By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano
Long distance self-contained bicycle touring is for much of the population out of the ordinary exotic. It attracts a little bit of attention. Doing the same thing with a family of young children attracts a lot of attention. Maybe I should have expected that.
For us the concept of bicycles as transportation and travel is normal. We never thought it was unusual. Years ago there was a family in the Toronto area living car free. To prove the concept a television station gave them three challenges to complete. They had to go buy all the week’s groceries on their bicycles. They had to bring one of the bicycles to a repair shop for repairs and finally they had to get dressed up in nice clothes and ride down to a park along Lake Ontario for a photo shoot. The online comments reflected the opinion of most that this family’s success at the tasks was a fluke. My children’s reaction to the story was different. They all made the same comment. “Why didn’t they give them something difficult to do?”
Our first tour that included kid power included a seven year old, two five year olds on training wheels and a three year old in a bike trailer with equipment piled up around her ears. On our second day of the tour a reporter passed us on her way to work. Her husband intercepted us as we rode through the next village and asked for an interview. We were interviewed in our tent in a nearby campground. The following day we played tag for half the day with a sports photographer.
We realized something was up as we returned home on the fourth day of the ride. People in cars were pointing and looking at us funny. Sure enough our picture was in the top corner of the front page of the newspaper with our story on page three.
Weeks later on a day trip, we were cycling across the city and were busy fixing a flat tire in someone’s front lawn when the owner came out. She was a sweet grandmother type. She recognized us from the newspaper article and invited the kids in for refreshments.
On our return from a weekend trip two years later a cyclist raced past us on a cross-country tour for a charity called Hope Canada. We know this because his support vehicle had to stop and talk with the unusual sight we presented. They’d never seen a family doing what we were doing before. I hope he found his rider back because the delay got them separated. Hope Canada has a picture of us in their database somewhere.
Years after the trip someone at work told me he had a trailer in a campground we stayed at and said he vividly remembers our stay there.