It goes without saying that you’ll want to introduce your children to the joys of the open road, but this is easier said than done.
Getting them interested in exercise can be tricky enough, while keeping them safe and happy is a challenge you may not relish.
After all, when you bike alone, you only have yourself to worry about. Each turn, each set of traffic lights, and each descent you come to, you are your sole concern.
With kids, this all changes. You want to make sure they’re observing the rules of the road, learning the necessary techniques, and not developing bad habits. You also have to make sure they’re having fun from start to finish.
If you’re looking to start taking your children out on bike rides with you, there are certain things you can try to make it easier.
Consider a Child’s Seat for Young Starters
If your child’s too young to ride their own bike, they can still go along for a day out. Fitting a child’s seat to your bicycle is a simpler alternative to a trailer, and might give you more peace of mind knowing they’re right behind you.
After you fit the bike, you should practice riding with a bag of potatoes or rocks of a similar weight to your child. This will help you get used to managing the extra pounds and handling the bike with another person on-board.
By being out on the road without the responsibility of managing their own bike, your children will get used to the activity and other vehicles early. You also get to take direct charge of their safety, rather than simply riding alongside them.
How Far Should they Ride on their Own Bike?
When your child’s ready to ride their own bike on a family day out, how much distance should you aim to cover?
Start small. Aim for around two or four miles on your early rides, and add more over following sessions, but don’t rush them. If they appear too tired or grow frustrated over shorter distances, let them stop.
Be sure to make stops after every mile, even for just a few minutes. Let them stretch their legs, catch their breath, have a drink.
The important thing is to ensure they enjoy cycling and develop an affection for it. Pushing them too far too soon may cause them to lose interest.
Be sure to take snacks with you on your family bike-rides. A delicious, healthy snack makes a great treat to reward your kids with at the end of your journey, and can be used as an incentive to keep going if they start to flag when you only have a little further to go.
You also need to pack drinks for everyone, ideally something sweet that will give them energy (or at least appear to do so). Pack fresh fruit-juices, such as OJ, or flavored water. Make sure to carry these in a waterproof backpack, to avoid little accidents and minimize problems caused by potential spillages.
Another great way to prepare for a fun, successful bike ride with your kids is to make the destination a real incentive. Suggest a ride to the theater when they want to see a new movie, or to a restaurant you’ve all wanted to try for some time.
Follow these tips, and you may well encourage your children to fall in love with cycling for life.