Cycling is an amazing way to exercise and spend time with your family. However, things can be a little trickier if you have a newborn baby or a much younger member in the family. You love cycling, so you want to be able to indulge your hobby, however you don’t want to cycle at the expense of spending time with your kids. Even if they are able to ride small bikes, it would almost impossible for them to cycle at a pace quick enough to keep up with you.
It is also unadvisable for them to ride on busy roads. It would be totally natural to feel conflicted. But what if I told you that you can spend time with your kids while cycling?
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can cycle with your children. (Not to be confused with cycling on your children. That’s not something I recommend.)
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Before You Start
One thing to mention before getting started is that children and beautiful, wonderful, occasionally horrifically honest, but usually lovely little beings. They are also fragile. So please take every caution, before taking you begin biking with your kids. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Be a strong enough cyclist. If you’re absolutely new to cycling, and are still really learning to take care of yourself on the road, then your kids belong at home until you’re strong enough to easily ride carrying their weight. Here’s a guide for older cycling newbies.
- Take any health concerns seriously. If you or your child suffer from any ailments or conditions that might be exacerbated by this activity, please exercise caution. And speak to your doctor before starting anything.
- Adapt your rides. You’re going to need to adapt your cycling route to something that’s better for riding with kids – that is, less bumpy, and very little to no traffic. For instance, plan your rides so they don’t coincide with rush hour. You may also want to take advantage of some of the training resources available on the internet brush up on how to cycle in traffic.
- Curb your expectations. A day out cycling with your child is not the day to try to smash your Strava KOM.
Carry your child using a bike seat
If your child is not old enough to ride along (too young even for training wheels), you can carry them along on your daily bicycle rides. You can start using bike seats for kids when they can hold their heads up by themselves without any issues – usually starting around 6-9 months old. (And don’t worry, this isn’t a tandem situation…you’re the only one pedaling!)
There are a number of options to choose from. You can either have your child in front of you or behind you. With this method, you will be able to hasten reaching your fitness goals while getting spending time with your baby. You’ll literally be riding as a two-for-one package.
Carrying your child and their bike in a trailer
You also have the option of carrying your child and his bike along with you in a trailer on your daily rides. (Bike trailers are also pretty handy for shopping trips, but that’s besides the point.)
You can have their balance bikes or a small pedal bike attached to the rear or roof of the trailer. This way, providing the road is safe and not too rough, they can ride with you. You have a choice between having single trailer or double trailer attached to your bike.
Pulling your child on a single wheel behind you
Having your child tag along by pulling them on a single wheel behind you is another way you can enjoy the benefits of cycling with your kid. A tag-along is a metal bar with a single wheel, saddle and pedals that affixes to the rear of your bike.
With this option, you and your little one get to ride the same multiple-pedal cycle together. Both of you get to exercise at the same time. You can also take most of the strain for them when they get tired. This is a great option for you if you are looking to get them their daily dose of exercise on their way to school, or via a quick trip to the store.
Cycling with a sling or papoose
Cycling is an amazing way for new mothers get back in shape physical and mentally. For some time now, parents have embraced the idea of using slings, wraps, papooses and baby carriers to transport their newborn babies and infants. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of close physical contact with your child while still getting your exercise hours in.
However, this topic is a grey area particularly when it comes to its legality. While I’ve not heard of anyone being prosecuted for carrying their baby in a carrier, it is best to know what your local laws say about it before actually doing it.
Also. Please. Please. Please. Make sure that the child is properly secure and comfortable.
Pull your child’s bike behind your bike
If your child is able to ride their bikes for short distances, you can pull them along behind your bike. Pulling your child’s weight behind you allows you to increase the difficulty of your ride. There are two tools you can use to do this:
Trailgator: This is a metal bar that lifts up the front wheel of your child’s bike as you pull it behind your bike. This option is great for riding to your local park or on a cycle path.
FollowMe Tandem: This is a more expensive option but it is perfect for off-road use and long-distance rides on varying terrains.
This is another option you can explore, particularly if you don’t mind jogging to get your exercise in. Your kids can ride on their bikes while you jog or power walk alongside them. As they become faster cyclists, you can begin to cycle with them.
(I personally hate jogging. But you do you!)
Tips to prepare you for cycling with your child
It is okay to feel nervous
Feeling some form of apprehension about cycling with your little one is very normal. And your nerves can be a good thing if you are able to control it. Your nerves can turn on your parenting instincts and help make you aware of the dangers around you.
The first few trips with your toddler can be a bit scary, but the feel of having your child on board is something you will get used to.
Practice, practice, practice
A great way you can get over your nerves is to get some practice in. Practice first. Get some miles on your indoor trainer, and then outdoors by yourself before trying to ride with a child on board.
This allows you to build confidence on the bike and develop your endurance gradually. Never make the mistake of making your first ride with your kid your actual first ever cycle ride.
Even after you have trained and practiced, start slow on your first ride with your child. Take things easy at first and plan your route carefully – honestly, start by riding around your driveway, or just around your block. Do not try to explore all the sights on your first ride with your child. I understand the excitement of riding with your kids, but there will be plenty of time for that in the future.
Practice getting the child in and out
This is particularly important but often overlooked – make sure you practice getting your child in and out of whatever method you have chosen.
Make sure that you are fit enough
Cycling with your child may be harder than you’re used to. Make sure you are fit enough to ride. At the very least, be fit enough to make the return journey with the added weight and balance issues of carrying/pulling a child (and the vehicle they’re in!). If you are still recovering from childbirth and pregnancy, it is best for you to check with your doctor before you start cycling again.
Secure your child
There is the most important part of the preparing for your cycling trip with your child. It is important to always carefully read the instructions that comes in the manufacturer’s box. Ensure that your child is properly strapped in. Also ensure that they are comfortable, and that no toys interfere with the mechanisms of your bike.
Once you get the hang of it, cycling with your little one can be a lot of fun. So, relax and enjoy it. Take pictures and take every opportunity you can to relive the moment as many times as possible. Hopefully this will be the start of many great rides out together.