What do you think of when you envision riding with your entire family? The dream is that you will all be in a state of family bliss, riding along together at the same pace, wind at your back, kids smiling, and lots of family bonding.
The reality is that while that can happen, you need to plan and work at it. And don’t be discouraged when the first (or two or three) rides seem overly rough. As you all fall into a routine it will get easier and it will be fun.
Assuming you are already an avid rider I’ll spare you the most basic of bike riding tips. But here are four things to consider before you set out with the entire family.
Do the Prep Work
If you are an avid cyclist you are probably good about maintaining your bike. But don’t forget the kid’s bikes or trailer. Basics include proper tire pressure, functioning brakes, and a lubed chain.
You also need to prepare snacks, possibly toys or books for a trailer ride, baby wipes, drinks, and more snacks. Don’t underestimate the power of snacks on a bike ride. And a bike ride might just be the perfect time to allow a treat if the going gets tough. I swear by energy chews like Honey Stinger or Clif Bloks for both fuel and mental incentive when my son needs extra motivation.
And check their helmet for fit and safety. Don’t be one of those parents with a $200 perfectly fit and adjusted helmet while your child has a cut up foam mess – half hanging off his head.
Alyssa, a mom, and cyclist from Salt Lake City swears by helmets with visors. “I cannot tell how many skinned chins, skinned faces, and skinned noses we have bypassed by that silly visor taking the fall.”
Take the Proper Gear
Trailer and kids bikes can (and will) break down during rides. Be prepared to fix not only your bike and theirs. If you are not 100% comfortable with emergency bike repairs, bring the gear so someone can help you. In addition, bring along some step-by-step instructions so you can walk yourself through a repair if nobody is around. Check out Hero Kits for an affordable all in one tool and instruction kit.
Tip: If you don’t have a small tube for your kid’s bike you can use your full size tube in a pinch. On a recent ride my son forgot his 24 inch tube and got a flat. I used my 29 inch tube. It got us through our ride and back to the car.
Adjust your Attitude
Nancy Sathre-Vogel biked from Alaska to Argentina with her two boys so she knows a lot about family bike rides. Her #1 tip is to never doubt your child. And it’s true that they are often capable of so much more than we think or give them credit for. I have often thought a ride was too long or too hard for my son only to have him breeze through it and want to go farther. Of course the other side is not doubting her when she says she is too tired or not in the mood. Try to leave your goals and plans on the back burner and listen to your kids. (Insert bridge.jpeg in this section)
Think about the Destination
For adults a ride may be about the journey and exercise but for kids it’s often about the destination. Tanya who writes a family blog called Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies says, “riding for the sake of riding may work for some kids but for others, riding to a playground, a duck pond, a big bridge, or even ice-cream shop just might be the incentive they need.”
Personally, our most enjoyable and memorable rides have been to a destination. Pick somewhere they love and the ride will become part of that enjoyment.
Image Credit: Tanya Koob
So what are you waiting for? Okay, maybe for the snow to melt depending on where you live. But why not start to plan your next cycling adventure as a family.
Jen Charrette is a blogger at Velo Momwhere she discusses family cycling, wellness, training and racing.
Trying to get nippers riding bikes in a rural area of England…lots of issues here with kids in villages not riding/not starting to ride, for no good reason. Loads of mums starting to ride and it’s great seeing mums and kids starting to hit the roads again.
I’ll keep you from reading my rant of why I feel that child bike seats are unsafe and can lead to danger for the child and adult. That will be saved for another day.
Earlier in the summer Burley sent out a D’Lite Child Trailer for review purposes. Walking into the review I knew from my experience in the past with Burley, their trailers and the quality they take around design and development – I would be pleased with the results of their D’Lite trailer. As my children are grown to 10 and 11 years old, I borrowed and stole children of all sizes for the review and testing. At the bottom of this is a ton of photos to hopefully document all the details that the D’Lite has to offer.
My Burley Trailer History
My first experience with Burley outside of selling them was back in 2005. The shop I was managing outside of Boston had a few rental Burley trailers to use on the local rail to trail. During the early spring before our rental period picked up I adopted a puppy. I used a kids trailer with a couple blankets and a short leash to transport my new puppy to the shop and back. She loved it, I loved it and it was perfect. Since then Burley has actually released the Tail Wagon which is a trailer designed for your dog!
My next experience with Burley was as a bike line. My small shop in Charlotte, NC stocked and sold their road line. Beautiful steel bikes, a dying breed. Since then Burley has restructured and really going after the trailer and pull behind niche.
Replacement covers available in Yellow, Blue or Red
Bowed-out sides for increased interior width/shoulder room
Elastomer suspension system
Exclusive height-adjustable handlebar that doubles as roll bar
All weather cover with waterproof zippers
Deluxe reclining padded seats
Five-point harness and padded shoulder harness
Removable, washable seat pad and shoulder harness
Tinted side windows
Number of children
100.0 lb/ 45.4 kg
28.0 lb/ 12.7 kg
25.2 in/ 64.0 cm
26.4 in/ 67.1 cm
Interior seat width
20.0 in/ 50.8 cm
20.0 in/ 50.8 cm
The things I found unique and completely Burley:
Tinted side windows
Rear window that zips down for airflow and the child can see around
Drink and snack holders on both sides the seats
Reflective piping and logos all around the shell
Easy to use
Push button wheels
Standard 20″ wheels, not the plastic kind
Did I mention easy to use?
Adaptable to all types of bikes
My Overall Feelings
The D’Lite delivered as I expected it to. The trailer isn’t the cheapest out there, but if you purchase an accessory kit this could become your do all stroller, running jogger and kid hauler. The ability to completely flatten, pull the wheels off and stow it in the back of your vehicle is irreplaceable for the family on the go. Why not have one killer trailer/stroller/hauler instead of 3 that do 3 different things?
In the end I do believe that trailers are safer, allow you to bring two kids, clothing, and they are tucked behind UV windows, rain fly’s mesh, and a roll bar. 5 point harness system will keep every kid in place. Extra room allows you to put snacks and toys in with them, without the ability of them throwing it overboard.
I hope to explore how parents can get their children interested in riding in the trailer, how to do it safely and tips/ideas of how to get out with your family. In the end it is completely how the parent handles taking the their child, how they encourage healthy living and being outside.
Disclaimer: This product was provided at no charge. I was not paid or bribed for the review and was completely as judgmental as I am with everything else in my life.
Over at Bike Shop Hub, a site supporter and a darn near close name, the talk of balance bikes was brought back up. Many thoughts are racing between my ears currently, but before I say anything outlandish or make claims I can’t support by test data, I want to ask you all some questions.
Over at Commute By Bike I have been reviewing a Burley Travoy, a cargo trailer system. While we are still going through the review process and haven’t put it fully through its paces, I can the trailer does all it says it does and more.
Nutrition is an under used term for the novice cyclist or athlete. For the professional, it is the way of life. They run their engine like NASCAR builds their cars, with precision. For the past few months I’ve put my family in some sort of science experiment with various types of nutrition supplements and varieties.
nuun is a electrolyte replacement, with a little flare. These little tablets come in 8 flavors, and are kept in plastic tube to keep them readily available on long rides. With available flavors like Kona Cola, which tastes exactly like Coca Cola, and Lemon+Lime, tastes like Sprite, or Banananuun. My personal favorites will always be the fruity styles like Citrus Fruit or Tri-Berry.
A valid question was asked over on Twitter, “Do You Wear Sunscreen When You Ride?”
My answer is yes, and well… no. Up until this year I have always worn short sleeve jerseys when riding. Maybe it is the roadie in me where sleeveless jerseys are banned from racing. I often have freaky tan lines from gloves, helmet strap and short sleeve jerseys.
At the bike shop and at home I have now invested in KINeSYS sunscreen, in the spray bottle! It is the least we can do for our skin, but in the long term it probably isn’t enough.
Next step is SPF clothing, but that will be another time.