Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Neva Bikes and Inspires

I couldn't be more proud as a cycling mum with a cycling child. I remember back to the tiny toddler that used to watch my legs pedal, passively and patiently taking in the scenery (pre-verbally), while entertaining herself with bits of nature's shrapnel and cooing to the seen and unseen animals nearby - and I wonder how her growing-up-cycling experience will shape her future, if at all.

Neva taking a picture with my phone of her view from within the trailer. A typical commuting day.

Neva wasn't a fussy baby, but I remember vividly when we were packing up to leave Flagstaff and needed to transport a 'too-big-for-trailer' item, and Neva sat in her Chariot CX trailer straight away and buckled herself in. It was at that time I had to explain to a 2-year-old that "sometimes we have to use a car". Her disappointment was palpable as she fought back tears which eventually came anyway. At that moment, I realized that her experience had allowed Neva to understand that cycling was the best and most exciting form of transportation. I too wanted to cry. 

Neva loved her trailer so much, that even when at home, she would tuck herself in for a nap inside her familiar travel buddy.

Fast forward to a 5 year old Neva. We decided the destination for our tour that year; RAGBRAI then a cycle through the Adirondacks and into Canada, over 1500 miles worth of cycling total involved. She says to me, "Mom, you're too slow, I want to cycle on my own bike".  The "I'm carrying more than my body weight in gear and people" doesn't fly with Neva. We compromise and get a Kidz tandem where she sits in front and is the navigator, maybe next year Neva...

Neva on RAGBRAI as the navigator with her map close at hand

Much more seasoned after 1000+ miles on the road, it had been a wet late summer. She was in charge of making sure gear was secured, tire pressure, and navigation.

Summer rolls around again and a 6 year old Neva is ready to ride. She's prepped, she's pumped, she has a new Isla Beinn 20 bike she wants to show the world (specifically Iowa) as she unabashedly commits to riding RAGBRAI on her own bike. She insists, and we go. Neva rides as much as she feels is fun, up and down the Iowa rollers, in the heat, biking 20-30 miles per day over the whole 7 days. She cycled over 180 miles that week under her own power. I watched her struggle mentally, as every new cyclist does, with the first time being on an open road (on your own bike), going to a destination to which you've never seen or been, the daunting unknown. She grew, she pushed through it, and she kept getting on her horse again, every day. A testament to mental fortitude blossoming at such a young age. 

RAGBRAI Neva : All suited up (top), riding the long open road (left), and posing with her official RAGBRAI bike plate (right)

She met a friend Cy along the way and would talk and bike next to him while his dad pulled him along.

Neva dipped both wheels of her OWN bike that year. What an accomplishment!

Now we are in Ireland, where we walk, scoot, bus, train, and bike to where we need to go. Neva comments on what she thinks works and doesn't work and why. She contemplates how our actions and the mode of transportation we use can impact others and the environment. A true steward for nature. 

Leading the pack of scoot-ers for bike to work/school week!

Not only does Neva cycle to get to and from places for commuting, but she has challenged herself and pushed her own boundaries to explore what she can do. Last year she enrolled in her first cyclocross race with children her own age; she tried her best, and despite a mud slip and route confusion, she still finished strong. 

Nose to the grindstone for the final lap!

Neva has also shared her cycling with other kids, encouraging me to put together a children's cycle to school during bike to work week, and convincing her friend who had never cycled further than her street to do a 55 km cycle on the Waterford greenway. Neva spreads her love of cycling not through proselytizing, but by being herself; and cycling is a part of who she is. She sees value and fun in her cycling experiences, and she wants to share that with others. 

Bike to work week 2017

Waterford greenway cycle victory cheer! 

So, if you, as a parent, friend, teacher, etc. ever wonder if what you are doing matters, if you question whether your values come through and if your example can inspire others, know that YES, absolutely, you're doing great, keep it up. Keep being the example that will inspire others, and give our world a brighter future. I can't wait to see what the next chapter brings. 


  1. Just too cute. By the way, I do the same thing, but with beer.

  2. Jean, come visit and we can bike together, in heels.