11/29: Today it snowed...
Welcome to winter! As we woke up this morning and started getting ready for our day, one of my children looked out the window and asked what the white stuff floating down was. Snow! Guess what, kiddo...today we will bike in snow to school.
My name is Anika and this will be my very first winter biking experience ever. And I am not going to be alone. Both my daughter, age 5 and my son, age 1 will be joining me. Our set daily commute is generally not long - usually 1.5 miles twice a day to and from school. But with additional errands to run, playdates/parks to hit up, and other classes to occupy us, distance starts to add up. I'm guessing that currently I bike between 20 and 30 miles a week with one or more of my children in tow.
(not today, when it snowed)
I loved biking as a child. I grew up in a rural area in Michigan. My sister, brother and I all learned to ride our bikes by gliding down a grassy hill in front of our house onto our driveway. As we became more confident (and possibly daring), we would shift our path to involve the downhill sidewalk from our backdoor to our garage. That sidewalk provided a lot of speed and more than a few skinned knees. But, it built up our confidence as well. When riding the school bus home threatened to take more than a precious hour from our afternoon, we started biking to and from our school which was in the next town over more than 4 miles away. I was in the 6th grade.
Fast forward many years later and a move to Chicago. I didn't own a car and the neighborhood I lived in definitely did not provide easy parking. Parking in my building would have been an additional cost - one that I didn't need since I was only a graduate student and not really making much on the money front. So I bought a bike. That bike, while not great, was transportation. It got me where I wanted to be and was easy to get around on without forcing me to rely on the most unreliable bus and train schedule. Until October of that year. Apparently wind, cold, snow and myself do not get along all that well.
And so goes each year I bike. The weather gets nice. The sun comes out more often. The days get longer. And I think about getting out my bike. It comes out of winter hibernation, gets dusted off (and possibly a tune-up) and gets used on occasion. Biking became an activity to do - not a way to get places. When the weather turned cold again, away it went. But this year...this year was different.
I would love to say that our family bikes to be earth-friendly, save money, save time or any other myriad of reasons. All of these are great and all are true to a certain extent. But, the real reason that we bike is this guy here.
E is 15 months and abhors his car seat. He always has. One short trip in the car with him is enough to make one want to pull out hair. His dislike is strong and he is incredibly vocal about it. But somehow, all that displeasure turns into squeals of joy and constant babble while on the bike. Just the word bike ellicits smiles from him. Maybe it is the blowing wind in his face or the changes of scenery all around that create this change. Maybe not. The truth is, it doesn't matter. He is happy. His older sister is happy. And ultimately, my husband and I are happy. We are now a biking family.
In a few short days, it will be December. Winter seems to be settling in with some slightly colder temperatures and additional snow in our future. We're determined to bike all winter long -- not every day, but most. Here's hoping we survive it.