My partner and I both ride. Now that we have a daughter, we take turns riding, and this past weekend it was my turn. As I headed out the door, my boyfriend and one-year-old daughter sent me off with a wave, and then went about their day. Were they worried about me? My little girl was probably thrilled to have a day with daddy, but daddy was probably the teeniest bit worried. Accidents can happen, no matter how careful you are out on the road.
One of the challenges to parents who ride is leaving their partners and children behind while they’re out doing something that really is pretty risky. The partner at home with the kid(s) will be very busy, but not so busy that they don’t have time to muse about all the awful things that could happen to the partner who is out on the road.
When my partner or I are planning to be gone all day, are riding alone, or are ranging further than usual, we make an effort to keep in touch throughout the day because the occasional check-in is reassuring and a good safety measure. Here are some of the methods we’ve used, and how they’ve worked for us.
“I’ll be home by….”
This method is not recommended. If you walk out the door saying “I’ll be home by 3pm,” and you a) get caught behind an accident on the freeway b) get started on an contentious conversation about Pedrosa vs. Rossi vs. Marquez with your riding buddies or c) realize you are near your favorite gear shop and lose track of time looking at helmets and it is 4:30pm when you finally get home, you are in for some trouble. NOTE: This is doubly true if one or (Lord help you) more of your children is under 6 months old. Don’t set expectations and then not meet them.
This is the standard method, and works well enough most of the time. Suffice it to say, calling/texting when you take a break from the bike is good, but you often don’t get cell phone reception in prime riding spots, so you may not be able to get through reliably. So if the person at home is expecting a message but doesn’t get one, they will be left with nagging feelings of worry and doubt – less than ideal. For this reason, we chose to go with the cell phone carrier offering the best coverage in our area (Verizon), even though it is more expensive than other carriers.
SPOT GPS Tracker
This method is highly recommended. If you ride a lot, get yourself some kind of GPS tracker. I was gifted with a SPOT tracker by a fellow rider and have used it for almost every ride since then. In addition to having a button you can push in the event of an emergency that will call an ambulance to your location, most GPS trackers have a feature where you can have your location automatically recorded every few minutes, so your loved ones can look up your past route and current locations on a map and know exactly where you are. We have used this to keep track of each other for a few years now, and it always gives the one at home good peace of mind.
Find the methods that work best for you and your family, but staying in touch is an important part of riding when there are little ones waiting for you to come home.