Mom motorcycling, part 2

Oops, I didn’t realize my part 1 of Mom Motorcycling thoughts was 2 months ago already.  Time flies!

As I mentioned last time, there are two categories of “riding while being a mom” that take more prep work than you’d think.  Time to talk about the logistical/physical part.  Disclaimer: any “clever” comments about the breastfeeding section will be summarily deleted.

First, the most obvious (to me): post-partum discomfort and how long to wait after childbirth before riding.  There isn’t a whole lot to really say about this because I SO did not want to climb onto a motorcycle for a while anyway.  I could barely walk for a week, then stairs were fun after that, and by the time I thought that maybe riding was even remotely physically possible, I was practically at my 6 week post-partum checkup anyway.   So, for me, I just waited until that 6 week appointment and asked my doc if it was cool if I started riding again.  I got the happy OB-Gyn OK, and then got on the bike.

So, OK, now I’m riding again.   The next logistic issue that I was only marginally prepared for (and I wouldn’t have been prepared for AT ALL if I weren’t lucky enough to have had a riding buddy who had a baby four months before me — hat tip to Becca) was breastfeeding.  See, in my mind, I figured, I would feed the baby and if I was out riding, she would get a bottle!  It’s so easy!  Of course, I hadn’t really planned out two things: (a) how she was going to get the milk for that bottle and (b) it really fricking hurts if you don’t feed a baby all day.

Obviously there has to be pumping going on.  I wound up with two pumps for motorcycling (see how I can make any post about gear shopping?):  a Medela Harmony manual pump and a Medela Swing single electric.

Why two?  The Harmony is my go-to pump.  For the day rides I’ve taken, this one works really well.  It weighs almost nothing, it’s super easy to use, and it takes up very little space in the Givi bag.   However, for all-day rides and future overnight trips, it would be a literal pain.  Pumping manually is tough on the forearm after a while and doing it multiple times per day for multiple days in a row sounds counterproductive to keeping the clutch/brake wrists and arms happy.  So I splurged on the Swing as well, to bring on longer trips.  It weighs a little over 2 lbs but packs up pretty small (especially if you use batteries instead of the included wall charger).

So, part of my riding gear is now the pump, a couple of empty bottles, a small cooler, and an icepack.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone on a ride and forgotten at least one of the above.  Even the Harmony pump has three parts to it and I’ve forgotten a part more times than I want to admit to.    Pro tip: DO NOT FORGET A PART TO YOUR PUMP.  If you are out in the middle of nowhere on a ride and it’s been 4 hours since you pumped and you do not have all of your parts, you will have an amazingly miserable existence.   I’ve gone out of my way to Babies R Us stores in weird cities in the middle of rides just to buy forgotten parts so that I am not in agony for the rest of the day.  DO NOT BE DUMB LIKE ME.  I now make a checklist for myself the night before and force myself to adhere to it in the morning before leaving for a ride.  I cannot be trusted to remember those three pump parts and nothing ruins a ride like angry boobs.

So, OK, now I’ve remembered my three parts and I’m on a ride and I’m really in a groove and…oh, hey, look, it’s time to stop and pump.  The frequency of stopping depends on the age of your kid and how much s/he eats, but you pretty much have to pump as often as you would have been feeding them, which sounds totally obvious to me now but I really had no idea.  I try to time it so that I pump at the same time as I stop for lunch, since I’m stopping anyway.  Then I have one more stop around 3pm.  Each stop takes about 20-25 minutes with the manual pump (not counting eating lunch or taking photos or whatever). The manual pump requires both hands to use, so…uh, find somewhere scenic so that you have something decent to look at for 25 minutes.

Becca laughed at me in our earliest conversation about this topic because I had this completely hippie earth-mother idea about finding roadside parks and flowers and trees and pumping IN NATURE, MAN.  I admit that I do try to do this.  It works sometimes.  I vastly prefer finding a nice out of the way spot in a secluded park, or alongside a rural road with no traffic, etc.  Sometimes, though, you make do with what you’ve got and I’ve definitely had some annoying times smooshed into public restroom stalls and being very disgruntled about that whole experience.  Also, I’ve learned to take weather into consideration when I’m on the bike.  You can’t wear the heated vest while pumping and while a wonderful ocean vista on a deserted beach sounds like a very hippie earth-mother place to pump, when it’s 50F and windy, it’s not as romantic.

So, that’s my brain dump on the physical logistics of mom motorcycling.

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