Holiday cheer: miracle family tours U.S. on bike built for five

Via Streetsblog, I stumbled across the story of the Pedouins, a family of five on a 7,000-mile bike trip from Kentucky to Alaska on a custom-built tandem. Pedouin is a mash-up of pedal + bedouin, I believe, an appropriate moniker for this family of cycling nomads.

In addition to mom and dad, the Pedouins consist of Robin, Jasmine, and Cheyenne — 3, 4, and 7 years old, respectively. Cycle touring is incredibly rewarding, but it’s not easy work. Even at their moderate pace — about 25 miles a day — the Pedouins still have to deal with constant exposure to the elements, hills, headwinds, flats, crashes, and all the other challenges of bicycling. The family spends most nights in a tent. If the ride goes as expected, it will last for twenty months. Did I mention that Robin is 3?

The bike is designed with couplers that allow it be taken apart and reassembled as a two-person, three-person, or four-person vehicle when some riders want to hang back at the camp site. Notice the chain extenders on the second and third seats, designed to accommodate little legs.

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Here is the bike fully loaded. Let’s stipulate that the kids are certainly helping to push the wagon up the hill, but mom and dad must be pretty seriously fit.

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Here it is loaded with adorable munchkins, right at the 2,000-mile mark.

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The Pedouins’ travelogue is pretty charming. It turns out that people are quick to extend their hospitality to families of five on 7,000-mile bike journeys. Cops especially seem to get a big kick out of helping them along.

> From the police officer we heard about a donut shop to visit for breakfast. Without trailer we head there and enjoy the morning rush. When we get back to our campsite we find two boxes of donuts plus milk and orange juice; with the compliments of the police officer. Thank you sir!

I’m surprised the Pedouins haven’t gotten more attention. They’ve had a handful of local press appearances, but this story has national media written all over it. How ’bout it, New York Times?

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  1. BCC - December 2, 2009

    As the father of four boys aged 2-7, I am simultaneously impressed, envious, and horrified.
    The key thing is that this is actually a healthy thing for the kids, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It certainly could be an amazingly positive way to spend a good portion of their young lives, but it could go so wrong in so many ways!
    Fortunately, judging only from the kids’ facial expressions in the many pictures on the website, they look pretty good.

  2. Dave - December 2, 2009

    My family of 3 (including our 6 year old), completed a 298 mile week-long bike ride this summer, but our luggage was carried in a truck each day along with that of 2500 other riders. Our bike had 3 riders and 3 wheels (tandem plus a tagalong pedaled unit for the kid). It was a lot of fun, and teamwork, and outdoor family exercise, seeing a different part of our state up close for the first time on bikes.
    Confronting fear of the unknown (what if we get lost, have a problem, etc.), and overcoming it, breeds confidence for all ages. What better way to teach by example about a low carbon transportation future?
    I also commute to work by bike now.
    People need to stretch their comfort zones a bit more, get out in their neighborhoods, out of their SUVs and cars and yes, the exercise would be good at heading off the epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes that’s about to wash over the US. Bikes rock!

  3. Heather - December 2, 2009

    I assume that it was with a group or an organization or something? Do they have a website, in case others want to do something similar? It sounds like something I might be interested in in the future.

  4. dave c - December 5, 2009

    sounds, awesome, but wondered about school for the older girls and how is this being paid for — even camping out you still need to eat, buy clothes (rapidly growing kids I assume), repairs, etc.
    would be wonderful, but don’t know if everyone can grow up and have this opportunity. we still need people to work –farmers, teachers, firepeople, policepeople, nurses/doctors/etc — to allow society to exist safely and let people have this type of opportunity.