This is the first interview in a on-going series here at Rascal Rides called “Six Questions”–in which I will ask six questions of cycling families. For this first interview, I’ve chosen Jen from the blog Pedal Adventures (which we also featured in our Top 10 Websites for Cycling Families).
Jen is a super inspirational mom who is living life on her own terms, raising active and adventurous children, and honoring the memory of her son Axel thru the non-profit The Axel Project. I first started reading Jen’s blog when I was pregnant with my son and was looking for reassurance that I would still find time to bike and adventure once he was born. I hope that others find her and her family as inspirational as I do. Make sure to check out the section of her blog on family cycling for tips, gear recommendations, and riding destinations.
Question: Your oldest son cycles competitively. What is the juniors cycling scene like in the United States, and how would you like to see that change in the future?
Question: There are lots of avid cyclists out there whose kids aren’t that into the sport. How have you gotten your kids passionate about cycling, and how do you motivate them?
Jen: I think it’s part lucky and part nurture. Cycling is just what we do and luckily they have embraced it. As for motivation we don’t push but always offer the opportunity to ride. We will also forgo our own training rides in lieu of family rides when needed. When you are on a tight schedule or only do certain activities at certain times parents feel the need to push and motivate more. I know we did this with skiing and it failed miserably. Oh and we always carry some type of bike treat (like Skratch drink mix or Honey Stingers) for on-the-ride motivation.
Question: For those readers who are just taking up cycling, or who are recreational riders wanting to get their kids involved, what is your advice for them? Any tips on cycling as a family?
Jen: I would start as early as possible but with no pressure. Use a bike trailer when they are young and then get them a balance bike sometime around 15 months. Don’t try and teach them to ride that early but leave the bike around. Pretty soon they will get interested in checking it out. Let me lead and get them in front of other kids or siblings that ride. It helps to see other kids having fun on bikes. As they grow research the bikes you get as so many are heavy and not designed with the correct geometry for kids.
Question: The Axel Project is doing great things for kids. What are your goals for it going forward, and if they are interested, how can our readers help support that?
Jen: Thanks. Axel Project has just launched RideTime. RideTime provides bicycles, helmets, and educational materials to schools so they can introduce children to STEM concepts (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) by using bicycles and physical play in their Pre-K and Kindergarten curriculum. RideTime is incorporated into the child’s day just like story time, lunch time, and nap time. We are still a start up non-profit so any financial support is greatly appreciated. We are also looking for teachers and schools for the roll out of the program as it grows in 2015/16. You can find out more at www.axelproject.com.
Question: Your family lives a fairly non-traditional lifestyle, often traveling and living out of an RV. Can you tell us how you manage to make that work—earning money, blogging, homeschooling, and caring for a baby? Any advice for other families who might want to follow your lead?
Jen: [My husband} Randy and I have our roles but they overlap as needed. I am currently working full time as a business consultant while he home schools and takes care of the baby. He also runs the Axel Project in his ‘spare time.’ It’s a lot of juggling sometimes. We travel slow often staying somewhere for 2 weeks-1 month. We also don’t act like tourists when we travel. We use most of our free time to bike and surf rather than sightseeing.
Question: You’ve been thru a lot of heavy stuff over the last few years. How has cycling helped you with that? And as a mom, how do you find time to ride and take care of yourself?
Jen: Yes, we’ve been through more in last two years than I ever imagined with losing Axel and then having Lars a year later (a surprise after having a tubal ligation in 2011). It seems almost silly to say that cycling helped with all of that but it did. Cycling is something I have been doing for a long time and it provides enjoyment, achievement and peace of mind. Cycling is something we do as a family and I also do alone. It’s our version of meditation, church, fitness, fun and therapy all wrapped into one.