Q&A with Phil Noll: Family’s Tykes Like Bikes

Editor’s note: Doni Chamberlain-Greenberg interviewed Philip Noll, a local Redding bike enthusiast, about how he and his wife Christine have passed on the couple’s love of bicycling to their children. Originally from the East Coast, Phil and Christine Noll have lived and biked around the Redding area for 10 years.

Q: I’ve heard your family is pretty serious about bicycling. Very serious, at least by most people’s standards, and by most, I mean people who rarely ride bikes. When I say “people,” I mean me.

For those who don’t know you, can you tell us a bit about your family, and your bike-riding routines?

My wife and I view biking as any other sport. If you don’t introduce it as something fun to do, then your kids most likely won’t want to do it. In the larger scope of things, this philosophy applies to any activity, hiking, walking, or in this particular case, biking. Activities, whether mental or physical, need to be enriching for the kids or they will quickly lose interest in it. Our interest in biking is something we want to share with our kids, who are now 7 and 5, and on any trips we take, including camping, the bikes automatically come along.

Kids will pick up on the physical habits of their parents and because of our interest in biking, our kids naturally follow our particular interest in cycling. What we feel is important in any family, along with the obvious benefit of physical fitness, is to find a sport that we can all enjoy together.

Because Redding offers so many outdoor recreation possibilities, it is one of the many reasons we enjoy living here. We don’t necessarily have a biking routine; we just go when we can and think of different places to bike, which is why we thought it would be fun to bike to church.

Q: That totally makes sense. But you mention the bike ride to church, which is what made me want to talk to you after I heard about it. How far, exactly, was it?

That ride happened to be 15-17 miles, and with the wonderful trail systems we were able to stay off the main roads for the majority of the time.

Wow. That’s so incredibly impressive – 15 to 17 miles. I can hardly get my head wrapped around that. Gosh, your two young kids pedaled farther for that day’s one bike ride than most adults ride in a year (again, I’m talking about this adult). How do you prepare your children for those long rides?

These things aren’t anything we actively prepare for, but being physically active allows you as a family to do a variety of things.

Q: I see. Interesting concept. Being physically active all the time, not just working out to prepare for an event. Not to belabor the whole distance thing, but your family lives a considerable ways out of Redding central, but as you said about the ride to church (promise, last time I mention it), you’ve managed to ride bikes as a family, despite your quasi-remote-living situation, right? Can you talk about that?

Even being on the outskirts of Redding, there’s a large variety of trail opportunities, such as the newly created Middle Creek Trail. This trail, which we use many times, is a wonderful complement to the already established (Sacramento) River Trail system. Not only do we use it as a family, but many friends that we know use it and appreciate it as well. I think the people that had the foresight and funds to build it in the first place can find it rewarding that even the youngest of riders are using it.

Q: I guarantee that if the people responsible for those trails heard about families like yours, they couldn’t help but feel a great sense of satisfaction.

Philip, we’ve discussed your children, but I’m wondering if your wife was as into biking when you got together, or did you inspire her? Or, forgive me, maybe it was the other way around. Maybe she introduced you to the joys of biking.

My wife and I were both avid road bikers prior to knowing each other and our second date was a road bike ride together; so the enjoyment of biking has always been with us. I was, however, introduced to mountain biking 10 years ago and haven’t been on a road bike since, but it is great to be able to expose both types of riding terrain to the children at a young age.

Q: Any bad falls you want to talk about? Which reminds me, any safety tips?

Many, but nothing you can’t walk away from.

For the Nolls, even the bikes get dressed up for birthday celebrations.

Q: OK. So, enough about fear, let’s talk about fun. What advice do you have for parents who want to introduce their children to the joys of bike riding as you and Christine have?

Starting with balance bikes* (bikes without pedals) is an excellent way to introduce little ones, and just getting out there frequently. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a snack. A shady break is always welcome.

Q: Anything else you’d like us to know?

Our children’s birthday party this year was themed “bike parade.” They just love biking!

Q: Happy birthday to your children, and what a great gift you’ve given them: the love of bicycling. Thank you, Philip, for sharing. Have fun. And happy (bike) trails to you and your family.

*Read Kimberly Ross’ story about balance bikes here.

Independent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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