How to Bike Dad 101

After posting a photo on Instagram 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.

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.

My Summer Riding Season Opens with a Giant Bang

Managed to slam in 3 consecutive days of fantastic riding with great peeps to open the summer season.

Saturday I led my usual Radical Edge Donut Roll Beginner Road ride. I only had one rider this week, and Mike’s not exactly beginner, so heading out bright and early at 8, we beat the heat and had some great conditions. A tail wind heading out to Oromocto provided us with a pretty blistering pace that had us chuckling at ourselves at the turnaround knowing full well what we were in for on the way back. Taking turns with short pulls on the way back gave us a good workout into the headwind and we managed to get back pretty quick leaving the remainder of our day for adult boring stuff. The 50k-ish loop combined with my 15k rides to and from the ride start to home got me past the 75k mark on the day and there was still more in the tank.

Sunday was the Third Annual Radical Edge Gravel Grind in support of Special Olympics New Brunswick. I can claim original gangster status as having ridden since the first year, and hopefully it’s a streak I can keep alive, as the event keeps improving. A later start date this year meant no rain and no jackets/baselayers (!) for the first time! Full sun and soaring temps provided a great, if not even a bit warm ride, and the atmosphere and the post-ride feast and cool-down at the new Picaroons Roundhouse was well-appointed and most welcome after a morning baking on the gravel.

75K group getting ready to roll out.

I had planned to ride the 75k distance but at the last minute, they were short staffed, so I volunteered to sweep the 50k route with a backpack of tubes and tools to assist anyone that ran into problems out on course. It was a refreshing change to take it easy off the back, take in more scenery and chat more with folks along the way – a real fun experience and reminder of what cycling at it’s core is about as well as what a great riding community we have around New Brunswick and the Maritimes. Best part of all, I had to fix a grand total of ZERO flats! Kudos to everyone for being so prepared! I had wavered back and forth on which bike to take to this year’s ride, my ol’ trusty Surly Cross Check or the Giant Defy Advanced 1. In the end I went with the Defy and was super happy with the way it performed. Stayed comfy all day, and the D-Fuse seatpost in combination with the carbon frame really was great at smoothing out the rough stuff. As a bonus, turns out my Porcelain Rocket top-tube frame bag that I acquired for the Cross Check also fits the Defy. Good to know!

As mentioned in a previous post, I worked with Josh and Jane at Special Olympics New Brunswick this year on some branding and marketing materials for the event and they’ve taken done excellent work and really turned it into a top notch event. Over 160 riders from all over the Maritimes, showed up and were treated to a well-supported ride and atmosphere, locally sourced and catered food, local microbrews and a phat table of door prizes, including a Thule T2 hitch rack. This event has grown and improved every year and is fast becoming a ‘mark your calendar’ ride for the cycling community in our region. Of course the most important part is in the end, over $17,000 was raised to support Special Olympics New Brunswick!

Yours truly with a nice Giant TCX and some banners I designed for Special Olympics NB.

After baking in the sun all morning, Sunday evening I rolled out to Killarney Lake to lead a Rad Edge/Giant Sprockids Fredericton session teaching the next generation of shredders some MTB skills. It was super hot and the kids worked hard, had fun and hassled me the entire time to let them jump in the lake – which I regrettably couldn’t – though I kinda wished I could as well. They did manage to treat me to the ‘Gun Show’ however before the session was over.

Monday evening I put on my Giant Ambassador hat again and headed out to the Giant Bikes MTB Demo at MVP. I’ve been reading online from months about the Trance and Anthem and the differences between the two, trying to figure out which one I’d like – BUT JUST FOR RESEARCH’S SAKE BECAUSE OMG I’M NOT BUYING ANOTHER BIKE RIGHT NOW IN CASE MY WIFE IS READING THIS – HI DEAR. Sigh. If you’re ever in the market for a bike (of any brand really) and have the opportunity to get out and demo some, definitely make an effort. Even if you’re not in the market, riding different bikes over the same trails in the span of an hour or two will make glaringly obvious the differences and is a great way to learn about the features, geometry and handling of bikes. Of the two, I came to the conclusion that I’m an Anthem guy – though if I were to get one – which I’m not (see all caps above) – I’d go with the Anthem SX which is kind of a marriage of the two. I won’t bore everyone here with details of my experience and my reasons for choosing – if you’re interested, hit me up and I can talk/message your ear off. Everyone was having a lot of fun trying out the electric mountain bikes, the Dirt E+ and the Full E+. I wanted to make sure I got rides in on the Trance and Anthem so I ran out of time for that. Honestly, I need to keep burning as many cals as I can when I get out anyway. Rubs belly.

Super stoked that we have such a great riding community here in Fredericton and the surrounding area and a real treat to see it growing over the past few years. I have to give props to the Radical Edge, Giant Bikes and Special Olympics New Brunswick – particularly all the fine humans working hard with each of ’em – for definitely setting my summer riding season off on the best possible foot. Looking forward to many summer miles!