Family bike rides can be lovely memorable occasions which everybody enjoys, but they can also be horrendous. Kids arguing, cycling into each other, older children teasing their younger siblings for falling off their bikes – it doesn’t take much for what was meant to be a pleasant family outing to turn into an absolute nightmare.
But here at TWC we believe that those peaceful family bike rides that we dream of, could actually be reality. Just follow these simple steps.
1. Take it in turns who leads the group
No kid likes to be constantly stuck at the back of the pack because they can’t keep up. Take it in turns who goes at the front and sets the pace. Everybody who isn’t leading the group must stay behind the leader and stick to their pace. That way you won’t have any tots whining that they’re always left behind.
2. Take regular stops (with exciting things to see)
Children have short attention spans and will quickly become bored of cycling along seemingly similar paths with nothing new to see. Break up the pedalling with regular stops at interesting places. You might stop at an ice cream parlour, for a picnic, at a playground, at a tree that looks fun to climb or at an amusement park – it doesn’t matter, just vary where you stop and do it regularly.
3. Choose a family friendly cycle route
What you see as the perfect length ride along the most scenic trail may not appeal to your kids in the slightest. Make sure the distance you are aiming to cover and the terrain that you will be traversing is not too tough on any of the family members you’ll be taking on the ride with you. Just think, would you have wanted to cycle 60 miles in a day when you were ten? Probably not. Sixty minutes? Probably.
4. Make it fun
Bickering begins when children stop having fun and think they are being forced into doing something that they don’t want to do. This is when the lovely family bike ride turns into some form of punishment in your children’s eyes. To prevent this change from happening try to relax and if your kids see a park in the distance and want to play, consider breaking off from the trail and making an unplanned stop there. If it means happier children, it’s also going to mean a more enjoyable bike ride for everyone.
To make a bike ride even more fun, turn it into a treasure hunt. Head out before the kids to leave clues around the route that you will be following and hide a prize at the end. Finding these clues as they go will give your children an incentive to keep pedalling and make the entire ride an exciting game for them, keeping arguments completely at bay. Although not ideal for long rides, this works well on shorter, children-orientated routes.
5. Consider getting a tandem bike
If you’ve got young children with you who aren’t completely confident cycling on their own yet, it could be worth hiring a tandem or a trailer bike to complete your family ride on. The benefits of a tandem or trailer bike instead of a child seat or trailer, is that your kids will still be able to pedal and be involved in the riding without falling behind or falling off.
6. Decide the cycle route as a family
Children like to feel involved and although it will be you and your partner who make the final decision of which route you take, it’s a great idea to get some input from your children as they will be coming along too after all. Why not lay out a map on the kitchen table with a couple of possibilities highlighted and get them to choose which one they would prefer to go on. If you’ve got more than one kid then have a family vote – that way you get to have your say too.
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