Families. I knew we had a lot of families coming for GITy Up! from the registration list. But I didn’t really put together what that would look like.
Like the 3 year old who rode her tiny tag-along nearly the entire 25 miles to St. Charles. It was 96 degrees out.
Like the half-dozen cargo bikes and another half-dozen of trailers full of tots, pedaled by parents.
Like the 20+ GITy Uppers! splashing around in Batavia’s quarry.
Like the six pounds of Hershey’s chocolate and 8 bags of marshmallows that just disappeared Saturday night.
Like the Fox Valley Astronomical Society guys staying out at the campsite until past 11 PM just to satisfy all the little eyes that wanted a peek at Saturn.
Like the Hooks, who posted here a couple days ago: “It was our first ride more than a couple miles together as a family.”
Like Bobbie Mitchell, introducing 13 year old grandson Josh to overnight bicycle touring.
Diane Banta of the National Park Service - Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance program fired her cannon of a Canon in all the right directions to get amazing shots.
The response from GITy Uppers! has been overwhelmingly gracious and positive. It was too hot a day for me to have slacked on route signing—too many folks got turned around, and the way finding on the Illinois Prairie Path and the Fox River Trail is too poor to be a reliable backup. To feel lost in that heat with an impatient kid…aye! The big improvement to look forward to next year—AWESOME route marking.
As for next year: the original plan for GITy Up! was to move it around the state year to year, to explore all of the state’s available opportunities for overnight, trail-based bike touring. I think we’re going to capitalize on our lurch up the learning curve, though, and return to the western suburban triangle in 2013. I’m so thankful for the riders who eagerly asked me to add them to the GITy Up! 2013 planning team.
Thank you everyone for an amazing experience!
Standing room only at REI-Lincoln Park’s GITy Up! Overnight Touring Class (there’s one more in Northbrook next Thursday)—I counted 40. Smitty, REI’s own legend in residence, led the class through his own experiences with routes, gear, checking for sprinklers before setting up camp, carrying ice so you’re always ready to buy beer, and the secret joy of camping in graveyards. He was great!
Nick, who runs the bike shop services at REI, came up for a moment to watch, and asked me to stop by the shop before I left. He and his family are signed up for GITy Up!, and he told me how awesome it was to have a bicycle ride actually invite him to bring his 1 1/2 year old along.
It’s something we thought about when planning this ride—there’s a huge niche for the family friendly bike adventure. Will County’s Ride to the Rock (rolling tomorrow) packs over 2000 people of all ages onto their trail system. Illinois families want safe corridors for biking, walking & running!
I knew our ride would appeal to families, but I admitted to Nick that I was caught off guard as to how many registered GITy Up! riders were bringing kids younger than 6—it’s more than 30%. That’s 20 families so far. If that trend holds, we could have 80 families with yungins’ in tow. We’re going to have to load up on more marshmallows, more chocolate, more graham crackers…no faces shall be clean, no hands unsmeared with s’more goo!
Trails guy Keith N. from Lemont sent me the picture at the top. Boy, that’s the GITy Up! right there for a whole lot of folks. It just makes me smile. Almost as much as catching our poster on REI’s bulletin board.
Do you have a kids on trails or kids in trailer picture to share? Please post it!