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Family Cycling
Cycling Destinations
Fun Family Trips
Family Cycling

Child on bike near Mantova


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

You don't need to be a dedicated cyclist to choose a two-wheel road trip over a four-wheel holiday. Cycling is a cool thing to do on a family vacation. It is great exercise and great fun. It is clean and green. Cycling is an adventurous way to enjoy nature. It is a great way to see an area slowly. A cycling vacation affords a chance to spend quality time with the children. It is a welcome challenge for active tweens and teens. Thanks to newfangled devices, such as bike trailers and trailer bikes, cycling with tykes is real possibility. What's more, kids love to ride bikes.
Getting Started
The first step in planning a family cycling vacation is to outline your trip priorities. Once you've established a budget, define the length of the trip as well as the degree of adventure. Consider the age of the kids, their interest in cycling, and their capacity to bike. Determine how far you want to cycle in a single day. Decide whether cycling should be a small component or integral part of your holiday. Establish the type of cycling that suits you. - Mountain biking or bicycle touring? Paved roads or rough terrain? Self-guided bike trip or assisted cycling tour? - Think about lodging as well as food. - Do you want to be pampered at the end of a long ride? Are gourmet meals part of the cycling experience? - Review the options with your partner as well as the kids. Be sure they know what to expect. And most importantly, spend time training before you depart. It's the only way to avoid a sore bum and ensure the fatigue is fun.
The Right Trip
Self-guided bike trip or assisted cycling vacation? Family trip or standard tour? Simply cycling or multi-sport? Cycling trips are easy to plan and do-it-yourself cycling holidays can cost significantly less. What's more, when you plan your own cycling vacation you choose whom your family cycles with. That said, there are a few reasons to consider a fully assisted cycling vacation. 1) The cycling specialist is responsible for all aspects of travel planning from booking hotels to mapping the trail. 2) They move your gear while you cycle. 3) Many offer van support and are happy to pick up tired riders. 4) Some offer added activities, such as canoeing, horseback riding and cooking, and tailor trips to family needs. But not all do. While most cycling trips and tours are suitable for families traveling with children aged 16 and up, not all rides are appropriate for young children and many tours have a set minimum age. Not all dedicated cyclists - be they singles, couple or seniors - want to ride with children. Some adults have little tolerance even for the best behaved children. Family trips, on the other hand, cater to parents and kids.
Plotting your Route
Physical fitness will greatly impact distance but it isn't the only things to consider when mapping a trail. Determine the type of terrain. Find the best roads for cycling. Research weather and accommodation. Accurately assess the time required to complete each day's ride; bear in mind flats, stops and pace. Plot a route that isn't boring, for example ride out and ferry back, end each day at a unique location, or combine a cycling trip with other activities kids find fun, be it culture, nature or other sports. Unsure where to start? Take a look a what others have done or purchase a route from a specialist.
Selecting an Outfitter
Selecting the right outfitter is essential for a successful family cycling tour. Here are a few tips to help your choose. Find out what is included in the cost and if children's bikes and helmets are available for rent. Determine the size of the group, length and difficulty of the rides, minimum age for riding solo, and whether other families have registered for the tour. Verify the availability of van support as well as the quality of kid's programs. Establish the specialist's knowledge of the area as well as the proposed itinerary. If the outfitter is not located in your cycling destination, find out who will sort out any issues on the ground. Know who is responsible for fixing flats and other breakdowns. And before you book, seek advice from other family travelers. Ask friends and pose questions on travel forums.
Travel Gear
All you need to enjoy a short ride with children is a helmet and bicycle. But if you plan to ride for a full day or embark on a multi-day journey, you will need to give thought to your equipment. Child bike seats, ideal for half-day rides, offer tykes little freedom. Bike trailers, carts pulled by an adult biker, allow the under 5 crowd to play, sleep and squirm. Trailer bikes or tag-a-longs make it possible for kids aged 5-9 to peddle longer. What's more, they're safer. Single bikes give children a greater sense of accomplishment; tandems give parents more control. Bike bags, saddlebags and panniers, overkill on a day trip, are a must on unassisted cycling holidays. Padded bike shorts are fundamental for avoiding a sore bum. Fingerless bike gloves are fundamental for avoiding sore hands. Shatterproof sunglasses protect eyes from more than wind and glare; they shield them from bugs and stones.
Packing Tips
The basics for any bike ride include water, snacks, sunglasses, windbreaker, cell phone, camera, pump and map. If you're cycling in summer, add sunscreen and insect repellent. If you're biking in winter, wear proper cold weather clothing. If you plan to ride for more than a few hours, don cycling shorts and gloves and pack a mini toolkit and spare inner tubes, one for each bike. (Novice cyclers take note: bike tools are useless if you don't know how to use them.) Families cycling with infants and tots should include the contents of their diaper bag. Pack your handlebar bag as you would a carryon. Fill it with things that require quick access such as money, travel documents, camera, paper, and pen. Pack spares and tools in your seat wedge or seat pack. Don't over pack your saddlebags or panniers and be sure to distribute the weight appropriately. - Bike clothes are quick dry; they can be rinsed at night and worn the following day. Kids can't carry as much weight as adults. Riding a lopsided bike is truly hard work.
Health & Safety
Like all outdoor activities biking has its set of hazards yet the use of proper equipment, attention to road rules, and knowing each rider's limitations can significantly reduce the risk of injury. Wear a properly fitted and correctly adjusted helmet on each ride. Yes, it should be fastened too. Wear bright colored clothing so you can be seen. Don't remove bike reflectors. Together with a good headlight, they are needed for night riding. Keep your bike well-maintained and check it before you cycle. Inspect your first aid kit and bike toolkit as part of your pre-trip planning. Obey all traffic laws. Teach the kids road rules and trail etiquette. Ride one parent first; one parent last. Pack water and snacks and take frequent breaks. Pace the bike ride to the slowest cyclist or youngest child. Check on sleeping children time and again, whether they're riding in a bike trailer or child bike seat. Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas including fingers, legs and neck.
Travel Trivia
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Books for Kids about Cycling
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