Bike trip with young kids: My story
It's summer at last and we asked some of you if our tips from the last newsletter not only inspired you, but also helped you to organise a bike trip for the whole family. Armed with our tips, the Danner family from the Vienna Woods decided to give it a go...
Mom Christina wrote a post on her experiences, which we have summarised in English for you here (click here to read the original blog entry in German):
Since Dad discovered his trusty bicycle and cycled across Austria in the space of three weeks, our boys have been geared up for a ride too. From morning to night, they try cyclo-cross, BMX, and all kinds of two-wheeled extreme manoeuvres. Perfect timing then for some new bike equipment for our boys. They're so excited and delighted with their new woom bikes. Flo's objection that his backside would rather stay a few days away from the saddle after his crazy trip around Austria was brutally ignored.
Well, what can I say to that? You know who has the final say in our house. You've guessed it...our kids. And so it was decided. We bravely took a bike trip as a family for the first time, each of us equipped with a bike of our own.
The proper equipment is vital
As Noah has only used a balance bike so far, we decided that this year he would get a bike with pedals. For the youngest member of the Danner family, it was a woom 2 and for Theo, as he's already so big and knows how to ride well, we chose a woom 5. When we unpacked the bikes, we immediately noticed just how lightweight they were. Even Theo can carry his bike up and down the steps of our garden terrace by himself. Which is really important in our case as it seems our garden is well-suited to testing a bike's BMX capabilities. Our lawn isn't too amused, but at least the children have fun.
So now, the kids are perfectly equipped with ultra-lightweight bikes, helmets, and even matching gloves. And Flo already has all the gear a guy needs to ride through Austria ...
Plan the route in advance
As Noah isn't that steady on two wheels yet, we opt for an easier route that he'll be able to manage without any problems.
After all, we live right in the Vienna Woods, the perfect starting point for all kinds of bike tours. But we also have many cycling paths here with steep inclines. That's not ideal when on tour with younger children.
The app “Bikemap” has been recommended to us many times. If you enter your exact destination and the distance you would like to ride, it shows you the number of metres to climb, the total length and difficulty. It's totally practical, especially if you don't yet have an idea of how long the kids will be able to keep up on their first bike tour.
We opt for the route "Short ride through Eichgraben" – nothing can go wrong there. If the worst comes to the worst, we can always stop at a friend's place and get a lift home.
But the kids are totally motivated and want to get going, so off we go! We decide to separate. Flo rides ahead with Theo, we agree to meeting points at popular locations such as a playground, different bridges for throwing stones, and schedule a spot for a picnic.
Myself and Noah follow behind and everything goes according to plan. Even if we are going at a snail's pace, the main thing is we're all having fun, which is our goal after all!
Pack enough snacks
If you have kids, you know what I'm talking about. Before you take off, there are only so many times you can ask if everyone has been to the toilet or had enough to eat. Either you'll be ignored or fobbed off with a "Yeahhhh, Mom". You've barely left the house before the first sentence uttered is either, "Mom, I need to pee!" or "I'm staaaarving". So, as always, the golden rule with children applies: always bring enough snacks with you, even if you're only planning a short ride.
Our first stop is an adventure playground right in our town that we love very much and that offers all you would expect from a playground.
So, we pull out our snacks to boost our energy levels, even if we've only just started our journey. It should be enjoyable for everyone, after all. And let's be honest, the most important thing is to get some fresh air, isn't it?
Plan for lots and lots and looots of breaks
And that brings me to my next point. A bike tour with kids isn't going to be a fitness challenge for adults. It's better to plan a short trip with several breaks. It shouldn't be too taxing on the kids themselves.
I can still remember a crazy trip through Austria's Burgenland with my parents about 93.487 years ago: it was scorching hot and we wanted to go around a big lake. We didn't bring any food or drink with us and assumed we could just stop somewhere for a bite to eat. It turned out that there was no place of the sort nearby and I ended up parched in bed with sunstroke and sunburn. For a long time, I didn't want to cycle again. So it's better to turn it down a notch and think of your children's needs. In any case, the kids love the time that we devote to them and there's no point in having to pedal several kilometres back home after it all.
Have a Plan B to hand
So our plan was good and the distance was manageable. And in spite of all that, Noah still went on strike at some point because he preferred to stay at the playground. That was totally okay with us. We simply split up and Flo decided to cycle another bit with Theo while Noah and I had another go on the swings. It might have been a good idea, however, to attach the child's seat to one of our bikes or to take the trailer with us. That would have enabled us to continue travelling together.
So it's always better to have an emergency plan to hand, rather than to end up stuck in the middle of nowhere with no way home.