7 tips for the ultimate family bike ride
When it comes to family bonding activities, few things beat a good old bike ride. With the days getting lighter and warmer, cycling offers a great way for kids and parents to stay active while embracing the great outdoors. Plus, pick your routes wisely, and you’ll get to discover and explore a whole new area with every ride.
But before you pedal off, take a look at Team GP’s top tips for a super-successful family bike ride...
1. MOT time
If your bikes have been gathering dust in the garage or shed for several months, you’ll need to inspect and service them. Maintenance tasks involve everything from pumping and patching up tyres, to replacing brake pads and lubricating the chains. If you need some help or want to give the bikes a proper MOT, invest in a decent bike repair manual.
2. My, haven’t you grown!
Inconvenient as it is, kids have a tendency of growing! A bike that fit them perfectly last summer might not this year. The easiest way to check is to measure up using a bike size chart, which will tell you the right wheel size for their age and height. The right size of bike is key to a safe and comfortable ride, so make sure the seat and handlebars are also at the correct level. For example, when your child is riding away, they should be seated in a mostly upright position and their knees and legs shouldn’t be bouncing off the handlebars. At the same time, their legs shouldn’t be completely stretched out at the lowest vertical position of the pedals; there should always be a slight bend in the leg.
3. Map it out
Proper planning prevents… ending up lost, or cycling down a busy road that’s definitely unsuitable for families! It’s always best to plan a route in advance using the Sustrans National Cycle Network map. Canal towpaths and ex-railway paths will be flat so are kid-friendly – just choose one with lots to see and plenty of points to enjoy a quick pit stop!
4. Dress for the occasion
Regardless of how long your route is, wearing the right clothes will help you all to keep comfy on those saddles. Avoid jeans or trousers with tight waists and legs or zips that could dig in. Instead, opt for stretchy bottoms (like Lycra shorts), ideally with padding. The same goes for tops, and make sure you all pack some extra layers for when it cools down later in the day. Cycling gloves are another good idea, as they keep little hands protected from blisters and scrapes, as well as helping to reduce the vibration through the bike.
You can kit your bike out too, starting with bottle cages so everyone can have their own bottle of water within easy reach. And why not buy a special phone mount for your handlebars? It’ll give you super-quick access to your device for taking family photos and checking the route. In your rucksack, be sure to pack a puncture repair kit/spray, cycling multi-tool, a mini first aid kit and plenty of high-energy snacks to go with your water.
Along with using your phone to take shots of your family bike ride, why not buy a waterproof action camera to film your riding adventures head on? If you’re yet to invest in in one, a GoPro will become your new favourite piece of kit, allowing you to capture every last bit of family fun from your day out. You could even treat yourself to a rear view seat mount – fitting neatly under your bike’s saddle, it’ll catch some awesome backwards facing footage of your kids in full swing!
What’s a smartphone without power? Completely useless! Don’t forget to pack a reliable, compact and lightweight PowerBank you can whip out from your rucksack when your phone needs a little boost. If you plan on taking more than one phone, or multiple devices that need charging (including an action camera, for example), then you'll need a slightly heavier-weight PowerBank capable of powering up two devices at the same time.
There we have it: seven tips for a fun-filled bike ride with the kids! Tell us, what’s your go-to family cycling route?