We have been taking lots of family bike rides lately.
They are incredibly fun and always adventurous.
Biking is such a fun way for your family to exercise together. Starting to add in a few long rides will teach perseverance, determination and the joy that comes after giving something your all.
But the only way to have a successful long ride with children is to be prepared!
Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way.
1. Make sure all the bike tires are pumped up and ready to go. My husband is quite efficient at this. I tend to get impatient because the process of meticulously checking each tire takes so long. But, with the alternative being a flat tire along a bike path somewhere, I am very thankful for his tire-checking habit. He also has been known to set up a bike wash and bike tune up station for the neighborhood kids. It is a hit each spring. Can you tell?
2. Bring water. Keeping the family hydrated is not the easiest job on a bike ride. We have a Camelbak that we fill before we leave the house for a bike ride and it works well for us. The Camelbak backpacks also have some great pockets for other small items like snacks or phones you may need along the way. I also love the smaller Camelbaks for the kids… bonus – it comes in bright green which adds another measure of safety for young riders.
3. Pack a bag with sunscreen, bandaids, snacks, coloring books, crayons, books for mom and dad, and hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer will be sorely missed if you have to use a port-a-potty with no available water and soap. I learned that one the hard way. Now if you can’t pack all of this easily, you could make do with just sticking a few bandaids and some hand sanitizer in the pockets of a Camelbak or other small backpack. But for us, since Abby still rides in a bike trailer that we LOVE, I often splurge on the “things to do” stuff in case we stop at a park while on our ride. Abby also loves to color while she is riding in the trailer. Keeping preschoolers and toddlers happy on an hour ride is a really good thing! Check out the fun bags that are made to fit on bikes!
FYI – We love Schwinn for family bikes and helmets. Truly, they are high quality without being too expensive. We ordered ours online rather than buying at Walmart to make sure they were the higher quality Schwinn equipment.
4. Do a hair check. Make sure the hair is out of your children’s faces before you put their helmets on. I tie my girls’ hair back in a ponytail to make sure it stays out of their eyes. It saves you from hearing, “My hair is in my eyes!” or “My hair is itching my face!” a hundred times on a long ride.
5. Potty Breaks. Make using the bathroom before you leave the house a priority. Refer to the hand sanitizer portion of #3.
6. Plan your routes ahead of time. We have found this great website to help us plan and know how many miles we are biking at a time. If you can, find out where big hills are. My girls can bike longer if there aren’t as many hills. Too many hills wears them out too quickly. Hey, it wears ME out too quickly! But on the other hand, kids are tough and they learn a lot of perseverance when you throw in some challenges. Don’t shy away from the hills every time. Help your kids know they can do it!
Fun Gadget Must-Have – a bike mileage tracker. Jeremy and I got these for each other one year for Christmas and they made our rides more fun because we knew how far we had gone, how fast we were going and so on. The girls loved knowing those details as well!
7. Check into your local bike paths. My husband researched the bike paths in our area before we started riding and we have really loved biking on paved paths! It is a much safer option for young riders and a wonderful nature experience for the family. We have seen birds, nests, deer, skunks (a very close encounter), bunnies, butterflies and many other fun things!
8. Learn biking rules and laws for your state. This takes some research but it is very helpful when you are taking your family on a long bike ride. My girls are learning bike “manners” like which side of the path to ride on, how to cross an intersection on a bike, how to pass other bikers or walkers and how to watch for cars while riding a bike. They are becoming very watchful of their surroundings because of these rides.
9. When it is safe to do so, let your kids lead the family ride. Bike paths are a great opportunity for letting kids lead! My girls take turns being the leader, giving signals to us and calling out things coming up on the road or path. What a great way to build their confidence and give them moments to earn your trust.
10. Read helpful online biking websites. Articles like this will help make your family rides a successful, fun, family time! The more you read about taking long rides, the more prepared you will be for whatever comes your way.
Have you taken your family on a long ride? Do you have any tips to add?