About us

We believe everyone can (and should) pursue their passion and follow their dream – wherever it may lead. Our goal is to provide both inspiration and practical advice to get you there.

 

Who are we? “We” are just a normal American family who happens to be following our dreams and chasing rainbows. We are adventure seekers and modern-day explorers who are limited only by our imaginations – and we have very vivid imaginations! We learned early to live life to the fullest; to grab life by the horns and enjoy the ride.

So much so that we spent three years riding bicycles from Alaska to Argentina together as a family.

Time is passing quickly. We can never go back. We can only take advantage of every moment we have. We’re here to help you do exactly that.

Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Contact us at familyonbikes (at) gmail (dot) com

Seeing as how you are reading our ABOUT US page, I will assume you are new to our blog. After over five years of blogging, you can imagine we’ve got a lot of posts and it can be hard to figure out where to start. Here’s some help:

join us pic

 

We get asked a lot about how we got to this point. How did we get to the point where we were willing to quit our jobs and take our precious children on bicycles from one end of the world to the other? Here’s a brief run-down of our background.

John (aka Dad)

JohnJohn grew up in Rhode Island and never traveled beyond New England until he went to college in Colorado. At some point in his college years he discovered bike touring and spent the next ten or fifteen years biking wherever he went. He crossed the USA quite a few times before getting more adventurous and venturing a bit farther from home.

One summer he flew to Alaska and cycled back to New Mexico (where he was living at the time). Another summer he cycled Iceland and Norway. Then came Australia. And then India.

All that time he was working as a teacher and traveling in the summers.

Nancy (aka Mom)

I grew up in Boise, Idaho and had the opportunity to travel each summer to a different place. Although we only traveled for a few weeks, every summer my parents loaded all five of us kids into the station wagon and took off for parts unknown.

When I was 16, my parents took us to Mexico – and my eyes were opened to the fact that there was a big, wide world out there. As soon as I arrived home, I saw a commercial for the Peace Corps and made the decision to join it as soon as I could.

True to the decision I made when I was sixteen years old, I joined the Peace Corps upon graduation from university. For the next 2.5 years I helped develop a Special Ed program in Honduras and formed a team for the Special Olympics.

Peace Corps gives volunteers a chunk of money when they leave in order to help them get established in the USA. I took the money and spent seven months traveling in South America instead.

Upon my return to the USA, I moved to the Navajo Indian Reservation where I taught for the next three years. During my first summer back in the USA I took off on my bike and cycled from Norfolk, Virginia to New Orleans. The next summer I visited my brother who was serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi.

Our lives together

That brings us to spring of 1990 when a series of unusual events brought John and me together to cycle in Pakistan.

We spent the school year 1990/91 cycling Pakistan, China, India, Nepal, & Bangladesh. The first weekend of the following school year we got married.

We lasted a grand total of two years in Albuquerque before going nuts. We got jobs at an American school in Alexandria, Egypt and took off to explore a new part of the world.

From 1993 – 1995 we lived in Alexandria and traveled extensively in the area. We went to Israel and Jordan, Greece and Turkey. We spent a summer cycling the Sinai Peninsula and Israel.

After two years in Egypt, we moved to Ethiopia to teach in another international school. From there, we explored Yemen and Mali on bikes and visited many other countries by bus.

 

Our twin sons, Davy and Daryl, were born our third year in Ethiopia, and we continued to travel with kids in tow. The boys celebrated their first birthday in Egypt, their second in Vietnam. They turned three in Thailand and four in Ethiopia.

After living in Ethiopia for seven years, John and I got teaching jobs in an American school in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. We explored Taiwan and Bali and Myanmar during the two years we lived there.

After a brief stint in Malaysia, we returned to the USA shortly after the boys turned seven. We lasted a grand total of fifteen months before we hopped on our bikes and headed out to see our own home turf.

We spent the 2006-07 school year (the boys’ third grade year) cycling 9300 miles through the USA and Mexico. John and the boys were on a bicycle built for three and I rode a single bike alongside them. We visited nineteen US states and five Mexican states in twelve months on the road.

We returned to Boise for fourth grade and spent that year planning and preparing to hit the road again – this time to cycle from Alaska to Argentina.

In June 2008, we headed out – this time John and Daryl rode a tandem bike while Davy and I were on singles. After cycling 17,300 miles in nearly three years, we reached the southernmost tip of South America on March 21, 2011.

Now we want to inspire you to pursue your passion and follow your dream. We believe you can.

**Disclosure: Because of some silly FTC rule that makes no sense to me, I need to make it known to my readers that I may or may not have been paid for a post. I may or may not have received a gadget from a company in exchange for a review. I may or may not have gotten up on the right side of the bed this morning, and it’s possible that I’m drinking coffee. With sugar and cream. Or not.  Not that you care, but…

 

43 Responses to About us

  1. Lash September 3, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    OMG, Nancy! This new site is simply AWESOME!!! WOW, youv’e outdone yourself! Much more professional. great color scheme and layout and design. Great photos.. Perfect! Big Congrats!

    cheers, Lash

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    Thanks Lash! I am really happy with it! Now if I could just find the time to finish it up…

    [Reply]

  2. Alton Stonum October 21, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    I actually don’t know exactly how i found your blog post since I was looking for details about about the situation in Pakistan, but anyway I’m very grateful I came across your post since I had a pleasant 10 minutes reading your thoughts. Keep it up! One last thing, are you able to advise about any other beneficial content articles about the same subject?

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    @Alton Stonum,
    I have no idea where you can find info on Pakistan – hilarious that you landed on my blog though! I have a friend who recently cycled Pakistan and she reported that all was well from the tourist standpoint.

    [Reply]

  3. travelyn November 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    What a wonderful lifestyle you have with you family. Your children must be multilingual by now and fazed by very little. A wonderful opportunity for your children to have so much experience of so many different cultures. It is the best education children can have. I read so many blogs about people/families who have just cut out from the norm, packed up and traveled the world. Amazing stuff!

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    @travelyn,
    It really is an incredible way to raise children. Our sons have learned more about the world than most adults ever do. I hope more families hit the road!

    [Reply]

  4. Diya November 22, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    My husband says he would have loved to do our year off on bikes. Maybe we’ll start planning our next break using you as inspiration!

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    @Diya,
    Do it! It was a fabulous experience for all four of us!

    [Reply]

  5. Linda December 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    I’ve been following you for a while, your blog, on FB and Twitter, but this is the first time I’ve sat and really explored your blog, and I feel, “duh – you should have realized all of this!” What you have done/are doing is just wonderful, and your attitude is truly inspirational. My god if only all Americans had your insight! I’ve probably subscribed to too many blogs over recent months (I’m more the painstaking hesitant type than you guys are) only to find that most just scratch the surface of a country, or fizzle out on the hype of self-motivation after a short time or something else which has turned me off, but you guys are “the real thing”. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    @Linda,
    Thank you so much Linda! I am so glad that we made the decision to march to our own drummer. It’s not easy, but so worthwhile! I think we should all be pursuing our passion and following our dreams – wherever they take us!

    [Reply]

  6. Michele March 8, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    I have just finished “What were we thinking” and read “20 Miles Per Cookie” I could not put either one down. They are amazing! Are you planning a book on the Alaska to Argentina trip? I would love to read that.

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    @Michele, I’m so happy to hear that! YAY!!

    Yes, I’m in the process of writing a book about our Alaska – Argentina adventure. It’s a long, slow process so it’ll be a while. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  7. Lisa March 12, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Wow. I’m so inspired by you guys! My husband and I are both Special Education Teachers in the US. We have a 3 year old and a 10 month old and I took this year off to be with the baby. We’ve been rethinking everything… and want so much to travel as we did before having kids, buying a house, etc. I’d love to know more about your experiences teaching in other countries with young children. What did the kids do while you worked? I see your point about never being able to go back. That’s part of why we’re considering moving mountains to be with our kids next year. Thanks for having this site!

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    @Lisa, YAY! Another one is rethinking everything! That’s what it’s all about!

    As for teaching overseas, we had a babysitter when our boys were small. It was very reasonable to hire a full-time babysitter in Ethiopia, and we found someone we loved. She loved the boys and was GREAT with them.

    If you are considering teaching overseas, check out International School Services and Search Associates. There are some others, but those will give you a good start.

    Good luck!

    [Reply]

    Lisa Reply:

    Thanks Nancy! How do you feel about working when the boys were young versus being with them the way you have been? After my son’s birth in 2008, I went back to work and we had a nanny for him. But after my daughter’s birth last year, I just couldn’t do it. Now, instead of wanting to go back to work, I want even more – I want my husband and me to BOTH take off, and go traveling with our 1 year old and 4 year old! We’ve thought lots about teaching overseas… and I could see doing it at some point. But I’m not sure I can give up being with them. I wish I knew more about what it would be like. Right now, the thought of being committed to one place and one job for 2 years seems like an eternity. I just want to be free to roam.

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    @Lisa, That’s a tough one for sure. I was lucky in that we were in Ethiopia when our boys were born. Ethiopian law stipulated something like 2 or 3 months off after the birth, and then I was able to extend it until 4.5 months with sick leave. When I finally had to go back, there were only 2 weeks left of the school year, so I just did half time for those two week.s

    The following year I managed to work out a job-sharing situation so I went in just for half days, which was perfect. I actually kind of liked having a break and forcing me to get out of the house.

    Which means that it wasn’t until the boys were 20 months old that I had to go back to work full time. It was hard to leave them and I was really torn about the decision. I don’t know that I would do it again, but at the time we didn’t see many options – I either went back to work full time or we left Ethiopia.

    Good luck with your decision and planning! Big things coming up for you!

  8. Manatsito May 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Hi Nancy, I am from Thailand and from http://www.knowingbuddha.org . I came across your website. I like it very much but one thing that hurt my heart and buddhist’s hearts as well is that you put buddha statue on the first page with words under it “You might be a traveler if . . . picking Buddha’s nose is a common occurrence”. As you have traveled a lot, you should have learnt a lot about the places and their traditional cultures you visited and you should know about the Buddha as well. Buddha is considered a very high and holy person for Buddhists. Doing such a disrespectful way picking nose of Buddha statue is absolutely unacceptable. I suggest you put the Buddha statue down and please learn more about Buddha and Dos and Don’t on Buddha from http://www.knowingbuddha.org Thank you very much.

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    @Manatsito, Thank you for your thoughts! I meant no disrespect.

    [Reply]

  9. Anki December 21, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Hi,
    I have a website dedicated to cycling board games (why not?). I just found the “”Pan-American” board game game on your site and I have added it. I hope you don’t mind. Here is a direct link to what I have added:
    http://www.cyclingboardgames.net/g_panamerican.htm
    Greetings from Barcelona (Spain),
    Anki

    [Reply]

    Nancy Sathre-Vogel Reply:

    @Anki, Interesting site! Thanks!

    [Reply]

  10. Edneia February 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    Boa noite Nancy, eu preciso de ajuda. rs
    Eu sempre gostei de bike de viajar de aventura, mas de um ano para ka so penso em sair de Ilha Bela Sao Paulo, a Nova York de bike com 2 crianças bia 11 anos e rick 9 anos, as crianças sao preparadas. mas e uma viagem muito longa, eu preciso de toda ajuda possivel,preciso de patrocino quero , podemos fazer teste de peças roupas, por favor voce pode me ajudar, estou pensado ate de vender a casa para realizar esse sonho, preciso saber quais foram as dificuldades na America do Sul, tudo que voce poder me falar vai ajudar muito

    Neia

    [Reply]

    Nancy Sathre-Vogel Reply:

    @Edneia,

    translated by Google: Nancy Goodnight, I need help. rs
    I always liked to travel biking adventure, but a year to think about ka so leave Ilha Bela Sao Paulo, New York bike with 2 children 11 years and rick bia 9 years, children are prepared. but a long trip and I need all the help possible, I need sponsorship want, we can test parts of clothing, please can you help me, I’m even thinking of selling the house to realize this dream, I need to know what were the difficulties in South America, all you can tell me will help a lot

    It will be a blast Neia! Our time on the road as a family was some of my best memories ever.

    It’s hard to respond to such a broad question. If you can reply with some specifics, I can better help out the questions you have. Overall, South America is a wonderful place and we enjoyed our time there.

    [Reply]

  11. Eliel Bragatti March 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Hi Nancy, John, Davy and Daryl!

    I admire you guys so much… I found your website I don’t know how, and I loved your history of adventure and travel around the world.

    I also share those ideas, I really wanna travel around the world on bike too.

    My plans, firstly, it is to start from São Paulo-Brasil where I live, outlining the coast of the Atlantic untill Montevidéo-Uruguay, passing by Buenos Aires-Argentina and going to Chile, outlining the Pacific untill Colombia, Venezuela and coming back outlining the Brasil’s coast back to Sao Paulo. It will gonna be in 2020.

    Next time I wanna go from Sao Paulo outlining the coast Brasil to North back to Colombia and cross Central America untill Canadá, maybe Alaska, cross Canada or USA to the Atlantic side and go South to Florida… maybe I take a plane over there back home or not…

    Other time I plan to travel all over Europe, but I didn’t start to make the route yet.

    When do you guys come to bicycle in Brasil? I can accompany you guys over here, I am from the city of Sao Paulo…

    Best regards, we see soon,

    Eliel.

    [Reply]

    Nancy Sathre-Vogel Reply:

    @Eliel Bragatti, Sounds like you’ve got a lot of adventures lined up Eliel!! Just start going and see where it all leads.

    At this point we have no plans for Brazil, but that could change – you never know what we might end up doing!

    [Reply]

  12. Norma Mackie March 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    It was wonderful meeting you at the California Welcome Center in Yucca Valley this week. Your web site and blog are wonderful. I can ‘t wait to get your book, Changing Gears when it come out…..

    Keep on cycling….Norma Mackie

    [Reply]

    Nancy Sathre-Vogel Reply:

    @Norma Mackie, Thanks Norma! It’s always great to talk with interesting people!

    [Reply]

  13. Anne Small April 9, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Hello! Your family is quite an inspiration. My husband and I are long-distance backpackers and are expecting our first child (I am 37 and he is 43). We put off having children to pursue our adventures, but now we figure we better get started on a family. Your story has shown that the adventures don’t need to stop once you start a family. I am excited to read your blog of your bicycle treks with your boys. Hopefully we will one day be trekking with our youngster.

    Take care,
    Anne

    [Reply]

    Nancy Sathre-Vogel Reply:

    @Anne Small, Amazing! I was 37 when our sons were born. My husband was 43. We put off having kids to pursue adventures, but figured if we were going to have them, we needed to do it. Parallel stories! Children won’t slow you down unless you want them to. Things will change for sure, but that’s not a bad thing.

    [Reply]

  14. Lauren Hesterman April 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Ummmm, just found you and HOLY moly, thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been searching for traveling family blogs… we’re a quasi traveling family (from US living in China at the moment) and hope to follow in some of the amazing foot steps families such as yours have already laid. And doing it all on bikes no less is nothing short of a-mazing!

    [Reply]

  15. David August 4, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    Hello there,

    Great looking blog! I must congratulate you on your journey from Alaska to Argentina. That certainly must of been an adventure! Anyways, my girlfriend and I are thinking about doing a trip like this with no previous experience. We plan to train a little to get in shape for this as well. Just curious on the routing and or mapping it takes to do a trip from Alaska to Argentina and the cost per year?

    Thanks and have a great day,

    [Reply]

    Nancy Sathre-Vogel Reply:

    @David, The route is not a problem at all – just get a map and find roads. Talk to locals to get current info. That seems like it would be a big worry, but is not at all. As for the cost… that will vary tremendously. If you look through my finances category, you will find quite a few posts I’ve written about how much it cost us to travel on bikes, but everybody travels differently so that mightnot be accurate for you.

    [Reply]

  16. Mary October 17, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Awesome site. I travedled a bit cross country in the 60′s with my parents and my dream was to see the rest of the USA and Canada.

    My husband and I are closs to retirement. We lost just about everything in the economic downturn but kept out bikes, kayaks and motorhome.

    I recently had a big cancer scare and am on the mend, only to find out the school I teach at is closing, the timeing for the teachout should just be right for my ritirement date.

    Our plan has been to purchase a storage container and store the personal items we want to keep on a family members farm. Move into the motor home with bikes, kayaks and small vehicle in tow and head out and see how two seniors can live on the cheap, change our point of vew every couple of weeks and see everything we want to see.

    We want to mine for gems alll across the country as I am a jewelry and fiber artist we can take our tools and create on the road, sell on line. We have so many other interests and now is the time to focus on what you can do and leave the rest behind.

    I was planning to start a blog about baby boomer retirees making it on the road, letting go of the material things that hold you back and living your true life. So I stumbled upon your site and I love it. You guys are a real inspiration, I love what you are doing. I will be watching to see where you go, keep up the dream.

    [Reply]

  17. David Mulkey January 22, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    Hey Biking Family. We decided to ride across the USA on bikes and someone told us about you. Sounds like you have had some great adventures. My wife and I have ridden around Lake Michigan, down the coast of CA, and across the Tibetan Plateau. Now with 3 sons -16, 15,12 and a 7 year old daughter we’ll try America. I was able to get the time off work and now we’ll start to save and by next week we’ll choose a route. We are also borrowing some road bikes since all we have are mountain bikes.
    I haven’t looked at your site to see where you live now or what you are doing next. My 16 year old is planning his own trip on the John Muir Trail with his friends this summer just before our trip. Wow.
    David Mulkey

    [Reply]

    Nancy Sathre-Vogel Reply:

    @David Mulkey, Awesome! I love it when families get out there together! It will be amazing. We are now in Boise – please let me know if you’ll be passing through!

    [Reply]

  18. river September 2, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    But of course I care to know if you are paid if for no other reason than how you are funding the trips, and just plain … .life. That’s obvious now. I see. You teach from time to time, but really what you are is working journalists.

    I also care to know because working journalists will seldom tell the WHOLE truth. They can’t afford to.

    I fully believe, although I have no experience with it, nor do I know well any family that has done this, that children don’t need to go to school.

    [Reply]

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