink hoodie and rushed my kids down the stairs. For a person who woke up a tad before dawn, you'd think I wouldn't be late to an 11:30am meet-up! I spotted a friend cycling past our home, but since JahJ was riding, we weren't able to catch up with them before getting to the Gorge Vale Automotive parking lot.
While Kat and I exchanged pleasantries, we established that our spouses took our kids to a mutual friends' birthday party. Both sets of kids were feeling outgoing and got out of their family bikes to catch up, as best pals would. About a dozen parents had said they were coming on the demonstration family ride to promote the need for a safer Tillicum road. I was holding my breath for at least three bikes when Ashley sent me a text saying she was on her way. My new expectation was four.
One by one, friends arrived by the tire pump where we were congregating. Each parent was well prepared for a typical Victoria weather day, expecting a drizzle of rain, a cool breeze from the Gorge and some sun rays poking out of the clouds. After a "Bikes Belong!" chant and picture, a total of eight passengers and nine people pedaling took the lane from Craigflower Road to just past Burnside Road. One child kept shouting "Bikes Belong!", Nae-J waved her balloons and JahJ asked me to exclaim "Bikes Away!" as a superhero would before taking off.
Along the way we picked up two more pedalers, each carrying two passengers. We made quite the procession to Hampton Park. It was a breeze to bike on the bridge, taking the lane without being intimidated by the cars that slowed down to gawk at us. When we got to the park, we parked our vehicles and all the kids jumped on to the playground. Sometimes they would ask for snacks or a drink, and then it was time for others to be on their way. I encouraged Nathan to take his kids to the next appointment by bike, assuring him that his errands were all just a block off from the Galloping Goose. Wendy and Trish left together, heading back along the quieter side streets. Lyndze and I bit the bullet and rode on Tillicum together. It's amazing how much more confident I feel with another person riding with me on the treacherous bridge!
I went back to Hampton Park on my own to spend the rest of the afternoon hanging out with friends. After some soccer playing, frisbee throwing, and general tuckering out of the children, five of us loaded our bikes and headed to the "ice cream store". On these community bike rides, it's not uncommon to try to fit as many bikes as possible into one parking spot. Today was no different- five bikes carrying twelve people in one stall!
The group split and headed home, via another "ice cream store". Hilary and I took the newly renovated Craigflower Bridge for the first time since it opened to motor-vehicle traffic. It was such a pleasure! Engineers, take note and please replicate and/or improve on this design! The bike line merges bikes into an elevated separate section of the bridge for about 400 meters. Though the bike lane is not decidedly separated from the walking lane, there is ample room for both modes of transportation without one feeling more vulnerable than the other.
We rode to Banfield park on the newly paved and open-for-use E & N Trail. Since it was nearing the end of the day, the trail was quiet as we enjoyed the view of the lighthouse at Fort Rodd Hill and the cranes on the ship yard. We spent a good hour playing superheroes and royalty before parting ways to head home, for real.
All in all, it was a fantastic day of family cycling. Having spent my day off biking with other parents and kids, I feel as though today was a kick-off of the year's cycling season. Slow-hasty start to the day, and slow riding with JahJ reminded me of how much fun simple things like traveling on my bicycle from A to B to C to A can be.