When I was a child, learning to ride your bike meant FREEDOM. It meant being able to go to the local pool, playground, or library without an adult. Learning to ride was a right of passage. You went from being a child, to a big kid who could seek your own adventures. In today's world, learning to ride doesn't have the same benefits.
So how do we as parents get this generation of children active and interested?
Below are 7 tips to ensure your summer biking adventures run smoothly.
We decided we want to make this our Summer of Biking. We started looking for ways to make biking enticing for our girls. We decided to kick-started this adventure with some awesome hand-printed eco-gear from elSage Design.
Let's get rolling...
1. Get the Right Bike
When our girls were little, we always got used bikes from local rummages. They'd grow out of them so quickly, it didn't feel worth the money to buy new. This year my ladies are eight and nine; we are investing in nice bikes so our family can take extended rides. If you want your child to be able to cover long distances of terrain, having a bike with gears is imperative. Below are the two bikes we considered purchasing from Amazon:
We also stopped by our local bike shop. I highly recommend this! The specialist there will give you great insight. Some bike stores offer a trade-in program for brand name children's bikes. The three stores we visited offered 50% of the value of the brand name bike back toward a new bike if your child outgrew their bike within two-years. At the store we visited, a high end 20-24 inch bike was on average $300+. Join the conversation on Facebook.
BIKES FOR KIDS: go cheap or buy quality?
In the end, we've decided to buy something local vs. online. If you plan to buy a bike online, be sure to have your child test bikes out a local store to ensure you get the correct fit. One of the top tips from our local retailer:
Your child needs to feel CONFIDENT on their bike to have fun.
Be cautious of buying a bike too large for your child. You're better off buying something less expensive when your child is younger and waiting until they are in the 24-inch size to invest in a more expensive bike!
2. Safety First
When our girls were little we had a strict rule: you're welcome to ride your bike, as long as you're wearing a helmet. If we saw them without it, we'd play our Love & Logic empathy card. We'd calmly walk over and say,"That's so sad. You decided to ride your bike without a helmet. Go put your bike away for the day, you can ride again tomorrow."
This worked well until about elementary school, when kids around the neighborhood started popping up helmet-free. At this point, we had a serious discussion with our girls about a college friend who was in a terrible biking accident. I basically told them, "If you fall and can't catch yourself in time... I don't want to have to take you to the hospital because you've cracked your head open. I love you too much."
If you want your child to wear a helmet, let them help pick out the style. We even have a girl's bike helmet with rubber spikes (see pic above)! To the right are a few of my favorites from the Krash collection on Amazon.
Then make sure you adjust it to fit properly. Check out this short video for three simple tips.
Actions speak louder than words. Make sure you wear a helmet, too. I am utterly amused by these bike helmet covers.
3. Keep it Cool
If you're going on a long trek, try to make plans to kick-off in the morning. There is nothing worse than roasting under the mid-day sun and listening to your child whine about how hot they are...
We also installed water bottle holders (or if you don't want to sound like an old fuddy duddy: bottle cages) on the girls' bikes. I highly recommend getting one with side access, to make it easy for your child.
4. Bring Snacks
Life with children always runs smoother with snacks. Check out this list of 20 on-the-go snacks. In the past, I've always carried snacks in a backpack, but I've been contemplating getting a basket for my bike.
5. Let Them Lead
Give your child the opportunity to lead the adventure. Relax and allow them to set the pace.
6. Customize the Ride
There are so many fun ways to inexpensively customize a child's bike: streamers, bells, baskets and more. One of my daughter's even got a doll carrier for her bike for her birthday this year! It is the same one this little girl has...
I also adore these vintage-style I Like My Bike bike bells.
7. Bike with a Destination in Mind
Sometimes we bike just to bike. Sometimes a destination is a nice incentive. Three words: Think Ice Cream. A playground is always a nice inexpensive option, too.
BONUS TIP: Don't forget to celebrate your accomplishments!
Cheer! Clap! Take a photo. Make a public spectacle of yourself. Kids love that. If your family has trekked a long distance, celebrate the accomplishment with them.
What would you add to the list? Shall we chat in the comments.
P.S. The top tip for parent's of young children would be... START YOUNG. Get them used to riding!
Check out FRONT RIDE bike carriers on Amazon here. I highly recommend them!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”