“How do you two do it!?” This is a question my wife Alyse and I often hear on our adventures with our little lady crew of Reid (9), Rowyn (7), Collyns (4) and Roux (21 months). I think in part we hear this because having 4 daughters gets people’s attention, and in part because no matter what the activity, we try to do it together as a family unit.
Whether it be shredding on snowboards, cruising on the kayaks, ripping it up on the rock face, or bouncing along on the mountain bikes, our exploits always try and include our four little blonde adventurers. There is something to be said when your kids become your partners in adventure!
"It is one of the biggest things that Alyse and I value as parents. There is no need to stop doing the activities that we love. Rather, we need to find ways to bring our kids along with us on the adventure and adjust various expectations along the way!"
And that is where tonight’s ‘Golden Hour’ mountain bike adventure begins.
Our family lives in the beautiful city of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. A place where our “backyard” is the best playground a kid could ever ask for. However, having a larger family does present certain challenges. We often need to be very creative along the way. We own a truck that can hold 5 people, and all our bikes. We also own a minivan, that can hold 8 people, but none of our bikes. So, if we are going to go for a bike ride as a family, either we are bringing two vehicles, or we have bike to our destination. This evening, we opted for a hybrid model. Alyse was going to do a little trail running and she would bring the two older girls along with their bikes 1 km up the mountain in the truck to the start of the dirt trails while I would take the younger two up by pedaling. Collyns would sit on our shotgun seat in front of me, and Roux would get the luxury of the chariot behind. Yeah, I had a few smiles from vehicles passing by! The goal here was not only to try and get a solid little hill workout in, but to also limit the amount of down time it takes assembling our rig as the patience of four kids waiting at a trailhead for their father to complete any type of task at the end of day would be limited at best!
A paved trail leaves our residential neighborhood, and a wide-open multi use dirt road takes us up a little higher to a place called the Thompson Flats. This area hides behind Kuipers’ Peak and offers a small valley sheltered from the city of Kelowna below and the Interior Plateau above. We call this place….the wild!!!
Reid, who has quickly taken to mountain biking over the last two years, was our leader. The first place she wanted to stop and show her mom and I was a giant puddle formed by snow melt. She was excited to demonstrate how she could handle riding through without becoming stuck in the mud. This also excited her younger siblings! I mean, who doesn’t love playing in puddles? I decided I would try going through first as I wanted to be sure that the puddle would not get anyone stuck. So with an eager Collyns screaming with anticipation in front of me, and a chariot in tow carrying Roux who was just as amped herself, we cruised through the giant puddle successfully and I was met with a small chorus of WOOHOO’s from my riding partners! Reid was up next and cruised through as if she had done this a million times before. With the pressure on, a slightly more cautious Rowyn took a bit of a muddier line, and had to push hard, but was able to sneak herself out of the muddy puddle with only a slight splash on her shoe! SUCCESS!!!
Although we could have played here longer, the sun was slowly creeping behind the peak, so to enjoy the late evening light with views of the lake below, we had to go a little further up along the trail to where the locally famous “tree house” is located. As we started to ride up the path, Collyns kept her eyes focused ahead in hopes of being the first of her sisters to spot our next destination. And when she finally gazed upon the tree house, she pointed and screamed in triumph, as if eye spy was an Olympic sport and she just won the gold! We made our way up to the little lookout where the oldest three spent a few minutes climbing and playing.
Meanwhile, Alyse wanted to give the shotgun seat a go with Roux, who by this time was ready for a break from the chariot and wanted in on a little more of the action. So we pressed on a little further up the hill to another flat spot where we could clearly see down into the city and the lake below. The sun was still just peaking above Kuipers’ peak when Alyse strapped Roux in, and with a huge smile hiding just behind her Binky, Roux took off bouncing up and down as if riding on this bike was no big deal! The two of them cruised the trails for a few minutes with the oldest two sisters following behind offering words of encouragement for their little sister.
The magic hour had arrived, and the valley below was glittering in a gorgeous golden hue. I had all the girls get together for a quick photo above the valley, and then we started our descent back home before the sun disappeared. The whole trip was nothing more than a little over an hour. An hour that was filled with many little moments. Little moments, that become engrained memories. This is how Alyse and I hope our children remember their childhood….active, outside, and together as a family unit.