Biking for Milkshakes

We receive a good number of gift cards to restaurants and retail establishments throughout the year. Planning when to use them can be tricky amidst our busy two-child family schedule. For this reason, a perfectly good $100 gift card to a great restaurant sat in our nightstand drawer for over two years. We finally dug it out in search of something unique to do during our atypically quiet July 4th weekend. The most unique part of our dining experience was not the dining, however – though the food was very good – it was how we got there.

The Not Your Average Joe’s restaurant closest to us is in Watertown, just a short block from the same Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path that passes close to where we live in Back Bay. Biking there seemed to me to be the most fun and logical option. Unfortunately, my 7 year old son did not agree. To be fair, his longest bike ride was hardly 20 minutes, and that was about a year ago. This trip is almost 7 miles one-way if you take the scenic route, along the Charles River. Realizing that we were asking a lot from our kids, my husband and I reset our expectations and agreed that plan B probably involved returning home hungry with an unused gift card.

My kids and husband took bikes while I took my dear rollerblades (we only have three bikes). I used dessert as the carrot. With the promise of an oreo cookie milkshake at the end of our journey, we took off. My daughter, already a confident urban biker, leaped ahead and we struggled to keep up with her and wait for our son. But his beginner moves didn’t last long. Not five minutes had passed when he started hitting his stride and caught up. Surprisingly he seemed to enjoy riding and the challenge of getting to a destination. Not to sound too corny but one of the joys of parenthood is seeing your child display a  maturity and independence you didn’t think they had yet.

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The Paul Dudley bike path should be at the top of the list of Boston urban trails. The trees provide good shade and the path is mostly smooth (from a rollerblader’s perspective). There are certainly some tricky spots. Three of the bridge intersections have no pedestrian crossing infrastructure. We relied on the patience of weekend drivers, triggered from seeing little children waddle across the street. Grassroots efforts have long been underway to address these dangerous intersections by supporting the construction of bridge underpasses. Thanks to these efforts, we should see an underpass at Anderson Memorial Bridge (bridge connecting Harvard Square in Cambridge to Boston) in our lifetime. We got to enjoy at least one underpass at Eliot bridge. It seemed to have just been repaved.

At the restaurant, the kids agreed to share an Oreo cookie milkshake and two ridiculously good deserts: strawberry shortcake and a highly recommended desert called the Peanut Butter Thing. I had to put my lactose intolerance aside to try this one. And now for the gratuitous dessert photo:


The Peanut Butter Thing, NYAJoe’s, Watertown, MA


The ride was highly relaxing for all, especially for us parents who could take a break from the constant micro managing that we naturally do when we stay home. For my kids, accomplishing a 14-mile bike ride was a tremendous confidence boost and a great topic to write about in their summer diaries (and, for me, in my blog). Twas a happy commute!

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