Can a 6-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy cycle over the Rocky Mountains? We're about to find out. I’m a 45-year old writer known as Family Adventure Guy. I take my kids on crazy endurance challenges linked to charitable causes, then write about the experiences. We like to tell people, "A kid can do a whole lot more than most adults think."
From late June to the end of August 2013, I will re-trace the 3,200-mile Lewis & Clark trail with my 12-year-old son Sho and 6-year-old daughter Saya. I will write a book about the experience, Daunted Courage: Cycling the Lewis & Clark Trail with Kids. After the trip, my children and I will give talks at schools and science museums, sharing what we learned with students and encouraging them to come up with their own ideas for adventures. You can track our progress here: http://familyadventureguy.blogspot.com/
I will use the $15,000 raised on Kickstarter to cover the following costs:
- Self-publishing Daunted Courage. My first book, Rising Son: A Father and Son’s Bike Adventure Across Japan (https://www.createspace.com/4052820), cost about $5,000 to produce, which included paying a development editor, cover artist, and literary production house to prepare print and e-book versions of the manuscript.
- Professional post-production editing of video from the trip (cost ~$5,000). I have arranged for a videographer to capture our attempt to cycle over the Rocky Mountains and will turn the raw footage into a documentary short.
- Travel costs for my kids and me to give talks at schools and science museums. I have budgeted $5,000 for this in our Kickstarter project, but the more money we raise, the more students we will be able to reach.
We have three projects planned for this trip, which will be incorporated into the book, National Geographic essays, and post-trip presentations:
1. Natural Environment Project: Learn about changes to the natural environment along the route, finding plants and animals documented in the Journals of Lewis & Clark. I have contacted several experienced botanists to help me learn in advance about the plants Meriwether Lewis discovered. My kids and I will also meet with ranchers and Native Americans during the trip to learn from them about local changes to the environment they have observed.
2. Roadkill Project: Working with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, we will collect roadkill data in an effort to reduce the impact of roads on wildlife (www.adventureandscience.org/roadkill.html).
3. Video Project: We will create short videos highlighting the things we learn, and show how a 12-year-old and 6-year-old deal with cycling 6 – 8 hours/day for 6 weeks, including traversing the Rocky Mountains. The main message is that kids can do a whole lot more than most adults think. We want children around the world to hear this message, believe in themselves, and come up with their own adventures. This is my son’s fourth and my daughter’s third major cycling trip. My son cycled the length of Japan at age 8, and both kids rode the circumference of Iceland (46 days) and across Western Europe (42 days). I hope kids who hear about us think, “If an 8-year-old can cycle all the way across Japan and around the circumference of Iceland two years later… If a 6-year-old can ride a bike over the Rocky Mountains… Then I must be able to do some amazing things too!” We will submit a documentary short to the Banff Mountain Film Festival and use excerpts in our presentations at schools and science museums.
In 2011, I left a well paid position at Intel Corporation for a poorly paid but much more invigorating life as a writer and family adventurer. I take Sho and Saya on major endurance challenges, hoping to have fun and teach them to be resilient. I link the trips to charitable causes and write books and articles about the experiences, encouraging people to unshackle themselves from sedentary living, too much stress, self-imposed limits, and anything else that gets in the way of pursuing a healthy, meaningful life. I try to cover as much of the costs of each trip as I can through sponsorships (like this Kickstarter campaign), paid writing and speaking. You can find out more about our trips at: http://familyadventureguy.blogspot.com/.
Saya will ride a trailer cycle connected to my bike, and Sho will ride his own bike. We will carry about 100 pounds of gear in bike bags and a trailer. My wife Eiko will join us for the final few weeks of the ride. In order to complete the trip within the 2-month summer break, we will drive the first 1,500 miles in about 2 weeks, then cycle the next 1,700 miles in 6 weeks. We will ride our bikes over the Rocky Mountains all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Throughout the trip, we will visit famous spots from the expedition, such as where Lewis & Clark met Sacagawea.
I will write a series of articles about the trip for National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel blog. The first piece will be published around June 20th. I will write three more during the trip, then publish a retrospective piece after we have returned. The New York Times will publish a story about the trip in August. Trek, Casio, Bicycle World, DannyShane, Cleverhood and Zevlin have signed on as sponsors, and more are in the works.
“Daunted Courage” is a wordplay based on Stephen Ambrose’s remarkable book, Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. “Daunted” is precisely how I feel, as I prepare for this crazy endurance challenge with my kids. Am I asking too much of my 12-year-old son to ride a bike weighed down with gear over the Rocky Mountains? Will the summer heat be dangerous for my 6-year-old daughter? Will my 45-year-old body hold up? Some parts of the route will have no services for long stretches, requiring us to carry all the food and water we’ll need for an entire day or more of riding.
I have felt daunted and anxious before each of the three previous endurance challenges I’ve taken with my kids. We always suffer from time to time on our bike trips. We’ve shivered in Iceland’s harsh winds, been pounded by major rain storms, and been so exhausted at the end of the day that we pulled our bikes over, set up our tent beside the road, and fell asleep before the sun set. Of course, I’ve worried that these trips might be too much for my kids. But my 12-year-old son Sho recently published an essay about the bike adventures we’ve done, in which he wrote, “A lot of people think that they are too weak, too slow, etc. I think no matter how bad or good you do, as long as you don’t give up, it’s worth it.” He ended the piece with, “I think if you are afraid of anything, you should stand up and try it. If you fail or stop, try again. You will get it after awhile, ONLY if you keep trying. I hope this encourages people to do some adventurous trips too!” (http://mommybites.com/col2/big-kid/bike-adventures-with-my-dad/) I’ve learned from these trips that, while it’s important to keep my kids safe, I don’t need to coddle them. Every time I challenge them, they rise to the occasion!
After we return from re-tracing the Lewis & Clark trail, my kids and I will give presentations at schools and science museums, sharing what we learned and showing students around the world that they can do a whole lot more than most adults think. We already have requests to give talks at two science museums and three schools. The more funds we raise on Kickstarter, the more talks we’ll give and students we’ll reach.
Press coverage: Here are some recent articles written about us:
- TIME For Kids Magazine: http://www.timeforkids.com/news/summer-adventure/92871
- New York Family Magazine: http://www.newyorkfamily.com/father-son-nyc-bike-ride-japan-rising-son-charles-scott/ About Rising Son: “Not only is it a compelling read about a father and son becoming a team, it’s a story filled with astute parenting insights.”
- Time Out New York Kids: http://www.timeout.com/new-york-kids/families/family-portrait-adventurer-author-charles-r-scott-and-his-family “Devoted dad and adventurer Charles R. Scott talks about his book Rising Son, his family’s next bike trip and why he left a plum job for an even better one.”
The route: In 1804, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and over three dozen men “capable of bearing bodily fatigue” embarked on their remarkable 2-year expedition from St. Louis. They followed the Missouri River up to present day North Dakota, then headed west, eventually crossing the Rockies and traveling down the Columbia River through present day Portland, Oregon before reaching the Pacific Ocean. We will follow their route, staying as close to the original trail as possible.
I want my son and daughter to learn as many details as they can about Sacagawea. How she was taken as a slave at age 12 by another tribe and later won by a French trapper in a bet. If it were not for Sacagawea’s quick reaction, Lewis and Clark’s journals would have been lost when their boat capsized. She also convinced her native Shoshone tribe to guide the expedition team over the Rocky Mountains. Despite these significant contributions, she received no compensation for making the arduous journey (while nursing a baby). The only other member of the expedition who was not paid was William Clark’s slave, York. But Sacagawea and York were allowed to voice their opinion when the expedition voted on where to set up their winter lodging along the Pacific Ocean in 1805. This was the first time in American history that a black man and a woman (a Native American woman at that) were allowed to vote.
This will be a difficult journey, but I believe that my kids and I are up to the challenge. Join us on the adventure!
Risks and challenges
- Bike breakdown, kid meltdown, and a middle-aged body that ain’t what it used to be.
- I am expecting a lot from my kids on this trip, and I will stop riding if one of them becomes too sick to continue, gets injured or has an accident. My children’s well being and safety trump every other goal we have set for this adventure.
- I am training hard – long bike rides, spin classes, 3-hour trail runs, weight training – but powering a bike for 6 – 8 hours a day for six weeks, carrying 100 pounds of gear, a 6-year-old on a trailer cycle and a loaded bike trailer will put a lot of strain on my back and knees. It is possible that I will be injured in the effort and unable to continue.
- I have set a goal of completing the book "Daunted Courage" by May 2014, but it is possible that I will take longer than that to write the story. I want to produce the highest quality book I can and may decide to push out that date.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)