Category Archives: Bikes

The Art (and exercise) of Bicycles

Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world. ~ Grant Petersen


I like bicycles (part 2). The theme of my household this weekend is bicycles. I have written about my love for bike riding in a previous post complete with an itinerary specifically for San Diego. I also shared a fun experience in Austin at a bicycle festival called Tour de Fat. After riding our bike along the river to this quirky, colorful extravaganza, we were amused with fun bands, extreme costumes, silly shows, old school lawn games and humorous attempts at riding odd bikes (as seen in the picture). I even remarked to my boyfriend, “This would be perfect for San Diego.” Then, as if on cue, we walked past a booth selling t-shirts with the tour schedule on the back. The festival had been in San Diego earlier that month. I have excitedly waited 11 months for the Tour to come back around to San Diego, and that time is now!

The San Diego Tour de Fat festival kicks off with a bike parade this morning at 11:00. Anyone can register and join the procession, and costumes are encouraged. After the parade, which rides along 30th Street in South Park, the majority of the action will take place in Golden Hill Park. Check out the map on their website for more detailed information. The festival is free, but there are booths set up by local biking organizations that sell (or allow you to make) creative goods for a small fee. And, of course, because it is sponsored by New Belgium Brewing Company (Fat Tire), there will be beer for sale. These profits are also donated to local biking organizations. Despite the festival being created by a brewery, the Austin event last year was quite kid-friendly.

The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine. ~ John Howard

I am embarrassed to admit that my boyfriend and I will be driving a car to the festival. However, on the way we are heading to the Mission Bay Triathlon expo so my boyfriend can check in for his first triathlon sprint, which is tomorrow and will include close to 10 miles of biking. Even our dog will be getting in on the biking action this weekend, and no he is not a small dog that fits in one of those doggy strollers. Tucker is a strong, fast German Short-Hair Pointer that requires extensive exercise. He doesn’t actually ride a bike, but rather alongside it. We get a lot of curious looks when we go out for a bike run, but it is great exercise for him. For those of you who aren’t in San Diego, here is the remaining Tour schedule for 2011.

  • 10/8 – Los Angeles, California
  • 10/15 – Tempe, Arizona
  • 10/22 – Austin, Texas

Other cities on the tour include Durham, Nashville, Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Boise, Ft. Collins, Denver and San Francisco. Mark your calendars for next year!

For those of you in Dallas, they had their own bike parade today as a kick off to their Art in October celebration. The event called Art in Motion included bicycle decorating (and a contest) with a parade to the free museums, food trucks and other festivities.

If you need a little adult time, check out the Museum of Photographic Art’s POP Thursday event on Thursday, October 20, which is themed Greatest Hits of the Bicycle Film Festival.

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike. ~ John F. Kennedy

UPDATE: Sunday, October 2
I attended the Tour de Fat festival in Golden Hill Park and found it to be less family-friendly than Austin’s event last year. Due to strict alcohol laws, the festival had to be divided to accommodate a beer garden, rather than simply giving bracelets to those 21 and over. This meant that the stages and some festivities were contained inside the beer garden but alongside the fence to allow families outside the beer garden to enjoy the shows. The games, food, crafty booths and bike-riding corral were accessible to those outside of the beer garden. Next year, I would recommend families join the bike parade or dine on 30th along the route to enjoy the show.

Just one of the many wacky bikes you can ride at a Tour de Fat festival, and yes, all those tires rotate.

Family Bonding with Bike Rides

I like bikes. I remember the feeling of accomplishment when my dad let go of the bike and I was riding all by myself for the first time, but I think we forgot to discuss how to stop! Occasionally, my family would pack up our bikes and drive to a special bike path that was built into an old railway. We would ride for an hour or so and end up at a little old-fashioned ice cream parlor, where we would refuel with a cold treat before riding back to the start. I loved the feel of wind in my face, and when I dared, the freedom of riding with no hands!

I have always loved cities that provide some sort of trail system for walking, biking or skating, which are generally along waterfronts. Here are my favorites:

Portland, Oregon
One of my favorite bike rides as an adult was in Portland, which is known to be bike-friendly and has one of the highest bike commuting rates. The majority of my ride was not on the Eastbank Esplanade along the Willamette River, but actually through Forest Park to St. John’s bridge and back along the east side of the river.

Austin, Texas
Austin has hike and bike trails along Town Lake, but the paths near Barton Springs can get pretty congested on weekends. I found the northeast side of the lake to be a faster trail for bikes. This ride took me to a New Belgium Brewery festival called Tour de Fat, which is all about “the positive societal offerings of the bicycle.” There were games, interactive art and many, many unique and interesting bicycles.

Yosemite National Park
Rent bikes at Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, grab a bike path map, and pack a picnic lunch for an enjoyable bike ride through the Yosemite Valley.

San Francisco, California
This bike ride started at the piers, rode along the harbor, crossed the Golden Gate bridge and ended in San Marino with lunch before a ferry ride back to San Francisco.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
This small island town near Cancun is less than 5 miles long and less than a ½ mile wide, so my bike ride spanned the entire island from the few touristy hotels on the north end to the Mayan temple on the southern tip.

Durango, Colorado
My ride in Durango was a short one through town, but the city and surrounding area seemed to be popular for mountain biking. There is also the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic event in which riders get to race a train from Durango up the mountain to Silverton.

Itinerary:
Research trails near your city, pack a picnic lunch, and head out for a family bike ride.

San Diego, California
Bring your own bike or rent one. Then start your ride near Seaport Village (note bicycling regulations along the boardwalk). Enjoy a coffee, sweet treat and shopping before or after your ride. Click here for a San Diego region bike map.

Option #1: Ride your bike along the harbor, past the airport, under Harbor Drive bridge and across the pedestrian bridge to Liberty Station, where there are a number of restaurants to dine for lunch.

Option #2: Ride your bike a short distance north to the Broadway Pier ferry landing or south to Embarcadero Marina Park South/Convention Center ferry landing. Buy a ticket and board the ferry to Coronado, where you can take a 7-mile trip around the entire “island” and enjoy lunch and shopping at the Old Ferry Landing Shopping Center before heading back on the ferry.

Try This:
1. Discussion: Relive the experience at lunch or dinner by having each family member share their favorite part of the ride. If everyone has multiple favorites, keep going around the table until you have shared them all. Try not to repeat a part of the trip that someone else has already shared, so each person has to come up with something different!

2. Map your ride: Work together as a family to create a collage of the trip on a big piece of poster board. Start with a map of the area (harbor or Coronado) – print one from the Internet or grab one from a visitor center. Draw your route and add images from tourist brochures, photographs or family drawings that show things you saw on your ride. You can even add bicycle images with headshots of the family.

3. What if…bikes could make ice cream? As a kid I would flip my Big Wheel Trike upside down and pedal with my hands to “make” ice cream. Play the “What if” game by imagining different functions a bike could perform. Check out this website for some inspiration, but beware of the “Chick Bike” if you share the photos with your kids. Here is a website with photographs of bicycle-powered sculptures.