7 Questions with Jannine Fitzgerald from Buddy Pegs
Jannine Fitzgerald is a super-impressive cycling mom. She and her husband are former bike-shop owners turned kids’ cycling advocates. You may be familiar with their children’s book, B is for Bicycles, the success of which has spurred a new podcast and upcoming book. Jannine was nice enough to take a break from mom-ing, mogul-ing and ripping singletrack to answer a few questions for us.
Tell us a little about Buddy Pegs and how it got started.
First of all, I’d like to thank you Kristen and Rascal Rides for giving us the opportunity to tell our story! It is so great to work with people who really care about our kids and their futures!
After owning a bicycle shop in the Teton’s for 14 years, we continuously saw the positive impact bicycles were having on our customers. A light turned on, and the creation of our first illustrated children’s book, B is for Bicycles became a reality in 2015. After publishing this first book, and receiving feedback from parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, about how excited they were to share the book with the kids in their life, we realized we were onto something. However, when we looked for other bicycle oriented children’s media (books, podcasts, videos) online, there weren’t any options to choose from. So, we decided to create Buddy Pegs, a media company created to connect kids (and the adults who love them) to the building blocks of lifelong happiness through the power of the bicycle. Simple….ha!
You have a new podcast and an upcoming Kickstarter campaign. What’s happening with those, and how can people get involved?
Yes, and a major house remodel is happening right now that includes lifting and rotating our home 180 degrees! At least we are not boring:)
On June 20th we are taking a huge leap forward with the launch of our Kickstarter campaign for Buddy Pegs, Taking the Lead. This hardcover, beautifully illustrated children’s book will tell the story of how the main animal characters from our first book B Is For Bicycles go on to open the bike shop Buddy Pegs… in the town of Spokesville of course!
The book will focus on the values of self confidence, resilience, and freedom that bike riding delivers; as well as the message of how important local bike shops are to communities.
Your subscribers can sign up for campaign alerts and VIP info at BuddyPegs.com. We would very much appreciate that! We will email our subscribers on the morning of June 20th with our Kickstarter link and with VIP rewards for backing us on DAY 1!
In addition to the Kickstarter we have also launched a wonderful podcast called, The World Of Buddy Pegs on iTunes and Stitcher.
In a time where families are challenged with limiting screen time for their kids we decided to create some ‘old school’ audio stories that provides parents with a great tool to entertain and empower their kids. This podcast features original content, audio stories based out of the fictitious bicycle shop, Buddy Pegs! Learn more at our Podcast Shownotes page.
That’s a lot on your plate. How do you manage running a business, being a mom, and finding time to ride too?
Oh…it’s easy…(insert sarcastic laugh!). I do not see our situation as any different from most families these days. We are all juggling a lot of balls with family, work and self care.
What helps me is keeping the word ‘purpose’ tucked away in my brain at all times. Though there are plenty of times I feel like, ‘oh my, how am I going to do it all’, I try to think about what is the ‘purpose’ of my next step and that usually helps get me back on track.
We feel very strongly that bicycles can change the world so it really makes working this hard totally worth it. We have been fortunate to witness how the bicycle can really transform kids and infiltrate into families lives and it has fired us up more to create a character ecosystem that will really empower kids.
My personal biking time has changed a bit over the years, however it is equally as important. Not only for even my physical fitness, but more for my mental fitness. When I carve out time for a mountain bike ride not only does it make my body feel better, it also makes me a better business owner and WAY happier mommy! My family knows that for sure so they are very supportive in helping me carve out the time I need.
The funny thing is that now my son is 7 and becoming quite the little mountain biker, I am totally ok ditching my own personal ride to ride with him. It is so much fun. I joke to my husband that ‘I made a biking buddy’:)
What are your favorite family cycling brands? What kind of bike does your son ride?
Tough question as there are a bunch of great companies right now dedicated to making great kids products. Being in the industry for the past 20 years we have really seen a big commitment over the past couple of years to kids and families in the industry. This is so important for the future of our kids and the future of the bike industry.
Currently we have created a great partnership with Cleary Bikes out of Sausalito, CA. Jeff and his team are making great bikes for the little rippers. There are other brands out there that are also committed purely to the kids.
(Kristen’s Note: Some of these kids-specific brands that Jannine alludes to include Woom, Pello, Frog, Spawn, and Islabikes. Learn more about kid-specific bike brands in this article on choosing Quality Kids Bikes).
As for the bigger brands we are really impressed with Trek and Norco bikes. Both of these brands are making great strides in creating quality, various price point bikes for the entire family. Currently our 7 year old son is ripping it up on a Norco Fluid 20’. This little bike is awesome.
What are the biggest challenges of being a cycling family?
I would like to think I would say there are no challenges. However, we all know that would be a lie. I would say the 2 biggest challenges for us are the following:
Though our son loves to ride, he still is a 7 year old kid and there are many times it is hard for us to get him out the door. We may have ‘planned’ a family ride, but at that particular moment, the Lego’s or a masking tape/cardboard construction becomes WAY more important….usually Code Red important! Those are the times that we as parents need to take a deep breath and realize that we cannot always force him to go. We need to sometimes walk that fine line of conveying the importance of follow through but at the same time not push him too hard.
The second challenge we face is the pressure we put on ourselves as parents to not take the easy way out. We are all in a rush these days and it is easy to say, ‘well, i have no time so I am going to just drive that 1 mile to pick the kid up from school. It is challenging when you are tired and busy to stay committed to the bike. However, it never fails that you end up having a way better experience along the way when you ride…or even walk:)
Our family is about to head out on a year-long mountain bike road trip, and I know a lot of our readers are planning their summer mountain bike vacations right now. What are your favorite family-friendly mountain bike destinations?
As we live in a seasonal area I would really highlight two areas that I think are great. Right now I am obsessed with the Moab area! The trail development that is happening there is absolutely amazing! We spent Spring break down there with a bunch of families and had a blast. There are so many kid friend trails and it is amazing how quickly the kids gained confidence and excelled. The camping scene is also dreamy for kids, filled with awesome red rock jungle gyms and in-camp bike jumps:). There is also a great community pool in Moab which is super fun for the kids and also a great opportunity to wash off the camp and biking grime:) Any of the bike shops there can point you in the right direction for trails based on whatever level your kids are riding at. Our favorites though were the Klonzo Trails and Brand Trails.
I would say most summer days are way too hot for riding in Moab. Therefore, we love the riding in our backyard at Grand Targhee! The trail development here has been absolutely amazing. There are great little and big kid trails! This summer they are opening the beginner chairlift for bikes and there will be some super fun, flowy trailers for new and experienced riders! If you stay at one of their hotels you have access to great a salt water pool and hot tub! They do accommodate RV camping (no hook ups) and during festivals only like the WYDAHO Mountain BIke Festival they do allow tent camping. Just down the road from Grand Targhee in Teton Canyon there is a great trail called, Sheep’s Bridge that is super family friendly. However I suggest that Mom or Dad ride down Mill Creek from the top of Targhee to meet up with the rest of the family at Sheep Bridge…best trail EVER!
It seems like there is a lot of momentum in the bike industry around “getting more kids on bikes.” How is Buddy Pegs feeding off of that?
Yes, the current momentum is amazing! The industry is starting to realize that these little people are their future customers and they need to start paying attention! Not only is catering to young riders the right thing to do to help promote health and happiness in our kids, it is also fostering the pipeline to their future customers! More kids on bikes is a big WIN for everyone!
In addition to creating great digital and print media for kids and families, we have also created a plug in festival called the Raise Riders Festival. This is a kit that we provide to existing events to help them add more value for kids and family participants. This kit includes Scavenger Hunts, arts & crafts, kids bike demos and group rides to name a few. We are participating this year at Outerbike Moab, Telluride Mountain Film Festival, Ride Sun Valley, WYDAHO and Levi’s Gran Fondo to name a few!
Our goal is to spread the message of empowering kids through the power of the bicycle to inspire them to get outside, be independent, fall down and get back up; and most of all, build meaningful shared family adventures through cycling, where lifelong memories are made. We will continue to pressure the industry for sure to help #raiseriders!