We made a Very Important Decision to get fit, and after a bit of research realized that biking is the best way to go about getting fit with kids in tow. We therefore got 2 mountain bikes, a Topeak baby seat, and a Burley Bee 2-seat bike trailer, and have what you might call the bicycle minivan. In fact, one person can take all 3 kids, though it's easier if they can be split between 2 adults.
This is what a bicycle minivan looks like.
But I digress. Today we had an outing to Sequoyah State Park, which has everything you might want for a bike outing with kids: hills, trees, gorgeous views of the lake, paved paths, a playground, and ice cream.
I don't know if you can see, but at the north part of the park is an entrance with a visitor's center. We parked there, and then jogged across onto the little dotted line bike path that heads off to the east. The first portion of this bike path is unpaved, and I'm sure it's lovely in the summer when the weather is a little drier, but in January when the ground is soggy this bit is not. fun. It wound around swampy areas and over little wet-weather creeks, and my tires got so bogged down in the mud that I had to get out and walk several times. Fortunately all the creeks were narrow enough to step or jump over without sinking up to my ankles in mud and water, since riding through them wasn't going to happen. Granted, I might have had a better time if I hadn't been pulling the Burley Bee trailer, which is probably not meant for off-roading. (It performed admirably, though, besides the expected backwards drag. It never made me worry that it would fall apart or break on the dirt trail.)
After a while the bike trail hits an old road that doesn't seem to ever be used anymore, and from there it becomes much easier. It's hilly, and since I'm seriously out of shape I had to get off and walk my bike up quite of the few of the hills, but they will definitely be manageable once I'm in a bit better shape.
Presently the old disused road hits a new, paved path that seems to be popular among bikers, hikers, skateboarders and roller bladers. The views are beautiful, the pavement is well maintained, and it makes for a really enjoyable little trip.
Ryan and Ion outpacing me
The trail continues down the peninsula, passes the nature center (where there is a bald eagle that was rescued from some accident, had to have a wing amputated, and is living out its days in comfort and luxury because dogs aren't the only animals that sometimes need to be rescued), and ends at the resort at the bottom of the map. We were crossing our fingers that the resort restaurant would be open so we could have some ice cream ...
...and it was!
After that ride, I was famished and had a burger, which confirmed me in my belief that the deliciousness of a hamburger is inversely proportional to the dignity with which you can eat it. For the record, the hamburgers at Sequoyah State Park resort have a eating-dignity rating of zero. Ryan said his taco salad was delicious as well, so really it was kind of the kids who missed out since all they got was ice cream and my french fries.
I was worried about the ride back because c.f. the point about me being really out of shape, and I even joked with Ryan about how he should ride back and bring the car to pick me up, but I didn't really mean it and we missed some of the biggest hills by sticking to the road for the most part. The ride back actually took a lot less time than the ride down.
Which doesn't mean it was particularly easy. And all those toxins being released from my body burning fat caused my brain to go crazy with negative emotions, as it does every single time I exercise (and now you no longer need to wonder why I'm out of shape), which did periodically lead to crying and/or yelling until I downed a bottle of water to dilute the toxins and flush them out. And magically, every time I drank a bottle of water, it was like a light switched the sanity back on. So I may have inadvertently stumbled upon the solution to my fitness woes this trip: brain craziness = dehydration.
Anyway, after all those hills, many of which I ended up walking my bike up again because I'm flabby, I saw the most beautiful sight in the world.
I was pedaling when I took this picture though, so victory for me!