A Family Cycling Odyssey Along the Chilean Cordillera, Part II

Here is part two of the Clark’s interview about their upcoming bike adventure in Patagonia. Read part one here.

IQ: Let’s talk about the South American ride. Are you riding now as a family? Are you training?

DC: No. [Ed. Note: We both crack up at this line.]

Actually, one of the challenges of a family trip is learning how far to scale things back [versus what you could accomplish on your own]. We’re looking to average about 30-kilometers of riding a day. We’re going to be heavily loaded, so it’s still going to take some getting used to, but I don’t think it’s going to be where Alice and I are totally maxed out. We want to be respectful of the kids and not push them too hard. So this is not the traditional sort of training you’d do for a trip all on your own.

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IQ: What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenge on this trip?

DC: Some of the biggest challenges will probably be not being in the wilderness as much, in terms of biking in and out of cities, with traffic and the [constant] transition. You settle into a pace when you’re in the wilderness, and that changes once you come into a town.

Another challenge will be allowing the kids to be more active. With the towing systems we have – a trailer bike and a towing system on Koby’s bike – they don’t have to be pedaling every kilometer. They can sit back and watch. But they’re definitely going to be a more active component of the travel.

IQ: In trailers or not, do the kids understand the enormity of what they’re about to do?

DC: I think partly, yes, because we’ve done this kind of stuff before. We’re not just jumping into this [long trip thing]. Canoeing, for example, we started with a 10-day trip. Then we did two, 10-day trips back-to-back. Then we did a six-week trip and then a three-month trip. So there has been lots of building, and they’re sort of used to it.

IQ: Are they excited?

DC: They’re excited about different types of things. They’re excited for the plane ride, because we haven’t flown a lot. We live in a forested area where there’s not a lot of wind. So when I asked Koby what he’s most excited about, he talks about the kites we’re bringing to fly in the notorious Patagonian winds. He’s really excited about flying kites.

Koby started school this fall so there have been times when he hasn’t wanted to be leaving his class and friends – which is new for us. We went through an interesting time when we were learning about animals and wildlife down in South America. We were talking about big cats – like the puma. Suddenly neither kid wanted to go [laughs]. So we switched from pumas to guanacos [a llama-like animal that lives in South America] and now they’re getting more excited. We have a map on the wall and the gear is out.

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IQ: You’ve made it clear that this trip is just about you and your family. You’ve made videos because that’s an interest of yours, but are you hoping to send any other messages to parents?

DC: We’ve been asked if we’re trying to inspire people. No. One thing that Alice and I have talked about a lot is that we really appreciate the simplicity of it. We’re not doing anything to inspire people; it just works for us. It’s just been what we’ve opted to do as a way to travel, to be, and a way to carve out time together. This is just what works for us; there’s really no hidden, loftier goal.

IQ: Still, in your experience, you must have some advice for parents who want to share more wilderness time with their kids?

DC: The big thing we’ve noticed is that it’s never too early. There are advantages and disadvantages at every age. I can think back to going to Baffin Island at three months. In a way, it was easy because Koby was breastfeeding; he was small and easy to carry.

At the age our kids are now, they’re more capable of keeping themselves warm and being mobile, but they’ve got their own interests and desires. In some ways, that’s more challenging than when they were little and they only wanted to be with their mom and dad. For example, for this trip, Koby really wants to bring his police outfit! And, Alice and I are trying to bargain how much Lego [syc.] they get to bring.

Sometimes people will say kids need the consistency of staying in the same place or going to a hotel for a week. What we’ve always found is that the tent looks the same from the inside wherever we are. So there’s great consistency, even though we might be staying in a different place every night. Alice and I are there and our home looks the same wherever we are.

IQ: How do you think these extended wilderness experiences are helping to shape Koby and Ava Fei – in ways that may be different from other kids their age?

DC: I hope the kids will find their own interests, do interesting things and be their own people. Also, I can only hope that trips like this inspire a love of the outdoors. I also hope [these experiences] help develop some of those character pieces – grit and curiosity – that will help them to be successful in whatever they do.

Cheers to that! Safe and fun travels to the Clark Family.

Ibex will keep you posted throughout the next year, whenever possible. You can also check in at the Clark Family’s website.