Nancy Sathre-Vogel is the matriarch of the Family on Bikes. She and her husband John have cycled over 27,000 miles with their twin sons Davy and Daryl. She kindly agreed to be interviewed for The Book and, over the course of many conversations, shared her family’s story with wit, wisdom, grace, confidence and goodwill. Nancy is an extraordinary woman disguised as a bead-work-loving Boise soccer mom but – as she’ll be the first to say – her secret is that there is no secret. There was no single magic moment that transformed her settled life into a non-stop adventure. It was a choice, a choice she had to make daily, hourly, sometimes with every turn of the peddle. This excerpt describes the distinctly non-triumphal beginning of the Family on Bikes saga:
Nancy Sathre-Vogel looked at her husband and thought, “The man’s nuts.” After nearly fifteen years of marriage she knew John as well as one person can know another, but she was shocked by his suggestion. “No way,” she said. “That’s not what parents do.”
Then Nancy waited. Like John, she is a teacher and she understood that some days are rotten to the core. Kids act up, lesson plans fall flat, administrators climb on your back, parents get in your face. Sometimes you’d do anything to never have to walk into another classroom. If John’s fantasy of hitting the road on bicycles, eight-year-old twin sons in tow, helped get him through the day, fine. After a few days of grumbling the castles in the air would gently deflate, returning his feet to Idaho soil. So she waited.
Days went by and John carried on talking about his plan as if it was sane. Davy and Daryl could ride with him on a bike built for three. All Nancy to do was come along. They had the experience. For heaven’s sake, they met because of cycling. Why not travel with the boys?
Nancy let it wash past her. John wasn’t looking at things in context. Long-distance cycle touring was fine when they were a carefree young couple but now they were mom and dad. “That’s not what parents do,” she reminded him. Parents put their kids on the school bus, go to work, and do the soccer run. They do things for their children, not with their children. Travel, adventure and spontaneity were part of their old life. It was time to grow up, to move on, and to do what was best for Davy and Daryl.