Traveling to Races with Kids

Last night we packed up our car almost to the max with two bikes on top, the double chariot in the back behind the kids with gear and bags everywhere in between. After a pit stop for dinner in Canmore and another one along the side of the highway for Nico to puke everywhere on top of me (ugh! carsickness or a random bug I’m not sure) we made it halfway to my next race venue and it is funny to think how much more orgnaization it has taken over the years to get to races as I’ve changed sports and now added kids to the fun!

My pre-race checklist sure has expanded since I began competing as a runner in junior high! I will always love the simplicity of running. All you need to remember is your shoes, and running gear which is so easy to pack  anywhere! Although on one memorable occasion at one cross-country race in University I did actually forget my race spikes and ran the entire 5 km with my feet swimming in larger spikes borrowed from a male teammate.

When I got into mountain bike racing after finishing my undergrad degree, I was a little overwhelmed with all the new things I had to learn on top of just staying my bike and “keeping the rubber side down” as they say. I suddenly had to learn how to maintain a bike. Although I’m still not a very good mechanic I at least know the basics pretty well like fixing a flat, changing a tire, fixing a chain, and how to keep my bike clean so it was ready to go for race day! And then there is the gear to remember: helmet, glasses, gloves, extra tubes, tires for changing trail conditions, bike pump, CO2’s for race day, gels, and bottles for race day. Plus good race preparation involves riding the course and learning all the technical sections for race day, not just a short run with few strides like before my track races, ha!

Doing Xterras and triathlons the gear list increased again to include swim gear, run gear, and “transition gear”, things you want to have on hand in the transition area between swim to bike and bike to run during the race like a towel, extra food and drink. And when you add babies and kids into race plan the usual mommy checklist has to be added as well!

As with any new venture I started by making an actual list which eventually turned into just a mental checklist and now with much practice with all of the above checklists I’d like to say I’m able to remember most things automatically! Over the past 3 years traveling to many races with kids, most of them being on the plane and few pieces of gear have made things a little easier when packing the kids such as:

1. The Chariot Carrier is great for getting around on rough ground at a race venue. Believe it or not, the single chariot can even be checked at the gate when boarding a plane. Or if you prefer you can pack it in a travel bag and check it. My double chariot when packed in the travel box is almost as big as my bike but it gets checked for free because it is a “stroller”! Otherwise, any stroller in which a little one can nap it works great!

2. The Ergo baby carrier is great for carrying a little one around at a race, on your front as a baby, and on your back up to 3 years old it is still very comfortable! JF has done some good cheering running around with Zoe or Nico on his front or on his back this way!

3. When I had to start paying for Zoe’s seat on the plane when she turned two years old I discovered a great gadget for wheeling her carseat to the gate called a go go babyz. It is a set of wheels that hooks on to the back of most carseats and easily unhooks to store in the overhead bins once on the plane. It is great for 2-3 year olds + who don’t stay in their seat on the plane very well.  By bringing the carseat they stay put easier, and it makes it way easier if you have second little one on your lap!

Its still fun to see the looks we get at the airport when showing up with a bike box, the double chariot travel bag, a couple of car seats, and suitcases – I could probably write another entire post on airplane adventures with kids, ha!

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