Along for the Ride
September 8, 2001
With options like “sports utility” and “all-terrain,” Ed Crislip’s customers might think they just walked into a car dealership.
But if they listen carefully, they’ll realize the bike expert is referring to the latest in baby joggers and bike trailers.
Exercising outside with children has never been easier for parents who don’t mind pushing, pulling and pedaling their way to better health courtesy of their toddlers.
Children are becoming a bigger part of parents’ workout regimen, Crislip said.
The owner of Sore Saddle Cyclery meets many parents who are looking for a way to exercise and still spend time with their children.
“There’s such a wide range of customers,” Crislip said. “You’ve got the dad who just wants to take his son along on a bike ride and then there’s that diehard mom who doesn’t mind pushing her baby on her run.”
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A baby boom in the Steamboat Springs area a few years ago brought in many first-time customers to businesses that offer the specialized fitness equipment, he said.
“I sold this stuff like crazy,” he said. “It’s been steady ever since.”
Baby joggers provide a more rugged version of strollers and parents can accessorize with fleece seat cushions, rain covers and sun shades.
Two large wheels in the rear lift the seat off the ground, and a shock absorption system ensures a smooth ride for children.
Fitness-oriented parents are the jogger’s best customers, Denis Campanali, a bike mechanic with the Ski Haus, said.
“They want to run, and they don’t see a problem with that extra weight to push,” Campanali said.
Baby joggers, which can cost about $350, can run the gamut from top-of-the-line to less expensive models, he said.
One baby jogger can even be attached to the rear of a bike and pulled, he added.
Parents who want to play chauffeur can use a trailer that attaches to a bike’s frame.
One or two children can ride in comfort in certain trailer models that provide padded seats protection from the heat and cold, netting to keep out bugs and dirt kicked up from bikes.
“It’s like riding in a limo,” Crislip said. “You can get extras like tinted windows and air flaps. It’s rough.”
Trailers, which run from $280 to $400, also provide a healthy mode of transportation, Campanali said.
“Save some gas money,” he said. “Trailers have extra room, so go to the supermarket and pull your kids along and then carry your stuff back without ever getting in your car.”
Trailers ensure the safety of their tiny passengers, he added.
If a bike with an attached trailer fell over, the trailer would remain upright, thanks to a hinging system that provides give and take, he said.
Another option for parent and child is a bicycle built for two.
“Tagalongs” refer to smaller bikes that can be attached to a bike. Children feel like they are pedaling, when mom or dad is really doing all the work.
“It’s for that child who is teetering between training wheels and just learning to ride alone,” Campanali said.
The two-in-one bike is popular with people from out-of-town who want to rent a bike, he said.
“It can be kind of scary to go racing along the bike path without mom and dad nearby in a place that you’re not too familiar with,” he said.
Finding a used jogger or trailer at a less expensive price can be difficult.
Parents shouldn’t worry about investing in joggers and trailers that their children will outgrow because the resale market is so good, Crislip said.
Child seats offer a final alternative for parents who want to bike with their children.
While joggers and trailers have curbed the demand for child seats, area businesses still offer a few models.
Megan Richard uses both a jogger and a baby seat.
Like many parents, she enjoys biking and running on the bike trail with her child.
Her son Tanner, who is 20 months old, has been a faithful passenger since he was an infant.
“From the crib to the jogger to the bike, he has always gone along for the ride,” Richard said.
Now that Tanner is old enough to accompany his mom on her bike, he prefers sitting behind her in the seat to riding ahead in the jogger, she said.
“He gets a little too bored in the jogger,” she said. “But either way, he keeps me company. It’s always nice to have him with me when it gets a little lonely on the trail.”
And when the elements finally force the most die-hard parents inside, the kids can still come, too.
The Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center provides a day care for parents on an hourly basis.
Assistant day care director Jodie Stradlin said that parents appreciate the convenience.
“We don’t really have anything structured because kids are going in and out all day long,” Stradlin said.
“But it’s enough that kids are entertained while mom and dad get in some exercise. Everybody leaves happy.”