Bicycle Built for Half

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My daughter Ariel and I began trailer biking when she was five. We would rent a trailer bike and head out on the 5.5-mile long Stowe recreation path. She was delighted by leap-frogging from training wheels to the sensation of a speedy two-wheeler, skipping the asphalt-pounding dues one normally has to pay to experience this rite of passage. I enjoyed being able to peddle with her five miles to a swimming hole. We both liked being close enough to talk and tell tall-tales while logging miles. The only major drawback I've discovered is that Ariel has become spoiled by convenience: the trailer biking has muted her determination to learn to ride a two-wheeler (our next project)!

We have expanded our trailer biking adventures this spring. Living in Vermont, most of our rides include some amount of dirt roads. The trailer bike handles the uneven terrain reasonably well. The fully hitched bike-and-a-half setup handles a bit like a train: it wants to go straight and does not like being suddenly thrown off its line. When Ariel wobbles in the back, I feel the disconcerting sensation of being tipped from side to side.

Riding in the rear, Ariel can space out and take in the scenery if she wants. But our rule is that she has to peddle up hills. Pulling 70 extra pounds (50 lbs. of kid and 20 lbs. of trailer) up a mountain is no easy stroll. However, with just a little assist from the rear, the uphills can be much more casual. The best part of the trailer bikes comes on the flats: for the first time ever, my daughter can push me.

Now that's a development that holds great promise!

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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