By Guest Bloggers Jason and Chelsey Magness
As professional adventure racers and race directors my husband Jason and I love big endurance training trips. But as new parents of Max (4) and Revel (1.5) it has been a fascination to look for ways to incorporate more adventure, play and training into our family life. One of our most favorite ways to check all of these boxes is to go on family bike-packing trips. When we had just one kid, it was much easier to go on backpacking trips (one person carried the kid, the other the camping gear), but once we added little brother Revel to the mix, we quickly turned to looking for other alternatives that allowed for us to manage even more gear and weight.
We just got back from our fourth bike packing trip through Central Oregon and it was amazing. We took 4 days (3 nights) to do 120 miles, most of it on dirt roads with lots of play stops along the way. Every night we ended at a different lake or river to ensure easy water access and lots of water, dirt and sand play (a kid's dream). On average, we rode hard for about 2-3 hours before our first stop and tried to do a second push in the early to late afternoon after the kids had worn themselves out. A few days into the trip, we hit a small town, which proved to be a fun stop for the kids and enabled us to carry less weight in food and water knowing that we could refill during the trip.
Nite Ize products have always been a staple in our adventure racing kits, but they have become even more important to take on our family adventure trips. Attached to the kids bike trailer was a big stash of Gear Ties of all sizes. They weigh nothing, and came in handy for everything from fixing the boys' shade structure to keeping our tent stakes together when we lost the little baggie, to creating a handy hook for our water filtration system. Another favorite and coveted item for this trip (and all our family camping trips) are the Nite Ize Rechargeable Glow Sticks (referred to as light lasers by the boys). These “light lasers” provided countless squealing play moments between the boys in the tent before bed. For us parents, the Nite Ize GearLine proved to be our most clutch piece of gear. After a full day on the bikes and then playing in the water for as long as possible before bed, the GearLine gave us a great place to dry out our wet and dirty clothes.
If you are reading this and are getting excited to plan your own solo or family bike packing trip, we have some advice that we have learned over the last few years:
1) Go for it
Every family adventure sounds daunting until you are in it. Yes the planning and packing is a bit stressful (we are not going to sugar coat that) but once you start pedaling away, it all becomes so easeful and simple. Kids love to be outside and to be with you. They are also highly adaptable, way more so than adults. And the more you let them in on the adventure (have them “help” navigate, pack up camp, etc.), the more they will become excellent teammates.
2) Let your kids see your struggle
When you are pulling them up a hard hill, or get “lost” on a dirt road, let them see you in this place and then get through it. During our trip, Max would see us working hard and say “Daddy, Mama you can do it!” Immediately afterwards, Revel would then say the same thing. Later on in the day, hiking up a big hill at our camp spot, Max would say, “Wow, this is hard but I can do it!” Moments like this don’t come easy unless they see you doing it, and a bike packing trip is a perfect teaching experience.
3) If you are still hesitant, do a test run
For your first time out, plan an over night trip that is not too far away. When Max was 3 years and Revel was 5 months, we were planning a ten day trip, but before we bit off too much, we wanted to see first hand what worked and what didn’t. We chose a destination that was close to home and went out for 24 hours. We tested out all of our gear and found out quickly what was unnecessary and what was clutch.
2) Pack light
Even though you are on your bike, you still have to think about weight and space. Our advice is to take the essentials but leave the “extra pair of bike shorts, etc.” at home. And if you forget something (which you will) you will either adapt or perhaps you can stop somewhere and get it.
3) Have a loose plan, but don’t be too strict with it
With kids in tow, plans as you know can get derailed fast. We found that mapping out multiple fun stops and having a few different camping options helped us not stress too much about needing to get a spot. Instead, we were able to see how the day was going and change plans as needed. If the kids fell asleep, we always opted to keep going a little further and if the kids were having a hard time, it was nice to be able to stop for a longer time.
Above all, have fun, be safe and enjoy time spent with your family in nature!
About Jason and Chelsey Magness
Jason and Chelsey built their relationship on a shared passion for adventure. As professional multi-sport athletes, teachers, coaches, and race directors, they help thousands of people through live workshops, elite training camps, and online at BendRacing.com and JandCtraining.com. As part of Team BendRacing, they travel the globe competing in some of the toughest races on earth, battling rugged conditions and exploring the edge of human potential.
Whether racing across remote icebergs, developing innovative acrobatic sets, or balancing a thousand feet above ground on a slackline, all while chasing their wild little boy Max and toddler boy Revel Wilder, Jason and Chelsey have learned to train the mind and body to surpass limits and take life to the next level.