Friday, July 27, 2012

Bicycle Beauty

This beauty recently entered my life.  Meet my anniversary present.  Isn't she lovely?  She needs a name.  Don't you think?

We decided a few months ago that we're going to officially be a bike family. Our new neighborhood is beautiful and brimming over with inviting sidewalks.  In the evenings we've been leaving the phones at home, getting out of the house, and taking to the streets.  Together.  About an hour before the sun goes down we load em' up and move em' out.  It feels marvelous outside in the late evenings.  We wave at our neighbors.  Notice houses, gardens, and yards we've never noticed before.  Sometimes we ride fast, racing - legs burning.  Boys yelling.  Sometimes we coast - legs simply along for the ride.  All feels quiet.  I feel fully alive.

Can someone remind me why kids are supposed to wear helmets these days?  I never did growing up.  Ever. Wearing one feels hot and takes away from feeling free.  It feels like wearing a 'schweddy' head bra.  As a family, we've never been big on bikes before.  This is brand new to us.  I'm sure there's a lot of statistics and terrifying public service announcements I could watch to convince me helmets are necessary for every neighborhood bicycle excursion.  Heck, I'm sure there are public service announcements and news stories that could convince me my kids should be wearing helmets to bed at night.  In all seriousness I feel out of the loop when it comes to bicycle safety.  Convince me.  Educate me.  Go easy on me.  I'm listening.  If these fears are legitimate I'll invest more energy in making sure the boys wear their helmets every time they ride (it's hit or miss right now).  If this is simply another odd way we are being conditioned to become overly fearful and see the outdoors as dangerous, then meh - I'm going to be more lenient.

As my kids are spending more and more time outside, there's always this tug - wanting them to be free, to explore, to fall madly in love with nature, to feel comfortable and at peace while they are outside - and wanting to keep them safe.  That balance between unsubstantiated fear (one too many Lifetime movies) and responsible parenting seems difficult to find.  Do you feel that way too?

Do your kids wear bicycle helmets every time they ride their bikes?  Do you?

We're also in the market for a bicycle seat for Hudson.  Got any pointers?  The one we inherited from a friend does not work for him.  He's four, but he weighs less than 40 pounds.  Tall and skinny.  Can he still go in a seat on the back of my bike, or do I need to use one of those trailer contraptions?  My fingers are crossed hoping he can hang out in a seat on the back of my bike.  

While riding we have found several hidden treasures near our home.  Perfect trails.  Parks we've never explored.  The boys have a whole list of places they want to visit this weekend on their bikes. And when I say list, I mean they actually have a long list written down on paper after spending a solid hour on Google Earth. My kids dig a list.  

Got weekend plans?  We're making friendship bracelets with some friends (duh, who else would you make them with?).  Last summer when we were staying at the farm, my sister-in-law bought all the supplies for friendship bracelets.  I thought for sure her girls would be the only ones crazy about a jewelry-genre art project.  I thought for sure my boys would make a bracelet to be nice - but then be done with it.  For sure - I was wrong!  They loved the art and work of making designs for themselves and their friends.  We could easily declare last summer the summer of the friendship bracelets.   

We'll be falling hard and fast in love with the Olympics tonight, and I think we'll spend another weekend on our bikes.  It's habit forming.  After watching the Olympics, I'm sure we'll ride extra hard and extra fast.  Isn't that the way it goes?

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race."  -- H.G. Wells

How about a few weekend links?

I love this army man remix.

This is dreamy.  Who wants to pack up and go?

This is obviously not her day.

I'm making this again this weekend.  Try to stop me.

Do you have a Lowes in your town?  These really are fun - and free.

When I'm riding my bike, this is what I feel like on the inside.

This is cute.

This article about the Olympics made me all kinds of teary and hopeful.

This is such good news for African mothers.

Speaking of helmets, Hayden has called dibs on this one.  Ashton on this one.  Have you seen these?

Could every parent in the world please read this?

Have a beautiful weekend!


Katherine Willis Pershey said...

Your bike is fabulous!

I am a big proponent of bicycle helmets. I never, ever ride without one, and I won't let my daughter either. I actually just realized that it isn't Illinois state law for minors to wear helmets - it was the law in California where we came from. I have to get Juliette to stop loudly shouting THAT WOMAN IS NOT WEARING A HELMET!!! whenever someone rides by unprotected.

I think it's the equivalent of a seatbelt. Once you get used to it, no big deal. I had a bike accident as a kid and got a bad concussion. It is just so easy to fall off (or worse, be hit by a car) and brain injuries are no joke.

thevalb said...

I'm so excited that you guys are riding bikes! Maybe one day you'll want to ride 112 miles. :)

Anyways, I don't have any hard and fast opinions on wearing a helmet. I didn't wear one when I was a kid, but now anytime I'm riding more than just around town (running errands or visiting friends) I'll wear my helmet. Essentially, if I'm riding more than 10 miles or riding on mountain bike trails, where there is a high likelihood of falling, I'm wearing a helmet.

But here's a biking safety rap (seriously, watch it,) -

Kirk said...

Why in the world would you NOT want to model safety for your kids by wearing a helmet yourself and insisting that they do also?!

Closed head injuries are not a thing to tempt by not wearing a helmet.

My wife and I grew up not wearing helmets either. Both of us sustained concussions in bike accidents as kids.

Freedom? Wind in your hair? Avoidance of a head bra? Come on! Get real! You only get one brain. Use the one God gave you and protect it!

Hendrick Family said...

Wow, Kirk. Way to go easy.

Val - my weekend can officially be declared "made" with that video.


r. said...

I absolutely wear a helmet every time. I wore a helmet even when I wore my hair curly and it ended up a plastered mess when I arrived for class every day (in law school). I have mental health issues as it is, I don't need a brain injury to make things more difficult. And one thing that has become apparent in the last several years is that even minor concussions (i.e., from youth sports, war-related, etc.) may have a bigger impact than people ever realized.

Now I will fess up to this--If I lived in some bike-friendly cities in Europe, I might not wear a helmet. Partly due to peer pressure (nobody wears a helmet there) and partly because it just might be safer there, where cars are accustomed to bikes, bikes are respected, there are clear road rules that everybody knows about, etc.

But here? Absolutely wear a helmet. And make sure it fits--get help if you need it. And if you feel yourself wavering in your conviction, know this: I have ADHD and I get behind the wheel of a car. I've almost hit cyclists multiple times, even a few who were following the road rules--because in the U.S., as drivers we're all conditioned to look out for other cars, not bicycles (or even pedestrians). And as I cyclist, I've almost been hit, many MANY times in the one-year period when I road my bike regularly.

And honestly, yeah it's inconvenient, makes you feel less free, and makes the experience less exhilarating. But the same could be said about condoms. Sometimes safety is worth the hassle. it's important for kids to get that message too.

Hendrick Family said...

Thanks r. Great information!

Each of our kids has a helmet and wears one probably as often as they don't wear one. I'm just needing a kick in the pants to stay on top of it every time we ride.

Thanks for your input! It's helpful.


bridgetdeyager said...

So I've been reading for a long time, but haven't commented before (found you through mutual friends in Haiti!) I'm a speech therapist, and based on the traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients I've seen, I now always wear a helmet while biking. The effects of TBI can be devastating (think wheelchairs, tube feeding, etc.), and can happen at low speeds. On a bike, it may have nothing to do with you either, but might be a distracted driver or some other hazard you can't anticipate.

I also bike, so I totally hear you on how uncomfortable you are. I was also really convinced by a bike safety class I took--it was a Traffic Skills class by the American League of Bicyclists through our community education. I learned that the #1 way to get into a bicycle accident is by riding on the sidewalk (it's actually safer to ride on the street where you're more visible to cars).

Anyway, I love your blog and will keep reading whether or not you guys wear helmets. :) I would love it if you did though (pretty please?)

Jenny said...

so fun, we are a biking family and LOVE it (we live in Bryan too). My husband grew up biking 50 miles just for fun around San Antonio (can you imagine, he would ride on the frontage roads) anyways that was a long time ago. But he insists on a helmet was one of the only people who would wear one at A&M b/c he was hit by a car as a kid (on a neighborhood street) and his helmet saved his life, he went flying and the helmet cracked in half (not his skull). So helmets are really important to him, he could probably convince you better but that's the jist of it, if you fall and hit your head you could do serious damage.

we use a trailer for our youngest kids and we all really enjoy it, but it is stinking heavy to pull! I pull the trailer and my husband pulls a third wheel bike thing my 6 year old rides on (she can't ride w/o training wheels).

anyways would love to hear any great rides you discover!

Hendrick Family said...

Thanks, Jenny!

The other day we rode in Camelot Park. It even sounds dreamy, doesn't it?

There is a trail that goes through the woods. It was so beautiful and unexpected it literally took our breath away.

The trail ends on a very long stretch of sidewalks. We had a lot of fun riding in the park and the surrounding neighborhood.


Carrie said...

We always wear helmets. My husband was hit by a car once while riding a bike and the doctor said the helmet probably saved his life. He bikes to work every day and won't do it without his helmet. He even wears it when roller-blading! (Geeky, I know, but whatever.....) said...

We love this for our 4 year old for longer rides - I don't think they make a seat big enough but they can just sit and hold on to this (no need to pedal if they don't want to.)
Also I have been reading your blog for years - love your heart for justice and the poor. I feel silly my first comment is about a bike when you right so many moving things.

Molly said...

It all depends on your neighborhood. If its in its own space away from traffic and does not see a whole lot of traffic, I don't feel helmets have to be on...but I live in a beach town, A LOT of traffic and crazy drivers...Id be an idiot to not wear my helmet and quite frankly I don't ride a lot because I get scared.

BTW - What about Ms. Zinone or Cool Rider! :D

lisa said...

Your 4 year old can learn to ride--really he can. My kids did at that age and they are not the athletic types. forget searching for a bike seat and spend time working with him to get rid of training wheels and join you. Unless he has a physical disability, he can do it. Most kids in Europe are riding at age 3! Have fun on your bikes! We are a bike family too, and don't enforce the helmet rule when in a safe or quiet neighborhood, but yes when we go out on the busier streets. We did enforce the helmet rule at all times until they are really comfortable and stable on the bike, like age 5 or 6 maybe.I understand your dilemma re: safety and freedom and you express it well!

Will and Vanessa said...

ps- I have lived in two European bike friendly cities and they DO wear helmets!

Staci Thetford said...

I wear a helmet now because my husbands makes me. (Just being honest) He was in a bike accident in college (no cars were involved he just lost control and fell over the handlebars head first onto concrete) he received a serious concussion and still has a jagged asphalt tattooed scar on his forhead 9 years later. Little old ladies walk up, spit on their thumbs and try to wipe it off, to no avail. Or people think he's celebrating Ash Wednesday year round. He was lucky he just got a scar and concussion, but to hear his parents tell the story, they were terrified while waiting in Dallas to hear what his condition was post accident in Atlanta. Just a thought.

Covey and Justin said...

As far as Hudson goes they have these really cute little things that hook on to the back of your bike. He has handlebars and wheels and pedals of his own but you control it. is one I see on Amazon. We got ours off Craigslist for about $20. Works great for our 3 and 4 year olds.

Hendrick Family said...

You guys are the best. I had no idea about that cool behind the bike contraption! Hudson would feel like such a stud.


Jess said...

I bike commute every day. I wear a helmet. I have yet to be involved in a serious collision, but as much as I ride and in the traffic I ride in, I know it's probably only a matter of time.
I also work for a lawyer who specializes in personal injury for cyclists who have been involved in crashes. Please please wear a helmet. For half of our clients, if they weren't their injuries would be far worse than what they already are. And yes - some people are just riding along quiet neighborhood streets. But cars back out of driveways. People open doors without looking.

r. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
r. said...

Will & Vanessa--

Thanks for the info. It's been about 10 years since the last time I was there!


Annie Bakaleinikoff said...

I hate wearing them. I wear one. I make my kids wear them. Every time I think it's a giant pain, I think of my coworker, who lost her husband a couple years ago when he was going around a curve and his wheel stuck. He went over the handle bars onto his head. She was able to get to the hospital before they took him off life support to harvest his organs.

samsmom said...

I hate helmets too, but we wear them. I have a 32 lb 4.5 year old who uses the wee ride trailer mentioned by a few people above. Decent price and he loves it!

Rachel said...

That's a big yes on wearing helmets. All of us! I've been in and witnessed too many bike accidents (not caused by me) to not wear one. Especially since my helmet (thankfully not my head) was scratched, dented, or cracked on many of those occasions.

As a side note, I always felt like a very secure cyclist when I walked into class drenched in sweat with helmet hair and and dent in my forehead. :)

Kayla said...

I'm a big believer in bike helmets. Too many kids and adults around where I live get serious head injuries/get killed on bikes, trying to cross streets and get hit by cars. Without a helmet, those serious/fatal injuries wouldn't have happened with a helmet. After having a kid from my church die this year, I'm even more of a pusher of helmets.

After that intense comment, I love that bike. You should name is Sweet Pea!

Beth said...

Sigh, I never wore a helmet as a kid either, fought it in my early teens when my parents finally decided I should. My brother got hit by a car, but he was fine overall. He was about 16, and he was not wearing a helmet.

Tragically my best friend's sister died in a car/bike crash. She was not wearing a helmet; she was thirteen. Her family misses her everyday.

My son tried to ride yesterday without his bike helmet buckle buckled. He heard it from me!

I wouldn't mess around with bike safety.

Have a wonderful time riding.

Adge said...

Is it not illegal in Texas for a child under 12 to ride without a helmet? It is in my state so that's reason enough for me to require my kids to wear them.

Hendrick Family said...


It's not a law in Texas that kids have to wear helmets. I actually didn't know it was a law anywhere until this post. You learn something new every day!


Peggi said...

Check out this blog an you will know why you and the kids should wear helmets. Here daughter was wearing a helmet when she crashed her bike. She ended up with a fractured skull and a tramatic brain injury. It has take 3 years to heal. Very scary.

Mrs. H. said...

I love your bike! <3

Sharon and Manuel said...

Oh my, Heather...I'm right with you about helmets. Never wore one, dont' own one. Nor have I ever made my kids wear one...really just never even thought of it. We just moved to the states from Costa Rica and have really started to ride bikes a after all these wear a helmet or not to..that is the question? I just never ever even considered it until I saw these post...but maybe I should consider it.


Cycling Solutions said...

Your family is as awesome as that bike! And getting a bike is definitely a good decision!