How to Bike Dad 101

Après ride kicking it on the @radicaledgebikeski patio avec espresso.

A post shared by Kent Fackenthall (@dadbikerdesigner) on


After posting a photo from after a ride this morning I had a buddy PM me:

“Dude. Explain to me how you are able to ride every damned day and post this spectacular shit to Facebook all the time with a mitt full of kids and a full time job??? Send me the secret immediately.”

I shot him a couple of replies and it occurred to me that they might make a decent blog post. Although I told him that really, looks can be deceiving and posting a picture every day does not necessarily mean a ride every day. That’s the magik of the Internet. However I did have a few tips I’ve garnered in my short time as a Bike Dad to offer up.

  1. My oldest kid has soccer practice 3x a week, roughly 1.5 hrs each time. Someone’s gotta drive her. Town is just far away enough it doesn’t make sense to drive back, so I bring the bike and that’s 3 rides a week right there. If I help out or make dinner beforehand and try and get all the ducks in a row as much as possible, the Wife’s happy to stay home and not drive.
  2. I lead a ride Saturday mornings and have purposely scheduled it stupid early – partly to avoid heat and traffic – but also because most of the Herd is still sleeping when I roll out. By the time I get back around 11, they’ve all only been up an hour or two and for the most part are still shuffling round in their jammies. If you’re willing to get up early, you can get tons of riding in and be back in a stellar mood and I don’t know about you, but once I’ve got a ride in, I’m so much happier to help out around the house and deal with the Daily Drama.
  3. Emma, the second oldest, is an eager rider, has an MTB and just got a road bike. Getting out with the kids isn’t as satisfying from a training aspect but more so in a thousand other ways. I used to get hung up on riding with my kids like ‘ugh, I’m not really getting a workout’ – I’m over that now – just happy to get out, and the positive family mojo is priceless.
  4. Commute, commute, commute, whenever possible. Don’t get hung up on going every day. If you have a family, chances are it’s not gonna happen every day. Get it when you can though, and it will make a huge difference. Remember what I said about getting up early? If you can get up even earlier, you can tack some distance onto your commute for a longer ride. A straight line from point A to point B is for suckers.
  5. I guess when all else fails, drag the kids with you. A hassle sometimes but better than no ride at all. When mine were little, we had a Chariot trailer/stroller for years. Huge. Well worth the investment and easily resellable. Conversely, pretty easy to find used  as people are always outgrowing ’em. In my opinion the Chariots are great because they work for walking and jogging too.
When it comes to family trips these days, it’s a foregone conclusion. Of course we’re packing the bikes.

Those were the gist of what I sent him. Since then while pondering it I’ve thought of a few more.

  • For two years now I’ve been an instructor with Sprockids Fredericton teaching 7-12 year olds how to shred in the woods. I signed my two youngest up the first year and again this year. One thing I did learn is that I’d rather not have them in my own group – that’s hard – and I didn’t the second year, but other than that, all good mojo and ride time. They get out, I get out and we share that together. They’re much more excited and eager to go on rides outside of Sprockids because of the confidence they’ve gained. And we all know how kids love to show off stuff they’ve learned.
  • I’ve stopped worrying about what kind(s) of rides I get in. Any ride is a good ride. Ride to lunch? Good. 3 hr. MTB epic? Good. 1 hour teaching kids to not go over the bars on downhills, good. Don’t worry about getting that 75k training road ride in, chances are if you’re doing things right, your window will come.

What the hell does that mean, “my window will come?” Well, I don’t know about you, but for me, when I ride bikes on a regular basis, I’m generally a better guy to be around. I’m happier. I contribute more at home. Am more willing to help out, take on more work, and less selfish. I’m generally a better partner to my Wife. In addition, any time you can get at least some of the kids out of the house, wear them out, and make it easier on your partner, that’s brownie points in the bank, man. It might not seem like it at the time, but wait. Times come now where my Wife will actually tell me to go on a bike ride. And when I do plan big rides, I do so with her involvement, making sure that all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed so I can get out with a (relatively free) conscience. She knows. The positive mojo is  a perpetual machine, it just keeps giving back.

At some point I made the decision to switch from being someone who rides bikes to making a conscious effort to make riding bikes what I do. Thinking from a place of trying to make riding bikes an integral part of who I am has led to new ideas on how to fit rides into busy schedules and everyday life.

Honestly, the hardest part about riding bikes so much is finding the time to properly maintain 10+ of them. I need my own service course.

4 Replies to “How to Bike Dad 101”

  1. This is what people want from a blog post, honest and realistic. It’s got the reality of finding solutions to busy family life that work for the whole family. All too often Dad’s that ride, seem to be all about their ride and making riding into something that’s at odds with family life.

    Bravo

    1. Thanks, Simon. It’s a constant dance to get that desire to ride satisfied and not feel guilty about getting out. Some days it works, some, not so much, but it’s a process.

  2. This is great insight into the logistics of getting out for a ride. When my kids have activities, I often see the parents dutifully sitting in chairs to watch, if only they would use the valuable time to head out for a bike ride. If they were me, they would even manage to get some groceries in the middle of their ride.

    1. I agree Doug, though there’s a line to be drawn in some cases. When my kids were really little at activities and stuff, I felt it was important to stay as a show of support and interest in what they’re doing and their success/struggles in it. As we all know though, as they get older, it’s less cool to have Mom and Dad around. My oldest finally got to the point when I was dropping her off for soccer when she’d turn and say, “you’re not staying are you?”

      I usually catch some of the games, partly because I find them interesting from a sporting standpoint, but practices – yeah, I’m out. We’ve talked about it and she’s indifferent on whether I’m there or not!

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