biking with kids: elle of tiny helmets big bikes

I recently had the chance to interview Elle Bustamante of Sacramento based bike blog Tiny Helmets Big Bikes about cycling with her children. Her blog’s tagline of “Growing up on bikes” perfectly reflects the spirit of her writing: showing other parents just how easy and doable a biking lifestyle is. Not to mention how fun! Elle shared with me her motivation for going car-lite, the challenges encountered along the way, and why it is that she wants her children to “grow up on bikes.” 

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Simply Bike: How did you get started with cycling with your kids and what motivated you to do so?

Elle: We choose to cycle because it is the healthiest, cheapest, and most fun option we have. I have always loved cycling and when I had kids, I didn’t think I could ride the same way anymore. I was always inspired by the families who packed up their kids and rode off so finally I decided that I wanted to do the same.

We started out with the kids (Lennon is now 3.5 and Theodore is 1), when they were about 6 months old in a trailer. We would go out on little excursions every once and awhile but nothing regular. Once we got a Yuba Mundo, that all changed and I felt comfortable enough to put them both on the bike and now we do pretty much everything by bike.

SB: What challenges have you encoutered along the way?

Elle: As always, traffic and safety are an issue. Sacramento has a fairly descent biking infrastructure but it’s not perfect. We do get honked at and yelled at sometimes. The hardest thing about bicycling is that you are exposed and vulnerable and people think that that gives them the ability to judge openly and verbally. Everyone sees when your child is having a meltdown or refuses to get buckled up. I have to remind myself that children in carseats cry, too, I’m not torturing them. The majority of the population is actually very supportive and friendly but those few negative comments can really ruin my mood, although usually just for a short time.

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SB: What does a typical week by bike look like for you?

Elle: We did a 3-week, 600 mile tour with Lennon when he was 10 months old. Once Theo came along, we didn’t do much cycling, until we got our Yuba Mundo. I have both boys in arms reach and it is easy to maneuver and ride.
Now, we ride 100-200 miles a week. We do all our errands by bike and use it as our main source of transportation. We have also gone on some fun trips, the longest being a weekend trip to Modesto–90 miles the first day, 45 the second, and 55 the third to get home. The boys loved it and were very patient. As long as they have time to get out and play and they’re well fed, we can practically ride forever!
We love to ride our bike to campgrounds for short trips, too. Oftentimes, packing up after work and just riding 30 miles for an overnight to get away from it all. Biking gives us the freedom to do things that we might not have been available to us because we had to drive (I really hate driving). It also gives us excuses to find new places to go and routes to explore. Biking makes the entire trip an adventure, not just the destination.

SB: What benefits have you discovered as a result of your biking lifestyle?

Elle: The biggest benefit that I have seen first hand is when a car pulls up next to us and Lennon gives them a big smile and wave. I can see the driver’s face just melt and grin back. He shows people that we are human and that we’re having fun. The boys are able to sing, scream, and just be silly. They are really paying attention and the way they can interact with the wold around them is something they couldn’t inside a car. They are exposed to the elements and experience different weather, which I feel makes them healthier kids. They are not being coddled and protected to extremes where their bodies can’t learn to adjust.

The most important difference that I have seen is that they are happier children and I am a better mother. I am getting my exercise, we are saving money, and I am sharing values with my children that I believe are invaluable.

More of our friends have joined in our family rides and started using their bikes more often. I love showing people that riding a bike with children is so much easier than they think!


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Thanks, Elle, for telling us more about your family’s bicycling lifestyle! To follow Elle on her adventures, check out her blog, Tiny Helmets Big Bikes, or follow her as @tinyhelmets on twitter!
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About simplybike

{Bikes, a new baby, and the story of us.}
This entry was posted in Bike Touring, Biking with Kids, Guest Posts, Helmet Head and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to biking with kids: elle of tiny helmets big bikes

  1. Dee says:

    Very inspiring story! And the kids asleep in their seats… cutest picture. Thanks!

  2. A Yuba Mundo is way up there on my wish list — great seeing another family enjoying one. I never thought falling asleep on the bike would be an issue for my little guy, but he totally started nodding off just a few blocks from home the other day. Fortunately, with him right in front of me, I was able to keep him awake.

  3. Thank you so much for letting us be a part of your great website! We love our Mundo! It has truly allowed us to bike way more than I could have ever imagined. It’s really easy to maneuver and lock up. The boys love it! So much to watch and talk about when they’re on a bike. My little one almost never sleeps for me unless he’s on the bike. Then I have to ride longer just so he gets enough rest.

  4. Pingback: Simply Bike » bilingual parenting: elle {english and spanish}

  5. Pingback: Simply Bike » biking with kids: two systems, one review

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