5 cycling ideas for the half term holidays

Running out of ideas on how to entertain the kids over half term?

If you’re looking for ideas to fill their time, and even better get them outside in the fresh air, then we’ve got some great suggestions – and better yet, it’ll get the whole family out together!

A spot of mountain biking could get them hooked for life

1. Ultrabike and Super-Smart Cycles at the Science Museum, London

This brings bike engineering to a whole new level. Pop along to the Science Museum in South Kensington, London, and you can not only see some bikes the push the limits of what you can do with a two wheeled vehicle, but also have a go on them! We admit this is an indoor option – but you’ll still get the chance to get in a few pedal strokes.

The Ultrabike is pretty amazing; it uses echolocation to help visually impaired cyclists ride, in a similar way that bats use it to navigate.

Next up is the IceBat, which can ride across frozen lakes – this could be useful if we have another icy winter in the UK. There’s also the Vis Vires from Factor Bikes, which measures your speed and power in real time.

Visit the Antenna gallery in the Museum on the 30th and 31st and you can also quiz the bikes creators about their inventions.

Where: Antenna in the Science Museum, London
When: 29th to the 31st October 2013, 11.00 to 13.00 and 14.00 to 16.00
How much: Free admission to the Science Museum
More info: The Science Museum

The Ultrabike helps visually impaired cyclists navigate. Image copyright UltraCane

2. Hit the trails

Mountain biking is a brilliant way to enjoy autumn in the great outdoors – especially as so many trail centres are located in woodland.

Graded trails make it easy to choose a route that’s contained and suitable for any age or skill level, and a trail centre with car parking and all the facilities (including hot tea, tasty cake and a warm place to sit and relax after) will have everything you need for a day out.

Lots of centres will have a skills area near the trail centre or car park, so you can have a practice together before heading off on the trail, and many also do bike hire.

Afan Forest Park has the short Rookie Trail and skills area, which is perfect for getting your kids started. They can practice rolling off little drops, up and over small rocks, and along smooth north shore sections.

They’ve also got some great Halloween activities running for children aged 5+, with a Spooky Spell Trail and Witch Hunt Trail, plus trick or treat prizes.

Lots of trail centres will be running half term events, from Halloween fun to youth coaching sessions, so check out what’s on near you!

3. National Cycle Network – Traffic Free Family Rides

Smooth, scenic and traffic free – what better way to get out in the fresh air, enjoy the autumn colour (and burn off a bit of excess energy) than a family bike ride.

The National Cycle Route, run by Sustrans, has a wonderful variety of paths up and down the country to choose from. A lot of them are either specially developed routes or greenways, and our favourites are the ones built along the route of old unused railway lines.

What’s more, they’ve collected a selection of the best rides for families together into one place, though of course there are many more to pick from.

The Marriot Way is a beautiful, long green corridor of wildlife following the path of two old railway lines from Norwich towards Melton Constable, and from Wroxham to County School. Check out the sculptures en route, and then check out the teashops at Reepham.

In the South East, the wonderfully named Cuckoo Trail from Polegate to Heathfield takes you along another old railway line, with the option of stopping off at some local attractions like Pevensey Castle (look out for the ghost of ‘The Pale Lady of Pevensey!

So grab your bikes, wrap up warm and enjoy the autumnal sunshine! We think you should also reward yourselves with some hot chocolate at the end of your journey.

Okay, it might not be this green and flowery out this week, but it will still be beautiful! Image copyright Sustrans

4. Heaven is a pump track

If you’ve never seen or ridden one, pump tracks are short oval or looped routes that consist of a series of rolling bumps, and some tight berms, with a smooth surface. The idea is that you try to get all the way round without pedalling – instead you use your body and legs to ‘pump’ through the terrain.

It’s amazing for developing your bike skills, it’s a lot of fun and it also happens to be brilliant exercise. We think taking the kids (or sending them off, depending on their age) to the pump track for the afternoon is a great option.

They’re also often located fairly centrally in towns, they’re self contained, and there’s also a fair amount of hanging around and watching other riders so if you’re not riding there’s plenty to see. A quick google search should turn up something near you.

Hailes Quarry Park on the outskirts of Edinburgh has a pump track, plus it’s a ‘Green Flag’ space, an award that recognises quality green spaces.

Over in Northern Ireland, the Blessingbourne Estate near Fivemiletown has a pump track to practice your skills on – and a selection of blue and red graded trails if you decide you want to take them out across country.

The pump track in Bristol is located conveniently between the town and the MTB trails of Ashton Court. Image copyright NakedRacing from Flickr

5. Coaching, rides and skills in Derby

If you’re looking for something for your kids to do while you work, then there are several holiday cycling clubs running events and activities.

Cycle Derby is running a range of rides and coaching sessions that are just the ticket – you just need to book them on, and send them on their way with lunch, water and of course their bike. They’ve got a ride to Elvaston Castle, and another to Markeaton Park.

If your child hasn’t quite got the hang of cycling yet, or is new to two wheels, then Cycle Derby are also running some ‘Learn to Ride’ coaching sessions.

With all of these activities, you’ll need to book and pay in advance

Where: Various locations around Derby
When: 29th to the 31st October 2013, various times
How much: Varies on activity, between £10 and £15
More info: Cycle Derby


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