Thursday, September 22, 2011

Family at Play: Kids on Bikes

Biking has been one of my favorite activities since I was a child. When I was a teen, I went on bike trips with American Youth Hostels, and even when I had a car at college, I used a bicycle to explore St. Louis. It seemed natural that when my husband and I bought our second brownstone, we built a closet specifically for our bikes.

Like many kids, our girls played soccer, and the fields were a couple of miles from our house. We used to drive over, but the extremely limited parking meant we could circle the fields for half an hour, with one kid missing practice and the others growing bored. We told the kids, “if you want to play soccer, you have to ride to the field.”

This turned a couple of hours at soccer into a day-long adventure. In our first house, we stored 2 bikes in the cellar, 2 on the ground floor, and the third up the stoop. Just getting all the bikes out took 45 minutes. And when the kids were younger, they rode very slowly.

But as their skill level and confidence grew, so did their speed. Our youngest daughter, now 13, rides a 35 mile round trip to the beach with no complaint, and she went on a bike trip with camp, New Hampshire to Maine, biking 45 miles a day.

Our middle daughter, now in college, often rode her bicycle from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side for high school. She was a competitive soccer player, so she didn’t ride when she had soccer practice, but we rode our bikes to her games.

Family vacations have included Backroads bike trips in Denmark and Italy, and shorter bike trips as part of a family trip. We have ridden bike trails in Northampton, MA, Jim Thorpe, PA, and Cincinnati, OH. We rode bikes over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and through Mayan ruins in Mexico.

We were trying to decide what to do to celebrate Nickelodeon's 8th Annual Worldwide Day of Play this weekend, but the 13 year old has practice for the Ultimate team. So we will go on a own bike ride without her.

Our kids all played varsity sports, from track to soccer to Ultimate, they ski, they swim, they hike and rock climb. But they go their start on tiny bicycles with training wheels. Get your family started on exercise today.

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