Monday, March 17, 2014

Dads on Bikes Series: Benji Nichols

I've decided to add additional features to the blog project that is Life on Two Wheels! Dads on Bikes and Men on Bikes/Men Involved. So if you are a guy who bikes regularly with their kiddos, are involved in the bike riding community in some shape or form, or encourage your partner/wife/girlfriend to ride-we want to hear from you!
I've known Benji for almost 6 years now, ever since I started working at the Co-Op. He and Aryn would come in regularly and I'm an avid reader of their Inspire(d) magazine!

Not long ago, Aryn and Benji welcomed Roxie to the fold, and this dawned on me: Benji is a known bike rider in town...*bam* Interview him! 
So here you go, our first Dad on a Bike!


How do you transport your child?
Roxie & I giddyup in a used bike trailer (older burley style) and an old Trek 970 that I have dedicated to being a 'kid puller'. That way I'm not always having to hook up / take off the trailer and its set up nice for paved surfaces with semi-slick tires and a little different gearing - 1x9. 

What added precautions do you take when transporting a child or having your child ride with you?
You can't ever possibly underestimate the general publics' absolutely horrible driving habits. Really, people are horrible drivers in general. I found an extra tall fiberglass rod to attach a flag to, in addition to some pink streamers, and I'm not that it actually does any good for driver visibility. You always have to remember that not only are you the eyes for your normal defensive riding 'bike' self, but you are the eyes for your child too - and whatever additional weight / length / time you need to move your bike rig accordingly. NEVER trust that a driver is going to do the 'right' thing- ever. 
  
What is one thing you would like to see different about bike safety/transport in general that would make you feel safer transporting your child via bicycle? 
The larger topic of cyclist visibility is something that our country really struggles with as a whole. I find that riding as little as necessary on main streets is the best way to ride safely with a bike trailer - stick to the side streets, paved trails, etc. 

Have you ever had any close calls while biking with your child? If so, what happened and what was the outcome? Were you fearful to ride with your child again? How did you overcome?
I feel like I have close calls with local traffic about 80% of the time I ride - with or without kiddo in tow. Have I mentioned that in general people are just really poor drivers? There are specific intersections in Decorah that I will avoid at almost all costs rather than pull a bike trailer through. (Knock on wood) I have not bailed with kiddo in tow. You always have to be aware of your surroundings, stopping distance, starting distance, and mechanical abilities of your bike. 

What are tips/suggestions you have for starting a bike riding routine with your child?
Make sure you have equipment that you are comfortable with - bike and trailer. Make your trailer a FUN place to be for your kiddo. Kids tend to love bike trailers - getting to see the world zoom by, talk to their parents while doing it, etc. Also start riding in places you know are safe. The section of the Trout Run Trail from The Trout Hatchery to the Campground is a pretty good place to start with minimal street crossings. Over all, you have to make sure you are comfortable with the concept - if so, the rest will work out.

How do you plan on introducing bike riding to your child?
Roxie has been riding in the trailer since she was 6mos. old. Nobody will recommend you do that - but it provided a lot of naps for her, and rides for me, that would not have existed otherwise.  We have a couple sit on toys here that she likes to ride, and I can't wait to get her on a 'Strider' type rider this summer.

What do you enjoy about bike riding with your child?
Kids are awesome - kids want to have fun. They want to see the world differently - and seeing it from a bike trailer can be a really fun way. Its a great added activity to things like grocery getting or errand running, or just for getting outside! 
  
What would you like people to know about transporting kids by bike?
Don't be scared. Ride defensively. Never assume traffic will look out for you. Go out there and try it. Ask around if you want to try it before you buy something, and don't be afraid to look for used trailers. They can be expensive, and hold their value usually longer than your child will fit in them!

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