It’s inevitable that cycling-obsessed parents hope their kids follow suit and appreciate the riding lifestyle as much as they do. Here, four QBP dads share how they’ve planted the seeds, with everything from running errands, to camping, to racing.
Kent & Campbell Karjala
Quality Control Tech
My wife and I have been riding and racing since the late 1980s. When we heard about the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) and the newly formed Minnesota High School Mountain Bike League in 2012, we knew this would be a great fit for our mountain biking son once he was old enough to participate. In 2014, I saw the opportunity to sign on to be the head coach of a team.
My son and I had been mountain bike riding and racing together for a while before that, but having a team to be part of, with other kids his own age and regular training rides, made him more excited about mountain biking than ever. As the season went on, our team grew, and so did his confidence. He became more interested in training and strategy. We had some success, and he is now motivated for improving in the coming season.
Having another bike nerd in the house to talk bikes, tech tips, and race strategies with has helped strengthen our relationship. It’s also given us the opportunity to talk when things don’t go as well as planned. In a broader scope, however, it has likely helped my family in ways I can’t really measure. Things like trying to be a good example and role model for our kids and the others on the team, coaching other kids who are new to mountain biking, and watching them have fun while they become better riders. Because of this involvement with the team, our younger son now has a stronger interest in mountain biking, and he’s looking forward to being on the same team as his brother in a couple of years.
Paul Zeigle & Family
Production Site Manager & Quality Wheels Brand Manager
We are a one-car family in a city that is very pedestrian and bike friendly. Our children spent most of their early years in the Burley trailer and then on a Trail-a-Bike exploring the city with Dad.
Our first family bike tour was an overnight to Carver Park, which is about a 30-mile ride on regional bike trails. Carlos was four years old and Leo turned two during our trip. I hooked up a Trail-a-Bike to my touring bike and then attached the Burley trailer to the Trail-a-Bike. We continue to make the Carver Park trip an annual family event. Eventually my wife, Tricia, and Fredonia, our third child, joined us. Carlos rode his own bike and Leo and Fredonia rode the Trail-a-Bike or on the back of our tandem.
The key to a successful bike tour with young kids is frequent stops and lots of snacks. I scoped out playgrounds along the route and planned a lunch stop in Excelsior. We kept the food to hot dogs cooked over the fire and orange juice and Pop-Tarts for breakfast. It helps to have the kids in comfortable, active clothing on bicycles that are properly fitted and in good working order. And don’t forget to bring a first aid kit.
These trips exposed our kids to nature, increased their confidence, introduced them to cycling as a form of transportation, and created some great family memories and traditions.
Martin Sahaydak & Family
Regional Sales Manager
In the early ‘90s, my wife and I raced mountain bikes on the weekends, and every vacation was spent checking out the latest trails around the country. Once the kids came along, I hoped they would get the same bug that hit me. I probably overdid the “encouragement” through their early years, but for some reason they stuck with it. Now the early weekend mornings, driving to the races, getting bikes set up, and pre-race jitters aren’t for me but for them, as we’re focused on helping get them and their teammates to the start and across the finish line.
My wife loves that the parents are actually allowed to participate in practices, and that NICA not only allows this but also encourages it. The friends we’ve made and the memories we’re collecting as a family make us realize we’re a part of something pretty special.
Our oldest, Justice, 16, spends every other day during the summer on her bike with the team, and when it’s the two-month racing period, it’s even more. Our middle child, Jarod, 14, has ridden with the family for a long time, and even though we had friendly competition among us, it’s nothing compared to the sea of racers that he goes toe-to-toe against now. It gives him a completely new side of mountain biking.
Our youngest, Josie, 10, isn’t yet old enough to race, but loves race weekends. Last year she was with her sister and the girls on the team cheering for everyone. She was the Number One Fan, and can’t wait for the season to start again. Throughout it all, the family gets to hang out just as much as, if not more than normal.
Matt Larson & Family
Our family rides take one of two paths with twin three-year-olds calling the shots. We’re either cruising in the neighborhood, or on our Big Dummy family wagon for some miles and exploring.
In the neighborhood it’s a leisurely pace so the boys can improve their skills on their Striders. We try to keep it simple, fun, and casual, but we usually only make it a few blocks before the kids are stomping puddles, talking to neighbors, or checking out the new Bobcat front loader that is currently busting up old curbs a block over. They are easily distracted, and their little minds are always on the move, so the key is to let them enjoy it at their own pace. Force it, and you risk them resenting you for life, or worse, they pick up freestyle walking as a passion, and nobody wants that.
This summer I will be bringing them to a pump track or BMX track for the first time. This should help their handling skills, so I can eventually get them out on some local single track. (My ideal end goal is that my boys are ripping single track with me on the weekends.)
I have the Big Dummy set up with two seats on the back, and extra storage for a cooler, snacks, super heroes, monster trucks, and drawing supplies. You never know what you will encounter out there. We usually set out for a 1–2 hour ride across town or to check out a new park. There they can burn off some energy, and it gives me some extra possible mileage without hearing the dreaded “Daddy, I want to get down now.”
We also use the Big Dummy to run errands. These trips are about exploration as well as using bikes as a part of day-to-day life. For me, it’s just another way to enjoy some quality time with the boys.
As a guy who is very invested in riding, I find myself wishing they could ride faster, farther, and with fewer stops to smell the roses. But I keep that to myself, and smell the roses with them.