For her eleventh birthday my daughter, Jessica, wanted to plan her own party. Her idea was to have her friends join her for a birthday bicycle ride beach party.
We were lucky to find invitations in the shape of bicycles at the local party shop. Inside Jessica wrote all the important details such as: date, time and where to meet. She was sure to add that they should bring a bicycle, a towel and sunscreen, and to wear their bathing suit underneath their clothes.
Jessica and I arrived at the meeting spot a little earlier than everyone else on the morning of the party. I brought individual bottles of water for everyone and bike packs (the ones that attach to the handlebars of a bike) I found at a sporting goods shop . All four girls arrived in a mini van. One of the dads, Scott, had volunteered to bring them and their bikes to the meeting site. He unloaded the bikes from the rack on the front and helped the girls check their bike's tire pressure. He used a hand pump to fill one that was low. Scott and I discussed what time and where to meet at the beach; he waved good-bye to the girls and drove off.
I gave each girl a bottle of water. All I had in my backpack was snacks, a first aid kit, a disposable camera, towel and sunscreen. I asked if everyone had applied sunscreen as I took out mine. One girl had forgotten to bring hers so I let her use mine. While Jessica was putting an extra dollop on her nose, she started talking like a surfer chick making us all laugh. She's such a comedian!
Before we set out I made sure all the girls knew the rules of riding a bike on a trail and who has the right of way. I took extra time explaining why they had to call out to runners and other bikers, "on your left", when passing and to be careful coming up behind equestrians and also to allow them to cross the trail first. I wanted to make sure this day would be safe for everyone and teaching the girls trail bike safety was the first step. The only mishap was when Alice got a little ahead of the group and forgot to warn someone that she was passing. Fortunately, she didn't run into anyone but she slid into a bush when she put on her breaks to avoid crashing. She didn't suffer any injuries--except for being a little embarrassed.
The ride was three miles, which is a lot for four eleven-year-old girls, but our pace was a leisurely one. We made a few stops to rest have some snacks and water, but I thought they held up great.
Around 2:00p.m. we arrived at the beach. My husband Ken was waiting for us. He had already spread out the blanket, carried the cool box from the car and started cooking hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. The girls were thrilled as they hadn't expected real food for lunch especially hot dogs with everything. Ken had brought onions, bacon, and even chili in disposable plastic containers. As Jessica was getting a coke from the cool box she shrieked when Ken put a piece of ice down her back. Everyone thought it was very funny especially when she got him back when he was busy turning the hot dogs on the grill.
Instead of a birthday cake, Ken had brought fairy cakes he picked up at the supermarket bakery. Each was decorated with a miniature plastic bicycle, and surfboard.
After lunch the girls stripped to their bathing suits and played by the sea. Ken and I sipped wine and watched Jessica and Sarah make a huge sand castle. I took lots of pictures with my disposable camera. Jessica kept running into the frame, trying to get into every picture.
As the afternoon turned to evening I could tell the girls weren't looking forward to the ride back. Jessica recognised Scott's mini van as it pulled into the car park. The other girls started cheering and jumping up and down. They were so happy they didn't have to ride their bikes three miles back to the trail's beginning.
The party turned out perfectly and Jessica fell asleep immediately after getting home. I doubt she has had that much exercise and that much fun in a long time. Ken and I have started thinking it might be fun to go on a bike ride some Saturday, as a family.