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  1. #1
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    Adventures with the family

    Dear All,

    My wife and I are planning a bike touring adventure for 'several' months next spring/summer when we should hopefully be between jobs. We have a 12 year old son who we would love to involve as much as possible and I was hoping to canvas opinions on what people think the fairest way to go about things is to make everybody happy!

    Does anyone have any experience of how early teens adapt to long bike tours? He is physically fit and bursting with energy so I am not too worried about the physical side of things, more the everyday routine.

    We are planning a fairly ambitous trip around central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan etc), in principle we have the language skills and experience to do this. However, older (and wiser) family members have expressed unease at taking our son to a potentially unstable part of the world.

    My personal philosophy is that children should always be given the same chance as adults to travel and so on and that leaving him behind for several months with the grandparents would be more irresponsible, does anyone have any thoughts?

    cheers ,

    Jim

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Have you had a look at nancysv's website? She's a regular poster here. She and her family are cycling from Alaska to Argentina, and have been on the road for more than a year now.
    http://www.familyonbikes.org/


    In addition to Nancy, Rowan and I have a friend in Tasmania who cycletoured with his kids from the time the girls were babies. He, his partner, and their baby of less than a year old toured the Himalayas ... and then continued with numerous other tours over the years as the girls grew up. The girls have the wanderlust now too, and the oldest one (who was the baby mentioned above) is off on an extended tour in Europe and surrounding areas.

  3. #3
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    +1 on Nancy and her family. From reading their blog I think your 12 year old will have the time of his life. There will always be detractors to your adventure, follow your heart and do it.

    I left home to travel for month after school at 22 and was gone 6 years. I never moved home again and I never regret it. It was the best adventure in my life. Even though I was originally planning on being gone for a month, lots of older and wiser family and friends told me it was foolish and dangerous. I now call it the "Peasant mentality", people who have never traveled farther than a couple of hundred miles from home.

    Do your homework and use common sense about where you visit. Check the US State Department Travel Warnings http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p...w/tw_1764.html. Build your itinerary with information. Neither Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan are on the list, and remember that the capitol of Kazakhstan is Astana, tell your family it's the place Lance rode for in the Tour.

    Life is meant to be lived not feared.
    You go where you look

  4. #4
    Hooked on Touring
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    Ditto on NancySV.

    She can tell you everything you need to know.
    And the really nice thing is that she will take the time to do so.
    She is truly amazing!

  5. #5
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    12 YO seems a perfect age for a tour of only "several months". It's before the years of teenage angst and any gaps in formal education can be tutored away upon return. As long as it's not Afghani"stan", the other "stans" are probably OK. Another source of info related to bicycle touring are the blogs from the participants on the "Silk Road" trips put on by Tour Afrique (out of Toronto). The State Department warnings tend to be a bit paranoid.

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    Thanks for the comments! I have also had a good read of Nancy's pages, they really seem like an inspiring bunch.

    It is nice to know that there are so many other people out there for whom the rat-race is not the be-all and end-all, I am beginning to suspect that ending the bike tour may be harder than starting it!

    Now comes the really hard part- putting up with 8 months more work..

  7. #7
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    p.s. I especially like the idea of a pre-teenage angst tour, not sure how one would set up a goth themed bike!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Gotte's Avatar
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  9. #9
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    Ok - where do I even begin?? Firstly, you can't imagine how happy it makes me to read this - I LOVE to see other families out on the road!! I can promise you that you will not regret it.

    My boys are now nearly 12, and are doing just fine with the biking. We left Alaska when they were 10.5 and did fine then too - so your son should be just fine. That being said, you'll have to consider your child - one of our twins is perfectly capable of riding his own bike, while the other would never be able to concentrate long enough to do it safely. Depending on your kid, you may need to consider a tandem.

    Be aware that you will encounter some people who feel that you are torturing your child. You will be (in their eyes, anyway) the worst parents on the face of the earth, and your child should (obviously) be taken away from you. But by far most of the people will support you more than you can even imagine. People will reach out to you in so many ways - giving you a bag of tomatoes, filling your panniers with oranges, offering you a hot meal and soft bed to sleep in, lending you their car so you can take side trips, etc... The list can go on and on and on.

    I've written up a series of interviews with other cycling families - asking them some of the questions you probably have swimming around your brain right now. Hope these help you!

    Miller family - spent a year cycling Europe and North Africa with four kids
    Verhage family - currently in Peru on two tandems with boys aged 11 and 13
    Williams family - just took off with 9-year-old son for an open-ended tour
    Rebekka, Flo, and Chan - cycled from Vancouver to Tierra del Fuego. Left when son was a toddler.

    I've also got quite a few other families listed in the blogroll of my blog at www.familyonbikes.org/blog

    One thing you will have to be comfortable with is ignoring the US Department of State warnings - a lot of them are out there for political reasons. (I had the embassador to Ethiopia personally beg me not to leave Ethiopia because the warning was purely political and had nothing to do with our safety). Pay attention to the Candadian and British warnings - they seem to be much more accurate.

    Please know that I support you completely and will do my best to answer any other questions you might have. Email me at familyonbikes@gmail.com
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  10. #10
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    Our family tours have not been as ambitious as your plans.
    Have toured with our teenage son and a year ago with our 9 yo on a tandem and this past summer
    with him now as a ten yo on a solo bike.
    Could list all the usual things like hydration and bike fit [our teenage surprised us how much he grew in just a few months- more than one bike size], etc.
    There is one lesson we were slow to learn on our first trip with our teenager - the ride was not our ride, but our child's ride. Once you sync with that and really follow that guideline- the trip for everyone will be great. Good Luck.

  11. #11
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martianone View Post
    Could list all the usual things like hydration and bike fit [our teenage surprised us how much he grew in just a few months- more than one bike size], etc.
    Agreed. We had to buy our son a new bike before heading into Mexico - bought it two sizes bigger knowing we would be on the road for a couple more years!
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

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