Have you ever been to a family bicycle camp?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Claire Petersky, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. I had never been to a family bicycle camp. OK, I had never been to any
    bicycle camp. Family camps, yes. I've done them through religious
    organizations, and I've done them through Camp Fire USA. But this was the
    first time to try a family camp through our local bike club.

    We had already spent nearly a week on Vancouver Island (see my post to
    rec.bicycles.rides under the Galloping Goose thread, for example) before
    coming to camp. I thought it would be easy to get from Vancouver Island to
    Orcas Island, where the camp was held. After all, they're not that far
    apart. As it turned out, it was more difficult than I thought.

    What we ended up doing, after much logistical analysis, was to first drive
    (we had the car at this point) to Sidney. We unloaded the tandems from the
    top of the car, saving us the overheight charge. My daughter and I walked
    the bikes on (paying a nominal bicycle charge) instead. Then we took a ferry
    directly to Anacortes. My daughter and I walked our bikes through Customs,
    and then we found a convenient parking spot in long-term parking and sat
    ourselves in it while my husband and other daugher sat in the long
    automobile customs line. Our hour and a half turn-around time had nearly
    evaporated. My husband zoomed into our reserved parking spot. We had already
    separated out our belongings out of the suitcases and into the panniers the
    night before, and good thing, too, because we had to quickly take them out
    of the car, load up the bikes, and then ride on to the ferry at the last

    Then we took a more "local" ferry back to Orcas, doubling the amount of
    travel time and distance -- but it was the only way that really worked. Upon
    arrival at the Orcas ferry, we dumped the luggage on to the luggage truck.
    Because the purple tandem had a mechanical problem, it also went on the
    luggage truck. My husband and younger daughter went on the bus.

    Rose, who is nearly 12, got on the yellow tandem with me. If you've ever
    bicycled on Orcas, you know that nothing is very far from anything else, rea
    lly. The big issue is the hills. The climb out of the ferry is significant.
    I've looked at a topo, and you do nearly 400' pretty quickly. Then it's
    upsy-downsy for quite a while, losing and gaining such elevation at a
    distance that even in the tandem you aren't going to build enough momentum
    on the downsies to be able to simply swoop up the upsies. In other words,
    not a panty-waist ride, even if it is only about 10 miles to camp.

    Rose and I arrived just in time for dinner to be served. My husband and my
    younger daughter, Emma, had already dragged the rest of the luggage to our
    cabin and set it up. We sat down as a family to big plates of spaghetti.
    After dinner, David got the purple tandem over to Wildlife Cycles,
    (http://www.wildlifecycles.com/) where they stayed open extra just to fix
    the bike. This is our second experience with this bike shop, and I have
    nothing but good things to say about the shop, and the guy who runs the
    place. They have great service and a super attitude.

    The next day, we were scheduled to have a beginning marine kayak lesson in
    the morning. Then, after lunch, I was to lead the family bike ride to
    Eastsound and back. After breakfast, we met at the Marine Center and got our
    paddling instructions. Then we took off to ring around the nearby island and
    go to a point to see if there were any seals there. David was in a kayak
    with Rose, and with his powerful barrel chest, had no problems paddling with
    her back to camp. Me, with a hollow chest and spindly arms, with Emma, were
    among the last of our pod of kayaks. In between the first of the group and
    the last, a wind and a current started up, and we could not get out from
    beyond the point. We'd paddle with all our might, and then see that we had
    made no progress. Finally, one of the staff members who had remained behind
    with us advised us to give it up. We then paddled around the other side of
    the point, where it was sheltered. I would have been more nervous to paddle
    so close to the rocky cliff, but since the water was calm, I didn't have to
    worry about being dashed against them in the surf. We finally did see seals
    resting on a ledge, and huge purple sea stars. We pulled up the boats once
    we were able, and then gingerly worked our way (Emma and I were barefoot),
    through barnacled rocks to a pebbled shore.

    The staff member who was with us, Nick, made jokes about Gilligan's Island.
    Emma was wet and cold, and her lips were a little blue, but she refused the
    offer of my fleece coat I was wearing. We cuddled, and she slowly began to
    warm up. Me, I was warm and relatively dry, and I was glad that at least I
    had brought a water bottle with us.

    Lunch time came and went. I began to realize that maybe I wouldn't be there
    to lead the family ride at 1:00 PM.

    Finally, our rescue boat arrived. It picked us up, and one other family that
    also got marooned, that group just near the tip of the point. We motored
    back to the dock. My husband was there, waiting for us, and let us know that
    he had set aside food for all of us from lunch. Emma was still cold and a
    bit damp, and I suggested that we both have hot showers before eating. By
    the time we had cleaned up, changed our clothes, and sat down to lunch, it
    was 2:00 PM, and someone else had long since lead the family ride away from

    So we didn't ride that afternoon. We kind of hung out and took it easy. Rose
    did a trail ride on horseback instead; Emma made a pot in the crafts
    building and me and her worked on lanyards in a convivial way.

    After dinner, we saw a camp fire program with local First People's costumes,
    dances, stories, and songs. Then we worked our way up to a lodge up on the
    hill to see the Triplets of Belleville on DVD. By the time we finally made
    it back to the cabin, quite late, we were completely zonked.

    The girls were scheduled the next morning to go to a class for kids on
    riding faster and longer, but as it turned out, they ended up playing Life
    and Death in the Forest instead. My husband and I packed up, which for some
    reason took us a huge amount of time, and cleaned up the cabin. We dragged
    the luggage back to main camp. We drifted over to the Advanced Bicycle
    Maintaince Class (taught by Nick from Wildlife Cycles) to borrow some tools
    to do some last minute work on the purple tandem. Then, with some
    trepidition on my part, after reviewing my written instructions ("DO NOT GET
    ON THE FERRY WITHOUT US") aloud with both girls, and handing them a cell
    phone, David and I took off on the purple tandem.

    We then rode together with great spirit back to the ferry terminal. With
    Rose it took me and her about 90 minutes to do the ride, but with David and
    I, it only took an hour. We haven't done such a hilly tandem ride in a
    while, and I felt like we rode like a strong team. Only downer was that
    David got stung by a yellow jacket along the way.

    We just had time to eat our sack lunches when the bus pulled up with our
    luggage (huzzah!), our yellow tandem (huzzah!) and best yet, our kids
    (huzzah! huzzah!) I admit that I was a little worried about them managing
    without us, but they were like champs. We then got on the ferry together to
    get back to Anacortes, our car, and then home.

    So, after several days of Family Bicycle Camp, we ended up doing no
    bicycling as a family :-D I did the most cycling of anyone, so I guess I
    made out like a bandit. Emma, who didn't really want to do any bicycling, as
    she told us before we left, also made out like a bandit, as the only
    cycling-related activity she did was watch the Triplets of Belleville. And
    we had done some bicycling together as a family on Vancouver Island before
    camp (see the ride report on rec.bicycles.rides under the Galloping Goose
    subject line), so it isn't like bringing the tandems on our vacation was a
    waste. There were also many rides and classes that were offered at various
    times that we simply didn't avail ourselves of. Camp Orkila has such
    wonderful facilities, it was easy to get lured into non-bicycling
    activities. We can do a tandem ride together any time, but doing a kayak
    trip that involves being marooned on a rocky shore -- that's a rare

    Would you want to try Family Bicycle Camp? They're going to hold it twice in

    Warm Regards,

    Claire Petersky
    please substitute yahoo for mousepotato to reply
    Home of the meditative cyclist:
    Personal page: http://www.geocities.com/cpetersky/
    See the books I've set free at: http://bookcrossing.com/referral/Cpetersky

  2. Sorry to follow up on my post here, but I thought I'd add this link to the
    topo, just in case you were interested:


    You can see Freeman Island, which we ringed, and Point Doughty, where we got
    caught in the currents. Also, if you mouse around the topo, you can see how
    steep the roads actually are.

    Warm Regards,

    Claire Petersky
    please substitute yahoo for mousepotato to reply
    Home of the meditative cyclist:
    Personal page: http://www.geocities.com/cpetersky/
    See the books I've set free at: http://bookcrossing.com/referral/Cpetersky