Cycling with kids can be a wonderful experience and a great opportunity for a family to spend time—and get exercise—together. There are some things we should not forget before the ride.
By the time they start school, most children are capable of riding a bike of their own, but not far and not on busy roads. As young as six, they can ride a couple of kilometres, and by the age of 10 or 11, most are keen to use their own bikes for longer trips. Independent cycling offers a sense of freedom and achievement.
Children are generally much quicker at picking up the bike handling skills. When given a few helpful tips, they easily do a shoulder check while riding in a straight line thanks to their flexibility. Conversely, because of their age and experience levels, they also require greater supervision as well as consistent coaching on the fact that traffic can be very dangerous. But that’s rather clear to every parent.
Before the ride, make sure your family is comfortably dressed and prepared for the elements. In warm weather, for instance, wear lightweight fabrics that wick away moisture and sweat; in cold weather, dress in layers. If you go out with children, it’s better to be prepared for any kind of situation, so don’t forget your gear. Take water bottles, sunglasses, sunscreen, hats, bike locks, a tire pump, a pressure gauge, a small tool kit, sandwiches, snacks, and a mobile phone. And be sure that kids aren’t overloaded with heavy items that could affect their balance.
Plan the ride so you’re going places that will interest the children and make frequent stops during your ride—a café stop here, a good place for learning new technical skill there, whatever entertains them. Don’t overestimate your speed when planning the route. Keep it easy and never push too much. If there’s somebody not enjoying your plan, you’re doing it wrong.
And here’s why it’s good to ride together with your kids (even though you’ve never cycled before)
1. Cycling improves your fitness too
2. It boosts your positive mental attitude, and can help to relieve stress
3. Common interactions improve your bond with your children
4. You travel around town for free
5. You introduce a healthy activity to your children while they are young
6. You do something together in the fresh air as a family that’s free and fun
7. Cycling raises your metabolic rate, helping you to keep the weight off
8. Regular cyclists are as fit as an average person 10 years younger
9. Cycling firms the thighs and bottom, and can even help tone the belly muscles
10. You get a lot of new experiences and explore new interesting places