Tandem Studies by The Romp Family
My wife and I have three kids that we teach at home. We also have a nice Santana Quad and a Burley trailer. We love riding it so much that we decided to take a little tour, from our house in Vermont to Alaska. We called it the "grandmother of all field trips". Here is a sampler of things we learned during our six-month, self-supported tour.
MATH: You can't do fifty miles a day if you sleep late, stop a lot, meet nice people, carry tons of stuff, and average 10MPH. Some days we did fifty, sixty, even eighty miles. Some days we did forty, thirty, even twenty.
SCIENCE: In order to accelerate 750 pounds of bike, riders and stuff from a standstill to a speed of, say, 15MPH, it takes four fit cyclists longer than you would think. Straining at the pedals produces noticeable results only after prolonged effort. This is inertia. Stopping takes hugely powerful brakes, which nonetheless overheat on long downhills. This is momentum. Climbing hills hurts. This is gravity. Downhill grades allow for automobile-like speeds. This is mass. It is also fun.
LANGUAGE STUDIES: In a given situation, most people will respond by asking the same four or five questions. With repetition, the average person, even a child, can develop snappy, humorous answers to these questions, making folks laugh and appearing to be quite witty. On the other hand, no amount of repetition makes journal-keeping easier or more regular. Another under-appreciated literary fact: books are heavy.
HISTORY: Those guys in history, you gotta hand it to them. They were heroic. The Revolutionary and Civil war guys, Lewis and Clark, the pioneers, the Forty-niners and the Klondike sourdoughs, all of them. They were out there in all kinds of weather and terrain, carrying heavy loads, living off the land, wearing wool, facing danger and uncertainty. We are coddled tourists by comparison.
SOCIAL STUDIES: When you sleep in 100 different homes over the course of six months, you develop some impressions about people that run counter to what you might read in the paper or see on TV. North America is populated by the nicest, friendliest, most outgoing people you would ever want to meet. They are generous, interesting and talented. They love their families, they work hard, they live by moral standards, and they eat the craziest food. No matter how different from us, they shared their homes and food openly, told us their stories, and were hungry for ours.
ECONOMICS: It costs surprisingly little to live on the road, camping and staying with people. Still, the road goes on longer than the money does. Credit cards are honored almost everywhere.
HEALTH: Intense athletic activity requires huge amounts of food to support. Prolonged heavy exercise will change your body, making it look like it did when you were nineteen. Athletic effort enables you to get a good night's sleep anywhere, on any surface. There are tremendous mental health benefits associated with parking your car, closing the door to your house, leaving day-to-day cares behind, and experiencing several months of freedom traveling down the road every day with your family.
We learned a lot more, graduate studies in family dynamics, teamwork, self-confidence, flexibility, visualization, goal achievement. We'd like to share it all with you. Look for the book, "Wind in the Face", around the year 2000 holiday season. It's required reading.
The Romp Family