Next week we are off on our family summer holiday. Traditionally this involves loading up the boot with all our camping gear and sticking the bikes on the back of the car. Cycling is a big part of our holiday plans. We enjoy the freedom of getting out and about and discovering new places and cycle paths. This year Harry is too big to go on the child seat on the back of my husband’s bike. We don’t have a trailer or a towing arm so Harry will be flying (cycling) solo.
He is 5 years of age so his ability is limited, not to mention his levels of stamina. And, so we are going to have to make some adaptions to ensure our bike rides remain an enjoyable – and safe – family experience. Here are some of the things we have taken in to consideration and I thought I’d share these tips in case they are helpful to someone else.
The long bike trips we are used to are out of the question. Instead we are going to have to find safe, straight, flat, wide, and quiet routes. An old railway track that has been converted in to a cycle path is ideal. Try to go at times of the day when the cycle routes are not going to be too busy i.e. avoid peak commuting times.
As H has only just turned 5, long days out on the bike are a no go for the next year or two. Either plan lots of short ones or break up a relatively long one with a few stop offs for a picnic and/or at a cafe en route. Remember that it should be an enjoyable family experience. Nothing ruins a day out more than a tired whinging child so don’t overdo it on their first few occasions. Use the initial trips just to judge their ability to ride and how long they can ride for. It has to be about enjoyment rather than endurance.
How To Ride
It is a good idea to have one adult leading the way, the child in the middle, and the other adult bringing up the rear. The person at the front looks out for the dangers ahead and the one at the back can help guide the child along the way…..a gentle push as and when needed.
What To Pack
As we are going in Summer we will pack some sun block and a lightweight long sleeve top for H. It can be deceiving how warm it is when you are pootling along on your bike enjoying the breeze. Because we are in the UK the shower proof coat is a must! Take plenty of snacks and drinks.
It goes without saying that a helmet is a must. In case he falls off we also have some cycle mitts to stop his knuckles from getting scuffed. We won’t be going at night so we won’t need reflective gear but I’ll still ensure he wears something bright. We also have ourselves a first aid kit just in case of minor injuries. Let’s face it children are accident prone even when not on a bike.
We got ours from a company called SJ Works. They do 3 different sizes but I went for the classic. I love it because it attaches to an adult bike, and it is small enough to also fit on his. That’s ideal for when he is out on his and we are just walking alongside.
It is lightweight, reflective, and sturdy and packed full of everything you need and things you wouldn’t even think of needing. It has easy access plasters in all sizes, gauze, tape, eye patches, bandages (of every description), antiseptic wipes, safety pins, scissors, vinyl gloves….seriously they have thought of it all. I can’t believe that so much is packed in to it and yet it remains so light. They do a couple of different versions so if you are interested in one then either pop to their site or find them on Amazon.
Make sure you have enough bike repair stuff for all three bikes. It sounds simple, but when you are only used to the two it is something so easily over-looked. A small child is more likely to get punctures because they are not really looking where they are going. There is also the possibility of them veering of the cycle way in to terrain that could cause damage to the tyres. Make sure you know what to do and you have the tools to do it.
I’d say we are pretty prepared and I’m looking forward to this next stage of our adventures. Hopefully the preparation and thought we’ve put in ensures it is an enjoyable one.
See you on the other side!
(Disclaimer: I was provided with the cycle first aid kit in return for reviewing it. My opinions are my own)