As is the case with many outdoor activities, motivation to ride a bike can start to wane as the days get chillier and the sun sets earlier. There’s a temptation to hunker down in front of the television with a plate of snacks and call it a day. That is certainly not the way to make the most of the season, though!
Cycling in the autumn is a gratifying endeavour and, when you get the whole family involved, it means you can feel good about helping your kids establish healthy habits that will keep a smile on their faces and improve other areas of their lives too. So even though the kids are back in school and it requires a little more planning than during the summer, it’s as important as ever to keep up activity levels each day before and after classes and on the weekends.
Whether you’re trying to keep up your child’s summer biking routine or introduce a new hobby into their school year, check out these suggestions for how to make family bike rides more fun this fall!
Take in the sights of the season
The autumn season offers a whole host of unique sights and sounds, many of which are especially appealing to children! There’s nothing quite as satisfying as rolling over crunching leaves, not to mention the possibilities of spotting neighbourhood Halloween decorations or counting how many different colours are present in the trees. You can try seeking out parks with big trees so that you’re guaranteed to have lots of leaves to ride through. You can also try planning a little scavenger hunt around a quiet neighbourhood where your kids have to keep a lookout for certain seasonal items.
Have a destination or reward in mind
In the same way that a themed bike ride can do a lot to boost motivation, the promise of rewards is always a predictably effective way to get your kids out the door. Although adults will go cycling just for the sake of it, kids tend to focus more on the destination that awaits them. Whether that means winding up at an ice cream parlour or sweet shop, hopping from park to park or even checking out a skate park—there are likely plenty of destinations within riding distance that could make for a fun and active family outing.
Set an autumn family biking goal
Another way to incorporate the reward system into your autumn cycling routine is to set a collective family biking goal. Determine the number of kilometres you want to cover as a family this autumn and plan on rewarding the effort with a trip to the movies, a favourite restaurant or another special place your kids love to visit.
Or, if your child is already into cycling but is curious about trying a different style or terrain, you could make cultivating that skill the goal of the challenge. Whatever the case may be, keep in mind that it always helps to be able to have your eye on the prize. And, of course, teaching your kids to set and achieve goals will be a powerful lesson that they can carry with them and use repeatedly throughout their lives.
Check out a local campground
Depending on where you live, another wonderful thing about autumn cycling is that there is a variety of quieter cycling routes to explore. For example, many public campgrounds close for the season in early to mid-September, providing a safe and picturesque place for young bikers to get their cycling legs without having to worry about traffic. Not to mention campgrounds usually have a playground, a creek or river nearby, and, of course, there will be no shortage of picnic tables when you decide you’re ready to stop for a snack.
Keep them safe and warm
Speaking of snacks, it is necessary to be aware that no child will enjoy autumn riding if they don’t feel comfortable and safe while they are doing it. The temperature can fluctuate a lot at this time of year, and that means that it takes a bit more planning when it comes to ensuring you have the proper gear, fuel, and safety equipment on hand.
Visibility is super important when you’re cycling with kids in the autumn, so be sure to double-up on the hi-vis clothing and accessories and be certain that everyone’s bike has the necessary lights. To deal with the sudden temperature drops, dress the kids in layers and maybe even take an extra jacket or sweater for when you stop to take a break for food or photos.
Finally, don’t push it too hard if someone claims to be freezing, tired or hungry (even if you think they are being dramatic). By planning shorter, more enjoyable outings, you’ll help your child establish a positive association with the spot and will be much more likely to get them to agree to another ride in the future.