You’ll always remember the day your child first learned to ride a bike. Those first tentative peddles, the wobbly progress forward and the beaming smile once she’s mastered this new skill. As your children get older, it’s time to take to the roads. Consider family biking as a way to get fit with your children.
Helmets are an important way to protect the head in the event of accidents. Keep in mind that kids outgrow helmets – you’ll want to check for proper fit and coverage. Consider reflective material either on your children and/or on their bikes, and perhaps an orange flag in back and a bell or horn for signaling.
As you check your bike’s safety and make sure it’s in working order, consider involving your kids. They can learn about gears, checking tire pressure and adjusting seats and handle bars, and will feel empowered to make these changes on their own should the need arise.
Ready to Go
Consider starting out with bike rides in the neighborhood so you can get a feel for everyone’s fitness level and how everyone can handle hills, skids and obstacles such as uneven pavement or gravel. Once you’ve tooled around the neighborhood, maybe try biking around town. Have a book to return to the library? Your family bike trip now has a destination. Need some veggies? Why not stop at that local farm stand? You can be green and get exercise at the same time.
Once you’ve been around the neighborhood, consider a road trip. There are groups and organizations that set up multi-city rides – travel from one small town to another within your area and stop at the end for a rejuvenating picnic. Perhaps you’ll think about entering your family in a bike race.
Taking It on the Road
Once you’ve been all around your area, you might even consider a biking vacation. There are lots of options out there for strapping the bikes to the back of your vehicle. See which bike racks work for you, strap them on and set out for a road trip with the family. Although there are plenty of options, here are some suggestions for some specific locations that work well with a family on bikes:
* Mackinac Island, Michigan – Tourists arrive by ferry from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace and rent bikes or take horse-drawn carriages to explore the nearly automobile-free island lined with beaches, fudge shops and fresh air.
* Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – Although cars are permitted on the island, many visitors choose to ride their bikes along the beachy coast, especially the quaint fishing village of Menemsha where many scenes from Jaws were filmed. Ferries depart hourly from Woods Hole and Hyannis, Massachusetts and also from New York.
* Stanley Park, Vancouver – Enjoy the scent of pine trees and ocean as you bike around the 9 km paths at this British Columbian park in Canada.
* Napa Valley, California – Lush countryside, hilly roads, and wine and cheese. While your kids won’t enjoy the wine, the area is scenic and there are plenty of alternate activities — even a hot air balloon and bike tour.
As families get stretched in more and more different directions, it’s important to find common ground. We all need exercise, so why not work together toward a common goal — fitness and family activities together. Biking your way to fitness with your children is a way to get fit and build lasting memories together.