Our kids are 12, 9 and 9 and will be riding their own bikes. My husband and I rode RAGBRAI XVIII (24 years ago !?!) We’re open to advice for getting ready for this thing, and we’re also just curious to see how many others will be riding with kids. Each of us is very excited for the experience, but nervous about the challenges.
Good for your kids on riding their own bikes! What I miss on RAGBRAI is the families, with kids. I was nine years old my first ride, and my family went as a group for many years. Now my husband & I ride with a group that I consider family, but the youngest are in their 30s. I’d love to see RAGBRAI as a family ride again, but even on local trails I don’t see a lot of kids riding.
Advice for riding with the kids – have a bailout plan “just in case”. On Soggy Monday, my crank broke and my dad ended up having me ride in a truck with someone we had just met. Thankfully, it’s Iowa. I snuggled in the cab of the pickup and dried out during the worst part of the rain and cold. God bless the gentleman who carried me and my bike back to my dad.
Second, let them explore. I remember roaming the overnight towns, swimming at the pool, making new friends. I knew where my family was, and they knew mostly where I was. Okay, it was a long time ago and the ride was a lot smaller, but still – go check things out!
Last, have patience. If your kids are cranky, take a break. Make sure they have a drink and a snack. If needed, stop and take a nap in a ditch, or city park. It’s not a race, and this year has two ridiculously short days which are perfect for families riding together. Take it easy and have your own kind of fun as a family.
Can’t wait to see you on the road!
I have tried to get my youngest son involved after my first RAGBRAI. He always said no or had a conflicting job. He will be 29 and I think he might do the first day with me this year! So excited to pass on my love for RAGBRAI!
I would train as much as possible with a parent in front setting the pace then 9 -12- 9 and a parent on the tail. Stay safely tight as possible.I think you would need this formation in the early mornings, bikes will thin out later in the day where you could ride grouped a bit more. Teach the kids the reason for holding a line and all the Ride Right safety tips provided. Kids these days are smart and will catch on quick during the first day. Take your time and enjoy the sites, make it fun and so what if not every mile is ridden by everyone. As a family you can laugh and giggle or kick and scream. Some days are hot as hell, windy as Michrider, and sometimes wet and cold. Have good support. Keep the kids well nourished and hydrated.
I will second the comments that you need to let the kids have fun and listen to them regarding when to stop. A good mix of riding and finding the parks and swim spots is recommended. While I have never done RAGBRAI with children my wife and I have ridden many miles with our 2 boys on our tandems and we always made sure to get off the bike and have fun play time.
Also you need to make(remind) them drink and eat. On their own they will probably forget to do this as much as they need to. Along this same line to aid in their recovery make sure you get food as soon as you can after getting to the overnight town. Your next days performance will be much better if you refuel shortly after your exercize is done. Do not wait hours before you eat and drink.
As thangamalang said get in as many miles as you can, and riding together as a group will be beneficial. What you do prior to RAGBRAI is more important than what you do on RAGBRAI.
This year I will be riding RAGBRAI with my 14 year old son on our tandem. Looking forward to spending a week with him on the bike, and having him experiance what I call “The Mardi Gras on wheels”.
Good luck with the kids. We are taking our 10 year old daughter on a tandem this year. I’m a little nervous piloting that bike with her on the back with the crowd. Hopefully, careful, heads-up riding and a day on the route will calm my nerves.
Don’t ride from place to place, ride from adventure to adventure. That adventure might be a swimming pool or sprinkler, it might be a special meal or snack. Look for something fun to do off the bike at least once every 10 miles.
I think you want to prepare the kids the same way you prepare. Review the training recommendations you can find on this site, have them train with you on every ride or make sure that between you and hubby you are all getting in enough training, and listen to any complaints they have about their bikes on long rides. Listen to your own body about that too and then work with a local bike shop to correct any issues you have. I would think 9 year olds can do this ride just fine but like anyone else they need to be prepared. I’ve seen childen on the ride. I have never noticed if they were day riders or full week riders. I’ve seen them in trailers, in what ammounts to panniers, on attached cycles, and on their own bikes. I’ve seen adults on giant Big Wheels too but that is another story!
Riding is only part of it though. After that is the whole eating, sleeping, keeping them entertained (especially on those 40 mile days!), etc that goes along with child ownership and care. I have no experience in those areas, someone else will have to help you with that. But don’t neglect to find that help and plan accordingly because a week is a long time for a child to do something like this and life will be better for all of you if you are prepared.
But most of all I would say what a great thing to do with your kids!!! May God give you all a wonderful experience that you will long rememeber and often repeat.
I’m a bit surprised more people have not commented on this.
But….if you are going to do this with two 9 year olds – and I strongly recommend against it – you had better be prepared (as has been brought up previously) not only for the possibility of headwinds and heat, but for the fact that it’s a week long, 400 mile ride and they are only 9 years old. Or have you forgotten that?
In several prior RAGBRAI’s I have had to “supplement” the parenting duties for several friends of mine who had their 10 year olds along on RAGBRAI. The only way their kids made it through was because the parents took the kids along on tandems since they knew their kids could not last for 500 miles by themselves on single bikes. Still, I had to baby sit them several nights (and days on the routes) to maintain the physical and mental well being of the parents (hey – you try dragging a tandem and a 60 lb. kid across Iowa for a week with only you pedaling and see how you feel and what sort of mood you’re in).
And even if you have good weather and tailwinds, just be ready for the inevitable crying in the morning because they don’t want to get up, and they want to stop halfway through a tough day (when there is no SAG support in sight) and on and on and on. Hey – they are kids. They don’t know any better, but you do. I’d wait until they hit 12 years to do a RAGBRAI.
Ok – I’m ready to hear from all the parents who have super kids that prove me wrong. Yeah – there are a few of them out there, but not many.
Have you ever coached a 9 year old baseball team or soccer team? Sure you have – and one of the funniest things to watch is some kid playing right field that starts chasing bugs or picking flowers because the attention span of a 9 year old lasts about 10 minutes. But a week long RAGBRAI is no hour long baseball game.
Everyone knows I’m a PBV fan but you better sign up with them. They have a daily shuttle service. And you will use it.
I am loving all these comments and appreciate all the tips and suggestions. The memories of being on the ride as a child, badcatmomma, are awesome! Thanks for the stories and suggestions. We will certainly make time for the fun and neat things to experience along the way.
I am taking all the training tips seriously and have heard some new ones I hadn’t thought of. We started following the recommended training schedule this week, and know there is a lot to do in the coming months. It is a great family project and we all want to learn and train as much as we can.
Iceman, I think you misunderstood my question. I was not asking if we should go on RAGBRAI. We ARE going on RAGBRAI.
I don’t need to defend myself to you by telling you how great my kids are, so I won’t.
I’m sure you’ll recognize us along the ride. We’ll be the family out there having a good time, meeting neat people, hearing cool stories, experiencing the best of Iowa, and accomplishing a really hard thing that we set a goal to do.
I know that describes a lot of others out there too; I can tell by the thoughtful responses to my question. If that describes you too, iceman, and I just misread you by your comment, then please stop us along the way to say hello. Just don’t expect that you’ll be “supplementing” any of my parenting duties, because that just won’t be happening.
Iceman has reminded me of my coaching days, especially one afternoon when my second baseman, 9 years old, got excited and peed his pants and had to go home and change. No uniforms then, just different colored t-shirts, tennis shoes, wooden bats and some parent or older kid to umpire. I am also reminded of seeing some families that were not prepared for a week of RAGBRAI and did not go home having a positive experience. The best of luck TPM, I will be looking for the Team Powell shirts.
You won’t be the only family out there. One with team skunk this year expanding from mom and youngest (10-12, I really should know shes done 3 now) to include dad and older sister for first time. The oldest son did 1/2 week last year but couldn’t do all, going to Coast Guard Academy now, reported for physical Monday after the ride last year. Now what were you asking? Also think about audio books for the day, and animals, if Anna saw an animal, had to stop and pet.