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Book Review: Twenty Miles Per Cookie

Posted September 13th, 2012

Twenty Miles Per Cookie Anyone who’s interested in bike touring with kids has likely heard of the Vogel family.

Nancy and John – the parents of twin sons Davy and Daryl – have taken their family on all kinds of two-wheeled adventures.

In 2011 they finished a 3-year ride from Alaska to Argentina and before that epic trip they biked 9,000 miles around the U.S. and Mexico.

It is that initial big bike adventure – through 19 U.S. states and five Mexican states – that Nancy describes in the book Twenty Miles per Cookie: 9000 Miles of Kid-Powered Adventures.

We dove into Twenty Miles per Cookie during a recent bike tour across Europe (our first family bike tour with our son Luke) and found it to be an inspiring and refreshingly honest account of bike touring as a family.

Nancy doesn’t just describe the rosy parts of the journey, like meeting ‘road angels’ along the way, but also the many challenges from bad weather to physical exhaustion.

One quote that really stood out for us was this one:

In my many years of traveling I’ve found adventure is, many times, only one step away from disaster. It springs from the unknown – from having no idea how we will meet our basic needs. It is stressful, but the kind of stress I can look upon and say, “What an unexpected turn of events!” It’s those days that make for the most memorable experiences, and are, therefore, the most rewarding days of a journey.

That – in a nutshell – is what we took away from this book: the message that adventures might not always be easy but they are worth having. Adventures are something that we personally will continue to prioritise as a family, even though sometimes they push us to our limits.

The only thing that disappointed us a bit was the book’s length. Some of the stories left us hanging. We really wanted to know more about the details of the trip but before we knew it we were turning the last page.

Overall, however, it’s a good little read and definitely worth a look if you are thinking about bike touring with kids. If you want to know more, check out the Vogel’s website Family On Bikes or watch the video below.

 

Video: Our First Big Family Bike Tour

Posted July 31st, 2012

We just returned from our first extended bike tour as a family. 

With 5-month-old Luke in tow, we cycled 550km through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. We’ll be blogging more in the coming weeks about the lessons learnt from this tour but first, a video that we managed to shoot and assemble (in our tent at night) along the way.

Gear? It’s The Spirit That Counts.

Posted March 30th, 2012

Earlier this year, we were contacted by an anxious would-be bike tourist. He bombarded us with questions about gear.

From the bigger pieces of equipment such as the bike and the tent down to the tiny details of bottle cages and bar ends, he wanted everything to be perfect. The equipment, he said, should solve all his problems and never fail.

We had to disappoint him. This graph (spotted in a mountain bike magazine) sums up our view very well.

The more you ride, the less the equipment seems to matter – or at least that’s been true for us.

Good gear helps. Certainly it does. But it’s not the magic answer to a perfect bike tour and believing that the ‘perfect’ gear will ensure a ‘perfect’ trip will only lead to disappointment. No matter what the quality, bikes can break down, waterproof jackets sometimes leak and certain challenges – like fighting a headwind – can’t be helped by equipment at all. In tough situations, a good attitude will get you further than equipment ever will.

We also don’t have all the equipment answers. What works for us, might not work for you. What we like might not be your cup of tea. We list our favourite bits of gear in our free Bike Touring Basics book but every cyclist has to make their own decision. Finding out is half the fun!

We’d also argue that the ‘perfect’ trip is a rather boring one. Some of our best memories come from the toughest moments on the road, when everything seemed to be going wrong. Why go so far to avoid failure and challenges, when we have so much to gain from those experiences?

Back to gear, we recently posted this photo on our Facebook page. It’s from 1898. There’s not a waterproof pannier or high-tech tent in sight.

Bikes & Mountains (circa 1898)

Fast forward to 1961, where we find this lovely image of two boys out for a bike tour from the Dutch National Archives. Didn’t anyone ever tell them that you’re not supposed to ride a bike while wearing a backpack? Apparently they just wanted to have fun…

Trekkers op de fiets met tent en rugzak, 1961.

At least their panniers appear to be in better shape (and less overstuffed) than the bags that this Japanese cyclist is carrying. The year is 1974 and he’s on an 84,000km trip around the world. How he doesn’t topple over is beyond us…

Doofstomme Japanner maakt per fiets reis om de wereld van 84.00 km; Hirayaura in…

Back to Dutch cyclists, here’s a family, going on holiday with their self-built touring bike… including sidecar.

Vakantie, trekkers per fiets. Zelfgebouwde vakantie-familiefiets. Vader,  moeder…

Ladies from the 1950s on a 6-month tour of Europe.

Vakantie, trekkers per fiets, Londen (Engeland). Drie vrouwen met fietsen, volge…

A dapper young man, ready for his summer holidays (the photo is from the 1930s).

Trekkers per fiets. Een jongeman met zijn fiets bepakt en klaar voor zijn fietsv…

Two young women, returning to Illinois after a bike trip.

Vakantie ten einde. Amerikaanse meisjes op de fiets terug naar Ilinois

And finally, there’s Frances Birtles, who rode around Australia several times in the early 1900s.

Frances Birtles

So, to the cyclist who wanted to perfect his touring setup before leaving home, we have just this to say. Go ride. Have fun. The rest doesn’t really matter so much.

FREE: Our Bike Touring Basics Book

Posted January 17th, 2012

Bike Touring BasicsIt’s here! The second edition of our Bike Touring Basics book is free, and exclusively available to our newsletter subscribers.

Bike Touring Basics answers common questions about planning a first tour, such as:

  • What makes bike touring so wonderful
  • How much it will cost
  • Which bike to buy
  • Where to go for a first tour
  • What to pack
  • The gear we use and recommend

To get your copy, simply fill in your name and email.

When you do, you’ll also receive an extended preview of our Bike Touring Survival Guide and future editions of our monthly newsletter*, with exclusive bike touring tips.

*100% spam free. May inspire you to quit your job and go cycling.

Still not convinced? Here’s a free preview of Bike Touring Basics.

Amazing Video Of A U.S. Bike Tour

Posted January 6th, 2012

Want to be inspired? Check out this fantastic film of a 2,200km cycling tour through the Southwestern U.S. including the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

It’s from our bike touring friends friends Dennis & Marijcke, and they’ve also made their GPS tracks and photos available on their website. Happy viewing!

You can find translations for the brief parts of spoken Dutch on Vimeo.