“The Bike Dads” are relatively new to the blogging scene, but caught my attention right away with their entertaining posts on Instagram. The “dads” are Colin and Jack, avid mountain bikers trying to share their love of cycling with their offspring and the parenting world at large.
As part of my on-going Six Questions series, in which I introduce y’all to some inspiring cycling families, I interviewed “The Bike Dads.” They share the dirt on balancing cycling and child rearing, the best family cycling gear, and their thoughts on biking with babies. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll probably be wishing these Dads lived next door.
Who are the Bike Dads?
Jack– I’m now known as Sierra’s Dad. Self-proclaimed bike dork that is a little obsessed with mountain biking. I want to have my daughter grow up to appreciate cycling and know if my wife and I set her up for success with proper gear and positive cycle experience, we have a greater chance to keep our cycling lifestyle. I also teach Grade 5 and Outdoor Education at a Middle School.
Colin– I’m Dad to Sam (age 5) and Lukas (age 2) and work a sales gig on the side. My love for biking started in my late 20’s and has since become my one hobby. I figure with young kids you only have time for one “thing” for yourself. The beauty is both my little guys seem to share the biking gene so we have something to obsess over and do together.
What’s the hardest part about biking with kids?
Jack -Since Sierra is only 9 month old it has to be getting her secure in the trailer and making sure she is warm enough in the winter months. Oh and crossing roads… I still get off and walk at every at crossing and give death stares to drivers than don’t stop quickly enough for us. The hardest thing I have found with cycling with friends’ kids is watching when they get out of control.
Colin– I quickly learned forcing bike outings or rides does not work. With the right gear, biking with kids is really fun and easy. Most of the biking we do as a family is close to home. We purposely live in a community that has trails and a bike skills park at our doorstep. When the kids get tired and cranky, we pull the plug and head home.
Jack-The question definitely comes to mind with the amount of prep involved, but getting out of the house to do anything is a challenge. Getting kids into the outdoors and away from screens is something I was passionate about before kids and now with my daughter I feel even stronger about it. She loves the outdoors. If she doesn’t end up loving ripping single-track with her dad, I’m ok with it, as long as she can ride a bike and understand its’ benefits.
Colin– Forcing anything can cause frustration on both the parent and kid side of the equation. I find if you let things come naturally, encourage don’t push, everything works out. That said, I have learned some tricks to get the kids interested and self-motivated to get on the bikes (blog post coming soon).
You’ve posted some photos of biking with a (gasp) baby! A lot of people argue that you shouldn’t bike with an infant younger than 12 months? What’s your take on this?
Jack– I took my daughter for her first ride when she was 6 months old in our Chariot Trailer. She had a three point harness, head support and I took her on mellow bike paths. If you travel anywhere in Europe or throughout Asia you see infants on bikes and scooters. I do think we are too hyper vigilant here in North America. I believe in being safe but my daughter will not grow up in a bubble.
Colin– My kids are winter babies so we did not have them out in trailers or seats until they were 13/14 months. We started out with an ibert seat and never looked back. We just tried incorporating bikes into our everyday lifestyle with the kids (trips to the store and Grandma’s house, drop off at daycare etc). I think common sense applies as to when a child is ready to get in a trailer or bike seat.
Kristen’s note: See this blog post on Biking with Babies for my take on the matter.
What are your favorite pieces of cycling gear for kids or families?
Jack– Where to start…. there are so many products out there. I am a bit of a research dork and the amount of products I keep finding and wanting to try is overwhelming. I am probably most excited about front mounted kids bike seats. I am a total extrovert and can’t wait to interact with Sierra between my handlebars.
Colin– There is so much good gear these days that it’s hard to pick. The front mounted seats are an absolute blast (ibert, tyke toter, mac ride) for shared time and the new light weight balance bikes have changed how kids learn to progress to pedals. I never thought I would be riding singletrack/downhill trails with my 4 year old but with the bikes that exist now, it’s possible.
How has becoming parents changed your cycling? How do you find time to ride and train?
Jack– Getting out with the guys a couple of nights a week and my 3-week road trips through PNW are things of the past… The first two months as a dad was a write off. However, my wife is awesome and rides bike too! She knows if I don’t get some time on my bike I am no fun to be around as I end up climbing the walls. I use my time more wisely now. (Kristen’s Note: Jack’s written a great blog post on this subject).
Colin– I definitely ride less myself but the trade-off is I get to ride and watch my kids progress at biking and other activities (no brainer). When I do get to ride, I am time conscious, ride the trails I really like and more appreciative of each ride. During the summer nights, I often put the kids to bed, then jet for some bedtime berms in the local trail system. I primarily ride by myself but when I do go with friends I treat it more as a social outing more than time sensitive ride.
You can check out The Bike Dads at their website (thebikedads.com) and on social media as @thebikedads.