Summer is finally here, hopefully for you and your family that means more time can be spent together. And while our summer plans may look different this year, there is still plenty you can do as a family. For example, bike riding is a fun way for families to bond, exercise, and a way to see the great outdoors together. But if you’re new to biking as a family or with young kids, there are some things you need to know before saddling up! Here are a few tips for a successful family bike ride.
The first thing you need to do when planning a bike ride as a family is to make it clear to everyone that you all have one goal: TO HAVE FUN! Together you all may have different skills when it comes to bike riding so it is important that everyone knows your ride isn’t a race or a competition. But to guarantee that your ride is fun for everyone there are things you will need to do and prepare for.
Prep for Your Ride
- Choose an easy terrain. When you ride with people of different ages, you’ll need to plan a beginner’s terrain so that everyone can start in their comfort zone. Choose a terrain that is flat, like a paved path, that has few inclines and is only a few miles long. As you all become more comfortable riding together as a family, you can start to increase your distances, inclines, and take on more challenging terrains.
- Get rest. Leading up to your bike ride you’ll want to make sure everyone has rested well the night before. If you’re riding in heat, it’s very likely that someone will give up too soon if they have not had a good night’s sleep.
- Stay hydrated. It’s summer so it is crucial that everyone stays properly hydrated on their bike ride. This means drinking plenty of water or sports drink before your ride and especially during it. More than likely, you’ll need to stop and take breaks, this is the perfect time to make sure everyone gets plenty of fluids. This will also prevent anyone from getting dehydrated or cramping up while riding.
- Remember your gear. Before your family bike ride you’ll need to make sure you have all the correct gear to keep everyone safe. The most important and non-negotiable piece of gear will be a bike helmet and this means you must perform a bike helmet fit check before you head out. Ideally, you’d also want to have knee pads and elbow pads for any younger children as a precaution but even if you have no pads, be sure that everyone is dressed in lightweight, breathable clothing.
- Saddle Height Check. You’ll also need check everyone’s saddle height and make sure that it is comfortable. Do this by making sure that their leg is almost fully extended in the 6 o’clock position (bottom of the pedal rotation) so that they can get enough power when pedaling.
- A-B-C Check. The next step of preparing for your bike ride is checking that your tires have plenty of air, you’ll also want to be sure the brakes work properly, and the chain has plenty of lube.
Educate Your Family
- Review basic skills. For some people in your family this may be their first real bike ride. That is why it’s imperative that everyone knows the rules of the road and has an understanding of basic skills, like braking slowly. If you’re planning on your ride being anywhere near a highway, be sure to teach your family hand signals that cyclists use when near traffic.
- Stop, Look, and Listen. If you’re riding with children, explain to them how important it is to be observant of their surroundings and to stay alert. This means looking for potential hazards, such as potholes or broken glass, and listening for cars or other riders. This also helps teach them to be looking for animals, road signs, creeks and trees.
- Obey the Laws. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), children under the age of 10 do not have the maturity needed to make decisions that come with riding safely in the street. In that case, you may be better off riding on the sidewalk, but you’ll have to check your local laws to see if that is legal before doing so. If you and your family decide to ride in or near the street, remember that bikes are vehicles that must follow the same traffic laws as cars.
- Be Visible. Wear bright colors and make sure that everyone has front and rear reflectors so that they can be seen. If you are able to mount a bell or horn, this can help be heard in traffic or more noisy areas.
What to Bring on the Bike Ride
- Snacks and Drinks. As mentioned before, staying hydrated is crucial to a successful bike ride. So be sure you bring plenty of water or sports drinks with electrolytes. If you are planning to do a longer bike ride, you may always want to bring small nutritional snacks for the family.
- Sunscreen. No matter what time of year it is, sunscreen is a must have when you’re out in the sun but it’s even more crucial when you’re riding in the heat of summer. The summer sun is intense and UV Rays are at their strongest. You need to apply sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before heading outside and reapply it every two hours once you’re on your ride.
- Sunglasses. Just as your skin can be damaged from the summer sun, so can your eyes. Always wear sunglasses that offer UV protection when you’re riding a bicycle. All Tifosi sunglassesprovide 100% protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays and have a glare guard which reduces eye strain. You can also purchase polarized sunglasses for added protection. Polarized lenses are designed to reflect light, reduce glare, and enhance color, making them perfect for summer bike rides when the sun is reflecting off of pavement.
- Safety Tools. Be sure to bring a bike tool kit in case anyone experiences a flat tire or slipped bike chain. Check out this article, How to Fix a Flat Bike Tire, or search YouTube for visual information on repairing a slipped chain.
- First Aid Kit. Hopefully you won’t need to use your first aid kit, but you should still always take one in case someone accidentally gets a minor scrape or cut.
Enjoy the Ride
As we already know, the goal for your family bike ride should be to have fun. So take breaks when they’re needed and remember be patient with everyone involved. For some bike riding will come naturally and for others, it may be difficult. But staying patient with everyone’s different skill levels helps ensure a fun bike ride.
Now that you know you’re prepared for your family bike ride, get out there and make memories together and most importantly, HAVE FUN!