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Bike Adventures with Kids - Japan, Iceland, Europe, and USA!

Posted by Charles R Scott.
First Published Jul 2013; updated May 2023.

Read about this amazing family that have cycled the length of Japan, around Iceland, across Europe, and now across the USA. Very inspiring!

This guest post comes from Charles R. Scott, the Family Adventure Guy. Read on and be inspired by some serious family cycling...

When I turned 40, I decided to write down a list of goals for the second half of my life.  One of the items on that list was, “Have adventures with my kids.”  I wanted to slow down time and create lasting memories while they were young.  I worked at Intel Corporation and assumed that we might spend a week or two doing something more adventurous than a trip to Disneyland.  But then my son and I got carried away…

Cycling the Length of Japan

For the first family adventure (2009), I convinced Intel to give me a 2-month unpaid leave of absence to cycle the length of Japan – 2,500 miles – with my 8-year-old son, Sho, who pedalled on a trailer cycle connected to my bike.  We carried about 75 pounds of gear, including a tent.  The trip took us 67 days.

Charles R. Scott with son Sho and their bikes

With my 8-year-old son Sho at the start of our ride across Japan, Charles R. Scott with son Sho and their bikes

We cycled over ten mountain passes

We cycled over ten mountain passes, took on sumo wrestlers, met remarkably friendly people and learned that a kid can do a whole lot more than most adults think.  In the first week of our ride, Sho threw three major temper tantrums, and I worried that the trip was going to be too much for him.  But after I told him that I couldn’t do the trip without his help and that he should think of himself as a team member, the temper tantrums disappeared.  Sho rose to the occasion and did great over the following 60 days.  I learned an important lesson: a child thrives with loving support and high expectations.

Sho and I raised money for a global tree-planting campaign, received press coverage around the world, and were named “Climate Heroes” by the United Nations.  I wrote a book about the experience, Rising Son: A Father and Son’s Bike Adventure Across Japan, and believe that the most precious gift a parent can give a child (besides love) is time.

I returned from Japan and dove back into my busy corporate life, but started planning how to change my profession so that I could take more trips like these with my kids.  Finally, in 2011, I ended a 14-year career at Intel and became a writer and family adventurer, taking my kids on endurance challenges linked to charitable causes and writing about the experiences.

Cycling Around Iceland

Cycling Iceland

Cycling Iceland

A week after leaving Intel, I flew to Iceland to cycle the circumference of the country with Sho, age 10, on the trailer cycle and my 4-year-old daughter Saya in a bike trailer.

We carried about 100 pounds of gear and spent 46 days exploring Iceland’s rugged countryside.  My wife Eiko joined us for the final 3 weeks of the ride.  I was overwhelmed by Iceland’s remarkable beauty and the abundance of animal life.  So much of the country’s natural environment remains pristine, but the effects of climate change are apparent.  We talked with locals and scientists about the retreating glaciers and declining puffin population, and I wrote articles about our experience for the Huffington Post.  I discovered another lesson: the more time kids spend in nature, the more connected they feel to the world around them, and the more they want to protect it.

the more time kids spend in nature, the more connected they feel to the world around them, and the more they want to protect it

Cycling Across Europe

my kids and I cycled across Germany, Switzerland, France and England

Last summer, my kids and I cycled across Germany, Switzerland, France and England.  Saya graduated to the trailer cycle, and Sho rode his own bike and carried his own gear.

Cycling the Lewis & Clark Trail across the USA

This summer, my kids, now ages 6 and 12, and I am re-tracing the Lewis and Clark Trail in the U.S., cycling 1,700 miles from North Dakota across the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean.  My wife will join us in the final week of the trip.  You can track us on our blog here: https://familyadventureguy.blogspot.com.

The family starting their cycle across the USA

As we cycle, my children and I will collect roadkill data for a project with Adventures and Scientists for Conservation designed to reduce the impact of roads on wildlife.  We will also study Lewis and Clark’s remarkable expedition, the plants and animals they documented, and the Native Americans they encountered.  I am writing a book about this experience, and my kids and I will give talks at schools and science museums after we return.  I hope that a student who hears us will think, “If a 12-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl can ride bikes over the Rocky Mountains, I must be able to do some amazing things too!