Five tips for a great day out on the bike with the family
A family bike ride is a great way to help children discover the joy of cycling. Before you set off, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure a fun and enjoyable day out for everyone. As well as remembering to take along some basics like tissues, sun cream, plasters and a bottle of water, there are a number of things you should think of when planning your two-wheel adventure. Here are our five tips for a great day out on the bike with the family.
Choose a route for everyone
Selecting the right route for a family bike ride isn’t always an easy task. In the end, the solution is normally a compromise. The ride should not be too long or too short, too easy or too difficult. At the same time, it also should not be boring. There should be some kind of destination which everyone can aim to reach together, but at the same time the route should ideally be a loop so that you don’t have to ride the same trails more than once. Last but not least, a family day out on the bike should offer plenty of variety. Avoid long climbs when riding which children in order to keep them motivated. It’s also a good idea to include different types of terrain – switching from tarmac to gravel to dirt all in one ride can be really fun for those new to cycling.
TIP! Choose a destination your children already know. Even many years later, youngsters will often associate memories with this place and will enjoy seeing how much progress they have made since the last time they rode there. Riding with friends is also a good way to encourage youngsters to get in the saddle – children enjoy motivating and pushing each other.
Take the right food and drink
Every enjoyable family bike ride includes a well-deserved stop with a snack and a drink – for example, when you reach your destination. It’s much more motivating if you already know when you set off where this place is and that there will be a snack waiting for you when you get there. The food and drink themselves should not be too heavy on the stomach but should give plenty of energy to continue the ride. Fruit, cereal bars, sandwiches and vegetables cut up into pieces are good. On the other hand, it is best to avoid any snacks which can melt in the sun or lose their shape in a rucksack. Also avoid fizzy drinks if possible. If you do have to take a carbonated drink, make sure it is in a suitable bottle. The best drink is still water in a bottle which you can refill while you are out on the trails.
TIP! Plan ahead and make sure you take plenty of food and drink with you – when it comes to adults and children alike, hungry normally isn’t happy!
Know where you are going
Sure, it can be funny every now and then if you get lost together on a family bike ride – even if you are normally only able to laugh about it afterwards. However, to avoid getting yourself and your family into those kinds of situations, it is important to plan your route as much as possible. Bike maps and digital devices can both be of help. We also recommend that you familiarise yourself with the different signs used on the paths and trails you will be riding and also tell your children which signs they should keep an eye out for – both in towns and in the countryside. This helps them develop a sense of orientation and makes them aware of their surroundings. Before setting off, make sure you go through the route with everyone in your group – including children – to explain where the ride will take you. After all, knowing the route helps riders stay motivated for longer.
TIP! If possible, divide the ride up into shorter sections. That helps children know where they are and makes it easier for them to calculate distances. Take your time – stops along the way are a good way of breaking up the ride and catching your breath. These stops don’t only have to be at a signposted play area or rest area. Sometimes it’s a good idea to stop next to a river or lake, in the forest or by a meadow – with a little imagination, all these places can be turned into exciting adventure playgrounds.
Wear suitable clothing
Bike rides in spring and summer can always hold some surprises in store when it comes to the weather. If the temperature suddenly falls or it starts to rain or hail, you will want to have your warm and waterproof clothing with you in a rucksack or saddle bag rather than back home in a cupboard. It is a good idea to take a lightweight multifunctional jacket which provides protection against wind and rain. It can also sometimes get a lot warmer than you anticipated when out on the bike. For this reason we recommend the tried-and-tested method of layering, i.e. wearing several thin layers on top of each other. As long as the temperatures are cool and not cold, the best thing to wear is just a jumper made of cotton. Doing exercise with a rain jacket on quickly causes you to sweat. Stopping every now and then to put on and take off clothes depending on the changing weather conditions is all part of a bike ride. . Generally, when it comes to bike clothing, the old saying applies: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes. Children often know exactly what they want to wear – even if it’s not necessarily the right outfit for the weather conditions. Sometimes it’s best to let them choose their clothing themselves – if they get too hot or cold and have to change mid-ride, they will learn a valuable lesson for the future.
TIP! Sometimes it’s easier to get going if you just let children wear what they want and pack the spare clothing they need into a rucksack. If they get too hot or too cold, they will let you know – and they will be grateful that you have brought along a spare change of clothes for them. Over the years, having a change of warm, dry clothes as a back-up has saved plenty of family days out! Sometimes it’s just too tempting to ride straight through a big puddle – but when the fun is over, riding around for the rest of the day in a pair of wet shorts can get pretty demoralising.
Explore new paths
If you have completed your first family bike ride and everyone had a good time, the next step is often to explore new paths and discover new destinations. Heading out to a totally new place is an exciting experience, especially for older children. Families with children of different ages can ride a section together and then split up into two groups for a while. One group stays at the play area, while the others head off for a ride in the forest. This way, everyone gets what they want and older children can take on an additional challenge.
TIP! A digital route planner can be useful. We recommend Bikemap, an app which allows riders to plan their route and contains more than 1.8 million rides uploaded by cycling enthusiasts from over 100 countries around the world. You can test Bikemap for free or use our discount code WOOMBIKEMAP to receive 50% off an annual subscription to premium membership (offer valid until 31 May 2019).