A Splendid Family Bike Tour

We're grateful to have employees who love bicycling, and grateful too that they can share the fun of cargo bikes and e-bikes with their families. This story is a guest blog from Tess Scholl, a member of the Splendid's extended family. Happy adventure reading!

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After you become a parent you sometimes lay in bed and you say to your partner, "Do you remember when?"

Do you remember when we spent 10 days at Burning Man, or floated down the river summer after summer on inner tubes, or that stunning time when we rode 382 miles from Monterey to Los Angeles CA for our honeymoon? Those were the days back when you thought about it and just did it with very little planning or preparation and mostly all execution.

When we moved to Portland in 2007 we rode bikes every day come sun or rain. After having our twins in 2014 things changed a bit, to say the least. The boys are now nearly four and we still consider ourselves a very active family. We are always off to a different park to explore new and wonderful parts of nature but the big camping trips, long bike rides, and more complicated adventures have had to be realized with a little more intention, planning, and finesse.

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My husband Scott works at Splendid Cycles here in Portland. They specialize in cargo bikes and have a wide selection of e-bikes. Over the last several months I have enjoyed hearing the stories of families coming in and leaving with smiles on their faces and a sense of adventure in their pedals. So, with Father’s Day quickly approaching I decided we should take the leap and plan our first family bike tour.

Two young children, two very packed cargo bikes and two adults with all the camping gear sounded daunting but if you never give something a try you'll never know how wonderful it could be.

As I lay in bed mostly packed for our tour and with the kids in bed filled with excitement, a little doubt started to kick in. I began to wonder if I in fact was a little nutty to think this trip would go smoothly. I hadn’t ridden my bike further than 10 miles in over 3 years, and a typical cargo bike was heavy and awkward and I was not in stellar shape. That said, the feeling of excitement, the chance at giving my children a wonderful experience, and my optimistic attitude saturated those doubts and I went to sleep ultimately looking forward to the adventure.

The Plan:

  • Hillsboro to LL Stub Stewart Recreational area.
  • Miles: 65 miles over two day
  • Average speed: 16 miles per day
  • Bike specs: Riese and Muller (R&M) Load with full suspension, fits two kiddos and R &M Packster 80 with five kiddo Badger wood box and Blaq Packs canopy. Both bikes have Bocsh Performance Line E-assist mid drive motors.

Off to a beyond fashionably late start, we pulled up to Splendid Cycles to pick up our chariots. With some minor adjustments, and tweaks the bikes were loaded in the trailer behind our automobile. Our starting point was our friends' place in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Still slightly nervous I straddled my R&M Load for the first time. I experienced a rocky 15 feet but then, smooth sailing. With a fully packed cargo area and with two loaded panniers on the rear, I was pleasantly surprised at how graceful this machine was to ride.

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The boys were thrilled to be in the other big cargo bike with Papa and ready for what fun was waiting. They rarely miss an opportunity to be on their own bikes and enjoy the cargo bikes with the incident joy written all over their sweet smiling faces.

From Hillsboro to Banks, and the start of the Banks-Vernonia Linear Trail we were guided from  residential into rural landscape. Past fields of wheat and corn, over railroad tracks, and (my favorite) the sweet, sweet smell of fresh growing strawberries. 

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"Honey, do you remember the last time we smelled fresh strawberries on the side of the road? On our honeymoon trip". I was delighted we were re-experiencing the smells now with my two boys in tow. 

The electric assist function of the cargo bike was what made it possible for me to truly enjoy and be fully present on this family journey. My small build and lack of high level athleticism and strength made it essential to have this added assistance. It took a physically daunting ride and turned it into a pleasurable family activity. 

The "turbo" function on my electric assist gave me the boost I needed up the hills and with the thrill down the other side that left only smiles and joy in my heart. The worries of being physically exhausted at the end of the day all but vanished. 

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The Banks to Vernonia trail is a "rail to trail" bike way that stretches 21 miles. Around the 5 mile point we stopped for a visit to Wingham Farms. A delightful encounter with a herd of goats had my boys giggling with joy.  One baby goat followed them around like a puppy. They fondly named her "So CoCo". Spotting pigs, dogs, and baby ducks was just what we needed to break up a day of riding. 

Back on the trail again the boys chatted to each other and I was loving the lush green canopy that hangs over the rail trail. Looking up as the sun streaked through the leaves I felt rain drops on my face. Pure beauty filled my eyes and heart. I felt relaxed and energized, not exhausted like I imagined I would be if I were on a non-assisted cargo bike. To be honest I would not have been able to do it. I would have been crying and defeated, overheated and disappointed. Not today. Today I was all smiles. Electric assist cargo bike for the win!

At our campground we plugged our bikes in to charge. Time for us to relax, eat and enjoy watching the boys as they sped down a huge hill on their balance bikes. Future bike nuts for sure. Camping highlights were searching for Big Foot and looking up at the endless starry night sky. 

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Being outdoors and having adventures is how both my husband and I were raised. I strive to give my children positive outdoor experiences that they learn from and look back fondly on. 

I can say that our first family bike tour was in fact seamless. Our ride home was just as fun for all of us. Just for kicks I would turn off the electric assist. Five seconds later I would turn it back on. I’m hooked on the electric cargo assist bike. It makes me feel free to dream of new bike camping adventures without feeling overwhelmed. 

After having kids we haven’t lost our sense of spontaneous adventure. Now we just have to plan after having a spontaneous idea. 

Splendid is:

The rain on my face, the giggles I hear.

The ease in my pedal, the adventures in my heart.

Splendid is our family's first bike tour.