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Joyful Bicycling Transcends Generations

31 years ago, Margi Hoffman chronicled the bikepacking adventures of her husband and two children in the League’s member magazine American Bicyclist, then called Bicycle USA. Today, Margi shares her excitement that in the time that has passed since that article’s publication, their kids have gone on to take their own children on bikepacking adventures — creating a family tradition of embracing the bicycle!

American Bicyclist is a celebration of the bike community and showcases the most committed and passionate bicyclists, and places that want to make bicycling better, in the United States. What Margi shares below is what we hope for each and every person who has yet to spend time in the saddle to discover: life is better for everyone when more people experience and share the joys and freedom of riding. 

“It has been 31 years since the cover of Bicycle USA’s magazine displayed a photo of my daughter sitting on a stone wall in Portugal eating freshly baked goodies while watching over our four heavily loaded bikes. Our plan for a family adventure was to travel from Baltimore, Maryland, to bicycle through Spain and Portugal for two months followed by a three-month stay on an Israeli Kibbutz where my husband served as a volunteer dentist while I worked in the kitchen and our kids Nathaniel and Rebecca, ages twelve and ten, attended school. At the time, we were certain that the experience of traveling independently with no support group or specific daily goals or plans would have lasting impacts on each of us. Just what these impacts would be, remained to be discovered.

We each carried heavy loads of clothing, food, and camping gear and had never previously attempted a trip like this. We soon discovered that each day presented joyful biking along beautiful roads but also periods of struggling up long steep hills with the last of our water gone and a ninety-degree hot sun overhead. We found that eating another boring tuna dinner after arriving late at a campground could be uplifted by Spanish-speaking children from a neighboring campsite bringing a plate of olives from their backyard tree for us to share. We learned that a suspicious man on a motorcycle following behind us for miles intended no harm but only followed to ensure our safe arrival at our next campground. There was a moment where near exhaustion was about to bring our efforts to a halt when a group of locals upon seeing the kids would start cheering them on while yelling “Greg Lamond” (the name of a professional road racing cyclist) hence inspiring them to smile and pedal as if they were in a major race.

All these experiences resulted in lessons learned about self-confidence, independence and self-reliance, grit, risk-taking, and the value of immersing oneself in other cultures. Our children soon came to appreciate the quality of their lives and the gifts that were given to them. Now both our children are married with families and have had many great experiences of their own. My husband and I have recently reflected back on this time of our lives and wondered how that special trip has played a role in the course of our children’s and five granddaughters’ lives.

Margi’s son biking with their granddaughter in Rwanda this summer.

As we predicted, both our kids have traveled much more than either of us. The two grandchildren in Boise ride their bikes to school most days. The oldest has recently ridden the Hot Spring Trail in Idaho with a group of peers. Their family just returned from six weeks in Africa traveling around independent of guides or prior reservations. Family in New York has traveled to the USA, Spain, South Asia, and Israel on many trips while including outdoor adventuring in each place. Our grandchildren have shared with us that both sets of parents have made many references to the experiences they remember from the 1989 trip we took. Those valuable lessons have been passed from one generation to the next, and as they approach the age of going off to college and life, we feel both hopeful and secure knowing that our grandchildren have each learned that when the road seems endless and the saddle-soreness overwhelming, perseverance will get them to their goals.”

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