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Doing the school run… by bike

Doing the school run… by bike

ebiking

This is not our route to school. I wish it was.

I’m in training.

Not a charity marathon, or half marathon, or triathlon, or any of that stuff. Oh no. I’m training so I can bike up the big hill to my son’s school.

He’s off to elementary school in the autumn, and through the unfortunate nature of school zone boundaries, we are at the bottom of the catchment area and the school is at the other end. Points A and B also manage to span a large hill.

In a perfect world, we would have an e-bike, or a cargo bike, or a cute bakfiet, or something along those lines. We would also live on the same level as the school with nothing but separated bike lanes on tree-lined streets, if we’re going to go all imaginary perfect world here. But nope, it’s 15 blocks of up hill, albeit on low traffic bike route streets.

My plan, right now, is to get to the point where I can cycle up this hill myself, on my own, by the beginning of the summer. I can just about do it now, but it feels like my heart is exiting my chest through my ribcage when I get to the top, and my quads are quivering like coatless chihuahuas in an air conditioned Starbucks. I’d like to do better than that.

The second step is getting my son up the hill with me. He weighs about 40 lbs now, and that’s without any contraption to attach him to my bike. We have a single MEC trailer, but it weighs a metric ton. The plus side with the trailer is there’s space for his bag, and it’s dry when it rains. Down sides are weight, plus the annoyance of having to head home to drop it off before I do anything else.

It would be great if he was comfortable with a trail-a-bike by the time we roll around to school time. I think it will be lighter, and I’ve heard there are ones where they can help with the pedalling. And not with the braking, which would be very, very bad. My favourite right now is this Weehoo I-Go, through the completely unrealistic method of reading reviews on the internet.

Why am I doing this? Well, several reasons. I want my son to think of cycling as a viable way to get places and do things. I don’t want us to become isolated in our car all the time, going from place to place in our little bubble. I don’t want to waste fuel going up and down this hill four times a day. I think cycling is such an important part of the transport mix, and I need to put my two wheels where my ideological principles are, as it were.

So, my friends who cycle places with the 5 year olds and older, what are your secrets? Am I crazy for trying this? Actually don’t tell me that. Only tell me good things.

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iPad app review: Endless Alphabet

Quick, go download this app and then come back and read my review – it’s free right now and I wouldn’t want you to miss it.

Endless Alphabet is a neat phonics app for kids. Simple yet engaging, like all the best apps for children, it presents a word in colourful letters, only to have all those letters scattered by a charging mob of monsters. This makes Elliot giggle every time. He then drags each letter back in place (not necessarily in order, thankfully) to match a pencil outline. Each letter makes a silly noise that corresponds with its phonetic sound as he drags it, as well as dancing around a bit.

When Elliot finishes putting all the letters in place, not only does a nice Sesame Street-like voice say the completed word, but there’s a little animation to explain what it means. We’re not talking just ‘cat’ and ‘flop’ but lovely juicy words like ‘hilarious’, ‘bellow’ and ‘gargantuan’.

Within two minutes of playing this app, Elliot was saying the letter sounds along with dancing letters and giggling as two monsters lifted a block together to demonstrate ‘cooperate’. The animations are beautiful and quirky, and the voice over is professional. I love this one.

Hilariously, Elliot loves the comedy error noise so much, he misplaces letters just to hear it. *eye roll*

There’s no age range on the description, but I’m thinking preschool/kindergarten is probably the best time for it. The words are big enough to keep older kids interested, but even at 3 years old, Elliot finds it entertaining. It’s available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Endless Alphabet is developed by Calloway Digital Arts. Free right now! 

Disclosure: None, I saw this on the app store and downloaded it myself to check it out.

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