Teaching Kids To Link Bikes To Good Living

Ask a devoted cyclist what the one constant is in some of their favorite memories, and it’s likely the response will be something along the lines of, “My bike was always there.”

For most of us, days off, weekends, or vacations are hard to imagine without bikes taking playing a central role in what we’d call successful time off. At some point, we understood that bikes were just going to be a part of the way we describe ourselves. They’ve become integral in who we are and what we do, and we feel we’ve been rewarded many times as a result.

This component in the long-term “Ride of Passage” is not always evident right away in a young mind—the realization that it’s because of bikes that they’ll have some of the most meaningful experiences in their lives—enough that bikes become their vehicle of choice for good living and adventure in the future.

Our cycling-parent friends, Justin and Christina, Madeline and Craig, Butch and Katie, Josh and Alison, Ben and Amy, Mike and Jen, and TJ and Beth have graciously offered their two cents on how they’re presenting this idea to their kids.

What tips do you have to help your kid(s) see their bikes as vehicles for learning/adventure/fun?

Craig & Madeline

Talk about the ride afterward—tell her grandma and significant others all of the things you saw and did on the ride. Beef up how awesome it was, even if you didn’t go very far or fast, celebrate the little stuff.

Butch & Katie

Keller and I rode into Woodside Flats (a long forgotten old quarry south of MPLS) this summer. There were beavers swimming around. He was totally blown away. He had done a project on beavers earlier that year and was really into them. We’ve ridden to parks, and all over south Minneapolis since they could ride so there is some connection to getting around, having fun, and learning.

Alison & Josh

As a parent, your role is to be the catalyst for adventure. You initiate and supervise the getting of radness, but try to let the kids own the adventure.

Jen & Mike

I usually stop in beautiful places, like a sweet bluff and have them look around, and ask them if they would be seeing what they are seeing if we were not biking, i.e., pointing out the access to nature it provides.

Beth & TJ

Just get them out. Teach them not to be scared to explore. You are the example.

What lifelong benefits do you believe your kid(s) will gain by linking bikes and adventures?

Christina & Justin

You have to think that there are lots of decision making opportunities and obstacles to overcome. Each time their brain has to do it, it grows and it becomes easier to make quick decisions in their lives.

Craig & Madeline

A sense of direction! Go old school and pull out a paper map to talk about the trail. Use technology—have them use MapMyRide, take pictures along the way and look at the route when you’re all done.

Butch & Katie

If I can get them to connect the freedom that can be had with using the bike as a tool for transportation through this world I’ll consider my job as a parent to be graded at an A. I feel like I’ve got a back log of places that I’d like to take them to see the bike’s power in action.

Alison & Josh

Everyone needs to know what they are capable of. You will never know how much you can bite off and chew if you have never choked just a little bit. The hardest thing as a parent is watching kids struggle, but that struggle and the ensuing support from parents is key to them developing confidence and tenacity.

Amy & Ben

Riding connects them to their environment. It teaches them independence and self-reliance. I would say one of the best things it has taught my kids is a relationship to where they are in the world. Both metaphorically but also directionally.

Beth & TJ

Cultivating curiosity and encouraging them to see things with their own eyes and not through a screen. Living it. Breathing it. Appreciation of the solo pursuit, but also finding the collective of people that also have that adventurous energy.

What are some memorable activities you’ve done with your kids that were possible because of their bikes/bike rides?

Christina & Justin

We’ve ridden to fish, the zoo, the mountain bike park, gone camping, picked up groceries, etc. on bike. The success comes from doing it all by bike.

Alison & Josh

We love to ride bikes to the swimming hole, to build campfires, and or to the playground.

Amy & Ben

We have been fortunate to have logged enough miles from early ages that now we can do multi-day camping and bikepacking trips. We also have a great time just riding into the woods and cooking dinner by the river over a fire and then heading home. In addition, we have done day riding and packraft trips with my four-year-old since he can fit in the boat with me. We have ridden upstream and then paddled downstream, shuttling back up to the bike. It’s important to be successful in both small and big things.

Beth & TJ

We made biking a part of our Christmas tradition. Since she was born, we ride our bikes on Christmas Eve to our friend’s house for a party. And bring egg nog. We are privileged to live in a bike community, so we have participated in many bike-centric events (birthday parties, dinners, bar runs, etc.).

What has a life with bikes done for you, and have you tried to explain that to your kid(s)? How?

Christina & Justin

It is a healthy lifestyle that has allowed me a means to see the world. Enjoy what you do, and you will live a happy life.

Butch & Katie

Changed my life. I was an overweight preppy dork until I started riding for transportation in college. The decision to buy a bike changed my direction. My kids have met my rad friends from around the country that come and visit to ride and hang out. I think they’ll connect some dots at some point. I guess my biggest explanation for them is to let them see how I live my life. What I’m passionate about and what they see me do is the example of what I believe to be a great way to go about doing things.

Alison & Josh

Much of my cycling has been about racing bikes, and it taught me how to lose graciously and successfully interact with people that I compete against outside of the race. I feel this last part is important given the divisiveness of our society. At the end of every race, I try to talk to my competitors because we all were on a bike ride, and that is a joy without parallel.

Amy & Ben

Bikes have taught me to constantly evolve my understanding of what is possible in the world. I wouldn’t say I so much as talk to my kids about this as much as I try and show them through doing.

Jen & Mike

It clears my head and gives me the confidence to tackle stuff in life. They have their activities that do the same for them, and we talk about how it helps.

Beth & TJ

It’s just been a part of our lives for a long time and explaining it is unnecessary if you live it.

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This post filed under topics: Explore Mark Sirek Mountain Biking Timberjack

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Riemer

Mike Riemer

I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.

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