Cycling with kids. #ReasonsTorRide
Cycling can be one of the easiest outdoors activities you can access as a family on a daily basis. A bit of planning and preparation can avoid meltdowns, and allows you to #GetOutside and have safe adventures. Remember children are not little adults, therefore making a decision on conditions and routes should be always based on suitability for the child not on what the grown up person can manage!
INVEST in a good quality, well fitting bike.
CARE for your bikes properly and it will pay you back. Make friends with your local bike shop and treat the bikes to an annual service as a minimum.
CHECK your bikes. Bikes should be checked quickly before every ride. The bike itself will normally tell you if there is a problem (it will squeak or look funny). Involve kids with these checks and encourage ownership and care of their personal bike.
PAMPER your bike. It can be tempting to dump the bikes at the end of a long ride, take 5 minutes to wash down (NO power washing!!) dry and re lube the chain before storing somewhere dry. It will keep everything working better for longer.
SHORTS, Padded cycling shorts, they will save loads of moaning I promise.
GLOVES, are useful in all weathers and essential in cold conditions. Make sure they are suitable to pull the brakes safely especially in very small children. Wear them from the start, cold fingers take a long time to get warm again.
WINTER KIT, the key to continuing cycling with kids throughout winter is appropriate clothing including: good base layers, good quality well fitting waterproofs including leggings water proof socks, tubed scarf.
HI-VIZ Be seen!
ESSENTIAL KIT. No excuses really…
SAFETY STANDARDS. Look for the CE mark! This indicates it meets minimum safety standards.
INVEST. Not all helmets are the same. A minimum guidance is approx £30. The high cost of branded helmets over budget lines relates to build quality, comfort and to a small extent the design.
INVOLVED. Get your child to be involved in the purchase, they are much more likely to enjoy wearing something they have chosen personally.
TRY BEFORE BUYING. It is again worth shopping in a good retailer for the helmet, kids head shapes vary hugely! Sometimes they may need an adult size.
SHELF LIFE. Due to the degradation of the polystyrene by sunlight manufactures recommend changing helmets every 3-4 years or as the child grows. In addition helmets should not be stored in direct sunlight such on a car back shelf.
BIN IT! Helmets that are involved in a crash or show signs of cracks however small should be replaced.
Adult Kit bag
For longer adventures, further away from home, its worth considering carrying the following:
Spare tubes, pump and tyre levers
First aid kit
Extra layers including socks and gloves
Emergency sweets, jelly babies are excellent for flagging legs and post crash pick me ups.
Personal shelter or emergency blanket
OS map of your area (paper copy)
Well charged phone in a water proof case
Bit of cash (a spontaneous cafe stop is always well received in the summer or an ice-cream)
This decision is a very individual one and is dependant on the individuals child’s age and cycling capacity and bike types. Remember wherever you go make it an adventure, take a packed lunch, stop for a paddle!
Off road Mountain bike trail riding:
Reduced risk of traffic related incidents away from vehicles.
Accessible option in wintery slippy conditions.
Kinder on your bikes in winter with less exposure to corrosive salt and grit.
Tip! Remember that you cannot use footpaths to cycle on.
Downside: Environmental conditions on natural trails.
The temp will drop 3 Degrees Celsius every 1000 feet without taking into consideration the increase wind chill factors. Also if you do have a first aid incident or mechanical you will be more exposed and further from outside support.
Tip! Kit preparation and destination choice based on weather conditions is key.
We use the Mountain Weather forecast and have installed both OS maps app and OS Locate on phones in addition to carrying OS paper maps. Also consider setting up the 999 texting service.
Don’t feel up to trail riding, weather rubbish.? Think about at trip to:
Converted Railways tracks e.g Richmond to Easby Abbey, Cinder Trail (Scarborough)
Purpose made pump tracks e.g Ingleton
Forestry Commission Trail centres e.g Whinlatter, Guisburn, or Dalby Forest
Less technically demanding and tiring on little legs
Bike choice can be more flexible
Downside: Heavy traffic routes are unsuitable for very young children due to the wobble factor!. Using the sandwich technique is a good way to protect the child by placing them between older or more experience riders. If you are solo parenting place the children in front so you are able to monitor and offer support. Pick your times of day to manage the traffic. Increasingly in urban areas investment in cycling infrastructure can allow you to move away from challenging road conditions on to purpose built routes.
A comprehensive guide of road cycling routes and infrastructure is mapped on the National Cycle Network and can be found on the Sustrans website https://www.sustrans.org.uk
Developing children skills.
If your are keen on developing your kids skills in a fun, social environment there are community clubs running sessions throughout the country led by British Cycling and Cycling Uk instructors and coaches.
British Cycling Go-ride clubs https://www.britishcycling.org.uk
Cycling Uk Community Clubs https://www.cyclinguk.org
Stage 1 Cycles runs 3 sessions on Saturday and 1 on Monday after school.
The sessions cater for wobbly wheelers, balance bikes all the way through to experience mountain bikers and parents are welcome. We also organise holiday away trips. Get in touch with Helen 01969 666873 for more information.