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E-motion: Family Bicycling Across The U.S. Doing More With Less

The VanderKwaak family is biking across the country and recently stopped in Scarsdale.

Did you see them? They were quite a show-stopper, rolling around Scarsdale last week. It’s not that unusual around here to see a family with small children biking together, especially on Bicycle Sundays when the is devoted to bikers and walkers instead of cars. But seeing a family of four who are spending a whole year traveling by bike certainly is unusual.  I hope you were one of the lucky ones who got to meet Heidi and Reuben VanderKwaak and their two small children, Eden and Harper, during their recent stay in Scarsdale. 

This unique family has been traveling self-contained by bike for the last 11 months. They've toured all around North America and Central America. When they rolled into Scarsdale they’d ridden over 12,000 kilometers from Ontario to Washington, down the entire west coast and into Central America all the way to Panama. Now they are headed up the East coast for their last month of biking before returning home to Hamilton, Ontario.  

Daughter Eden, who turned five the day the family arrived in our community, was able to name all the countries she’d been to and link them to the various country flags sprouting from the back of their bike trailer.

Their caravan includes two bikes ridden by the grownups, each packed with waterproof panniers holding camping equipment, a few sets of clothing, cooking supplies, and a few toys. Oh, and toys, lots of lightweight toys! The children have the choice of riding behind Dad on a double set of child seats, or riding behind Mom’s bike in a twin trailer. Reuben fondly called the trailer “the kids' playroom” when the family gave a presentation on their trip to the Nursery School students. 

Maybe the idea of doing something like a year long bike ride with two small children sounds impossible to you. Maybe it sounds exciting. However it sounds, know this: this pedal-powered family is having a great time. 

They’re calling it adventurous simple living. For them, it’s about strengthening relationships with family, friends, and even strangers along the way.  They are focusing on living in the now and living more fully in line with their life values.  You can read lots more about them and their big adventure on their website www.PedalPoweredFamily.com

It’s not for everyone, but it sure is for them.

I have to say, they inspired me. I had the pleasure of hosting them during their stay. I'm proud to say, I'm related to them. The visit gave me time to pick their brains and hearts about their goals, their fears, and things they had learned during the year. I got to talk to the kids as well as the parents. I also had the chance to ride along with them for about 25 miles during the Five Borough Ride. I watched how they do it. I was impressed. 

I was inspired by the close bond I saw between them. They are amazingly connected as a family.

I was inspired by their delight in simple living. They dared to dream outside the box, and they are satisfied. They aren’t longing for bigger and better. Pretty refreshing.

I was inspired by their resilience and flexibility. The year’s experiences have required fortitude and dedication.

I was inspired by their parenting.  Both parents know the kids inside out and respect and love them in intense ways. 

I was inspired by the kids. They are pretty darn cool, both of them. 

What they are doing is pretty far out. Off the grid of daily life as we know it in Scarsdale. Not something everyone can do, or wants to do. Actually, I was inspired by that too.  When's the last time you bucked the system and followed your heart in ways that were different?

When's the last time you jumped in with both feet to do something that you really wanted to do but involved risk and the unknown?

It seems to me they are making do with less, yet having more.

Maybe they’ll inspire you too.  

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