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Messages - nancysv

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Youth Bicyle Travel / Re: taking the family across the country?!?
« on: April 02, 2012, 05:46:23 pm »
Do it! Just do it! You won't regret it and your kids won't regret it either.

We've now cycled 27,000 miles together as a family - including a jaunt from Alaska to Argentina. Our twin sons are now 14; we started touring when they were 8.

The best preparation for a tour is as many saddle hours as you can fit in. That said, you'll get in shape on the road if you can't ride a lot beforehand. Just plan for short days when you start and you'll be fine. The physical fitness issue of touring is really a non-issue. I know that sounds odd, but biking is one of those things that you'll get in shape doing it. Don't let that one hold you back. Even your kids can do it if they want - it's way more mental than it is physical.

As far as equipment - nice equipment is nice, but not essential. Go with bikes that are comfortable for you. Going across the USA you will never be so far from a bike store that you can't hitch in if something does happen so don't worry about it. If you were going to go to outer Mongolia I'd say go with the best, but for what you're doing, don't worry. Just make sure everyone is comfortable and you're good to go.

About what the kids can handle - it depends on the kid. When we first took off when our boys were 8, we had them both on a bicycle built for three with their father as the captain. That worked beautifully.

The boys were 10 when we left Alaska for Argentina. At that point, one of our sons was ready for his own bike, so we put him on a single. The other boy was nowhere near ready so he rode a tandem with his father. It was perfect for both of them. My point is that kids are all so different that age has little to do with it - one twin rode his own bike through 15 countries; the other would have killed himself within a few miles if he tried it. He simply wasn't ready physically or emotionally to handle the stresses of it.

One of the things we did with Davy (on his own bike) was to sandwich him between us when we went through cities. My husband went first with the tandem so that Davy could watch what he was doing. I was behind Davy so that if he started doing something stupid I could yell at him. We only had one situation where we needed that - John could safely get over into the left lane so he jumped out, Davy followed but the car was too close. Cars started honking their horns and I started screaming and Davy jumped back over to the right. We talked with him a lot about how he - and he alone - is in the that particular place in time and space and he needs to always check for himself rather than blindly following Daddy. After that we didn't have any more problems.

The speed issue won't be much of an issue. People are inherently cautious and will hit the brakes when they are going too fast. As you gain skill and get to know exactly what your bike can handle, you might speed up but it's downright scary to go too fast and those brakes are right there. If you're concerned about the kids not knowing what they can handle, mandate that they stay behind you and then you can set the speed.

I think you're bang-on on the timeline. 3 - 4 months should give you enough time to get across the USA. It really depends on how much you want to pedal. We've found we've slowed down a LOT since we first started touring. We now do around 500 - 600 miles/month rather than the thousand we used to do. That gives us more time to play, which is what we want.

Good luck with planning! It'll be a BLAST! Feel free to send me an email to familyonbikes at gmail dot com if you want. We've got tons of info at our website ( as well.

Youth Bicyle Travel / Re: Youth Cross Country Tour in 2010
« on: December 29, 2009, 07:27:32 pm »
Go for it Mfriedl!  It'll be wonderful.  As for your 12-year-old - you'll have to make the decision based on his personal strengths and aptitude.  We are now touring with our 12-year-old twins and one of them is on a tandem with his father while the other rides his own bike.  The one on the tandem still can't handle his own bike for any length of time, but the other one has ridden his own bike from Alaska all the way down to Ecuador - starting from when he was 10!  Good luck!

Gear Talk / Re: Trekking Bars?
« on: December 29, 2009, 07:24:38 pm »
I've been using the butterfly bars for the past 20,000 miles or so and love them!  We took off on tour years ago and I had the standard mountain bike bars - after a couple months my hands hurt so badly we nearly had to call the trip off.  I raised my bars up and switched to the butterflies and it mostly took care of the problem.  We continued on for another 10 months after that, then took a year off.  Now we've been on the road for 18 months and I am still very happy with my butterfly bars!  I discovered that piling about 5 layers of bar tape on them so they are nice and fat makes them very comfy.

General Discussion / Re: General Age Range of the TransAm?
« on: December 29, 2009, 07:19:03 pm »
I have no idea of the age of the people you'll be with either, but wanted to wish you well.  It'll be a blast and you'll have the time of your life!

General Discussion / Re: Biker vs World
« on: December 29, 2009, 07:17:38 pm »
Pull over and get out - ask if they need help.  Or if you have a bottle of water or Gatorade, hand it to them and offer help.

General Discussion / Re: Your first long distance tour...
« on: December 29, 2009, 06:53:41 pm »
You really expect me to remember that long ago?  Honestly, I have no idea.  My first long distance tour was from Norfolk, VA to New Orleans - I think I was excited to get started and excited to finish!

I'm still excited about touring and learning about our world, and I've now pedaled many thousands of miles through many countries.  We're currently stuck in Ecuador and I can't wait to get back on the road!

Youth Bicyle Travel / Re: Links to tours w/ kids
« on: December 29, 2009, 06:48:31 pm »
Thanks for that - found a few new ones!  We are a family who's done extensive touring with our children.  Right now, we are in Ecuador - we've pedaled 17,000 km from Alaska to get here!  We've got about another year to go before we reach the southern tip of South America.  Anyway - I've got all the bicycling families I know of that have websites linked to in my blogroll  at   If you know of more, please let me know so I can add them!


Youth Bicyle Travel / Biking to Homeschool
« on: July 10, 2007, 02:10:34 am »
We just spent a year biking around North America with our 9-year-old twins.  We homeschooled them as went, but mostly we just played.  They learned so much that we didn't have to do much at all!  (And I used to teach 3rd grade, so I knew what they needed to know...)  Good luck!

Read about our incredible adventures as a biking family!

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