On Sunday my son and I headed downtown on the Kona MinUte to Japanese class. I thought, “Gee, I hadn’t remembered the MinUte being this bumpy to ride.” Then I heard a swish-swish-swish sound, and asked my son if he was sticking something in the spokes (hey, it’s happened). Nope. Flat tire. When did I lose all my bike karma?
Fortunately we weren’t far from home, so I walked the bike back up the hill and then we walked back down the hill to the streetcar stop. We were late, but Muni came through; thankfully, there was no parade downtown this week. It had been so long since we tried this that I had forgotten one of the advantages of riding Muni: we ended up studying Japanese all the way into downtown, which made for a stellar class. A passenger across from us knew Japanese and helped as well. (Experiences like this explain why people keeping leaving their hearts in San Francisco.)
On our way up from the train station I saw a woman whose bike had a Bobike Junior seat on it, the first other than mine that I’ve seen. She said she knew a couple of other people with Juniors as well, and she was still hauling her nine-year-old son (!) on hers. They were headed to Sunday Streets as volunteers.
The downside of riding Muni is the waiting. On the way home it took as long for our train to arrive as it would have to ride all the way home (thanks in part to one train going offline right before it arrived at the station, horribly frustrating my son, who believed the arrival time board).
After we got home Matt and the kids enjoyed a rousing game of “put the bike tube underwater in the tub to find the hole” and then my son asked to go out for a ride. Sure!
We headed to Golden Gate Park to show him the drop-off site for this month’s summer camp, check out waterfalls, and visit the bison. This was an impressive ride for a six-year-old, even with the street closure, at over six miles.
Riding with my son has made me reassess my definition of hills. I would have said before this weekend that this was a pretty flat ride, with a slight downhill heading west and a slight uphill heading east. After watching my son, who had to get off the bike and walk some of those “slight uphills,” as well as take multiple rest stops, I realized I’ve lost perspective by comparing them to my daily commute. It was a brutal ride for a little kid on a single-speed bike, but he never complained.
So we bought both kids ice cream when we got to the bottom of the hill heading home, and we took the long way around on that last leg. And we saw my son’s first grade teacher, who is native Japanese. “A mamachari!” she said.
Our son wants a bike with gears. Although I despair that it seems like we can’t manage to find a bike with any longevity (except the MinUte! and the Brompton. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those are also our most expensive bikes. Mamachari TBD.) I can’t argue with this. How much farther and faster could he go on a better bike?