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  1. #1
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    Convince your parents to let you do a long bike ride by yourself

    I want to do a century bike ride to my best friend's house but I have a pretty strong feeling that my parents will say no. I've done about 80mi before but that was all in my city and bike trails by it. I mapped out a route that is 80% bike trail, the other 20% is a country road that is practically deserted since all it does is lead to a small town and 1mi in a city with sidewalks. I will be carrying bike repair tools, plenty of food & water, and plenty of emergency cash. How do you think I can convince my parents to let me do this?

  2. #2
    Senior Member bassjones's Avatar
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    How old are you? I would let my 14 and older child do it, but not under 12. The 2 years in between would depend on a large number of factors; such as their maturity level (physical and emotional), the communities they would travel through, experience on a bike, ability to do their own repairs, etc... I would also make sure they had a cell phone with them. I imagine your parents are similar.

  3. #3
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    I'm 16, almost 17. But you also have to consider that my parents know nothing about biking or running. I think I'm going to get all of my information together tonight (the route, bike repair shops near my route, etc.) and word it a little differently than "Can I bike 100mi to another state to visit my friend?" and if they say no show them my current plans.
    Last edited by siggy2xc; 06-04-11 at 10:41 AM.

  4. #4
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by siggy2xc View Post
    I'm 16, almost 17. But you also have to consider that my parents know nothing about biking or running, they don't really do any form of exercise besides walking on a treadmill once in a blue moon. I think I'm going to get all of my information together tonight (the route, bike repair shops near my route, etc.) and word it a little differently than "Can I bike 100mi to another state to visit my friend?" and if they say no show them my current plans.
    That sounds like a very reasonable approach.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member bassjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by siggy2xc View Post
    I'm 16, almost 17. But you also have to consider that my parents know nothing about biking or running, they don't really do any form of exercise besides walking on a treadmill once in a blue moon. I think I'm going to get all of my information together tonight (the route, bike repair shops near my route, etc.) and word it a little differently than "Can I bike 100mi to another state to visit my friend?" and if they say no show them my current plans.
    I bet they know more than you think they know, which you'll figure out in about 10 years or so... When I was 12 my dad was the smartest man in all the world. At 16, he was perhaps the dumbest... Sometime around 25 or so, he suddenly seemed smarter again, and now, at 40 he's the first person I call for life advice... I don't know how that happened LOL.

    Though your approach certainly seems reasonable, particularly if you're using a reasonably well traveled bike path. Might help if you had another friend to ride it with you too. As a parent, I'd be a bit nervous about my teenager traveling that far alone.

  6. #6
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    If you ride on the roads around your house anyway, why are you more likely to have a problem when you're riding further away? If they trust you to ride on the roads alone, they should let you go. Do you know how to fix a flat? These days, with cell phones, you're seldom "alone". I'm a bit older than you with over 40 years experience, and there have been a few times when I've called my wife to come "rescue" me.

    I suggest you bring a cell phone, and do the ride on a day when someone is available to come pick you up if needed. By far, the most likely breakdown is a flat, so if you can fix that you can continue the ride. Have you ever ridden 100 miles? Another possibility is that you might give up along the way because it's tougher than you thought. (I've done many centuries. I got in a sag wagon once when I concluded I wasn't in good enough shape for the 100. Another time, also when I hadn't trained sufficiently, I tried to call my wife to rescue me but had no cell phone coverage. After riding a few miles to where I had service, I had a second wind and decided to keep trying. I finished that century and was happy that I hadn't called her, though I was pretty wiped out.)

    My brother did a 182-mile round trip when he was 16. He tied a sleeping bag to his bike, rode 91 miles to a state park, slept under a picnic table, and rode home the next day. He suffered but he was proud of himself. He said it was quite an adventure.

    Hopefully your parents think you are responsible, prudent, careful, etc. If so, they should let you go. If you're a reckless fool, well........

    Good luck!

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    Be prepared to answer their "what if" questions. I always kept tabs on what my kids did, even as teens.
    Show them your plan and have contingency plans for breakdowns, and any possible injuries.
    Carry your cell phone if you have one. List the numbers of your parents in your phone's directory as "emergency contact mom" and "emergency contact dad."
    If you have a bag mounted on your bike tag one of the compartments "ID here".
    Show them the reasons why you are ready to undertake this task.
    If they say no, accept it, this will be a sign of maturity and useful for your next adventure.
    Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right

  8. #8
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    I'm going to forward this thread to my daughter who's 12 ... as this is a great post on how kids can dialoque with others about safe & fun riding. Great stuff.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Will you have cell coverage? Offer to call home every ten miles and check in. That way your parents get some reassurance every hour or so that all is well.

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    To me it would make a difference if you were male/female. How long will it take you, will it be light all the time?

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    Senior Member ace587's Avatar
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    Agree on the cellphone part. The problem is since youre 16, youre underage to consent for medical treatment in case something happens, but hey they can call your parents and call for consent. I work in the ER and have gotten underage patients that we had to call the parents of minors in order to get consent.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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  12. #12
    Mystery Meat gitarzan's Avatar
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    That reminds me of story some guy at work told me. He was about 17, just out of high school by a few days and his parents gave him bus fare to go to a relative's house on the other side of the state (Indiana). So he pocketed the cash and hopped on his old bike. He rode till dark and slept in a field with some angry ants. After a most uncomfortable night, he hopped back on the bike at dawn and rode into the destination town about an hour later. He had no idea he'd rode that far the day before. The rest of the day was spent itching.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jseis View Post
    Is a ukulele player in a mandolin town and banned from all bars by the chief of police unless he leaves his strings and gravy at the front door.

  13. #13
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    @gitarzan, that's a great story. Good for the kid. Too bad about the angry ants, but good for the kid.

  14. #14
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    siggy,

    Point out to your parents that lots of kids your age travel that far from home by themselves by car or transit. The fact that you will be on a bike is of no significance; cars break down all the time and kids miss their buses. Explain that you have a plan for every contingency. Show them that you know how to fix a flat tire, if you haven't already.

    In a little over a year you'd be old enough to be fighting in a war overseas, or living independently anywhere you want. A self-supported bike ride seems like a very appropriate step in personal growth at your age.

    I second the recommendation that you bring a cell phone, but don't call your parents periodically. Instead, call your friend periodically. If you do disappear (but you won't, of course, but theoretically), he'll know where to start looking for you. Your parents need to learn to let go. Refer them to the book "Free Range Kids."

    Bring a chain tool, extra tubes, and a hand-operated frame pump or lots of extra co2 cartridges, and maybe a spare inflator. Bring a rainproof jacket if there's any chance of rain.

    Have fun.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    You have not given any informatio about how much freedom you have or where you live.

    Those can make a huge difference. The arguments to make are entirely different if you are free to do what you want all day (at least during the summer) or if your parents get worried if they don't know where you are for a half hour.

    It could also make a huge difference just how they feel about the friend that lives 100 miles away. Or his parents for that matter. Let's say somethgin happens at the 90 mile mark, if your folks think those at the other end are reliable then yuo are 10 or 15 minutes from help, if not then your folks will thnik of it as being almost 2 hours from help.

    The cell phone is a very good idea, both for reallity and making your folks feel better about things.

    Yuo should know how to change a tire and other stuff. (I'd recommend learning how to use a chain tool to be able to make yuor bike into a single speed if things get really messed up. But that's just me). I would NOT reccomend bringing up all the things you can fix unless your folks bring it up. Do mention you have spare tubes (plural). Some section of those trails may have glass of thorns. Be ready for 'How will you deal with' questions, but do not bring up everything that can go wrong.

    Do let them know you have planned the route, also let them know how much of it yuo have already ridden.

    DO NOT even thinking of setting a date for this until yuo have the OK.

    EDIT:
    Almost forgot. Near me some bike trails go through bad areas. Check that out beforehand. Near me one runs right behind the projects, there were times that trail would be closed near dusk and reoppened in the morning. Do your homework there, but don't bring this up unless yuor parents start asking about things realted to safe areas.

    Also see if you can find alternate routes. Or at least carry a map. Yuo don't want a 1 mile trail closeure to ruin things.
    Last edited by Keith99; 03-31-11 at 01:56 PM.

  16. #16
    Will ride anywhere cyclist5's Avatar
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    Two things you might do to make them feel easier. As a parent I wouldn't let them go alone, I'd join them. Even if it was as a driver passing them up letting them catch up and leap-frogging the entire way. But that's just my protective nature.
    Alternatively, you could have them put a Garmin tracking device on you. For $300 it has no subscription fees and is smaller than a cell phone. It can track you to as pinpoint a location as a bike GPS. That's what I would want my child to have no matter what their age would be if they were doing a century alone.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ace587 View Post
    Agree on the cellphone part. The problem is since youre 16, youre underage to consent for medical treatment in case something happens, but hey they can call your parents and call for consent. I work in the ER and have gotten underage patients that we had to call the parents of minors in order to get consent.
    It must be different according to jurisdictions then! I'm a Maryland EMT and under our protocol we transport underage patients and provide them care because they can't consent w/o parents and we're protected under Good Samaritan. We can't deny care when requested.

    I'm not a parent nor a teen so I'm out of the loop but I totally think you can do it, its just a matter of convincing your parents and listening to the good advice here.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sevenhills View Post
    To me it would make a difference if you were male/female.
    UHGGRRRHHH!!! As a woman, I've always resented this line of thought. It's a virtual burka.

  19. #19
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    What did the parents say? Are you on for a century or not?

  20. #20
    The wizard of ...
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    If I were the parent, I would be proud to know that my 16 year old wanted to do something so constructive. Unless the friend you are going to visit is some kind of bad person, the trip sounds to me like the oposite of bad. Like most parents, I want my kids to stay away from crime, drugs and bad health. Cycling long distances seems to me to be an ideal alternative. It gives health, confidence and harms no-one.

  21. #21
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    What did the parents say? Are you on for a century or not?
    My parents ended up not letting me do it, they felt bad though since I never really ask for anything so they ended up finding someone to give me a ride! I missed half the fun since I wasn't able to bike though. The last week was spring break and I was hoping to do a century on my own around the city, but I never had a nice day with free time. I'll do it as soon as this crazy Illinois weather calms down

    Point out to your parents that lots of kids your age travel that far from home by themselves by car or transit. The fact that you will be on a bike is of no significance; cars break down all the time and kids miss their buses. Explain that you have a plan for every contingency. Show them that you know how to fix a flat tire, if you haven't already.

    In a little over a year you'd be old enough to be fighting in a war overseas, or living independently anywhere you want. A self-supported bike ride seems like a very appropriate step in personal growth at your age.
    This was definitely one of my biggest arguments haha

    Alternatively, you could have them put a Garmin tracking device on you. For $300 it has no subscription fees and is smaller than a cell phone. It can track you to as pinpoint a location as a bike GPS. That's what I would want my child to have no matter what their age would be if they were doing a century alone.
    I have a Garmin forerunner 405 (GPS watch) and a phone with a GPS tracker in it.

    On the bright side, in just a little over a year I can start preparing for the race across America! I just need a bike thats not from Walmart now! xD

  22. #22
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    I like your outward attitude towards the decision. As pointed out above a year, 11 months now almost, you will be legally able to act on your own, hopefully even if you are still under your parents roof, they will recognize the need to allow you to act on your own as an adult and realize they have completed their responsibility during your formative years. Good luck on the race across America!

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    I don't think it would be wise to do a century ride alone, at any age or gender!! I think the buddy system is priceless. It's always smart to have a second person if you are riding a bicycle, or motorcycle. Especially if you are off the main road in the woods.

  24. #24
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    ASK... if your parents are not comfortable with it, they will say no. Maybe ahve them come with you

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    I always went with the "it's better to ask forgiveness than permission" course of action when it was something that I just had to do. I got in a lot of trouble but the happy feeling stayed with me longer than the punishment.

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