Go By Train

The Boy and I are planning our first out of State bike adventure! It started quite by accident, as all the best adventures do, a homeschool group of which we arnt even really a part had space on a group train excursion, Portland to Seattle and back. The Boy has been obsessed with trains almost since birth, I have an over-active sense of wander-lust, so at $18 round trip for the two of us, we could hardly say no.

We are dusting off the Montana and Trail-a-Bike for this trip, The Boy has not quite exceeded the weight restrictions for it, though he will soon, and I kinda miss riding tandem. The Xtracycle is an amazing joy, and marvelous for hauling stuff, but for touring around one of my favorite cities, having a stoker will be nice. I have also noticed that The Boy has a tendency to get cold on the X, even when I am comfortable, and my theory is that lack of pedaling on his part means he isn't generating enough heat. Bike vacations are not as much fun when you are too cold, so hopefully going tandem will mean that we both stay worm, and neither of us wears out too much.

Due to the fact that the reservations were already made, are not in my name, and are for a group, I will be boxing and checking the bikes, which has me a little nervous. It will mean loosening bolts so that that the handlebars can be turned, so some assembly will be required on arrival, and theres the whole notion of shipping one of my babies, but I have heard good reports about Amtrak from other cyclist, so I am hoping for the best. If the Montana can handle a collision with a big ugly SUV, I guess it is up for a ride on a train.

We will just be there for the afternoon, about five hours total. I had hoped to meet up with an old friend who lives there, but alas, she has to work. This only adds to my sense of decadence in taking a day out to galavant about on a train, for no other reason than it will make my son and I happy. But I guess you gotta do that once in a while

We leave bright and early Tuesday morning, The Boy plans to take tons of photos, and we'll be sure to post the best ones


steve said...

Is the trail-a-bike you use by any chance one of the Adams Trail-A-Bikes? I'm looking into getting one for my The Boy who has Cerebral Palsy, a local bike shop recommended that and a back rest for him. How tall was your The Boy when he started riding it, and how tall is he now that he's getting too big? Reading the page there it seems like they're pushing the back rest for ages 3-5 (which seems ludicrously low), though it might be a weight limit thing - not a problem since the sprog is pretty lightweight anyway.

Is there anything I should watch out for, in your experience? I think I'm going to get a single speed model since the sprog has a tendency to fiddle with levers, but otherwise I think it'll be pretty good for him. Thanks for any comments and pointers! :-)

griffin said...

Mine IS an Adams, and I LOVE it! We had an Adams trailer before we had the Trail-a-Bike, and my experience is that Adams products are solidly made and very safe.
My understanding is that weight is the primary issue, rather than age or size, the Adam's is not designed to carry a child heavier than 85ld. My Boy is on the small size, as he was born with a liver condition, when we got it I think he was about 3 1/2 feet tall and probably about 40lbs., now he is a little over 4 1/2 feet and over 60lbs.

I opted for the single speed, for the reasons you mentioned, and, similarly, chose to forgo the hand breaks that can be added to the Trail a bike. I did have one of those compass bubble mounted on his handlebars, and let him “navigate” with it.

I guess my two tips would be, one: it took a couple days for my Boy to get used to the Adams, we started out with him on it, and me walking the bike, talking him through his fear, the second thing is that My Boy had a tendency to shift his weight all over the place, made my job upfront harder; but we both got used to it and now we both love it. I think it is one of the best investments I have ever made.
Feel free to email me or drop another question in these comments if you have any more questions or concerns ~or just to let us know how it's going :)

steve said...

Thanks, Griffin! The Adams is sounding better and better, I think we're going to get the base model since (for some reason) that's the only one that comes with a chain guard, and then add a fender on to it. One of my The Boy's favourite toys is a squeezy bike horn, so I suspect that'll be added on (although possibly removed shortly after).

I'm not in a huge rush for it as the weather isn't really appropriate just yet. It's something he wants for Christmas, though, so I guess I'll be able to set it up on the basement and he can get some practice not wobbling on it.

Thanks for the tips! I'll let you know how it goes :-)

griffin said...

I believe the base modle is also the only one that _folds_, which is a HUGE benefit. I am packing up my bikes right now, and the Trail-A-Bike did not fit in even the largest bike box unfolded, but when folded it not only fits into a bike box, it also fits in my Xtracycle sling. The seat post has to be removed before it can fols, so there is no risk of it folding while in use.