A while back Matt tore a muscle in his calf, and he’s been limping around ever since. He can walk short distances, but ideally wouldn’t be walking as much as he is, and that’s slowed his recovery. He hasn’t been able to ride his bike for at least two weeks. He’s not happy about it.
Our son’s school is on the way to Matt’s office (more or less) so normally they ride together, Matt drops him off, then continues on to work. He also typically does the pickup at after-school, and they ride home through Golden Gate Park. The MinUte is always ready to pop a kid (or even two, if they’re old enough to hold on) on the back.
So for the last couple of weeks, I have been doing most of our son’s drop-offs and some of the pickups. It’s been nice to have this extra time with him in the morning. I hadn’t used the Bobike Junior regularly; it pops on and off the bike in less than a minute, and for regular commutes it is mostly off. But for the last week it has been on my bike full-time. On our morning rides, we bomb down the hill from our house as a starter (no worries: the neighbors already have Child Protective Services on speed dial) and head into Golden Gate Park, over to the Panhandle, then up to Alamo Square and back down to Japantown. This is a very cool ride; in the early morning, when it’s still half-light, the park is still thin on other bicycle commuters and the trees hide the car traffic on either side.
Our son can be very chatty on the bike, and he enjoys the view. He is sometimes irritated by the pannier encroaching on his foot rest, and the other day, he entertained himself by lightly kicking my calf on every pedal stroke. “I don’t want to ride with the pannier again!” he yelled. “I don’t want to shove a backpack in your face,” I answered. I forget what else we talked about, and now only remember that we were laughing so hard that we were bothering the joggers, who normally reside exclusively in iPod land. We learned later that one of his classmates saw us while driving by (we arrived at school only a minute later than they did, which still astonishes me). Her dad told me that she asked why she couldn’t ride to school too.
I like the way the Breezer takes the hills, so when we’re headed up to Alamo Square and the lights are timed right, we can jump up the incline pretty fast. That day we raced a garbage truck. We lost, but held our lead for longer than I expected, given that I had a 1st grader and his school gear on the back.
After his drop-off I head up to work, taking the grim eastward approach to Laurel Heights, which packs all of the elevation in at once at Post Street, then drops me off at the intersection of California and Presidio, a nightmarish snarl that usually leaves me walking my bike through the intersection rather than attempting to ride it. Thank goodness I have a step-through frame: hit the red light, slither off to one side, walk the bike through the crosswalks, hop back on.
I am still vaguely amazed that a seat like the Bobike Junior even exists. It solves an unusual problem; most parents with kids our son’s age would have them riding to school on their own bikes. Traffic and hills and the transition to after-school make that impossible for us, but I don’t think our situation is exactly typical. And yet thanks to the canny Dutch, we’ve found an out-of-the-box solution that’s both effective and a lot of fun.