Our Biking Adventures

Last year, in an effort to safely teach Aiden to ride on roads, I purchased a new bike. The first bike I’ve had in many years. As someone who has suffered from neck injuries for many years, I thought my biking days were done… until I was introduced to the city bike style. City bikes allow you to sit more upright, like you see all over Europe, and suddenly the world opened up to me! I love my Brodie Bike!!

Last year, we took some long bike trips as a family, including around Stanley Park and more recently along the Spirit Trail. I’ve been wanting to bike on my own a lot more, but have had difficulty finding time in my schedule go head out. I think I’ve also been a little stubborn on my road to physical recovery, wanting to resume running nearly 1.5 years after I injured my foot. After a few months of ‘saying’ I wanted to switch the toddler bike seat onto my bike, it’s finally happened! And, since then, I’ve managed to take Damien on 3-4 rides per week – even trips to pick him up from preschool, then a jaunt up to the park for his lunch, are enough to fit in my ‘workout’ for the week. 

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Biking with a 3-year old strapped onto the back is a lot harder than just biking on my own. It’s taken some practice to get used to the balance, and I’m getting a lot more of a workout on the hills for sure! 

Damien still loves riding in the bike, though we’re starting to hear a bit of grumbling about him wanting to ride his bike instead. For now, this is working out for us. I’ll take advantage of it as much as I can, at least until Aiden is out of school and unwilling to take such hilly rides!! 

Jump Gymnastics Comes to North Vancouver

Jump Gymnastics is the latest child-focused facility to open up in North Vancouver, expanding beyond their existing Yaletown location. With a philosophy on curriculum for “physical literacy,” the program was designed to give kids (6m – 8y) foundational skills to be active in a variety of sports and activities in their lives. 

The new North Vancouver Jump Gymnastics location is East of Second Narrows bridge on Dollarton Highway, in the same complex as Cove Brewing if you are craft beer people like we are ;)

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I had the opportunity to preview the space and try out one of their classes with Damien. Having been through 4 years of the more play-based Gymboree classes with the boys, before the North Van location was closed, and also experiencing the more rigid educational component offered by the Flicka gymnastics club with Aiden, I found Jump to be a nice medium. 

The class is 45 minutes (so is open gym) and includes 10 minutes of free play. The instructional component is broken up into circuits where your child is asked to perform various body movements. At Damien’s level, age 2.5, those included things such as star jumping, balancing on a beam, rolling balls down ramps, or walking across the parallel bars. The class also included some song times. All the components of the class were very age-appropriate and engaging, while also challenging and new. 

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The equipment is great and very interesting for little explorers. The teacher was bright and cheerful and helpful at the more complicated stations. Having been through a number of different gymnastics-like class types, I did feel that 45 minutes was a bit too short and would have preferred a longer class with a mix of free play and instructional time. I know Damien was sad to leave when his class was over! I mean, who wouldn’t want to roll in a pit of balls?!

I also found that the circuits, run one at a time, would get quite busy and it was hard to keep Damien on task. While he follows instructions very well, I think we both would enjoy a more laid back open gym vs a class. There are several open gyms available in their schedule, but most occur during Damien’s nap time and are very short in duration. If you do want to attend one, it’s recommended to pre-register. 

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Biking Stanley Park with Kids

Aiden learned to ride his bike this Summer. As the Summer progressed, and the purchase of my own bike, we have been on bigger and better bike adventures. With a parent in front and behind, we felt much more comfortable on road riding scenarios. Our first major road ride was in Harrison Hot Springs. Following the invitation of a good friend, we made the jump and tried out the Stanley Park Seawall as a family. It was AMAZING!

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The Stanley Park Seawall is a 9km circuit. The path is fairly easy for young riders, particularly if you have a parent behind to keep your child on the proper part of the path. The view from the whole path is amazing and great motivation for young riders. 

Along the way there are many points of interest, from the lighthouse to the spray park to our favourite, Third Beach. 

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If you plan on biking the full 9km, pack lots of snacks for your young riders. We stopped for a snack early on, then biked to Third Beach for lunch. On our second trip, we added a second bike pannier filled with swim shorts and beach toys, so we were able to spend a very relaxing few hours at the beach! I even packed the Ergo so I could nap Damien when appropriate. 

We have ridden this path twice now and it is definitely more fun for little riders when they have friends, but it is entirely doable either way. 

Notes for families: The bike path is one-way only. There are a couple of points when you need to walk your bike through busy areas. The path is mostly flat and a very comfortable ride for confident young riders. Be sure your child knows to stay on the right of the path at all times, so others can pass, and can ride in single file without veering off the path (there are no guard rails). 

If you have a child in a bike seat like we did, have some handheld snacks on hand to keep them awake if that’s your goal. Damien always started to nod off before nap time, so I was glad we had a lot of snacks on hand. Also pack a light sweater for children in bike seats, as it can be windy and cool in some of the shady areas. 

As noted on Let’s Go Biking, the Stanley Park Circle route looks something like this:

 
View #4 Stanley Park Circle 3Feb13 in a larger map

The only difference we made was to park in the lot on the North side of Georgia, off Denman. 

Strider Bike Review

We recently purchased a Strider bike for Aiden. He was a pro at his Wishbone Bike in the 2-wheel combination, but never seemed to get the hang of two wheels. He said it was “tippy.” Since there were a couple of instances when he got on other bikes at stores, while refusing his own bike at home, we wondered if it was too heavy for him.

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Since Aiden can be rather temperamental about these things, and we wanted to encourage him to at least try to ride a bike, we opted for the Strider. Damien will be on the Wishbone by next summer (yikes), so we would be looking for a new bike anyway. We loved that the Strider offered tool-free height adjustment.

Aiden took to his Strider right away. Although he has little patience for any activity, he has taken some longer bike rides. He mostly walks his bike, not trusting himself to ‘glide’, but his skill level is improving. He doesn’t usually ask to ride his bike, so I know he’s not in love with it (perhaps because it’s basically just sitting and walking not gliding), but it’s been a good step towards him using the bike.

Did your kids enjoy the run bike concept?

Healthy Families BC Invites You to Win a $250 Lululemon Gift Card

Healthy Families BC approached me about helping to raise awareness on how to incorporate healthy eating and fitness into a busy family lifestyle. They offer resources and one-stop wellness information for how to be active, eat well and more. The new community, based on their website, Facebook and Twitter, wants to help you make positive changes in your life.

To help kick-start an improvement to your own lifestyle, they are offering a $250 Gift Card to Lululemon to one ActiveMama reader who shares what it means to be an Active Mama. Read on for more details…

My Fitness Story

For many years, I suffered from chronic pain and my fitness level went way down. I couldn’t walk or lift weight or do much of anything. Once I found a way to fix my physical pain, we decided to start our family. I wasn’t at my best fitness level going into motherhood, and my pregnancy wasn’t pain free either. After I had Aiden, I walked a lot (mostly to get him to sleep!), but after a few months, he refused both stroller and carrier and my fitness level went down.

I’ve learned that not every child is easygoing, that being a parent is tiring, and that sometimes you have to go out of your way to get fitness back into your schedule. Recent car accident aside (it set me back), I’ve done a lot to met my goal of becoming a Fit & Active Mama!

Ideas to be an Active Mama:

  • Go to baby bootcamp classes with your pre-mobile baby (Rec centres offer many options)
  • Take advantage of drop-in childcare at fitness centres so you can work out
  • Go to a gym in the evening or on days when you have pre-arranged childcare
  • Keep trying the stroller! Aiden eventually came to love it as a toddler
  • Do yoga or basic strength training (squats, lunges, etc) while your child plays. It’s pretty non-invasive and still allows you to pay attention to them
  • Set aside some money, if you can, for a personal trainer. They can help you learn how to correctly do many exercises and can put together a home fitness plan that requires little to no equipment
  • Set aside 20 minutes of precious nap time to run through your fitness plan. Then you can relax (because you deserve to relax too!)
  • Exercise as a family – take walks or hikes, or set up your toddler in a bike seat or chariot for bike rides

Prize

A $250 gift card to lululemon athletica to help you be fit and feel good about yourself.

How to Enter

Head on over to Facebook to ‘Like’ the Healthy Families BC page, then return here and share your recommendation on how to be a fit & active mama! How do YOU make healthy eating or fitness a priority as a mom?

Limit one comment per person. Contest open to residents of BC only. Contest will close on September 30, 2011 at 2pm PST. Winner will be chosen at random.