Discovering the Freedom of Biking
With the beginning of a new year, I have been contemplating the past year and the adventures I have had with my family as I have watched our children grow and change. One of the notable achievements for my son was learning to ride a bike. He started the year on a balance bike and soon moved to a 12” pedal bike, which he rode with no training wheels through the spring, summer and fall. Both his skills and his stature grew and as a result he ended the year riding a 16” bike. During the year, he went from tentative riding on neighborhood sidewalks to cruising gravel paths and single track mountain bike trails with confidence.
Watching his skills and confidence grow has been incredibly rewarding. I have no doubt that his motivation to learn has been influenced by watching my wife and I bike commuting and mountain biking on a regular basis. He rides his bike to pre-school and nearly everywhere we go around town. His hard skills on the bike are impressive for his age, however, what I love seeing the most is the smile on his face from the sense of freedom that riding a bike gives a kid, and the self-confidence that comes from accomplishing something truly on his own.
Watching my son riding a bike, I can't help but think of learning to ride as a metaphor for life and parenting. For me, letting go of my son's bike as he starts to pedal on his own feels like the beginning of a long process of letting go. As parents, one of our most important roles is to help our children become self-sufficient adults and good citizens. We nurture our children to grow and pursue their passions, but it is equally important to give them the space and freedom necessary to grow to their full potential.
When it comes to getting our whole family out on the trails, a selection of Deuter packs helps us with all of our gear and kid carrying needs. Although my son does carry his own Deuter kid's pack at times, what you don't see in many of these photos is how the logistics of these outings work. Early on in the learning to ride process, we walked while my son rode. One of us would carry our daughter in our Kid Comfort III and the other would help my son with bike riding when needed. As my son's skills improved, I started riding with him and would pack my biking essentials, as well as the all-important snacks, into my Compact EXP bike pack. As my son and I began doing more trail riding, and she was feeling left out, my wife borrowed a mountain bike and we would switch off between riding laps with my son and carrying our daughter in the Kid Comfort III. With this setup we also were both able to sneak in some solo riding at our own speed.
Although we don't ride as far or as fast as I would on my own, I look at these early days of family bike riding as an investment in our future for more adventures to come. It won't be long before our whole family will be able to ride and explore together. Our children are still young and I am looking forward to many more years of family adventures before the time when they truly ride away as their own independent selves.