The Chainlink

Are there any parents here who live in the burbs and still sort of ride like you did in the city before you had kids?  I’m struggling... I’m on the North Shore and although we Ride close to our house, I’m struggling so much with the timing, setup and my work and daughters schedule.   

It’s faster in most situations to drive which is super different too.   And I have yet to find great routes I like out here that take me to where we need to go on a daily/weekly basis ( the scenic/endurance riding is fantastic).  

Biking used to be my life as some of you on here know...

Would love go connect with anyone who is in a similar situation and how you overcame it or just simply figured it out.  

Signed up for the north shore century and am not sure I’ll even make the 25 miler. In 2008 or so that was my first century (and first time I met up with Chainlinkers through the site at a Ride). 

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Wow. You are really struggling with impermanence and I'm sorry to hear that. (sorry, I'm buddhist so that's my lens).  Things are not currently the way you want but keep pedaling when you can and good luck. 

I'm not a mom, but I am a newly-minted suburbanite.  The suburbs don't make biking easy.  Riding in the suburbs is like negotiating a maze - there are many routes that can get you close to your destination, but are blocked by, or require riding some distance on, one of our many highway-like streets.  You have to know the geography in excruciating detail to find ways around that.  It takes a lot of unrequited exploring.  But once you find the right paths through parks, sidewalk short cuts, etc., transportation cycling is possible.  Still, useful routes are usually much less direct, and much less obvious than they are for driving.  If you are used to riding in the city, it's a little depressing.

Thanks.  Yes, I'm very much still in research mode.... although local bike shop owner Greg is in agreement that Deerfield is not as bike friendly as it could be.  And getting to neighboring Highland Park shouldn't be so harrowing either.

I despise riding sidewalks and have to do it now.  I feel like I have to have my hands literally on the brakes at all times due to the crazy sidewalk, driveways, etc. 

This is a major topic for me, so pardon me for making too long a post. The TLDR version is partner/significant other support is KEY.

I have two kids of my own, ages 3 and 1, and I am close to 3000 miles for 2018, not including stationary trainer miles. I don't know if your partner bikes or not, or at least is as passionate about riding as you, as that can make a difference. However, if it's something you love to do you can't let your kids take it away from you. You find a way and often it requires support from your partner. What I do one to two days a week is suck it up, get up at 4:45 am and rip 25 miles before anyone in our house makes a peep. In the winter I'll do a TrainerRoad session at 5 am for about an hour to 75 mins. I am not trying to brag here about my go-getter style, I am just saying if it's something you love, you shoehorn it into your life. I also get in one long weekend ride, preferably with my team on Saturday. That too requires a 5 am wake up, and I may not be home until noonish. I can be flexible with how long I go or I go on Sunday instead. The Wednesday night CCC rides are also really important to me (late April to mid-August), and that too is when my wife will fly solo with the kids. So for example, on Wed I'll take care of daycare drop off, and my wife picks up while I take off for my ride after leaving for work, blocking off my work outlook calendar for later in the day so I don't get caught up in a meeting. In return, I will fly solo while she goes to the gym, pilates or on rare occasion gets on the bike herself on another weekday. I also support her passion for books and watch our kids while she is off at a library event. With the value and time we put into our physical health, I still take care of daycare pickup/drop off and take my girls to the park or the splash pad. The key is finding the right balance between everyone keeping their passions, within reason, and having time together as a family, or time with just you and your partner. My kids forced me to give up a few lesser loved hobbies, like video gaming and a Sci-Fi social club I used to be involved with, but I kept my #1 passion.

I don't know all the details of your situation, but I can tell you that you can get it back. I have people on my team who also have two kids and still get their fix of riding in. Granted, we would be riding more, but we still get to keep our passions. The key point is partner support and toughing through solo child watching for periods of time. I also don't know your work situation, but I happen to be lucky enough where I work at a place that is low stress and where work and balance are supported. As mentioned, I will set up recurring unavailable slots on all Wednesday afternoons when CCC is in session.

In the end, we can't let our kids take away our passions and our health. You can still be a good mother and find time for you. Children must adjust to our life too, not us 100% catering to theirs.

The struggle is real. I'm not a mom (except for my two fuzzballs) but I've been experiencing some struggles with riding. My allergies and asthma have been worse than I've ever experienced before. Coupled by the fact that I can't go anywhere without dealing with climbing hills, I really struggle too. I ride my Brompton to work every day - bike/train (Metro) to the burbs. But if I need to, I am not too proud to use a Lyft for the hardest leg of the trip on bad air quality/high humidity days. 

If I ride my bike, I am also not too proud to jump on the Metro if it's just too hot to make the climb up the hills to get back home. This has felt defeating for me because I am not used to cutting back on my bike time because of my asthma. I take Allegra every day but still my lungs are in pain even during short trips. I think we all have aspects that can really hinder us from getting on the bike like asthma, kids, location, etc. so give yourself a little slack. It's ok if you combine bike/car when you can. Find ways to inspire yourself when you can and give yourself a break when it's not possible. You are a mom. You are in a location that was built for cars. And here you are still trying to get more bike miles. That says a lot. So good for you for doing it! Trying to do it! And being here asking for help! All good things. :-)

If you can get some time on bike paths with your daughter in tow, try to carve out that time as time for yourself. And don't sweat that maybe you had to drive to get to the bike path. That's ok. One thing you may want to do is join the September National bike challenge and see how many days you can jump on your bike and ride a minimum of a mile. Good luck with your North Shore training! :-)

Some additional thought I had after my post, specifically to suburban routes. Not sure where you live, but feel free to give me a follow on Strava and you can look at some of my suburban routes: https://www.strava.com/athletes/5344676

Another good tool is Strava heatmaps, which show you were other cyclists typically ride: https://www.strava.com/heatmap

Might I also recommend building some routes that seem comfortable per google cycling directions and strava heat maps, and get a navigation device like a Garmin (there are a bunch of used ones on eBay for a reasonable price) and use the turn by turn navigation.

Thanks! I'm not on strava but am happy to look at it. 

julie

It is hard.  One reality is  that  with a  little one you simply do not have  the  time  you used  to have.  You will  get  it back! The other reality is that the farther we get from the city the more car-centric is the  world.  Fortunately,  there are places  to  bike near you. However,  those simple errands that  city moms and  dads might  do on  a cargo bike are  not  so easy for  suburban ones. Keep  on doing.  The next  thing you know you will have  created a  little biker  who will insist on  riding on  the North Branch trail and soon she will  be  dusting  you but you  will  be  proud of her as you struggle  to catch up. I hope to see you at the NSC.  

yes, thanks.  would love to meet up at NSC.

You don't say where you live but many of the burbs have Bike and Pedestrian Committees which advise the local mayor and trustees;  Look to them in your town and neighboring towns to see what they have published in terms of bike routes and paths.  Some have nothing in place but may have elaborate plans which range from neglect to actively being worked.  In my experience the "downtown" areas often have places to lock up bikes and are more cycling friendly than the areas which spread along state roads which tend to intersect suburbs.  Check the local library too (in my town the library lends bike locks to those who ride to the library)

There are dozens of local cycling clubs (both recreational and racing) which have one of more members who align with your needs and can help you with specific routes.

Check to see if your local public school participates in the Safe Routes to Schools program.

Chicago's grid system makes to easy to find a set of parallel routes of which one will be the safest for cyclists.  Suburbs love non-linear streets, inconsistent numbering, and disparate neighborhoods.  Those neighborhoods often have walkable and rideable passages between them - often 10 to 100 feet long - which may be a paved sidewalk or a dirt path which allow you to easily cut from one subdivision to another.  they tend to be paved if kids need it to walk to school.  Most of the limitations in the suburbs have to do with crossing an interstate highway/tollway, crossing a river,  crossing train tracks, or anything near ohare.

gary

Julie; 

YES!

We moved from Lincoln Square to Downers Grove at the end of 2015 after our second kid. I had spent 10+ years on a bike in the city and it was the biggest thing I missed. Add on the kids doing all their activities around town and a bike didn't seem to be a practical option to make our schedules work. I had a trainer and tried to get out on the road whenever I could but seemed to hit a wall last summer. I just could not bare to do another trainer ride and was bummed about missing something I enjoyed, but didn't want to stop letting the kids try out activities they enjoyed just so I could ride more. 

Thankfully, I got a closer job last fall and re-started a bike commute this summer. It's still 18 miles round trip so I started small, shooting for a couple of days a week, and it's been every bit as great as I remembered. The suburban drivers are a little worse, and there's almost no infrastructure for someone to actually bike somewhere they could just drive, but it's been totally worth the effort to get back into it. I try to time it so my wife can pick up the kids on days I ride and we make evening activities work as needed. 

I applaud you for actively looking for ways to include something you enjoy in your new surroundings, and hope you find a solution quicker than I did!

 

I've found simply that the Google maps app, with the green biking routes turned on is super-helpful for me to find routes in and out of the city. I'll bring up a map of where I want to go and try to find the green thread that runs in between destinations. I've used it everywhere, but certainly the Chicagoland area has so much bicycling infrastructure that I've never been unable to find at least a route to consider to get anywhere. Sometimes it is direct and sometimes it is not-so-direct, and I get to make the decision about how far out of the way I am willing to go. It is not without its challenges, but I have found some great rides and errands run that I have done multiple times this way. And of course, the second and third time on a route feels more familiar and becomes easier to navigate. Routes found weren't always obvious, but if you want to see the route hard enough, it will appear!

As for the kiddos, I echo the advice about cultivating an understanding relationship with one's partner or support system otherwise. The younger ages of course make it tougher for carving out your own time, but they will watch you as they grow up and pick-up a few of the things you like to do (and disown others completely in healthy defiance!) and perhaps be out there learning the joys of discovering new routes with you in a few years.

Happy biking!

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