Despite even the greatest efforts, some trips intended to be perfect fun for kids sometimes end up in a total failure. Once the tiny riders find themselves worn out and bored, you can hardly change their mind and get them from the spot they decided to get glued to and throw a lasting tantrum. Pushing a little terror home by force is a nightmare better to avoid. Following personal experiences from taming his 6-year-old sweetheart Eleanore, professional biker Richard Gasperotti tells you how to secure the best mood on a cycling trip.
Plan the route together
Children need to know where you’re heading and what attractions they’re about to see. This makes them being involved in the entire program, building a feeling of shared responsibility. Once they find a variety of entertaining stop-overs on the way, it won’t require too much effort to help them overcome the possible fatigue, which might appear throughout the trip. The kids also need to know what distance should they expect to cover. Even though they might not be experts in counting kilometres, they still will be happy to hear the journey would be about a double of the daily ride to the kindergarten. Presenting a snack you packed for the trip is another tool that would encourage them to cooperate.
Specify the destination
Strava records, power outputs or heartbeats are irrelevant to kids. Unlike us, they expect something more than just a struggle for endorphins. Give them a purpose to ride. Tell them that you’ll go swimming, feed horses, collect flowers or buy ice cream and you’ll see how the motivation rises.
Find entertaining routes
Many new educational trails can be found where the kids would learn about animals, plants or the history of the place. Sometimes, they can even put their hands on samples of wood or rocks to have a tactile experience in person.
When verbal motivation fails, heavier artillery might help. No kid can resist candies. Announce a sprint race to the horizon, tree, trash bin… The reward for the victory being candy. Despite being dead tired just a minute ago, kids will fly like rockets when sweets are at stake.
Let a friend join
Being the only kid in an adult group might be stressful and kind of frustrating. Ask your kid if they want to share the ride with friends and welcome them to the group. More kids in the team turn an average ride into a beautiful adventure. Since kids are apt to be competitive, they race against each other, compare their bikes, and make short stops just to explore the neighbourhood.
Upgrade their bikes
Since every kid wants to have a better bike than the others, you can motivate them by making their bikes look original. Fasten a pinwheel to the handlebars that will spin in the wind during the ride – the faster the kid goes, the faster it will go. Little ones could be also amazed by small plastic vases that can be attached to the handlebars to carry flowers collected on the trip.
Take the train to make the journey easier
Plan your journey so that you travel a part of it by train. Not only you’ll save strength but the entire day will be much more entertaining.
How much can the kids handle?
Overestimating endurance is a flaw that might spoil the day. Kids aged around 5 are capable of doing up to 20-km roundtrips using a 16” wheels bike if divided into shorter segments with stops to play and recover.
What if the child refuses to move on?
When a child grows grumpy, it’s hard to persuade her or him to do what you want. What if your kid refuses to go on? Tell them you will stay in the woods overnight then and a boogieman will show up. As soon as the kids get insecure, they will join. But, seriously, don’t overdo the spooky gig or you might face years of therapy or separation anxiety later. Advanced riders might be encouraged by taking part in competitions like chase sprinting from tree to tree, nailing technical segments over the roots or riding slalom between stones. Be creative, entertain and support your kids rather than forcing them to go. This way, you can raise them to be keen cyclists who will be looking forward to any future ride.