Kiel Reijnen and daughter EmmyLou will take on Rebecca’s Private Idaho

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Last year, when former WorldTour pro Kiel Reijnen and his four-year-old daughter EmmyLou were just around the finish line of a seven-day yacht race, EmmyLou said she was perhaps ready to be finished.

The father-daughter duo – who were also joined by Reijnen’s own dad – had been racing on the ‘Unicorns with Pretty Horns’ team for an entire week. The idea to race and the name of the team belonged to EmmyLou.

The captain of the pretty horned unicorn team (Photo: Jeremy Johnson)

Reijnen planted the seed of father-daughter adventures with EmmyLou at a young age, but set some non-negotiable rules for their exploits: one, she gets the idea, and two, safety first.

“It’s not dad dragging the kid along with an idea, it has to be his for it to work,” Reijnen said. “It’s really important to me that she owns the idea.”

During the race – in which they sailed 24/7 – Reijnen regularly checked in with EmmyLou, to see how she was doing, if she was still having fun.

“Every day I was checking in with her – ‘Hey, today is the day we have a choice, we can shoot here and be home at this time, and if that’s what you think we should do, that option exists’,” Reijnen said. . “Every day she was like ‘I want to go on, I want to go on’.”

On the final day of racing, coming into view, Team Unicorns with Pretty Horns got bogged down in the doldrums. Literally there was no wind. When EmmyLou saw another boat with only one sail up, idling with her engine running, she asked Reijnen what they were doing. “Probably having lunch,” he told her.

“I think I might want to do that,” she said.

Phew. Reijnen had to make a decision: break her own rule that EmmyLou takes the reins and finishes the race against her will, or relax, have lunch and head back to shore.

At the arrival ! (Photo: Jeremy Johnson)

Eventually the couple had a chat and agreed that they would see where the tide took them. If they drifted east it would be too difficult to finish and the race would be over. If they drifted west, they would get there. Whatever happens, Reijnen said, “it wouldn’t be a failure. As a parent, it’s important to keep in mind the lessons you’re teaching.

As Unicorns with Pretty Horns ended, Reijnen knew either outcome would result in an incredible teachable moment. He has the same attitude ahead of their next adventure this weekend.

“One of the cool things about this, there’s no guarantee we’ll be able to do this,” he said. “It’s a challenge difficult enough to be a real challenge. We are not going to take it for granted. We’re going to take it seriously and do our best, but also be realistic and know that there are many versions of success.

“Let’s ride to Idaho”

On Sunday, Reijnen and EmmyLou make their debut as Team Dad By My Side (the title of a book they often read) at Rebecca’s Private Idaho. The father-daughter duo will follow the RPI Baked Potato Course, which has 102 miles and 5,300 feet of elevation. EmmyLou will pedal behind Reijnen in a Weehoo trailer. It will be their longest journey together.

The idea, again, was from EmmyLou.

“It all started with Emmy saying, ‘I want to ride to Idaho,'” Reijnen said. “I don’t know why she chose Idaho, maybe it was in a children’s book? I actually looked at how far you have to drive to get to Idaho. I hand no idea – could we do it?

“I played with it, my biggest concern was safety. I was looking for all the off-road routes which added a waste of distance and time. Then I was talking to a friend who was going to RPI and everything clicked. What if we hosted an event in Idaho instead of driving to Idaho? I introduced him: ‘I know your idea was to ride there, but what if we had an event there?’

Emmy Lou accepted.

Reijnen and EmmyLou on the Weehoo (Photo: Courtesy of Kiel Reijnen)

The two have been riding together since the early days of the pandemic. With Reijnen back from racing and tasked with the dual duties of babysitting and training, he and EmmyLou spent a lot of time riding the Weehoo.

“It was really fun, we had a great time doing it,” he said. “It was great to connect and great for me to ‘practice’. I think it was really important for us to have that bonding time.

The two have put in plenty of miles and hours of driving together – their longest road trip is five hours – but RPI will be their most ambitious yet. The course is 90% gravel; The longest gravel ride in Reijnen and EmmyLou lasts three hours.

In addition, there are many other logistical aspects to consider. Reijnen had to make changes to the Weehoo to account for gravel, dirt, and flying rocks. He had to consider protective gear (a pair of chemistry goggles found on the side of the road was a major score) and snack storage. Then there is sun protection.

As with the sailing race, Reijnen knows the duo might not finish. It’s something he and EmmyLou discussed. However, they also added another objective to their adventure, one that makes finishing or not finishing less relevant.

Adventure with a cause

Reijnen said that once they committed to the idea of ​​riding at RPI, he and EmmyLou had a conversation about the Why. Sure, going on adventures together was becoming a tradition, but was there something more to it?

“EmmyLou said it was important to show other little girls that they can do big things and accomplish them,” Reijnen said.

Years of bike racing and brand partnerships had exposed Reijnen to the work of World Bicycle Relief, and he also noticed that Rebecca Rusch’s charity, the Be Good Foundation, had also partnered with the organization at global nonprofit. So he got in touch with WBR, told them his and EmmyLou’s plan, and asked how they could work together.

In the process, he also had to explain to EmmyLou that two such important things in his life – riding a bike and going to school – weren’t possible for many other kids.

“So we ended up with this version – what if we raise funds so young girls on bikes in Africa can get to school?”

The Captain of Team Dad By My Side (Photo: Courtesy of Kiel Reijnen)

The RPI adventure of Team Dad By My Side is therefore a fundraiser for World Bicycle Relief. With EmmyLou starting kindergarten a week after the event, she and Reijnen landed on number 22 for their efforts; there will be 22 kids in her class, so the two hope to raise enough money for WBR to buy 22 bikes for young girls in Africa.

Reijnen said embarking on an adventure with a cause with her daughter adds a layer of meaning that’s only possible when a child is involved, but the lessons that come with it are universal.

“Taking on a challenge like this with a child, it triggers something in all of us,” he said. “As an adult, it’s hard to inspire another adult in this way. It is therefore important for her to know that what she is doing really has an impact and can make a difference. But also that taking up the challenge is already enough. Being ready to try is already enough.

“It may be the money we raise for WBR. It can be the person who says “hey if a five year old can do it, I can do it”. Maybe in the end we fail and that can also be inspirational. You don’t have to be intimidated to try. Meeting the challenge is already enough.

. Let’s go Idaho Kiel Reijnen girl EmmyLou will face Private Idaho Rebecca

. Kiel Reijnen daughter EmmyLou Rebeccas Private Idaho

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