The following is a guest post from Victoria Huizinga of Snail Pace Transformations.
I have loved bike riding since I got my first red banana seat bike back in kindergarten. In fact I did not even get my driver’s license until I was very pregnant at the age of 21 and the doctor told me I could not drive a newborn around on a bike.
Naturally this meant that I could not wait until my children were old enough to join me on bike rides. One thing I noticed right away however was that biking with children is a whole lot harder than biking on your own.
I can’t go at my own pace and it often feels like I have been divided into 3 extra pieces that I am trying to keep from getting hurt.
However over the years as a mom with kids on bikes I have discovered a few tips that allow me to bike with my children with a safe level of sanity.
Photo by Victoria Hiuzinga
Set clear guidelines before you leave.
What guidelines you set depend on your child’s maturity level, but here are few basics we have had over the years:
- Everyone wears a helmet.
- You must stop and get off your bike to cross major intersections and depending on your age you may have to wait on mom to cross the road.
- If you are old enough to go ahead of the pack you carry a cell phone.
Go to a paved trail.
I do not bring my children out on the open road as a group yet, as my youngest is still too unpredictable. Instead, if we are going out as a family I throw all their bikes in the back of the hubby’s truck and drive to the nearest paved trail.
Paved trails are an anxious mom’s answer to reducing dangers. No vehicles to worry about, and minimal intersections.
For an extensive list of trails in your area try traillink.com
Photo by Victoria Hiuzinga
Let the littlest one set the pace.
I love speed but when you are biking with a preschooler you are going to be going as fast as the turtle strolling beside the trail.
Now that I have a 17 year old what I do is create a conga line of sorts. My eldest rides up front at his desired speed, I take up the rear behind my youngest and the middle child is free to keep up with either me and his sister or his older brother.
Gear down your bike.
If you are going to stay beside a child with short legs on a bike that has no gears you are going to need to put your bike in the lowest gear possible to maintain a slow speed.
Expect to stop often.
Children on bikes rarely care about how fast they make it to the finish line, to them it is more about the journey. They want to enjoy every moment of it and that means stopping and looking at whatever gets their attention.
These stops are where memories are made. The day when mommy was brave enough to touch a big juicy earth worm. The day the squirrel got so close we could almost touch it. The day mommy let us all drive through the mud puddle with our bikes even though it meant another load of laundry.
Teach them the rules of the open road one at a time.
I have taught 2 of my 3 children how to bike in traffic, and am now teaching the third. I have done this one child at a time so that I could focus all attention on one child and in turn have just one child to grab attention from.
Biking with children can be nerve racking but when you use the tips above you will find that it also can be very enjoyable and a great way to get exercise and build memories together.