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  1. #1
    Senior Member TwoFourOne's Avatar
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    How do I convince my loved ones?

    To start off with, I'm a 16 year old male living in Florida. Cycling is one of my favourite things to do, and I've had a desire to go on a long tour for over a year now. My ultimate goal is to go on a TransAm trip, but you have to walk before you can run

    So, I'm tentatively planning a trip around Florida for next summer. I'd be using the Florida Connector and the Atlantic Coast Section 7 maps from Adventure Cycling. I've tried to tell my parents about my longing to go on this trip, but they both seem very worried about my safety. Same reaction from my girlfriend. Does anyone have any tips for introducing the idea of touring to a loved one? I figure that I should give a little semi-formal introduction to bicycle touring and why I would want to do it, and why their main worries (someone attacking me, someone stalking/murdering me, an animal killing me, etc) aren't really something that should keep someone from living their dream.

    I did invite one of my friends, who is also 16, to come along, but I'm not so sure that will work out. Mostly everyone I know objects to the idea of me going alone. I'd be comfortable with it. Any tips on this, too?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    You don't know me and I don't know you, so I'm just talking in a general way.
    Your parents know you, are you responsible and mature for your age? In
    other words, how are you at school? With house chores? Do you listen when
    asked to do something? This is how people judge you at your age. If you're
    not doing good at school and your room is a mess that means you're
    irresponsible; but then there's the flip side. Maybe you're a straight A student
    with a part time job. That makes you mature for your age but I can still see
    the concern that folks would have. How about starting small. Day trip -> over
    night trip -> weeklong trip, etc.

  3. #3
    Senior Member TwoFourOne's Avatar
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    I do very well in school (taking 3 college night classes as a dual-enrolled student), and I'm generally responsible enough. I do take/have taken daytrips to the towns next to me (max 45 miles round trip), and I go camping with friends very often. I think a one-nighter bike trip would be a nice next step.

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    Try to find some other like minded people - maybe a club that does touring? Its not exactly what you want - touring alone - but you will find that your parents may not mind it as much if you tour as part of a group.

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    Do you really think that murder-minded people or animals are the main hazards to touring cyclists? You know about cars, right?

    If you want to convince folks you're ready to undertake a tour by yourself I'd focus on showing them a solid plan, including a safe and reasonable route, lodging, proper equipment, budget and a strong focus on communications.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjh1960 View Post
    Do you really think that murder-minded people or animals are the main hazards to touring cyclists? You know about cars, right?
    The way I read his post, it is his parents and girlfriend who think that. It is kind of weird to worry about those particular things as compared to being hit by a car, but not all that uncommon. I know a number of folks that said that was their family's main worries.

    That said... I agree completely that murder minded people and animals are WAY down on the list of things to worry about.

  7. #7
    Senior Member IFPCL's Avatar
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    Haha, OP I'm the same age and in a similar situation. My friends and family are a bit more open to the idea though. This may seem counter-intuitive, but maybe you should talk to them about how people/animals are not a primary concern and cars are much more dangerous. Then you could propose precautions like hi-vis clothing, lights, etc. I'm sure you could find some statistics to back yourself up. Maybe I'll see you on tour this summer!

  8. #8
    Cycle Dallas MMACH 5's Avatar
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    I second the idea if doing a few overnight trips, relatively nearby. Plan these at state parks with groomed campsites and whatnot. If your parents are familiar with that type of setup, it may help put them at ease.
    That's gonna leave a mark.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Check with the state parks to see if they'll admit you. The age thing.

    Carry a notorized letter from your parents explaining what you're doing and that you have their permission.

    An hourly text msg to your parents may be in order should you get their go-ahead for the summer tour. Nothing you can say or do will make them quit worrying about you. Or blaming themselves should something untoward happen. Just the way it is.

    A goup tour of some sort is something to consider and maybe organize yourself, with at least one adult along. Possibly as sag support.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Cyclebum; 12-28-12 at 05:48 PM.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    This is normal reaction from most folks you'll meet.....you crazy guy!

    Start by doing a few short over night trips if possible,even 10 miles if need be,break everybody in slowly,yourself included.After a few trips,the "problem" will take care of itself.

    Worse comes to worse......Ask them to join you! They can see for themselves it not so dangerous.....they might actually have fun too.

    I was about your age a million years ago when I started,that worked for me.Moms ALWAYS worry...Dad will start helping you pack....
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  11. #11
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booger1 View Post
    Moms ALWAYS worry...
    It's in their job description. My mom is 96 and I am 61, she still worries.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    TwoFourOne

    I have never done the Trans Am and have no desire to, but at your age I was in a very similar situation of trying to convince my parents to let me go on an extended bike ride. Perhaps if you and your parents read my journal it might help give some perspective to your cycling goals. My trip was obviously a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but in many ways, like communications, public safety, hosted campgrounds etc., today is far safer than fifty years ago.

    On second though perhaps your parents should just read the Epilog and Afterword sections.

    Good luck

    The Western Flyer

  13. #13
    Senior Member TwoFourOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    The way I read his post, it is his parents and girlfriend who think that. It is kind of weird to worry about those particular things as compared to being hit by a car, but not all that uncommon. I know a number of folks that said that was their family's main worries.

    That said... I agree completely that murder minded people and animals are WAY down on the list of things to worry about.
    Yes, they are not my worries, but my parents'/girlfriend's. I know that a car hit-and-running me is way more likely than the next Jeffrey Dahmer getting me But even with their worries that are a little ungrounded, they do worry about cars, too. The likelihood of me getting hit by a car is less on a predefined Adventure Cycling route than when I'm riding my bike in the city to a friend's house, isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by IFPCL View Post
    Haha, OP I'm the same age and in a similar situation. My friends and family are a bit more open to the idea though. This may seem counter-intuitive, but maybe you should talk to them about how people/animals are not a primary concern and cars are much more dangerous. Then you could propose precautions like hi-vis clothing, lights, etc. I'm sure you could find some statistics to back yourself up. Maybe I'll see you on tour this summer!
    Ah, awesome! Good luck man!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    Check with the state parks to see if they'll admit you. The age thing.

    Carry a notorized letter from your parents explaining what you're doing and that you have their permission.
    All of the state parks in Florida require that minors have to be accompanied by an adult :/ I could call them and ask for permission, I guess, but I'm not sure that would work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Booger1 View Post
    This is normal reaction from most folks you'll meet.....you crazy guy!

    Start by doing a few short over night trips if possible,even 10 miles if need be,break everybody in slowly,yourself included.After a few trips,the "problem" will take care of itself.
    It's crazy to most, but it makes a lot of sense to me I forgot to mention this earlier, but I've rode my bike (with a tent on the rear rack + a backpack) to a friend's house where we've camped in the woods by his house. I guess you could see these as "overnight" trips but I think my parents are more worried about how far away from home I'll be on an actual bicycle tour.

    Quote Originally Posted by Western Flyer View Post
    TwoFourOne

    I have never done the Trans Am and have no desire to, but at your age I was in a very similar situation of trying to convince my parents to let me go on an extended bike ride. Perhaps if you and your parents read my journal it might help give some perspective to your cycling goals. My trip was obviously a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but in many ways, like communications, public safety, hosted campgrounds etc., today is far safer than fifty years ago.

    On second though perhaps your parents should just read the Epilog and Afterword sections.

    Good luck

    The Western Flyer
    Thanks for the link! I've spent a lot of time reading CGOAB journals, and I'll be sure to read yours

    And thanks to everyone for replying, really helpful.

  14. #14
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    Any chance the 'rents are into camping? Or would they be amenable to it?

    Another option may be to locate a SP that you can get to in a comfortable days ride, carry a goodly part of the camping supplies, and have them meet you there, do the family camping thing, then they drive on back home and you ride back the next morning.

    Secondary option: if they don't like camping, have them pick an area you can ride to easily, and meet them there for a "get away" weekend. You may stay in a motel, but you can still carry all your gear if you'd like.

    Third: not sure how close you and IFPCL are to each other, but maybe see if the too of you can get together, with a few other friends, and do a group weekend ride, with a responsible adult meeting you at the end and chaperoning.

    Fourth: as has already been mentioned, see if one, or both, of them may be willing to get a bike and do a few weekends with you. May put a crimp in your style, but later in life you'll look back on that kind of trip with fondness.

    At least to start, try to get your parents involved. It will make them much more comfortable with the idea, let them spend some quality time with you, and may just get them interested in cyclotouring as well.

    Worst case scenario: you deal with doing small local rides until you turn 18, then take the summer after you graduate and do the TransAm.
    Chris

    "I want to see the wild country again before I die, and the Mountains..."

  15. #15
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Maybe they can drive Sag for a couple years, till you are out of HS..

  16. #16
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    Get Dad to go along. I did MS150s with mine when I was 12 & 13.
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

  17. #17
    Senior Member TwoFourOne's Avatar
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    As much as I would enjoy it, there is really no way for my parents to ride bikes with me for prolonged periods of time, or to drive a SAG. I'll leave it at that IFPCL is quite far from me, so that's not an option, either. I live about an hour south of Orlando, on the east coast.

    I actually did try to set up a trip where me and my friend would ride bikes to a state park (25ish miles) and my 2 older sisters and one of their boyfriends would go in a car, and we'd meet up there and have a nice camping trip. It was almost finalized, but most of them work so it's hard to find a day where everyone can go. Maybe I'll try to set that up again.

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    I don`t know about Florida, but in most places you can leave home at 16, so there is nothing unreasonable about wanting to go on a little bike trip at that age. I taught myself to rock climb from a book at the age of 12, and used to go camping to many rock climbing areas, winter camping, and ski camping.

    Part of your problem is figuring out what the real issue is. Your safety is certainly part of it. As regards that, it is far easier as a parent, at least initially, to just say no. There is no downside, while saying yes opens the door to disaster. I have been stunned to hear how friends react to my bike trips at 50. Some of them really think that sleeping on the road is suicidal. I just don`t get it, the risk is as near zero as it gets. Riding a bike is dangerous, but often less so that in the city, where many people ride a bike at least now and again. I have heard reports of tours in Florida that suggested the roads were not that appropriate for touring.

    But there are other considerations from safety. Parents also have lives. They may not think their lives will be much fun spending a week worrying about you, particularly if one of the parents is more nervous.

    There is also the question of what they would do if an accident happened. What would this do to their survival as a couple, or as individuals. If they think cycle touring is as natural as driving a car, they can probably deal with the idea of an accident. But how would they deal with the idea of person killing you and your body never being found. Sometimes one parent is protecting the other, knowing they could not survive such an event. Or if they do not agree with the risk, then maybe they are saving their relationship should something go wrong, and blame would be inevitable.

    There are also social issues. They may perceive that your society would question their judgement if they let you ride. There are states or municipalities that call child services if a kid rides a bike to school.

    There can also be economic or time reasons, or other children who will want time, money, or permissions for the wacky of their own.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoFourOne View Post
    I forgot to mention this earlier, but I've rode my bike (with a tent on the rear rack + a backpack) to a friend's house where we've camped in the woods by his house. I guess you could see these as "overnight" trips but I think my parents are more worried about how far away from home I'll be on an actual bicycle tour.
    That is an actual bicycle tour.


    Quote Originally Posted by TwoFourOne View Post
    As much as I would enjoy it, there is really no way for my parents to ride bikes with me for prolonged periods of time, or to drive a SAG. I'll leave it at that.

    I actually did try to set up a trip where me and my friend would ride bikes to a state park (25ish miles) and my 2 older sisters and one of their boyfriends would go in a car, and we'd meet up there and have a nice camping trip. It was almost finalized, but most of them work so it's hard to find a day where everyone can go. Maybe I'll try to set that up again.
    Yes, try to set that up.

    Do several of both types of cycletouring you've mentioned here throughout 2013.

    Then next year, when you're 17 try for some 3-4 day trips.

    Then the following year, when you're an adult at 18, you can go for a 1-2 week tour.

  20. #20
    Senior Member TwoFourOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    I don`t know about Florida, but in most places you can leave home at 16, so there is nothing unreasonable about wanting to go on a little bike trip at that age. I taught myself to rock climb from a book at the age of 12, and used to go camping to many rock climbing areas, winter camping, and ski camping.

    Part of your problem is figuring out what the real issue is. Your safety is certainly part of it. As regards that, it is far easier as a parent, at least initially, to just say no. There is no downside, while saying yes opens the door to disaster. I have been stunned to hear how friends react to my bike trips at 50. Some of them really think that sleeping on the road is suicidal. I just don`t get it, the risk is as near zero as it gets. Riding a bike is dangerous, but often less so that in the city, where many people ride a bike at least now and again. I have heard reports of tours in Florida that suggested the roads were not that appropriate for touring.

    But there are other considerations from safety. Parents also have lives. They may not think their lives will be much fun spending a week worrying about you, particularly if one of the parents is more nervous.

    There is also the question of what they would do if an accident happened. What would this do to their survival as a couple, or as individuals. If they think cycle touring is as natural as driving a car, they can probably deal with the idea of an accident. But how would they deal with the idea of person killing you and your body never being found. Sometimes one parent is protecting the other, knowing they could not survive such an event. Or if they do not agree with the risk, then maybe they are saving their relationship should something go wrong, and blame would be inevitable.

    There are also social issues. They may perceive that your society would question their judgement if they let you ride. There are states or municipalities that call child services if a kid rides a bike to school.

    There can also be economic or time reasons, or other children who will want time, money, or permissions for the wacky of their own.
    Thank you for this post, lots of good insight here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    That is an actual bicycle tour.




    Yes, try to set that up.

    Do several of both types of cycletouring you've mentioned here throughout 2013.

    Then next year, when you're 17 try for some 3-4 day trips.

    Then the following year, when you're an adult at 18, you can go for a 1-2 week tour.
    That's the slow and simple way to do things, but I'm a teenager so of course I want a quicker, more satisfying answer than that I'm sure that when I turn 18 I'll go on a few trips, or one very long trip, but I do want to get started before then.


    Good news, actually. The friend I was talking about said that he came into some money, and he's going to buy a new bike for riding with me! This was all unprovoked, which also means that he's been thinking about the touring offer I gave him, and he's interested! We set up a tentative plan to ride 40-50 miles to the city above us, camp there, and then ride back the next day. Perfect!

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    Twoforone, you've got a well balanced outlook even though you frame your dilemma in terms of convincing others, good luck with that, because what you've done and are doing is what takes to make things happen. I think I got a head start on the parental letting go process when I had a summer job that took me away from home for the summer between 10th and 11th grade. My $.02 is to plan trips, academic, work, that have a larger goal than escape or fun that take you away from home for multiple week periods. That will acclimate your parents to the feeling of absence and not knowing your whereabouts so that by the time your big trip happens this is just another one.

  22. #22
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    TwoFourOne, have you done an over-nighter yet? Even a ride of 20 or 30 miles, staying at a campground, then returning the next day? See if your parents are comfortable with that, and when it's done and you're fine, they will probably be more receptive to a weekend tour, then your weekly idea, and finally your TransAM idea.

    These short tours will also help you determine if you really want to do a long tour.

    Best wishes.

  23. #23
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    Sometimes you just can't convince them not to worry (not that they don't have a reason; as mentioned before, bike touring is not the safest pastime), and you've got to be prepared for that possibility. My advice would be to treat this topic in conversations naturally, as if you know what you're doing (of course, you should actually know what you're doing), because it's the atypical and the unknown that scares people usually. If they get an idea in their heads that it's like an expedition, with you doing inhuman feats of endurance, braving the elements and sleeping with one eye open, fearing bandits or something, then it will be hard to convince them otherwise. And trust me, it doesn't take much for them to start thinking that way. Even though I've got many thousands of miles under my belt, in all possible road and weather conditions, they still think that doing 60 miles in a day is something extraordinary. We've watched touring documentaries together, as well as pro cycling races, with the peloton doing double the distance I do in half the time, yet they still think that bike touring is hard and not at all enjoyable.

    Ultimately, you have to strike a balance between easing their worries and making concessions regarding your tour. Knowing that they will never stop worrying, due to the emotional, rather than rational causes, you might as well enjoy your tour, instead of trying to ease their slightest concern. Just try to keep your ambition in check, because seeing your plan through is even more important than having a bombproof plan, IMO. If you return home earlier than planned, or missing various pieces of kit due to losing them, that would be a huge setback in the trust department. If you do a few successful multi-day tours that go as planned, you will have a much easier time with your folks in 2-3 years time. I have no such luxury, having cut short a few tours, so I should know.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    This sounds like something I could have posted when I was the original poster's age. I ended up putting the touring on hold until after high school, but doing some good day trips. It was a fair compromise and I don't regret it. I'd rather have happy parents than a good tour.

    One suggestion: When you're going out for a ride, even if it's just a few hours, file a flight plan. Leave a note for your parents to let them know where you're going, the routes you're taking and when you'll be back. If you're just going around town, then tell them that. This is incredibly useful if things ever go wrong when you're on the road.

    The written plan will let your parents know you're a thoughtful and careful cyclist and it will let them know you're considering them.
    Life is good.

  25. #25
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    Check with the state parks to see if they'll admit you. The age thing.

    Carry a notorized letter from your parents explaining what you're doing and that you have their permission.

    An hourly text msg to your parents may be in order should you get their go-ahead for the summer tour. Nothing you can say or do will make them quit worrying about you. Or blaming themselves should something untoward happen. Just the way it is.

    A goup tour of some sort is something to consider and maybe organize yourself, with at least one adult along. Possibly as sag support.

    Good luck.
    This is all good advice.

    And face reality - your parents love you and are responsible for you - they have a right to worry.
    Ditto for your girlfriend if you're serious.

    You're legally a minor. There's a limit to what you can do without being accompanied by an adult - which means an organized, supported tour might be the best bet, and one your parents would definately feel more comfortable with.

    And seriously - if your parents aren't comfortable with the idea - don't force it. If you have a good relationship with your family - don't compromise that. Its worth more than any bicycle trip.
    Last edited by Burton; 12-30-12 at 03:42 PM.

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