We drove from Oregon, through the coastal range, the Canadian and US Rockies, and even the Porcupine Mountains of northern Michigan before making the jump from road biking to single track. We took the leap at Luton Park in Rockford, Michigan and this is an account of how we got there.
Our kids have been proficient bike riders for what seems like their whole lives. Before HB was even born, we were given a hand me down Strider bike full of good biking karma. He started riding it shortly after he could walk.
He was ready for a two wheeler by the time we moved to Oregon. We were introduced to Islabikes right away and these bikes blew our minds. They were built for kids. The awkward top heaviness of many kid’s bikes was not an issue.
We ordered the smallest model and HB quickly started riding. We were impressed. Despite being two years younger than HB, Grace was desperate to keep up. She walked at eight months and used the Strider bike shortly after.
For HB’s fifth birthday, we upgraded him to a 20” Islabike and gave his old bike to Grace. At just over 18 months old, she had been waiting to ride. My mom helped Grace onto the bike seat and expected to help her learn to ride. Instead, she ended up running next to her as she took off down the driveway. A short while later, Grace was two-tracking through the weeds.
A year later, we were ready for all four of us to have gears. We were convinced that if Grace had gears we could start taking some of the days trips that we imagined.
Islabikes no longer had a Portland showroom and we were lost.
We tried every Trek, Giant, and Specialized in town. HB just wasn’t quite tall enough for a 24 inch bike but Grace was tall enough for his 20”. I started searching the internet.
Prevelo bikes was the first company that I called. I spoke with Jacob, the owner and mastermind. He gave me exact measurement for his bikes. He also agreed to ship it right away so that we could have it before we started our summer road trip next week. I was sold. Digging deeper, I learned that Prevelo participates with 1% for the planet and supports several other like minded organizations. I couldn’t have found a better fit!
The bike arrived a few days later, two days prior to leaving Oregon for the summer. I can’t say enough good things about Jacob and his company. The bike was obviously packaged carefully. It fit HB perfectly. He took off on it and Grace quickly claimed ownership of the 20” Islabike. She had been practicing with the gears and didn’t miss a beat!
We headed North from Oregon to Leavenworth Washington. From there we went further North to British Columbia, South to Idaho, and East to Montana. We crossed the planes, turned North again towards the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, South to the lower peninsula, crossed the Mackinac Bridge and eventually landed at my hometown in lower Michigan.
The bike was in and out of the van most days during this trip.
CD had already decided to introduce the kids to single track once we made to Rockford. Luton Park was where we took the leap. We added my nephew’s bike to the van and headed out.
We pulled the bikes out of the van, looked at the map, and headed for easiest trail. The kids loved it and wanted more. We chose a larger loop and they kept up the enthusiasm. The other bikers that we saw were considerate and supportive of our young riders.
On our second lap, we stopped for a dip in the creek and everyone was happy. We went back as many times as we could during the next week or so and each time the kids got faster, more confident, and more skillful. A few laps on the single track followed by van side apres-biking and I almost felt like I was 30 again!