Sunday, January 13, 2013

Families on Bicycles: Families That Ride Together . . .

I've always been attracted to the idea of not having to separate family and work. 

A mother at work with her child in a crib or playpen beside her is a good image in my mind, and so is that of the father at work, maybe at his business, and the child there alongside him, soaking up the knowledge, experience, and family vibes.

I know this isn't always possible--in fact, usually not possible--but that's something I think we should lament as a culture. Companies that make a place for children within the business environment I applaud. Not only does doing so support the family and employees--"family values" in the best, least politicized form of the term--but I think having young ones among us adults keeps us more human and less cogs in a machine. Employees (and bosses) might find themselves less apt to lead "lives of quiet desperation," to use the words of Thoreau.

In a culture that can easily fragment a family, isolating and diminishing its members, some families have been using the bicycle as a means to accomplish staying together. 

Although their website TravellingTwo doesn't mention much about their personal lives and how they earn money to fund their touring, Andrew and Friedel Grant are now the "Traveling Three" with their young son. Their accounts will probably become more personal--and already have with the video of their bicycle touring with their son at five month of age and their article "Where Baby Sleeps When We're Bike Touring."

Family on Bikes' Tour Interactive Map
John Vogel and Nancy Sathre-Vogel "of Family on Bikes are just a couple of ordinary school teachers turned homeschoolers who are following [their] dreams." They and their two sons hit the road, touring the United States and then Alaska to Argentina. They have documented their travels on a website inspires and educates adults on how to tour and children on the wonders of our world's geography. Writing books about their travels, connecting with corporate and individual sponsors, and lecturing are the means they are currently using to fund their lifestyle choice of how to raise their boys to men. Mom and Dad are working hard to make their website a valuable resource for education, and I think they're doing a great job. Any teacher or parent who wants to stimulate a desire to learn about the world should plug into the Vogels' website.

Currently on a bicycling adventure on a trip across Central and South America, the English couple Steve and Pippa Genner, after successful European tours with their two sons, are another couple who want to share the adventure of being a family--and are using the bicycle as the vehicle (literally and figuratively) to do that. Their current Americas tour is journaled (with great photos) as "Life is like a box of chocolates." The Genners credit the inspiration for their trek to Pippa's mother, who "at the end of the 1950s, packed her bags and headed off into Europe to search for the land of the midnight sun"--and who happened to meet the man whom she married along the way. The family also credits the Vogels, whose Americas odyssey inspired them.

Just as the Genners followed the Vogels' journey day by day when the Vogels traveled Central and South America by bike, you can right now follow the Genners. They, as of this blog post, are in Panama. Read of their experiences and check out the photographs they are posting.

I don't know about you, but that morning country road in Panama looks a lot more appealing than the frosty, freezing rain and snow of Iowa in January! The Genners' tour journal and many other journals at the Crazy Guy on a Bike site are available to see the different lives or vacations that others are choosing. Many of those choosing to travel by bike are doing it with their families.

Kids like to move--and parents need to. My mom's advice for a long life is "Keep moving." Alone, with your significant other, with your children or with your friends, bicycling is a healthy way to interact with the world. Even if you don't make the big tour many are chronicling, perhaps enjoying the adventures of others will inspire you to get on your bike and enjoy a micro-adventure in your hometown or the country surrounding it.

Every day there is the dawn, and you could be on your bike enjoying that new morning.

Copyright 2013 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

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