Our earliest family bike rides were far from picture perfect. Initially, we could rarely make it around the block without a tumble and skinned knees or little legs too tired to pedal home – not to mention my eldest daughter’s insistence on wearing a pink leotard and matching tutu on every ride. Then there was my younger daughter, who would refuse to take her helmet off and liked to wear it in the house – while she played, at dinner, and even in the bath.
I look back now and smile. Those evening and weekend rides of years ago introduced my girls now almost 18 and 14, to the fun of cycling. We’ve been enjoying family-style rides together for well over a decade, each year presenting us with new opportunities to challenge ourselves and enjoy time together.
Today I’m sharing tips to help you and your family plan the perfect family bike ride – be it around the block, around the neighbourhood, or a day-long adventure.
10 tips to Put the Fun in Your Family Bike Rides:
- Plan Your Route
As a family, plan your route, making sure distance and terrain are appropriate for all riders. Ask each of your kids to name a few things they like to see along the way (their school, Grandma’s house, a playground, a friend’s home, etc.).
- Put Safety First
Put safety first and make sure your kids have proper fitting bikes and helmets. Be sure each bike’s brakes are in good working order and that each person’s bike is equipped with a light for use at night or on busier streets.
- Traffic Rules
Be aware of traffic and teach your children to cycle safely.
- Keep Time in Mind
If your kids are tired in the evenings, enjoy shorter rides. Plan longer ones for weekends and get an early start.
- Invite Friends
Once they are competent riders, encourage your kids to invite friends along.
- Slow and Steady
Let the kids set the pace. If it’s slower than you’d like, adjust your expectations.
- Be Prepared
Carry a bike tool kit and know how to use it. Teach children a few ‘bike maintenance’ basics each year and help them practice their newfound expertise (patching and inflating a tire, greasing the chain, etc.).
- Don’t Forget Essentials
If you’re cycling with young children or for more than an hour, bring a daypack or fill a panier with IronKids Nutrition Snack Bars, extra water, sunscreen, money, and a cell phone. Remember to bring a First-Aid kit… tumbles and scrapes will happen from time to time.
- Take a Break
Take breaks. Enjoy stops at parks, to explore, to rest, to refuel, and to take a few photos. As children grow, challenge them with longer distances, a brisker pace, and a variety of terrain. Let them cycle to school, to a friend’s home, and around your neighbourhood once they are confident and ready.
- Pay it Forward! Encourage your child to share their love of cycling with others by passing along outgrown bikes and helmets for others to enjoy.