5 Tips for a Successful Family Bike Trip
A bike ride with the whole family is the perfect route to fun and adventure. But the best adventures are often those that start with careful planning and preparation, so consider these woom tips before your next family ride!
Bring the Basics
Don’t forget to pack necessities like helmets, water bottles, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, a phone, and tools to change a flat tire. Dress for the current weather but also plan for the unexpected. If there’s a sudden change in temperature or it starts to rain, make sure the appropriate clothing is waiting in your backpack or saddle bag and not in the closet at home.
Tips: Think like an onion and go with thin, easily removable layers. We recommend carrying a lightweight jacket that protects against wind and rain.
Plan a Good Route
What does the perfect route look like for your group? Not too long, not too short, not too strenuous, not too boring… The best way to find “just right” for the whole family is to spend time planning and considering how best to keep all the one-of-a-kind members of your crew happy and motivated.
Tips: Round-trip routes are ideal, or otherwise limiting repetition of route sections. Avoid big hills, especially with younger children. Kids love variety, though, so a mix of scenery and surfaces (throw in some gravel paths or dirt trails!) can be a big plus.
Choose an Exciting Destination & Interesting Waypoints
If, as the old saying goes, “half the fun is getting there,” don’t forget that the other half of your ride’s success will hinge on where you end up. Pick a fun destination for a 100-percent fun bike trip, targeting family locales like parks, natural areas, swimming pools, libraries and bookstores, a favorite restaurant, the movie theater, or even just a pleasant spot by the water. You can also choose a special destination to return to every year, charting your progress and memories over time.
Tips: Allow plenty of time for everyone in the group to stop and catch their breath...and to smell the roses, check out that fuzzy caterpillar, splash in a stream, and otherwise enjoy all the highlights along the way. Children spur each other on, so invite friends to join the ride too!
Not All Snacks Are the Same
Food is magical on a long bike ride. Just say the word “Snack” and you can chase away fatigue and dark moods like the sun breaking through the clouds. But what should you bring? Whether you’re planning a picnic at your destination or just a quick stop, pack foods that won’t be heavy in the stomach but that will provide plenty of energy for the rest of the journey. Fruit, granola bars, sandwiches, sliced vegetables, and non-carbonated drinks are good choices.
Tips: Items that can quickly melt in the heat, lose their shape, or be easily crushed or bruised in your backpack should be avoided (or you can protect some foods by carrying them in hard containers). A special treat that you save only for bike rides provides great incentive!
Everyone Can Be a Ride Leader
Ownership can be very motivating. Let kids help plan the trip or decide turns or stopping points while riding. Before you head out, make sure everyone knows the planned destination and route: this helps prevent the group from getting separated or lost, and knowing what to expect helps even the littlest legs keep pedaling. Everyone should familiarize themselves with labeling systems and landmarks on the route—for instance, what’s the halfway point? Where are important turns or places where extra care should be taken? Does the path or road you’ve chosen have unique signage or rules? In addition to keeping everyone on track, this knowledge helps train children’s sense of direction and attention to their surroundings.
Tips: Let children take turns being the first rider in the group, and/or give them unique responsibilities: they could be responsible for finding a certain waypoint, choosing a place to stop and have a snack, or leading a particular section on the path.
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