One morning last week (the day before the – gulp – last snow of the season), despite the cool temperatures and impending storm, my 4yo son insisted on riding his own bike (which has never had training wheels, he will tell anyone) alongside me and his 2yo sister on the Xtracycle Radish.
I encourage him to make his own decisions when it comes to things that won’t hurt him, like what clothes to wear, snack choices and the like, but I was worried about the length of this route and him being able to make it. I reiterated that our errand’s route would take us on an 8-10 mile loop around south Fort Collins. He was steadfast. As he had said to me a week earlier, as he pulled up next to me at a traffic light on his little 12″ wheels, “I’m going so fast because I am training, Dad.”
We hopped on, took our circuitous route through neighborhoods and bike paths to our first stop where we packed up a weeks worth of groceries. We stopped by the playground on route to our last stop and then lunch. It was colder than we originally thought, but it always is and our spirits were still high.
After lunch, I pulled into the garage with the 2yo asleep (as per usual) on the back and quietly transition her to her bed for nap time and came back down to discover that we’d covered 8.5 miles on our morning adventure. I told my son and, with all the seriousness of a 4 year old, he looked me in the eye and queried, “How can I bike 10 miles today?”
It’s a SAHD, SAHD world
For me, being a new “Stay-At-Home Dad” (SAHD) took quite a bit of adjusting. Mostly it was the shift from working with people who behave like children to being around my own children all day. I miss having adult conversations the most.
Making the decision to switch roles with my wife (a fundraiser) was easy. I could still work at home (I’m a graphic/web designer) as needed, but could be the primary caregiver until our son starts Kindergarten and our daughter (hopefully) starts Montessori/pre-school. It also meant that I could sell off our second car and buy a cargo bike to haul the kids around everywhere, which in turn meant logging base miles galore.
Well, so I thought. I’m a Piscean and am prone to fits of dreaming big. Sometimes, too big. I figured we’d get the Xtracycle and log 100s of miles a week (see my post about the purchasing process of a cargo bike).
In reality, we average about 25 miles a day between the Xtracycle and my road rides. I figure hauling around at least 100 lbs. more* than when I’m on my road bike. Sure, there’s the environmental benefits and the cost benefits of not having to fill up a tank with $45 of fuel each week (or more), but in the end, it’s the moments of having my son reach forward and hug me at a stop light, having conversations with my daughter as we cruise through town and more importantly, getting to share by love of cycling with my kids, every single day.
*Our Xtracycle Radish weighs 45Lbs. plus accessories in addition to 75Lbs. of kids totaling about 125Lbs. My Felt Z5 weighs 18Lbs. plus water bottles and spare tube/kit, or about 25Lbs. max.
Get Him to the Races
As part of our ongoing balance of training (my wife’s a runner), we include our children in our training regimen as often as possible. We take the kids in the jogging stroller or we throw them on the Xtracycle and take the long route.
We’ve also always encouraged them to try new things. So it was no surprise that, when I told our son about the New Belgium Short Track races, that he was excited to give it a try. He had me show him the poster, explain what the race would be like and then he confirmed, he’d do the race. He has asked every day for a week if tomorrow is race day.
We promise ourselves we won’t be the parents who train their kids into Olympians at a way-too-early age. I am encouraging him to race and sharing with him why I first got into racing: not to beat the field, but to see that of what I am made. I can already see what he is made of, and luckily, it is better stuff than his old man.