TCI Friday works best when you weigh in. Read, respond, relax.
As you read these words, I am sitting in a small bungalow in tiny Welsh village drinking a cup of hot, sugary tea and contemplating what is possible. Here among my aunts and uncles, the couch is so comfortable, so gravitationally dense, that I could easily let myself stay here, eating cookies, all day. My kids are staring at their phones, well-satisfied by the strength of the Welsh WiFi. Any my wife sees that it’s drizzling again, that it’s somehow raw without being cold, and we’re all tired still, not quite caught up to the time change.
But when you go to Mecca, you pray. That’s what you do.
So I’m sitting blissfully in the place my family has lived since at least the 18th century, and trying to figure out how I escape for a mountain bike adventure without offending anyone or getting in whatever kind of trouble a 50-year-old man can get in.
You’ve been on vacation with your family. You know how this goes. How many times have I said to my kids, standing atop a hike they never wanted to start, “Look! See! You’ll thank me for this one day!” That day has not yet arrived.
We have a list of magical things to do. Hike the sea cliffs in Pembrokeshire (Dyfed). See the waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons. Climb to the top of Mt Snowdon, and maybe Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan as well. Drive to the end of Holyhead. Eat ice cream in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the little town with the impossibly long name my father taught me to say in installments before bed every night. There’s a lot to do, on top of kissing a million aunts and catching up with all the cousins, which isn’t possible in a month of Sundays.
And somewhere in there I need to ride. Wales has a handful of world class trail systems, some with bike rental and on-site cafe. I have to figure out how to get dropped off and abandoned at one or more of them, without causing great inconvenience or offense.
So this week’s TCI Friday asks, how do you juggle family and ride plans when you’re on vacation? Do you just give up and go with the familial flow? Or do you give up and chase every ride, consequences be damned? Moderation and balance are usually the right answers, but what would you say to a person (me) who was pretty bad at those things?
“I have to go ride my bike now. I’m a professional”
We are just home from an extended UK vacation and we try to do long trips each summer with our two sons. As my boys settle into their early teens I feel less guilt about getting away for a few hours. We do a lot when we travel so the occasional “lazy day” allows them to relax (phones, sleeping in) which sets me free to get out on my own. On past trips I have indulged in the occasional MTB rental and gone running. This summer I never did squeeze in a ride but had some great run adventures. I’m afraid I might be going through one of the rare phases where riding doesn’t have as strong of a pull? If you are nearby, one of the most beautiful evening walks of my life was around Cwm Idwal after a picnic dinner. If you start at the nearby YHA make sure you go up the first trail on the right and come down the other one.
I roll with the family plans and usually don’t ride. I do feel guilt when I indulge in my favorite pastime.
My wife and I take frequent bike vacations so when its the 4 of us I plan on not riding. We’ve been to Europe a few times with no riding but there’s so much to see and do that I don’t miss it. Plus I build up capital for long rides when we get back. Once when the kids were little I brought a bike to Disney World and rode the service roads early each morning. The behind the scenes perspective was interesting.
They love you and will be happy for you to get a couple rippers people in as long as you don’t overreach or leave them hanging. Finishing not too tired is key also. It’s one thing to get out for a couple hours but quite another to need a 7 hr couch session afterwards.