Family On Bikes

How Cycling Around the World with Two Kids Changed Motherhood

I thought my adventuring days were over the moment Mr. Sperm met Ms. Egg.  How wrong I was…

Adventure is a funny thing.  The dictionary defines the word as “a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome,” – certainly not something one would do with kids. 

But then, I’ve never been a dictionary sort a’ gal.

I remember the day back in 2006 when my husband came home and announced he wanted to take off with the boys to cycle the world.  Cycle the world?  As in – pedal a two-wheeled contraption in far flung places around the globe?  With kids? 

I remember my response as if it were yesterday.  “Are you outta your mind?  Have you gone mad?  We are parents, dear husband.  As in – we’ve got two little human beings in our care.  Parents don’t just take off and ride bicycles around the world.  With their children.”

Or do they?

The more he talked about heading out for the adventure of a lifetime, the more I started thinking about it…  Maybe he wasn’t mad after all.  Maybe I was the crazy one to think that I needed to do what society expected of me.  Maybe doing the “typical” parent thing wasn’t the best thing going for me or my kids?  Maybe we should head out to see the world on our own terms. You know… like, grab life by the horns and hold on for the ride? 

It wasn’t long before I knew I would be crazy not to do it.  The way I figured it, I only have one chance at this thing called life.  I have one opportunity to live it to the fullest.  If I don’t take advantage of these fleeting moments I’ve been given, I’ll lose the chance.  My sons will grow and mature and develop into young men with lives of their own.  They won’t want to travel with ol’ ma and pa.

And now – years later – my sons have celebrated a birthday or two on the road.  As a family, we’ve cycled 27,000 miles through fifteen countries.  We’ve spent 1400 nights sleeping next to our bicycles in just as many unique locations.  We’ve pedaled over 15,000 foot passes, through barren deserts, and in tropical rain forests.  My family and I drank mate in Argentina, scuba dived in Honduras, partied during Carnival in Ecuador, and were chased by a bear in Canada.  We stayed with an indigenous family in Bolivia and at a migrant workers’ camp in Mexico.  We pedaled past penguins, guanaco, iguanas, big horn sheep, and bison.

We’ve lived life on our own terms.  We’ve made our own path through life and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that parenthood doesn’t have to mean the end of adventure.  These days with our children have been one of the highlights of both my life and my husband’s.  And it’s been the childhood dreams are made of for our sons.

I know the day will come when I’ll be old and gray, sitting in my rocker looking back on these days of adventure with my family.  I’ll reflect upon the memories we’ve made and the unique experiences we’ve shared.  And I’ll be forever grateful to my husband for coming up with such a cock-a-nanny idea as cycling the world. With children.

I’ll also know that we’ve shown the world a thing or two.  Adventure doesn’t have to end the moment Mr. Egg meets Ms. Sperm.

Nancy Sathre-Vogel is a modern-day nomad and vagabond who travels the world in search of beads and other treasures. Her preferred mode of transportation is a bicycle, although she's been known to travel in car, bus, plane, boat, donkey cart, elephant, and camel. You can read more about the adventures of Nancy and her family at Family On Bikes