Gates Carbon Drive

Belted Blog

Pedal Powered Family Embarks on Yearlong 12,000-Mile Adventure

  July 29, 2011
Riding a Gates Carbon belt drive outfitted Santos bike, Heidi leads her Pedal Powered Family across North America.
Heidi leads the way with her belt drive Santos, towing a trailer and supplies while Reuben pulls the kids. Photo: Jenn Stark

Many bicyclists dream of exploring America on two wheels, leaving behind the stress of jobs, bills and obligations and enjoying an epic adventure. Reuben and Heidi Vanderkwaak and their two young children Eden and Harper–collectively known as the Pedal Powered Family–are doing just that. They left their home in Hamilton, Ontario on May 21 and plan to ride across North America, Mexico and Central America for 12 months, their children in tow. “We seek to live simply, give generously, and travel slowly on our bikes,” Reuben says.

The Pedal Powered Family explores North America by bicycle, one being a Gates Carbon Drive equipped Santos.

So far they have covered about 1,500 miles of their 12,000-mile journey, which has taken them across the heartland of the US and into the Rockies on their way to British Columbia and the Pacific Coast. At the Pacific, they will hang a sharp left and follow the coastline of Washington, Oregon and California down to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. They will then shuttle back to the US, heading up the East Coast from Florida to Maine before turning back through Vermont and New York on their way home to Ontario. You can read more about their journey at

The Pedal Powered Family's year long North American route to be traveled entirely by bicycle, including a Gates Carbon Drive enabled Santos.

So what kind of a bike does one choose when embarking on a yearlong trek across the plains,over mountains, through sand and storms andrugged landscapes? For Heidi, it was an aluminumSantos Travelmaster with Gates Carbon Drive and Rohloff internally gearedhub.Reuben rides a modified Surly Big Dummy.The children’s seats and sun canopy are custom DIY creations.

Reuben drives the kids while Heidi follows on her Gates Carbon Drive outfitted Santos bicycle on their journey across North America.

When Gates heard about the Pedal Powered Family through Facebook, we contacted them and invited them to lunch during their short stay in Denver. It was a wonderful opportunity tohear their stories and get to know an amazing family that is leading a life less ordinary. We look forward to checking back in with Reuben and Heidiin the months to come as their journey progresses. Meantime, if you should encounter a young family on bikes down the road, say hello, offer to buy em lunch, provide them with a place to stay the night. You may just be inspired topedal off into the sunset yourself.

The Pedal Powered Family stops by the Gates headquarters in Denver for a visit.
All smiles after lunch with the Gates crew. Photo: Tim Lucking

Thanks toJenn Starkwww.jennstarkphotographers.comforthe top three photos.