Push Away the Screen: Biltmore Bonding on Bikes

This is part three of a three part series. You can read part 1 here, and part 2 here.

 

During our hike throughout the Biltmore Estate we saw miles and miles of bike paths. James and I were so excited to get out there and cycle, but we were nervous about the kids. Why? Hills. Living in Florida we don't cycle over any hills. And some of these hills were saw on the Biltmore Estate were actually more like mountains and I was scared of the kids going down those!! We've done overpasses here in the Sunshine State and they do okay with those, but it's been a while since we've done one, and Ronin has been stopping his bike with his feet (like Fred Flintstone) and not his brakes, so I was sort of freaking out about his careening down a mountainside on his bike!

The Biltmore Estate offers a TON of outdoor activities. From bike riding, to horseback riding, to kayaking, to skeet shooting, and fly fishing, there is something for everyone!! Because of the odd number of people in our family, and the age of our children, we were limited to only biking, which really is fine with us, because that's all we really wanted to do!

We arrived at the "bike barn" and checked in . I had made a reservation, so they were expecting us. The staff was excellent, making sure that each of us was properly fitted on our bikes, that our helmets were nice and secure, and they had each of the kids take a test lap through the barn to demonstrate that they knew how to brake properly and mount/dismount the bike. Ronin did a great job with his hand brake.

Ella was SO EXCITED to be able to choose a bike with GEARS!! She has been wanting a "gear bike" for quite a while and we thought this would be a good opportunity for her to try it out! Haley refused to give it a try, and stuck with a simple bike.

It took her a few tries to get it just right, and they had to adjust the seat a few times as well, but soon we were ready!

They also gave us step by step directions where we should cycle to avoid getting in to terrain that would be too challenging for the children, and gave us a hand map as well! We brought our own water (they let me know in advance we'd need this!!) and off we went! We were instructed to stay on the green marked path, though we thought we might be able to handle some of the light blue path as well, and would take it on a trail by trail basis! We had 2 hours to explore, so off we went!!

I quickly went to the head of the pack, and watched as James and the trio made their way to me. Why did I go so far up ahead?? Why, to test the terrain of course! I wanted to make sure that there was nothing too challenging or dangerous for my gang, James included! He was riding a bike that he wasn't familiar with and despite my recommendation that he chose a DIFFERENT bike, he didn't listen to me. More on that later Tongue Out

 

Ella was having a grand ole' time changing out her gears!

There were a couple of tricky spots, not with terrain but with having to cross the road! So I'm glad I went first!! Typically when we ride as a family, we are on designated "NO CAR" bike paths, we don't have to cross roads, we just bike. On this path, we had to cross the main Biltmore Estate road, and traffic was quite busy because they were having a motorcycle festival on property, and the bikes were driving pretty fast, and in large packs. Thankfully I was able to get to the stop sign first, get in to the road, and pretty much stop traffic to allow my gang to pass. Then we were back on the paved bike trail and off exploring the property!

As we crossed over this bridge, we came across a bunch of geese just cruising along!! We had 2 loaves of bread back in our room that we knew we weren't going to eat, so we had a discussion about going back to our room after we returned the bikes, picking up the bread and heading back down to feed the ducks! The kids were excited about that. Off we went again on our ride!!

We made it to the end of the green trail really quickly! The blue trail took us right in front of the motorcycle camp, so we decided to head back and see what we could find the other direction!

But first we stopped at the geese again for a water break!

James and I even managed to talk one of the kids in to taking our picture together!

It was at this stop that James mentioned how uncomfortable he was on his bike. Really?? Really?? After I told you to pick something else?? This is where I did my "I told you so, honey" talk. We knew we'd be passing close to the bike barn again, so he decided at that point that he would go and trade his bike in for the one I recommended. This made him very happy.

We took a different path towards the bike barn, and came across the Biltmore Farm! The kids and I stayed here while James rode up to change in his bike.

The kids were in love with this cute little donkey. We was very friendly and just stayed at the gate and let the trio pet him!

James came back quickly and off we went!! We decided to head "off-road" since we all had "fat tire" bikes.

 

I let the family get in front of me, and then they all slowed down, so I took the lead again, and off I went. I was just pedaling along  dodging big rocks, and  low limbs, when suddenly I realized that it was VERY quite. I slowed down, dismounted my bike and realized that NO ONE was with me. Oops. I went to fast and left them all behind. I back-tracked found James and the kids, and the kids were all upset and crying Undecided the off-road path was too hard for them. Their little legs just weren't strong enough to pedal through the rough terrain. Poor guys. I felt so bad for going so far ahead, and I felt a little guilty because I was having so much fun while they were crying. Bad mama. Oops. Tears turned to smiles though as James and I reminded them that we were going to feed the geese after our ride!!

Our 2 hours was nearly up, so we decided to head back to the bike barn! Our return trip took us up a very steep hill. So steep that I had to get off my bike and walk up. The kids walked their bikes up, too. But James...not James! He made it up on his bike! GO JAMES!!

We had a great time biking at Biltmore and I really hope that we can go back one day when the kids are older and do more mountain biking because that was a lot of fun for the short time I got to experience it! I made Ella pose with me for a "bike ride over" photo. She was not amused.

Next up! Geese!!

We went back to our room, grabbed the bread and headed back to the lake. We drove our car since it was getting near twilight and I didn't want to be walking around in an unknown place in the dark. We called the geese over, and some started to come as did some cute little ducks.

But it didn't take long for the whole gang of geese to make their way over to the food!

2 loaves of bread went quickly!

 

The kids loved feeding the geese!! It was cute to watch and there were some goslings (too bad no Ryan!!) in the mix too and the trio kept trying to make sure that they were getting their bread pieces close to those cute babes!

When our bread was out, the geese wanted more and came up on land to see what else we could offer!!

We got in to our truck to head back to the Inn. We had to drive out and back to get to the main road and by the time we got there, this was waiting for us!

Hundreds of geese were foraging on both sides of the road!! I have never seen so many geese in one spot, at one time before!! It was pretty cool!

Overall, our 2 full days at the Biltmore was AMAZING!! We created some great family memories, and it certainly gave me the taste for some more family adventures!! I can't wait to go back when the kids are older and perhaps really bike those amazing mountain trails. I'll have to be sure to work on some hills climbs so I don't have to walk my bike!

 

What's the best family vacation you've taken with your kids?? Do you take active vacations, or do you go to try to relax?

Jenny's Top 5 Reasons to Give CrossFit a Try

1) It's FUN.

2) You'll gain a new social network.

3) STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY

4) You'll get fit FASTER.

5) CrossFit will make you a BETTER person.

Do you belong to a box? What aspect of CrossFit do you enjoy the most? Have you wanted to try CrossFit but haven't yet? What's holding you back?

Push Away the Screen: Biltmore Bonding Day 2

This is part 2 of a 3 part series. You can read part 1 HERE

After our fun first day at the Biltmore, I couldn't wait to get up and explore the property!! But after too much wine the night before, James was moving S.L.O.W. so I took the kids off property and out to breakfast and brought him something back. By the time we got back, he was up showered, and ready for the day!

We decided that we would go and tour the amazing Vanderbilt home: The Biltmore Estate. I should have realized we were in for a crowd when we had to park FAR away and take a pretty long shuttle ride up to the house. Not only that, but we had to wait in line for the shuttle and didn't make it on the first one. Oops. Already James and Ronin were grumbling under their breath about the amount of people there. I told them to suck it up, and off we went.

The girls thought the outside of the house was so cool, but just couldn't understand why one family needed something so large. They were especially impressed by the lion statues around the house.

Our tickets also came with a self-guided audio tour, so we picked up our headsets, we grabbed a kids scavenger hunt sheet and off we went to tour the house. And then we stopped. Lines. LONG LINES! We felt like we were at Disney. It was THAT crowded. My autistic son and his daddy don't do lines very well. Ronin doesn't have the patience, and James has a bad back and can't stand without moving, and folks we weren't going anywhere!! We made it through 2 rooms when we just hit a wall of people. I looked at James, the kids, and I said, "that's it, we're cutting our loses now, let's get out of here." And just like that an executive decision was made, and we politely said "excuse me, excuse me, excuse me" to the hundreds of people in front of us, dropped off our headsets, and high-tailed it out of the house. Tongue Out

As soon as we hit the fresh air, I heard a collective sigh of relief. Our family are such outdoor nature buffs, and that is where we really enjoy spending most of our time. It was 11am, I had packed my backpack full of water and snacks (a mom of Irish Triplets is ALWAYS prepared) and we had the entire day to explore! James and I decided we'd let Ronin be our navigator so he took the map and off we went!!

He had his compass set to find the Bass Pond and nothing would stop him. Except tadpoles.

My kids L.O.V.E. exploring and this trip gave them plenty of opportunities. Just days earlier we went to a series of beautiful waterfalls in DuPont State Forest and my kids found tadpoles in the water puddles.

Eh, whatever. Kids will be kids and they had a blast!

But again, we are on a mission to find the Bass Pond!! Through the beautiful gardens we went!

 

And we stopped to look at a lot of really cool things. Like this Cypress tree. I had never seen so many knees with only one tree!!

Ronin was ahead of us and kept saying "come on guys, let's get to the Bass Pond, LET'S HUSTLE." Hehe...he gets LET'S HUSTLE from me. Wink

But Haley had other ideas.

She found this cute little waterfall that she said must be a fairy waterfall. So sweet.

Finally we made it to the Bass Pond!! And they had a nice bench there, so James sat to reflect.

But Ronin wouldn't let us sit still for long because there was a WATERFALL up ahead at the other end of the Bass Pond and he had to find it NOW!!

But again, the girls had other ideas. Not sure why this one picture is so small, but this was the biggest stump we'd ever seen. The girls tried to count the rings, but Ronin was can you guess? Yes, he was in a hurry!!

 We found it and it was a pretty steep drop down!

By this time we were starting to get hungry for some real food and we still had to hike back to the house. Decision time. Do we go back the way we came, or do we take the challenge and go through some wooded trails. What do you think we did? Of course, we went for the challenge. Up and down mountains we went, but not a complaint was heard. It was beautiful. It was quiet. And best of all? THERE WERE NO PEOPLE on the trail!!

All together we spent about 4 1/2 hours exploring the grounds and along the way we saw trails marked for bikes. We decided that our next adventure would be to go to the bike barn and rent bikes. But first, we needed food!! We took the shuttle back to the car, went to Moe's for lunch, headed back to our room to refill our water and we were back out to explore!

Part 3 of this series will detail our adventures on the Biltmore bike paths!! Good times!

Does your family enjoy exploring nature?