Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

How Parents Can Still Find Time to Mountain Bike…(and a GIVEAWAY!)

Of all the recreational pursuits my hubby and I enjoyed pre-kiddo, mountain biking was actually the hardest to get back into consistently, namely because it wasn’t something we could do all together as a family.  Rock climbing was easy, so long as we had an extra person with us.    For running, hiking, and even biking along the greenway, we could simply strap C into the appropriate carrier and adventure away.  But ripping down steep, rooty, technical single-track?  Regardless of what kind of  bike trailer you have, it’s probably not the best situation for a pint-sized person who’s only just recently learned to support their own head…

A Friday afternoon"Ladies Only" Ride with a fellow cragmama

A Friday afternoon”Ladies Only” Ride with a fellow cragmama

If mountain biking was “our thing,” I’m sure we would have tried a little harder and a lot sooner to make it work.  We thankfully had so many other activities we could fall back on that we hardly missed it.  But C is older now, and we’ve since moved to an area with decent single-track 15 minutes from our home, so mountain biking has slowly but surely been creeping back into our lives this past year.  The trails are still too much for our trailer, and C is still a few years away from riding them on his own, but this past year we’ve managed to find a few creative strategies for a single-track fix.  

1.  TAKE TURNS:  The nice thing about the bike trails closest to our house is that there’s plenty of other stuff there too – multiple playgrounds, a lake, giant sandbox beach volleyball court, and a host of paved trails connecting everything together.  Saturday mornings or even long summer evenings are perfect opportunities for the three of us to hit the park – I’ll take a lap while Steve and C play on the playground, then C and I stroll around the lake while Steve takes his turn.  A post-biking picnic makes for a great finish.  We always brings C’s bike, and sometimes he chooses to bike the paved paths, or maybe even try his hand on the single-track, but he can go at his own pace while mom and dad both get a workout.

2.  FAMILY AFFAIR:  The “take turns” strategy works out great for a quick evening session or impromptu Saturday morning, but let’s be honest, riding by yourself is not nearly as much fun as riding with a friend.  If you’re lucky enough to find another family to meet you out there, your kids will have playmates closer to their own age…and so will you!  You could divide up with ladies first, followed by men, or each couple could take a turn having a “biking date.”  

A trail day for little feet at a local park

A trail day for little feet at a local park

3.  CHILD-LED DAYS:  For our family (and probably yours too), the end goal is to eventually be able to all ride together on the trails.  That being said, make sure your child has a chance to log their own miles on a bike as well.  This is obviously dependent on age, but whether your child uses a balance bike, training wheels, trail-a-bike, or two wheeler, spending time on the bike will hopefully help foster a love for the sport.  For example, when C rides with us we slow our pace.  We stop when he wants to stop, and don’t expect his little legs to be able to keep up with ours.  (see our recent trip along the New River Trail.)  Other times that means he rides with a friend while the other mom and I huff it on foot to keep up!  

4.  GET IN BIKING SHAPE:  Just as your child will never get in “biking shape” unless they progressively ride more and more, you won’t either unless you put the pedal to the road.  I count myself lucky if I get a chance to ride single-track once a week, but on the weeks that I don’t, I still find time to get on the bike, whether it’s enjoying a long road ride after dropping C off at school, or just biking a few miles to the library with C in the trailer.  That way if a few weeks go by since I’ve gotten a mountain bike fix, my legs are (hopefully) still at the ready to power through a steep climb at the end of a workout.  

AxelLogo_Color2

If mountain biking IS your “thing,” you’ll probably find a lot more logistical information (as well as inspiring stories) from the Charette family’s blog, Velo Mom.  They feel about biking the way our family feels about climbing.  They’ve also had to endure what no parent should ever have to endure and managed to come out on the other side.  After tragically losing their 2 year old son last February, the Charette’s have chosen to honor Axel’s memory (as well as his love for biking) by starting The Axel Project, a non-profit whose mission is to provide bikes for young children in need.  And to show OUR support for The Axel Project, I’ll be purchasing one Axel Project t-shirt (they come in child/youth sizes), as well as 3 bumper stickers to give away to you all!  To be eligible, all you have to do is leave a comment about family biking, and/or why your child would love an Axel Project tee/sticker.  I’ll choose 4 winners at random on Friday, August 9th!  Good luck to everyone, and happy biking!

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10 Responses to “How Parents Can Still Find Time to Mountain Bike…(and a GIVEAWAY!)”

  1. Amanda J

    We are just getting into family biking (not technical, no crazy trails yet..) But, we’re DOING IT. We got a Strider for our son and a bike carrier and we’ve been introducing our 28 month old to the joys of biking with mom and dad. I’d love to have him sport a Tee and put a sticker with our collection. Such a sad thing but with a silver lining, because of this new mission. Something worthy of supporting! Thanks!

    Reply

  2. The Axel project has been so inspiring this year, hasn’t it? I would never have known about Strider bikes if it wasn’t for all my outdoor-family blogger friends. That little bike has made our adventures this year super awesome! If we don’t win the tshirt, I’ll probably be buying one for us anyway. :)

    Reply

  3. BethC

    Great recap! We’ve done most variants of these (except #3 – ours is too young for that). #1 and #2 both work well. Sometimes we meet up with friends/family at a destination that’s halfway between us, which makes for a fun day trip. We have almost always had someone pregnant or nursing lately, so we can trade off kid duty. We also sometimes get a babysitter in the afternoon and have a biking/beer date. I get rides in during the day, too, since I work from home and live ~ 2 min from some nice singletrack. We both manage to bike 2-3 times a week, weather permitting!

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  4. betsy

    This was a really fun and relatable post to read! Thankfully, we too, haven’t shied away from figuring out how to keep our mountain bike pursuits in the picture with a growing family either! We have a tag-along trailer that we’ll cruise the local rail-to-trail often stopping at a park for some play time. We’ve also figured out the taking turns for some singletrack time. This gives us a chance to hike with our little adventurer and show her the great outdoors (which, now she loves to stop and touch all the trees we pass by!) all while we each get our mountain biking fix. Occasionally, we’ll get a chance to go ride together when our little one’s Mimi wants some grandbaby time. It all works out! I am most excited for getting a balance bike from Axel’s Project for her pretty soon. It is on my heart to contribute in some way to Axel’s project and at the same time, it gives us a chance to open another door for her to grow to love biking and being active outdoors… fingers crossed!

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  5. Erica

    Amanda – This post was well-timed for you guys then! Congrats on discovering a new way to stay healthy as a family!

    Kate – I know, the concept behind the balance bikes is so simple, I have no idea why no one ever thought of it before!!!

    Beth C – Wow, 2 minutes? So jealous!

    Betsy – Rails to trails are awesome! We’ve got several within day tripping for us, but I wish we had some local ones in town!

    Reply

  6. Gina

    Love their blog too. I have a 2 year old as well and I think of them so often. He is GREAT on his balance bike and my 5 yr old daughter is sans training wheels now, so we are loving being able to get out more! We often ride to the grocery, Target AND Left Hand Brewery! Thanks, CragMama!

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  7. Amy Wren

    I just discovered your blog from Velo Mom. I have a 16 month old and we are hoping to get a strider for him soon. We love biking, currently we road bike with our chariot. The more I read the more I want to get into mountain biking with our son. Thanks for the great advice and motivation. I think about Axel and his family often. Thank you ladies for all of the time you devote to blogging, your ideas, stories and advice are greatly appreciated. Cheers Amy

    Reply

  8. Thanks for the great ideas! We’ve got #2 on the way so it will probably be even harder to get on the trail – but – we did get a Surly big dummy that’s been a blast in town. Our 21-mo old rides in a Yepp seat and loves it. He’d be proud to rock an Axel tee – in fact we bought him a Strider very soon after reading of about what happened to Axel – it was before the foundation was started but no doubt in his honor.

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  9. Erica

    Gina – I love when I’m able to combine fun bike rides with functional trips to the store/park/etc!

    Amy Wren – Glad you guys are getting out and having fun on the bike – we’ve put so many miles on our Chariot, we love it!

    Karen – Congrats on #2!!!

    Reply

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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN