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Family cycling tips
For many generations, cycling was the norm for both transport and recreation. In today’s busy world many have forgotten about the opportunities for families to cycle together. However, there is a movement building momentum that encourages people to make cycling a part of the family routine once more.
Some people may not have been on a bike since their childhood and the idea of getting back on the saddle may be daunting. Cast your mind back to the joy and freedom of riding and maybe inspiration will strike - the good news is that it’s never too late to start cycling again!
Here are a few tips for getting started for family bike rides:
Find a good bike for the adult(s) in the family
If you don’t have a bike that fits you well, you probably won’t want to go for a bike ride no matter how much your children love the idea. Read more about the different types of bikes available here.
Find a ‘child carrying system’ that meets your family’s needs
Just as there are a number of different bike options for the adults in the family, there are also many possibilities for children and child carrying systems. These range from bucket bikes, electric cargo bikes, bike trailers and front or rear mounted bike seats. Your local bike shop should be able to provide you with at least some of these options, but some time spent on the Internet will serve you well as there are many bloggers out there who have tried some out for you.
Start slow and make it fun!
If it has been a while since you were last on a bike, start by plotting out a short route to a nearby playground, picnic spot or friend’s house. The point is to keep it manageable and non-intimidating, especially if you are supervising young children. Avoid busy roads and intersections and take your time. Think about interesting places to visit that tie in gardens, streams and views. Most children are interested in what they can see along the way, rather than the idea of a destination at the end. If you make it fun, your children are more likely to enjoy it and want to do it again!
Team up with others
When you ride with others, it’s a social experience and you’ll be more likely to keep doing it. Find friends or others with similar aged children to ride with and make each outing on your bikes a chance to catch up over a coffee at the end of the route.
Time it right
Children tend to tire quickly in the afternoon so take advantage of their energy in the morning and start your ride early. Take breaks that include drinking water and eating snacks. A well-timed break can be all it takes to defuse a squabble or bad mood!
Get children involved
If your children are old enough, let them participate in planning the ride. Show them a map and point out the destination and ask them to suggest stops or fun things to see along the way. This will help them develop a sense of geography and ability to make decisions. If you are handy at bike maintenance, get your children to watch you make any repairs and let them do easy jobs such as wiping up excess oil. This will encourage them to learn about their bikes and help them become more comfortable with how it works.
Hopefully by starting out slow and making it a fun activity, your children will soon be asking to bike rather than go by car. Remember cycling is great way to save money and improve your health – and by encouraging your children to cycle, future generations will reap these benefits again too.