Trailer Tales

tl;dr too many kids, not the right kind of trailers

Last year, we weren’t able to do much bike riding because the kids didn’t fit in our available trailer space/pulling power equation… During the summer, Tim is usually gone to work, so we only have two adults available to pull trailers on any given excursion (me and Lance). Olin and AJ are both too big for the enclosed trailers, even individually, because they’re simply too tall even if they don’t exceed the weight limit)  and the girls together very nearly exceed the weight limit for either one of the two-wheel ‘little kid’ trailers. I have a 2008 Burley Honey Bee and Lance has a black and red two-wheel trailer that conveniently matches his bike and whose manufacturer escapes me.

Last summer, I bought a Burley Kazoo, a pedal trailer with a higher weight limit to accommodate a growing boy and allow him to ‘help’ while keeping the balance and velocity under the control of an adult. I had to search for awhile to find one that would connect over a bike rack rather than to the adult’s seat post, which was necessary for my short self, since there wasn’t room between the seat and the frame on my bike). Unfortunately, we discovered that it didn’t actually work very well for Olin, because he had trouble keeping his balance (thus throwing the adult doing the pedaling – me – all over the road) and tired very easily from having to hold himself ‘up’ on the bike seat and handlebars. As a contrast, his younger brother does well enough at both balancing and pedaling that I can feel his contributions when he decides to “work super hard on this very steep hill!”

When we were looking for trailers for Olin last winter, I found the Weehoo iGo trailer, which is basically a recumbent pedal trailer. It has a full seat and back for when he gets tired, straps to keep him secure, straps to help him keep his feet on the pedals even when he’s tired, a low profile to ease mounting and dismounting (another problem for Olin) and still allows him to pedal to get the exercise and enjoyment of the activity. These trailers are listed in at least one adaptive and sensory catalog that I know, so it might be legit beyond my “feelings as a mom”.

(As an aside: Olin loves to pedal the Kazoo backwards, or half-back, half-forward because the sound of the gears clicking past is fun to him. If there were a mechanism to make a bike click only when it’s going forward, he would probably be motivated to pedal more! Or other sounds. What an interesting idea to explore at a time that is not 1AM… And in earphones that no one but Olin has to hear!)

Last weekend, Lance found a used Trek pedal trailer for $159.99 (retail new is $249.99 at our bike shop, I think) and is kind of hiding it as a ‘gift’ for AJ. He was so naughty at the end of our last bike ride, we didn’t want to say anything. Lance is at this time hiding it in his Blazer for a Great Reveal on Monday or Tuesday, when we all go out again. This answers the question of where to put everyone in a way, but if you think about it, we now have (on a typical ride):

2 adults (usually)

2 basic pedal trailers with: 1 kid who actually pedal and 1 kid who will tire 5 minutes down the trail and complain thereafter about being tired

2 pull-behind trailers that each seat 2, and 2 little kids who need to be pulled

So the logical combinations are: 2×1 adult/1pedal/trailerwith1baby, or 1adult/1pedal/trailerwith2babies and 1 adult/1pedal.

A side note about ‘baby’ seats on bikes: I have tried a forward-installed child seat for one ‘small’ child, but my bike frame size is too small to allow me to pedal with one on board. Lance uses his bike without the baggage entirely too much to allow a permanent fixture like that, and Tim bikes with us too rarely to assume it as a given place for one kid.

I had a rear-rack-mounted seat for Evie for awhile a few summers ago despite the bike shop owner’s disapproval because she ABSOLUTELY REFUSED to ride in the trailer during that time period. I put a helmet on that child and put her behind me in a secured seat that was just as tippy as my bike was. It worked very well for that short season. I dropped my bike with her strapped in once (at a complete standstill mind you, and not more than a whoops-there-it-goes) and we cried and made a spectacle for ten minutes, but there was no harm done but to the sensibilities of passersby.

In theory, we should be set this summer to be able to put the helpful big kid behind an adult on a pedal trailer with the heavy babies behind (a literal baby train, but I’ve seen it before).

I am pretty sure that given enough practice and exposure, AJ can learn to pedal an appropriately sized bike. I think he has trouble because we don’t have any flat, paved spaces at our house, so he doesn’t have the opportunity to practice on “practice grounds”.

My real concern is with Olin. He loves to go bike riding just as much as the rest of the kids, but he consistently tires out long before the rest of us and complains about a sore bottom and sore back. His diagnoses and special needs have consistently given him large muscle strength and gross motor challenges, as well as attention and motivation issues… But he still asks to go and loves bike riding when we do it as a family.

The long story short: I am trying very hard to find funding for a Weehoo 2015 iGo Turbo for Olin. It is something that he loves, that our family loves and can do along with him, and will allow him to fully participate without giving him pain or exceeding his abilities. [As a long-shot goal, the 2015 Weehoo iGo Duo would allow us to include one of his little sisters on the ride, but will certainly never be covered by anything that is meant to be adapted to Olin only.]

I have several leads that I and his medical/PT team are following, but we haven’t had any success yet. If you have ideas or ways to help Olin, please let me know!


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