August 2nd, 2012 by Behaven Kids
My family and I went on RAGBRAI last week. For those of you that don’t know what RAGBRAI is, it stands for the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. It’s 7 days of bicycling upwards of 450 miles across the state of Iowa. It is the oldest and largest bicycle touring event in the world. Approximately 25,000 bicyclists and their support staff participate each year. Along the route, you go through many of the small towns of Iowa and get to experience the wonderful Iowa hospitality firsthand, not to mention all the wonderful food (particularly pie).
Our two kids, age 10 and 15, ride RAGBRAI with this. This was their second year riding. RAGBRAI is a chance for them to see the beautiful Iowa countryside, meet new people, and get away from the “busy-ness” of every day life. Cell phones are everywhere on RAGBRAI but they are there as a way to keep track of each other in the large crowds. They aren’t zoning out in front of a TV every day or glued to their Nooks and Game Boys. They are getting fresh air, sunshine, exercise, new experiences, and time with their family. That’s good, right? Apparently not, according to a couple of bicyclists I overheard.
“I think it’s horrible that young kids are out here riding. They are only doing it to make their parents happy. They are risking their lives.”
That is what I overheard two bicyclists saying one afternoon on the ride. Lauren was riding with her dad a little ways behind me and I was enjoying some time to myself, just riding along and enjoying the scenery. But when these two riders passed me, saying these things, it made me stop and think. Were we risking the kids’ lives by letting them ride on RAGBRAI? (It probably didn’t help that Lauren had taken a spill off her bike earlier that morning and gotten her very first RAGBRAI road rash. Don’t worry, she’s fine. She took it like a champ. Jumped up, dusted off, took a few deep breaths, got a shiny band-aid on her shoulder, and finished the day’s ride. 64 miles.)
Anyway, back to the point. Our kids are not forced to ride RAGBRAI. It is something they choose to do. My parents come along each year as our support crew, pulling the camper and setting up camp each day for us. They can go with them and not ride if they don’t want to. And some days they do that. They are not forced to get on a bike and ride 60-70 miles. Trust me, it’s not worth it to hear the whining and complaining all day! And we teach them the proper way to ride to be safe and make sure they stop often for food and water.
Should I instead let them sit at home in front of the TV and consume junk food each day just so they will be “safe?” As I watched the Olympics last night (especially those P&G commercials, the proud sponsor of mom’s), it got me thinking about it more. Did those mom’s tell their kids not to jump off the high board because it might not be safe? Did those mom’s tell their kids to get down off that balance beam because they might break their neck? I’m not saying my kids are future Olympians (but who knows!), but should we really keep them from new experiences because it might not be safe?
What do you think? Do we protect our kids too much or should I have kept them home or in the camper? I’ve included a few pictures of our ride below so you can see what they would have missed out on.
Chalk art of our team logo (Team Handlebar) in Mt. Vernon, IA.
Stop for breakfast burritos in a cornfield somewhere in Iowa. Yummo!!!
Pony! Farm animals are everywhere!
The end. Tire dip in the Mississippi River in Clinton, IA. Can’t wait for next year!!!!!!!
Giveaway ends 8/5/12 at 11:59 p.m.