“Why do you cycle with your daughters every summer? Do you do it for yourself as a way to validate your role as a parent? Or is it solely because of your filmmaking pursuits, requiring their presence for your projects?”
I get these kinds of questions almost every time I come across people within film and media. They are kind of trained to always find another angle to whatever story they come up against. I have thought about it quite a lot lately and I am sure I am not the only cycling with kids’ dad who get these types of questions. So here´s my answer.
My daughters, 10 and 12 years of age, Dana and Eva, are my life. Yes, it is the best time of my life when we are out there together on the road, sleeping in the bush, working hard together and you see that they like this free life and privileged life as much as I do. I have spent 7.5 years cycling approximately 90 000 kms around the world. Together we three have done 4600 km:s the past three summers. And yes, I do this for myself to a certain degree, because there´s nothing better or more important in life than to spend quality time with your kids. And this is a great way to do it.
But I do believe it is very much to their advantage. Most people, if not all, we meet are hospitable, kind, generous and warm. Which makes the girls understand the world is actually a great place to live in. They very seldom complain, neither on the rides or at home, because they kind of have toughened up and for their age, experienced quite a lot. They get along very well on the cycling trips, less good at home at times. They´re both heading for those possibly complicated teenage years. I guess you could say Eva has already entered them with all emotional ups and downs it includes. At times she is annoyed with me as quick as open up the front door when she comes home from school. Cycling of course. At times both of them use a language which many people would consider hurtful and upset. But life on the road have also taught me that when most people are upset, it might be for reasons that are not caused by me. So if I am not really, really tired, I make absolutely no drama of it. And life on the road is very much listening to each other. Way more than done at home.
For this reason, I look forward to these summers cycling, because it will give us time to help each other prepare for these tumultuous years. Possibly, we will see. It has been so easy so far. But other people keep telling me all the time how hard it will be. And lately, when out training on my bike, I am listening to podcasts and it certainly causes way more worries than helps me.
It is about teenagers’ mental health, bullying and peer pressure. Pressure how to dress and how your body should look like. Substance abuse, cyberbullying and sexual pressures. A lot. 45 plus years ago, I was there, same place with an abundance of bad self confidence and worries. I still suffer from that, but life has taught me, a lot of them travelling in different ways, that one thing you learn whilst being out there, is the grand lesson of life, that it is better to listen than talk.
And if it is one thing we have when we are out there cycling, especially when it is hilly and we have to push our bikes, we have so much time to communicate. And I have noticed that we communicate so much more and better on our cycling trips. So, parents, go cycling with your kids! (If you can persuade them…)
Cycling has given me so much joy and help in life, so see this as homage to cycling.
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