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A Gift of Friendship
From 1906 when US Department of Agriculture official Dr. David Foster first imported one hundred flowering and weeping cherry trees from a nursery in Japan to plant on his property in Chevy Chase, Maryland until the 1912 gift of 3,020 trees from the people of Japan to the people of the United States, there was an ongoing effort to bring the beautiful trees to our nation’s capital.
Today, the majority of DC’s iconic cherry blossoms can be found decorating the waterfront of the Tidal Basin and extending along the banks of the Potomac River to Hains Point. During peak season, the blooms provide beautiful frames for DC’s monuments and memorials.
A Ride Amongst the Blossoms
A mere twenty-eight years ago, the blossoms were nearing the end of their peak when on April 12, 1992, Bill and I took our young sons Joseph and Daniel to see the Cherry blossoms in Washington, DC. We’d purchased two new hybrid bikes and a Burley bike trailer (affiliate link) the previous summer, and together, they provided the perfect transportation for making our way through the city.
We spent many hours pulling our sons behind us and this particular trip stands out as our favorite ride. As we tooled along with our little helmeted tots in tow, many tourists seemed more interested in pointing to the cute little passengers than looking at the cherry blossoms.
At the time, bike trailers were more of a novelty even though Burley had been manufacturing trailers for about fourteen years. The bright yellow and red canvas structure on wheels with a tall waving flag overhead caught the attention of even the most oblivious tourist, and of course the chubby handed waves from our little passengers were hard to ignore.
Questions and Answers During Our Picnic Lunch
We stopped along the Tidal Basin for a lunch which most likely consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with grapes for dessert – favorites at the time. While chatting with a group of cherry blossom visitors who were from the mid-west, we answered questions about the Burley and chatted while describing how much the boys enjoyed going on rides and how most rides ended with the their heads bobbing as they napped, lulled asleep by the gentle swaying of the trailer.
We chuckled later when we thought of tourists returning to their hometowns excitedly telling stories of little tykes riding in a trailer behind a bicycle rather than describing the beauty of the cherry blossoms whenever they were asked about their trip to DC.
The Burley Story
The Burley story started in 1978 when Alan Scholz started selling bicycle bags out of his home. After relocating to bicycle friendly Eugene, Oregon, Scholz needed a way to transport his young daughter and bicycle bags approximately 30 miles from his new home to where he sold his bicycle bags each Saturday morning at an outdoor market. Applying the same ingenuity he’d used to design his bags and using old swing set and bicycle parts, he designed a trailer to pull behind his bicycle.
As Scholz and his daughter tooled around town in the newly built bicycle trailer, it caught the attention of local cyclists who wanted the same convenience for towing their children. Soon orders began pouring in and the Burley trailer (named for his wife, a bicycle racer nicknamed Burley Bev) became a part of the local landscape.
Leveling the Playing Field
While Bill pulled the 20-pound trailer filled with 70 pounds of cuteness, I struggled to keep up. At the time, my running routine consisted of shorter distances and was hit-or-miss at best. My level of cardiovascular fitness was nowhere near where it would be in just a few short years once I started running longer distances so I was thankful that Bill’s speed was slowed by the precious cargo he was pulling.
Our Burley Lived On
After our sons outgrew their Burley, we loaned it to our brother and sister-in-law who towed around our niece until she outgrew it. Once they returned the trailer, we sold it at a yard sale. Even with hundreds of miles under its wheels after being used for several years, it was still in remarkably great condition and I hope that it made at least one more trip to see the cherry blossoms!
- • Have you ever had the opportunity to visit DC while the cherry blossoms were in bloom?
- • If you have children, do/did you have a trailer or child’s seat on your bike?
- • If you’ve ridden with a child seat behind you, is it harder to balance the bike?
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