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John F. Gray,  "TITLE: Dads, Interested in Tandem biking with your child with autism?' How Ian and I Got into Tandem Bike Riding."

Tuesday,  July 22nd at 9 p.m. (Eastern), Note portions of the text have been edited for spelling and grammatical errors, while other text with errors was left in tact in the context of the chat.

Asdgray {enters}
Moderator {public msg} hi Asdgray
Lesliear {public msg} hi asd
Rebecca {public msg} Welcome John!!
Rebecca {public msg} Hello and Welcome to our talkAutism Specialty Chat. If you have a question for our Host Speaker, "John F. Gray- Dads, Interested in Tandem biking with your child with autism?' How Ian and I Got into Tandem Bike Riding.", Just type a “?” in the room. The names will be taken in order received. Hold your questions until you are cued by the Moderator. Also, Please keep chit chat down to a minimal, unless ok'd by the Host. Thank You and enjoy your stay!
Moderator {public msg} hi Wawa welcome
Wawa {public msg} hi
Asdgray {public msg} Hi. Is this the tandem cycling chat?
Moderator {public msg} yes Asdgray, you're in the right place
Asdgray {public msg} Great. This is John. I had a hard time logging in. Let's get started.
Asdgray {public msg} My son, Ian, and I ride together. He is 11-1/2 and has autism.
Moderator {public msg} John, would you give an intro for those of us not familiar with you? Thank you.
Asdgray {public msg} We started riding together in the spring of 2001.
Asdgray {public msg} At that time, Ian was learning how to ride a bicycle in adaptive PE in school. But I was concerned about safety on the road.
Asdgray {public msg} I had never considered riding a tandem until someone suggested it to me. It was like a light bulb coming on.
Asdgray {public msg} Or as my 13-yr old daughter would say, "Duh!"
Moderator {action} smiles
Asdgray {public msg} We road the Delaware segment of CycleUSA with John Keating, Ron Oberleitner, and others. And we've been riding ever since. We're up to about 5500 miles.
Lesliear {public msg} wow
Asdgray {public msg} Ian loves it, and he does a great job on the bike.
Wawa {public msg} ?
Asdgray {public msg} The best thing is that on the bike, he is just like every other cyclist. People are impressed with his skill, stamina, and power.
Asdgray {public msg} OK, that's enough of an intro., I think. Do people have questions?
Blueeyes122 {public msg} can you ever unlock the doors of the house?
Blueeyes122 {public msg} i long for open windows and doors.
Moderator {public msg} Wawa has the first question, I believe, go ahead Wawa
Wawa {public msg} hi john, this is Andy from NJ. Spence and I have borrowed Ron O's tandem and so far so good. My concern is he will jump off the back. Any ideas on how to keep him on??
Asdgray {public msg} Hi, Andy. There's no perfect solution. I use toe clips and straps with Ian to keep his feet on the pedals.
Asdgray {public msg} For a while, he would jump off if we stopped at some intersections. I think he was confused.
Asdgray {public msg} Frankly, due to a little parental anxiety, I yelled at him to get back on the bike--safety first after all.
Asdgray {public msg} He learned after a while that he needed to stay on the bike.
Wawa {public msg} thanks.
Asdgray {public msg} That is one of the great benefits of tandem cycling. Ian has learned a lot of responsibility.
Asdgray {public msg} But, it takes a while to teach that.
Blueeyes122 {public msg} how old is he?
Asdgray {public msg} Ian is 11-1/2.
Asdgray {public msg} For the longest time, Ian would not even help hold the bike. Now he does. It seems a small thing, but that is what a neurotypical stoker would do.
Asdgray {public msg} Andy, did that answer help?
Asdgray {public msg} Folks: I'm not the most experienced online chat person. Shall I offer some more information that comes to mind in between questions.
Moderator {public msg} Blueeyes122 has a question for you next, go ahead.
Wawa {public msg} yes thanks. right now he seems to like to stay on, but all it takes is one time for him to jump off when a car is coming.
Moderator {public msg} You are doing great John, thank you.
Blueeyes122 {public msg} hi my son zach is going to me 4 in dec. he was diag.yest with Autistic behaviors.
Blueeyes122 {public msg} I have suspected for a while. My q is does there come a point where it is safe to unlock the doors and windows?
Asdgray {public msg} Ian has not shown much inclination to jump off while we are moving. I do have to remind him from time to time that he is also responsible for balancing the bike.
Asdgray {public msg} Ian likes to do a little dance on the back of the bike. It's a happy thing. In fact, it cracks my wife up when she is riding behind us.
Asdgray {public msg} But as he gets older and bigger, it makes the bike move around. So I tell him to cut it out and ride like a real cyclist. He usually listens.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} hey everybody Im John's daughter Lydia.
Blueeyes122 {public msg} hi
Moderator {public msg} welcome Lydia, great to have you.
Asdgray {public msg} Lydia decided to join us. she is Ian's older sister.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} ok so what's goin on? i kinda missed the chat before here
Asdgray {public msg} We also have a triple--a 3-seater--that the three of us ride together.
Blueeyes122 {public msg} wow
Asdgray {public msg} In fact, we just returned from a ride on the triple.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} yeah that was fun
Asdgray {public msg} You don't want to start with a triple. They are a little harder to ride and more expensive to buy.
Rebecca {public msg} Bet they are fun once you get going though!
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} it's a load of fun though I love spending time w/ my bro and my dad i just pretend I don't like it...its part of my job\
Asdgray {public msg} I want to recommend a good book for people thinking about tandem cycling: The Tandem Scoop by John Schubert. ISBN 0-9637190-1-7
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} they're also very tough when it comes to hills
Moderator {public msg} how long is the triple?
Asdgray {public msg} The triple is a lot of fun. A nice way to involve more of the family.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} ummmm 8 feet rite dadio?
Asdgray {public msg} About 10 feet
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} o woops
Asdgray {public msg} (As you can see, my daughter spends more time chatting online than I do. I still favor complete sentences. :)
Wawa {public msg} what is the longest trip you two have taken on the tandem?
Lesliear {public msg} lol john
Rebecca {public msg} lol
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} ha ha ha aren't u funny
Rebecca {public msg} How old is daughter?
Asdgray {public msg} Ian and I worked up to a century by the end of last summer. A century is 100 miles in one day. You take breaks though.
Moderator {action} . o O ( the "u" was the hardest thing for me to get used to lol )
Rebecca {action: Asdgray} applauds Asdgray fervently.
Moderator {public msg} wow at 100 miles
Asdgray {public msg} My original goal for last season was a so-called metric century, 100 km or about 62 miles. But we did that by accident early in the season.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} o i am far beyond the "u"
Asdgray {public msg} Yeah, I wasn't sure Ian could do 100 miles. So I picked a bike that had two loops.
Rebecca {public msg} two loops?
Asdgray {public msg} We rode the first 50 miles and then stopped for lunch. Then we had the option of another 20, 30, or 50. He seemed up to the 50, so we did it.
Asdgray {public msg} * a ride with two loops.
Rebecca {public msg} i see, thanks
Asdgray {public msg} At the end of the first 50 miles, we were back to the start.
Asdgray {public msg} Then we could choose from multiple second loops.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} i personally stick w/ the shorter rides unless there r no hills which occurs quite rarely.
Asdgray {public msg} This was an organized ride in southern NJ with food stops.
Rebecca {public msg} lol biker
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} the one I bailed on..ur never gonna forgive me r u?
Rebecca {public msg} food stops would be important!
Asdgray {public msg} Ian really likes club rides. He seems to enjoy the company of the other riders. A lot of people are really nice to him.
Rebecca {public msg} ?
Asdgray {public msg} You can take food with you, but Ian likes it better if there are lots of choices at a stop.
Moderator {public msg} Rebecca, go ahead with your question
Rebecca {public msg} Does Ian ever ride on a bike alone?
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} did u have a question about something Rebecca?
Rebecca {public msg} i mean you both on separate bikes
Asdgray {public msg} Ian rides alone at school in gym class. Otherwise, no.
Rebecca {public msg} I see, perhaps someday soon huh.
Asdgray {public msg} At some point, I might consider trying him on a separate mountain bike on an easy trail.
Asdgray {public msg} I would not be comfortable with him riding on roads.
Asdgray {public msg} Our tandem is a road bike.
Asdgray {public msg} Remember, there are plenty of tandem teams out there. Most do not have disabled stokers.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} so is our triplet (i prob just spelled that wrong but o well)
Asdgray {public msg} There are some blind stokers. But the majority of riders are neurotypical.
Rebecca {public msg} What’s the next big ride? Did you make the July 5th ride with John Keating?
Asdgray {public msg} BTW, the captain is the person on the front, who steers and brakes.
Rebecca {public msg} That sounded exciting, Im curious to know if they made the goal.
Asdgray {public msg} The stoker is the person on the back, who provides power.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} and the stoker is the person the captain gets to release all their anger jk
Asdgray {public msg} I didn't know John Keating was doing a ride on 5 July.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} me neither.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} shhhhh stop giving my dad ideas
Asdgray {public msg} John is in the middle of a ride across Canada now.
Rebecca {public msg} awwwww he discussed it in his last chat and i added the announcement to the transcripts.
Rebecca {public msg} The goal is to promote awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and raise $1,000,000 in Canada for ASD Research through a cross Canada Cycle for Autism. The cycle will begin July 5, 2003 in Vancouver and end on August 23, 2003 in Halifax, Nova Scotia with fundraising events held in various cities along the way , including Vancouver, Regina , Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax . These events will not only help raise funds but will raise public awareness as well.
Rebecca {public msg} that might be the ride he is on now huh.
Moderator {public msg} wow
Asdgray {public msg} OK then. I know about the ride. I wish Ian and I could join him. But no such luck.
Rebecca {public msg} lol biker! sorry! i was just curious to see how it went.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} kinda like cycle USA?
Asdgray {public msg} The web site is
Rebecca {public msg} yes, thats it
Rebecca {public msg} yes biker
Rebecca {public msg} We may have to get Ron to have them all and you back so you can drill him John!
Rebecca {action} chuckles in amusement.
Asdgray {public msg} I would love to have a reprise of Cycle USA.
Rebecca {public msg} John, Any future rides planed?
Asdgray {public msg} Nothing definite now. Ian and I are just back from a Tandem Weekend in New Jersey. People were again impressed with his ability.
Asdgray {public msg} We'll probably do a couple more club rides later this summer.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} ok dad im gonna go do the dishes and finish cleaning for all these guests.
Asdgray {public msg} I don't think there are any autism awareness rides planned for the area.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} it was nice talking to all of u and I wish u the best of luck w/ your children.
Rebecca {public msg} take care biker, nice chatting with you.
Asdgray {public msg} We also did Andy's Ride4Autism in Lincroft, NJ, earlier this summer. That's a great event.
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} and w/ biking...ur gonna need it
Bikerbaby03 {public msg} jk again
Asdgray {public msg} coming back to the 100-mile ride. A lot of people couldn't believe Ian could ride that far.
Wawa {public msg} thanks john, your check is in the mail!
Lesliear {public msg} thanks for joining us biker.
Asdgray {public msg} The key is to start slow.
Rebecca {action} listens.
Rebecca {public msg} Do you see allot of tandem riders?
Asdgray {public msg} We started with short rides to get him used to the bike. He liked it so well that we started going farther.
Rebecca {public msg} great!
Bikerbaby03 {leaves}
Asdgray {public msg} You see more and more tandems. They are very popular for husband and wife teams, who make up the majority.
Rebecca {public msg} ahh ok i see
Lesliear {public msg} John what do you think your son has gained by doing this?
Rebecca {public msg} We had one when i was very young, brothers and sisters and i had a blast on it.
Lesliear {action} . o O ( other then a great time spent with dad of course )
Rebecca {public msg} And do very many parents ride with their autistic children like you?
Asdgray {public msg} Good question, Lesliear. It is great exercise for him. It calms some of his neurological issues--i.e., reducing stimming.
Rebecca {public msg} fantastic!
Asdgray {public msg} It has also taught him to do a lot of things for himself or to help me. For example, holding the bike while I lube the chain (someone has to hold it), getting himself dressed to ride.
Lesliear {public msg} that is great news.
Asdgray {public msg} Ian also really likes riding. And I am thrilled that we finally found something we both like to do together.
Rebecca {public msg} wonderful John, and i bet Dad loves the time spent and the memories.
Asdgray {public msg} There is also the social element on club rides.
Lesliear {public msg} What is the youngest aged autistic child you have seen?
Rebecca {action} smiles.
Asdgray {public msg} Oh yes, he also likes to look cool in the bike clothes and sun glasses! I ordered him a new pair of cycling shoes, which came tonight. He was thrilled with those.
Rebecca {action} smiles.
Rebecca {public msg} Thats so neat!
Asdgray {public msg} Rebecca: I know of two or three other parents here in Delaware who ride with their children, of varying ages.
Asdgray {public msg} Ron O. rides with his son, as does Wawa.
Rebecca {public msg} Seems to be encouraging to find a activity that you both can grow into and gain hope through John.
Asdgray {public msg} Lesliear: do you mean the youngest aged autistic child on a bike? On a tandem?
Lesliear {public msg} tandem yes.
Asdgray {public msg} Ian started right after he turned 9. I don't know how old Ron O's son was when they started.
Asdgray {public msg} The main issue is size. The child has to be tall enough to reach the pedals. Though they make crank shorteners.
Lesliear {public msg} blooeyes just found out her child is autistic and was wondering if it was something maybe they could start early doing.
Wawa {public msg} another option are those gizmos that attach the kids bike to the parent's bike.
Asdgray {public msg} I just had crank shorteners put on my wife's tandem so our 5-yr old can ride as her stoker. (Yes, we are a little bike crazy in my family.)
Asdgray {public msg} As Wawa says, you can also use a trailer bike. Those work well for smaller kids. They are also lower to the ground.
Asdgray {public msg} Our 5 yr old had been riding on a Burley Picolo behind Ian and me on our tandem.
Lesliear {action} . o O ( family that plays together stays together )
Rebecca {public msg} How many children do you have and ages John?
Rebecca {action: Lesliear} agrees with Lesliear whole-heartedly.
Asdgray {public msg} You've probably seen trailer bikes. They have one wheel, handle bars, and a long neck.
Lesliear {public msg} yes
Asdgray {public msg} 3 children: 13, 11, 5.
Rebecca {public msg} yes i have.
Rebecca {public msg} ahh full time Dad!
Asdgray {public msg} A trailer bike might be a good way for blooeyes' child to start.
Rebecca {public msg} Sounds like allot of fun John
Rebecca {public msg} blooeyes had a question earlier
Wawa {public msg} just please please please wear helmets
Asdgray {public msg} Yes, each child makes his or her particular demands. Sometimes the child with autism is the easiest to be with.
Asdgray {public msg} I echo Wawa's exhortation about helmets.
Rebecca {public msg} not pertaining to the subject but asking if anyone knew of when you could open windows and doors or safety features you might suggest to her?
Rebecca {public msg} oh yes, all children should wear them!
Asdgray {public msg} Our official time is about to run. Does someone have another burning question?
Asdgray {public msg} Not only all children. Everyone should wear helmets, especially those of us upon whom our children depend.
Rebecca {public msg} It was great talking to you John and always a pleasure to Host the TalkAutism chats here at
Lesliear {public msg} John, just to say thank you for joingin us tonight to tell us about the journey you take with your son.
Asdgray {public msg} If you think of a question you would like to ask me later, send me an email at
Wawa {public msg} in honor of the tour de France, au revoir!
Lesliear {public msg} lol Wawa
Rebecca {public msg} I live in a very small desolate town in Ohio, where some folks , the majority are in horse and buggies, so traffic accidents are very minimal.
Asdgray {public msg} Thanks, Rebecca. I enjoyed the chat. I hope I provided some helpful information.
Moderator {public msg} thank you for coming.
Rebecca {public msg} Take care John and all who joined us!
Asdgray {public msg} I invoke the Tour de France as we are climbing steep hills. I call back to Ian, "Spirit of Lance!"
Rebecca {public msg} lol John!
Lesliear {public msg} lol john
Rebecca {public msg} John check back sometime and fill us in on the details!
Rebecca {public msg} Thanks Moderator! And Les for assisting!
Wawa {public msg} you just need Phil Ligget saying "The Grays have blown the field apart!"
Asdgray {public msg} I can't wait until Ian is 16. Then he'll really cook!
Rebecca {public msg} lol John i bet so! Rebecca {public msg} Take care every one!
Lesliear {public msg} night Rebecca
Asdgray {public msg} Good night everyone. Thanks again.
Asdgray {leaves}

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