Bikes Bring Us Together, Keep Us Closer: One Colorado Family’s Story

 

Bikes have brought our family together like nothing else. And by that I mean both the bikes — and the biking. Geeking out about kid-specific geometry and components adds lively conversation to our family time, as does the quiet yet collective experience of riding in the wild together. So many times biking with my boys — one husband, one kid and one teen — takes my breath away. Literally and figuratively.

 



 

I’m a little embarrassed that I’m now eating my kids’ dust on the trails as I try to chase them up and down roots and rocks. But I’m also grateful that they, too, are finding joy in the place I love most: the outdoors.

 

Especially now, when we’re desperate to depart from the confines of our post-pandemic homes, bikes are a bonding tool like no other. Riding is our warm-weather escape, just as skiing has become our winter-weather family time. We’re lucky to call Colorado home; it just makes all of this easier. But even if we didn’t have singletrack out our door, I have a feeling that riding bikes would still keep us together.

 

 

Pedal strokes

 

But biking together has not always been smooth sailing. As parents, we had to work at it, trusting our guts about when to encourage without pushing and when to back off completely to let our kids figure the power of their bikes on their own. Like every family, we’ve wrestled with early questions about balance-bike training and frames in the right weight and height for our growing boys. One question that kept coming up was, “What bike would make riding fun, even if we started going up hills?”


 

Given that mountain biking is my husband’s singular passion, holding back and waiting to see if the boys would come to love the sport on their own was agonizing at times, but worth every second of delayed gratification. 


Now the boys’ skill levels at 12 and 14 are reaching and in some cases exceeding our own. They are asking us to try new trails and features, realizing they can expand friendships through riding and understanding that entire family trips can be built around exploring by bike.  

 

My youngest son, now on a woom 6 OFF that’s well suited to our everyday riding in Denver’s foothills, recently smoked his 17-year-old flatlander cousin up the side of a mountain. For Brody, the bike’s incredibly lightweight frame and grippy wide tires have transformed his uphill game. 


He no longer experiences the tire spinning and quad burning of dragging a shrunk-down adult bike around the trails. He know this was a rig built from the ground up for him, a kid, who has some very precise body geometry. And that alone has given a cool sense of confidence I’d never seen before.


 

Watching him soar and keep up with his older brother while discussing newly acquired technical bike geeketry is like watching my children achieve success in lacrosse and academics. It’s goose-bumpy stuff. In fact, many of the moments we’ve spent together on bikes have been nothing short of magical, just little moments, as the boys have come into their own. Reliving them is a bit like flipping through a photo album:

 

Back roads: I’ve mapped all the back ways to get around our mountain town, showing my boys the ins and outs during some special mother-son-only excursions. Now they’re empowered to lead their friends on shortcuts into town for ice cream.

 

 

Bike parks: We get to the epic Valmont Bike Park in Boulder once a month and often choose Colorado towns to visit by which one has the best pump track. My guys can spend hours riding a single rail to perfection or sessioning a downhill course to near obsession.




Trip planning: Out comes the big, old-school printed Colorado maps: We finger our favorite rides, from nearby Buffalo Creek to dreamy Crested Butte to father-flung Moab, Utah. Together, over the years, we’ve traversed see-forever singletrack, picked through fields of wildflowers and rolled down slick rock.


 

Physical challenges: Instead of constantly reminding our kids of how far their bikes can take them if they just dig a little deeper, today they are maturing enough to challenge themselves. We’re just here to support the first gap jumps and clipless pedal sessions. They are seeing the payoffs of personal challenges: getting stronger and fitter right as puberty sets in, and challenging riding buddies to some friendly competition.  


 

Jump building: Just as the boys have slowly come around to the fun of working hard on a mountain-bike climb, if only to experience the bliss of a screaming downhill, they’ve also figured out the fun in building features. Our yard is filled with hand-cut trails and painstakingly nail-pounded wooden structures, from teeter-totters to radius ramps. Turns out that digging in the dirt — and videoing your epic launches and fails — is almost as rad as riding in the dirt.  


All of these elements are embedded in our family’s biking life. But what’s energizing is that we’re really just getting started. There’s so much more to learn, teach, watch and explore. Bikes may be simple, singular conveyances. But where they can transport us together is extraordinary.

 

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