Monthly Archives: February 2012

Family Bike Touring: Character Building on Wheels

Yesterday I began a post about our summer bike tour. As the post progressed, I realized it was becoming bigger than just recounting our trip. It was more about the lessons we all learned. As parents, Tim and I want to teach our kids about character and grit, and bike touring is a great way to accomplish that.

(continued)

…How many of the character traits have I covered so far?

Riding into townWith two kids along for the ride, bike touring is even more challenging. Because bike touring involves some suffering and grit and our modern-day, middle-class kids aren’t accustomed to that.

Karen Fierst, a teacher who oversaw the character program  at Riverdale, reflected in the aforementioned NYT piece:

“Our kids don’t put up with a lot of suffering. They don’t have a threshold for it. They’re protected against it quite a bit. And when they do get uncomfortable, we hear from their parents. We try to talk to parents about having to sort of make it O.K. for there to be challenge, because that’s where learning happens.”

Yes! I completely agree. Suffering is OK, it’s where learning happens. Continue reading

Bike Touring with Kids (building character one pedal stroke at a time)

Too many months have passed since we returned from our family bike tour last summer to justify a trip report. But I think just enough time has passed to allow me to reflect on the experience and look forward to the next one. 

IMG_0006Last summer we loaded up Tim’s Big Dummy (with most of our gear), the tandem (equipped with 3 Ortliebs and a bucket pannier) piloted by Anne and the 8-year-old and the 10-year-old’s bike (toting her clothes, sleeping bag and thermarest) and  pedaled away from our house on a sunny Saturday afternoon in August.

We ended up in the San Juan Islands 5 days later.

SunsetThe family spent 5 more days camping, relaxing, reading, playing on the beach and enjoying the tranquility of Lopez and San Juan Islands. We then hopped on the Victoria Clipper and motored back to downtown Seattle (covering the same distance on the passenger ferry in a few hours that took 5 days on the bike).

The trip came to an end after a 5 mile ride back to our house in North Seattle on a quintessential Seattle summer evening.

Sounds nice, huh?

Recounting the trip in that manner makes it seem like a piece of cake. We pedaled, arrived 5 days later, hung out on the Islands for 5 days and took a ferry back to Seattle.

Truth be told, there was plenty of suffering mixed in as well. And some grit and definitely some character building.

This  NYT education piece about education, failure, building character and ultimately success reminded me of bike touring.

(stay with me for a bit). Continue reading

Brompton: Take it in? Or lock it up?

BromptonsTim and I have a difference of opinion when it comes to Bromptons.

When he rides the Brompton, Tim forgoes toting around a heavy U lock and frequently chooses to take the bike with him when he arrives at his destination. In a shopping cart, in the corner of a restaurant or in a waiting room at the doctor’s office, Tim’s choice is usually to tote and stash the bike. Continue reading