6 Weird Tricks to a Successful Family Bike Adventure

The end is nigh. We’re starting to feel the pressure as we creep closer to our 5 July departure. And even though I have only packed a grand total of four boxes (all books, natch) I still have the time to make myself a manhattan and grace you all with another post.

Don’t say I never gave you nothin’.

Two weeks ago we conducted a semi-epic mini-adventure to Salt Spring Island in order to work out some of the more glaring kinks in our family biking/camping SOPs. Here’s what we learned. (As an entirely too long and mostly unnecessary parenthetical aside, Salt Spring Island is home to one of the most gorgeous government-run parks I have ever encountered.  Ruckle Provincial Park has 70+ campsites dotting the rocky shore. The views of the Gulf of Georgia are as incredible as they are plentiful and there is a working farm in the park. The kicker: all cars are relegated to a separate parking area rendering the campground as some kind of un-automotive wonderland. If your only camping experience is the typical dirt-driveways-in-a-ring-in-the-woods, this is truly something to behold. Canadians (or at the very least, British Columbians) deserve a medal for this kind of shit.)

Ignore the current weather when deciding on clothing.
Mrs. Mash Tun is a strong proponent of layers. Light layers, heavy layers, medium layers, medium-light layers, etc. In preparation she bought a special-purpose lightweight fleece shirt to fill an unacceptable gap between “long sleeve shirt” and “sweatshirt/light jacket”. At the time I considered such a purchase an extravagant luxury and refused to buy one. What am I going to need a fleece shirt for? It’s 80 degrees outside! Summer is here!

After many attempts of explaining the logic of her layer system to me, I reluctantly jammed a hooded sweatshirt into my pannier before walking out the door. Of course, it was cold enough for it on day one of the trip and thusly I am purchasing a special purpose lightweight fleece shirt to fill an alarming gap in my layers.

Everything takes longer than you think.
Except for, surprisingly, the actual biking. Eating breakfast, cooking dinner, breaking down camp, setting up camp, pooping outdoors… all of these things take a definite amount of time, sans toddler. With the Mini One? There is no longer any practical limit on the duration of these activities. Luckily, our only time limit for this cross country trip will be winter, though I’m not so sure now that we’ll make it…

Don’t wake the dragon.
Mini Mash Tun loves riding on the bike. She loves it so much that she often drifts away to the Land of Nod where she dreams of an endless supply of bubbles and cardboard boxes the size of Clydesdales. But should you wake her she will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger.We learned this the hard way when we stopped to take off the many layers we had assembled in the morning due to an unexpected appearance of the sun.

As a corollary to the Rule of the Dragon, do NOT, under any circumstances, pick up a sleeping toddler unless you are prepared to hold on to her for the duration of nap. Like, all two-plus hours of it. It is a commitment you should not consider lightly.

You are not on vacation.
This was a difficult one for myself and Mrs. Mash Tun to grasp. See, all of our previous bike adventures have been vacations. And we would spend money on them as if they were–beer, coffee and pastries at every cafe, beer, candlelit dinners at cute Cuban restaurants, beer, etc. Now that we are trying to “live on the road” so to speak (unemployed, it should be noted) it will be a challenge to avoid the siren’s call of dining out. Our plan is to learn to embrace the lentil and the oat. They will become our sustenance, our life force, dare I say… our friends.

You are not the toddler. The toddler is not you.
It is easy to forget that Mini Mash Tun is exerting nearly no energy while on the bike. Yes, she has pedals, but her little legs are simply not long enough to make a full revolution. And so while me and the missus are huffing and puffing going 4 MPH up a 15% grade hill, Mini is either soaking up scenery or sleeping. This makes it very difficult to judge exactly how hot or cold she is at any given moment. The confusion is further exacerbated by the fact that while she understands the context of the words “yes” and “no”, experience has taught us that she has yet to fully understand their meaning.

This same sedentary condition also results in Mini having an extraordinary amount of energy at the end of the day, when we are at our most tiredest. We have heard mid-day play time stops are a useful way to mitigate this and we intend to take full advantage of this on our trip.

Take it slow. Don’t rush. Enjoy.
The closest thing to house words the  Mash Tun Clan has are, “If it’s not fun, than you can’t do it.” This trip is supposed to be the embodiment of the journey taking precedent over the destination. Shit, we’ve been to New Hampshire before. We know what goes on there. What we don’t know is everything that is and that happens between the start and finish. That’s what the journey’s for. Go too fast, and you just might miss it.


  1. Amazing. Look forward to following you guys and living vicariously through your Instagram. cant wait to have you down the road!

  2. Can’t wait to follow along on this fantastic adventure! I will be watching with excitement and ok, a bit of anxiety if I am to be truthful. But still very happy for you guys that you are taking such a tremendous leap into the world of adventure!

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