Or: How to keep your child happy on a cycling trip
1. Take a friend
A friend of your child’s, that is. It’s more of an adventure if your child has a chum riding along too. Let’s face it, most kids would rather be out with their mates. Your role is to buy the ice cream and to keep a watchful eye.
2. Don’t go too far
If the kids have a good time on a short ride, they’ll look forward to the next one. If you take them on a 10 mile slog in the rain, they could be put off bikes for life.
3. Check the route beforehand
Getting your kids lost doesn’t inspire confidence. Factor in bail-out shortcuts and loo breaks. Avoid very hilly routes, busy roads and difficult junctions. Pro tip: Download a Google map in advance in case your roaming technology fails you, or even grab one of these Sustrans cycle routes paper maps.
4. Make the day interesting
Small people have a short attention span. Plan refreshment breaks around exciting places such as the local troll bridge. If there are no obvious cafe stops en route, bring your own scran. Kids love picnics, camp fires and barbecues.
5. Check the bikes the day before
Not only your kids’ bikes, but your own too. Make sure your tyres are pumped up and ready (the correct pressure or PSI is written on the side of the tyre), that the brakes function, and that the gears change. If it’s been several months since the bikes have been used, they could almost definitely do with a chain clean and some fresh lube.
Bonus Tip: Let the slowest rider set the pace
This is usually the youngest rider. Enjoy it while it lasts; in a few years’ time, you’ll be struggling to keep up.
What some of the Bicycle Cooperative parents say…
Simon, Newcastle manager
“My top tip is bribery – chocolate, drinks, regular stops, singing, and good craic. Don’t forget inner tubes and waterproofs.”
Andrew, Edinburgh Bruntsfield manager
Yvonne, Ginger Squirrels leader
“Make sure you have a definite destination for them to head for, like the duck pond or the sweetie shop. It helps if you can offer a reward at either end of the trip, like a play park on the way out and an ice cream at the end of the return journey.”