Summer is Here

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Bryan Sheffield’s photos and notes on family outings in April and May:

Valley Forge Nat’l Historic Park is one of my favorite places to ride with or without the kids. The park straddles the Schuylkill River Trail about 20 miles from Philadelphia, and has a lot of different paved and off-road trails for cyclists, and hikers. There are two big hills in the park, humorously named Mount Misery & Mount Joy. Both will get your heart racing hiking or cycling up. The 60ish mile long Schuylkill River passes through the park for a few miles also. You can ride from Valley Forge to Philly on a virtually flat and totally car free trail.

A ride we love as a family is a 9 mile loop from the visitor center, over the river, up the river trail, and then looping back through Pawling’s Farm, and a 3 mile gravel/dirt trail along the river. This photo was taken on some single track by Pawling’s Farm. I was excited to use the 16” knobby D’lite tires on the dirt. It was super fun. You can see Alde’s bike sticking out of the back of the trailer. Usually on longer rides like this he will get out and ride his bike for a mile or so, jump back in and yell “Okay. Now go fast, daddy!”, laugh a bit, eat some snacks, then ask to ride his bike again a little later.

The family had a wonderful ride on Mother’s Day this year. These photos were taken at a preserve called Randolph Woods in our town. We all only rode about 3 miles this day, but they were 100% full of smiles. Erin had a blast towing our daughter in the D’lite, while we chased our son on his bike. He LOVES riding his MyKick off road, and the light grade hiking trails are gorgeous and perfect for him.

Ridley Creek State Park is one of our regular weekend destinations. The park has become one of our favorites with the kids and their bikes/trailer because it has a paved road called Sycamore Mills that is absolutely gorgeous. The road is 99% car free. The only vehicles are from the owners of some of the houses that were grandfathered in before the park was established, and the random park official truck. We love that the road traverses through a forest, and also along Ridley Creek at some points. One of the reasons I love it there too, is that the almost car free road has a few hills to it. It is great place for Alden to practice going up and down hill on the bike. We usually have a 4-6 mile ride in the park with the kids, and stop along the river for snacks at some point. When we stop, the kids love watching the ducks and sometimes deer along the river, and feeding their crackers to the hiking dogs passing by.

We went to visit my mother-in-law in Point Pleasant, NJ last weekend. This is her boat dock on a bay that opens up to the Atlantic about a mile camera left. The day before I had asked Alden if he wanted to ride on the dock, and he was very excited about it, and was talking about it in the car on the drive the next day. He knew full well the thrill of riding on wobbly wood, with a drop into water on either side. He knew he needed to watch his speed, and that his shoe-brake would be less effective on the wood. We sat at the end of the dock for a bit and talked about the water. A great lad n dad moment. Gulls & cormorants fishing for crabs around us, dropping them to smash open on the dock. On the ride back off the dock we got quite a few looks from the neighbors that didn’t know us. I like to think of the conversations my mother –in-law may have had the next day about her 3 year old shirtless, PFD & helmet wearing grandson riding his bike on her dock!