Kidical Riding All Year Long: Freezing Saddles with Justin and Kid-D

I love showing KidD the sights, sounds, smells, and richness of the city by bike – and winter is no different. We see the huge Christmas wreaths at Union Station, we watch the daffodils come up by the Senate Park, and we see the water freeze “into ice!” at the Capitol Grounds. We learn to love tailwinds on the way home. We sing songs.

As we watch the world cruise by at 8 mph, KidD is a constant stream of vocabulary, naming colors, kinds of trucks, “doggies wearing coats,” and birds. Most importantly, we always arrive at our destination more awake and energized than when we left.
–Justin

Bicycling is for everyone, from kids to grownups, and the final installment of the Freezing Saddles series features the family bike riding duo of Justin and his two-and-a-half year old son, KidD.

I’ve learned so much from talking with the BikeDC and Freezing Saddles community this year. Everyone has their own approach to make winter riding work for them.

Thanks to all who took the time to share their winter riding experiences, and to Justin and KidD for talking with me today.

Alright Justin, tell me a little about you and the riding you and KidD do.

I’ve loved the feeling the freedom of riding a bike since I started riding in high school.

I’ve always ridden mostly just to get around, since it’s the fastest, most flexible, cheap, and convenient way I know. Free parking, never any traffic, door-to-door, exercise snuck in, and it’s really fun!

I got into long-distance riding a couple of years ago, and although I still love it, the arrival of our two kids has brought a new flavor to my riding.

Biking is always the single-most variable part of my daily routine – it’s ALWAYS something new.

KidD, when did you first ride a bike, do you remember?

KidD: When I was… was a baby. [10 months. KidD is now two “and a half.” Can’t forget the half!]

Justin: That’s right! And did you sit on the back of the bike, or the front?

KidD: The… front!

Justin: And was that fun?

KidD: Yeah.

Justin: And now you have a big seat on the back, and what else back there?

KidD: A bell! Ring ring, ring ring!

Commuting selfie (All photos courtesy of Justin)
Commuting selfie (All photos courtesy of Justin)
What kind of riding do you generally do during the winter months?

Mostly commuting, errands, and work… that is, until Freezing Saddles came along in 2013.

Many of your around-town miles are kidical miles, right? What is your kidical cycling setup?

Yes! I love bringing the kiddo along for the ride. I ride an XtraCycle EdgeRunner, with KidD behind me in a Yepp Maxi seat.

It has lots of lights, one bell for each of us, and a pinwheel that spins in the breeze when we “Go Fast!” (as KidD would say!).

When he was younger I had a stuffed animal back there too, but now KidD is just thrilled to look around and name all the things we see.

Then I’ve got a Surly Long Haul Trucker for myself.

KidD, what kind of bike do we ride?

KidD: A red bike.

Justin: Well, that’s your tricycle bike, but what bike do WE ride?

KidD: A big, black bike!

Justin: That’s right, and whose bike is it?

KidD: It’s Dada’s and my bike.

The setup
The setup
Let’s talk kidical winter riding! Tell me about KidD’s and your essential winter gear and cycling setup. What clothing and cycling gear do you consider essential for both of you to ride through the winter?

Moose Mitts or big down mittens for me. Cold hands are the worst. Moose Mitts are life-changing, whether riding for 3 miles with KidD, or 50 on my own.

The kiddo gets colder faster since he’s not pedaling, so I bundle him up just as if we were going for a walk, and then a little bit more.

Bern helmet with a winter liner, big mittens, heavy coat.

Snow pants for the coldest days. I tried sunglasses for windy days, but those usually end up overboard.

Also? Tissues for runny noses and eyes.

KidD, when we ride in the winter and it’s cold, what do you wear? On your head?

KidD: Helmets!

Justin: That’s right, and what color is your helmet?

KidD: Black! It has a sticker. Oh that’s an alien.

What kind of lights and reflective-wear do you both use for shorter days?

I’m firmly in the “Christmas Tree” school of thought here – the more lights, the better (as long as you’re not blinding oncoming bikes on a trail).

The Edgerunner has a dynohub front and rear setup that is always on when we’re moving, and then I supplement with 2-3 more strong blinkies in the back, and one or two Urban 350 Light&Motion lights in the front. Plus spoke lights in the front wheel for side visibility.

A winter joyride
A winter joyride
What’s so great about riding through the winter? What does KidD think is great about it?

Riding in the winter is just the same awesome adventure as the rest of the year, it’s just colder! KidD loves “Going fast!” and asks me to speed up.

I love showing KidD the sights, sounds, smells, and richness of the city by bike – and winter is no different. We see the huge Christmas wreaths at Union Station, we watch the daffodils come up by the Senate Park, and we see the water freeze “into ice!” at the Capitol Grounds.

We learn to love tailwinds on the way home. We sing songs.

As we watch the world cruise by at 8 mph, KidD is a constant stream of vocabulary, naming colors, kinds of trucks, “doggies wearing coats,” and birds. Most importantly, we always arrive at our destination more awake and energized than when we left.

KidD, when we ride in the winter and it’s cold, do you like it?

KidD: Yah!

Justin: And do you like going slow… or fast?

KidD: Fast! Fast!

Is there a threshold below which you will not ride? What is it and why?

If it’s below 32 degrees, I suggest we should take the bus and see what he thinks. A freezing headwind to the face can be too much for a toddler, I think.

What would you say to somebody who is interested in trying kidical riding through the winter, but doesn’t know where to start?

Start in the fall when it’s warm, and just keep riding! As long as you’re both having fun, don’t stop!

Join the DC Family Biking Facebook group for support. Have at least two different “strengths” of coat and mittens so you can adjust to the temperature.

And if you already have a Bern helmet, swap in the winter liner. Before you know it, you’ll be watching the Cherry Blossoms bloom.

'Pinch me I'm dreaming' commute
‘Pinch me I’m dreaming’ commute
I know you are taking a break from Freezing Saddles this year, but you participated in the past. What inspired you to join Freezing Saddles the first time and what did you like about it?

I loved the camaraderie and friendly competition in Freezing Saddles. Everyone is so into it, even as we realize it’s all very silly!

Last year our team had a blast with Capture the Flag. It’s a great way to stay motivated and meet other bicyclists.

What was your approach to Freezing Saddles?

In 2013, I was competing with my teammates as we battled for first place.

Teams were made up of only four each that year (compared to 13 people per team in 2016), so the pressure was on – including some antics like a 90-mile “commute,” and Mark W. riding to Harper’s Ferry as the final hours ticked down!

In 2014 and 2015, I focused more on trying to ride every day, bringing the kid along, playing the “Pointless” games, and of course the happy hours.

As part of Freezing Saddles, you had to join Strava. As a data person, how do you like Strava…

I love seeing other people’s routes, photos, and accomplishments on Strava. It’s like Facebook for bicyclists.

It inspires me to try new routes and ride more, and I like encouraging friends. The trophies and KOMs aren’t really my thing, but if you’re a racer I could see how it could be fun.

The data being collected on Strava, biased as it is, holds great promise as a huge dataset on where and when people ride bikes — which is virtually nonexistent in bicycle planning realms.

It’s also fun to follow some pro riders on Strava so you can see, like, a Tour de France stage show up in the same browser window as your dinky 9 mph grocery run.

Pinwheel bling
Pinwheel bling
What question did I forget to ask you that I should have?

“You ride a bike with your kid? Isn’t that dangerous?”

I hear that sometimes. But I don’t believe riding with kids is more dangerous than any other mode – walking, driving, or transit. There are risks with all.

When I ride with a kiddo, my intolerance for safety is multiplied tenfold. I seek the quietest streets, and have no qualms bailing to the sidewalk if need be.

You see bicycling families more and more these days on Capitol Hill, where we are blessed with a great network of bike lanes and quiet roads.

The growth of bicycling on Capitol Hill and in D.C. generally only helps build more awareness and bicycle facilities in the future, which only makes it even safer for all.

Comments welcome - moderated for spam - but please write if you like!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s