Cycling With Kids – How to Chose a Route
You’ve bought a bicycle child seat.
You are thinking about where to go.
After few thousends kilometers, I have the experience to help you.
Let’s have a look at what is my aim when I think about a route to go on with Timmy. Cycling with kids – Routes is an introduction to a planning process.
By the way, all the photos here are from the Sony Action Camera located on Timmy’s helmet.
I am a quite confident bike rider, and even with Timmy, I have no problem to use busy roads to get where we want to.
But it isn’t fun.
My focus is solely on riding safely rather than on communicating with Timmy which isn’t much entertaining for him either. How to make cycling with kids interesting and fun? Plan your route.
The location where you live and your ability to get to those interesting places will make a huge difference in how enjoyable the experience of riding together will be.
We live in East London near Canary Wharf, and as it so happens, we don’t have to travel far to get either to the London Canals, Jubilee Greenway, Lea Valley Walk or Thames Path.
Those routes make all the difference as we can focus more on communication while they still take us to interesting places – mostly playgrounds or parks (with playgrounds…). Cycling with kids is about having fun.
We have five main routes plus some irregular ones. I always try to make the route as a loop rather than using the same way there and back. That way, the trip is much more entertaining than to see the same things twice.
To make things exciting, we sometimes go in the opposite direction than usual. Especially when we’ve done the route several times already, it will bring new life to the experience.
If you have your stops planned and you know at what time you will be, changing the direction will change the whole dynamic of the trip. But it’s fun!
You can visit places you’ve never been to before and you will know the area way better than you thought you ever would. You will find places and interesting things you’ve never heard of (or just heard of).
Tips & Tricks for Cycling With Kids
1) Take your time
When we travel, I don’t have any specific time plan besides to be home at a certain time. I don’t even care if we reach a particular destination. We always discuss where are we going and the stops on the way there and back home, but if Timmy wants to spend more time to play somewhere, I don’t rush him. I take it as his time and let him to tells me when he is finished and would like to continue the ride. Of course, there are exceptions where I have to decide it is time to go or shorten the trip because we wouldn’t arrive home on time. Sometimes he tells me that we are not stopping at his otherwise favourite stop. That is usually because he wants to go to some other place – even three years old can have his little plans and visions! Let them.
2) Plan your route beforehand
Map tools such a Google or Apple Maps preferred by you are undisputedly the best way how to plan a route. It will help you to find an optimal way to get to your objective, and interesting places you can visit.
3) Start small
If you are just starting, don’t overdo it. Plan shorter trips so not only you can get used to riding with the child seat, but also your little one can get used to it. It is a process. In no time you will be able to go further than you’ve ever imagined possible.
4) Even the small trip is better than none!
Our usual trip takes 6-7 hours. On average we cover about 30 km (19 mi). But we have much smaller routes which take up to 3 hours and are no longer than 10 km (6 mi). But it can be even shorter if we go to a specific place. The time is not just the time on the bike but includes playtime on playgrounds or in parks etc.
5) Record the trip – map
To record our trip route and data, I use the app called Endomondo. You may already use similar apps like Strava, MapMyRide, Runtastic, Runkeeper or other cycling or running app. It will record your trips, and you can share them with other people. I’ve used the screenshots from Endomondo here on this blog to show you our favourite routes and data from them.
6) Record the trip – photo & action camera
On an average day out on the bike, I make more photos of Timmy than there are photos of me taken in my whole life. Almost.
Make the best out of it. Who am I kidding anyway? If you are reading this, it means you are the parents who take photos of your children. I am pretty sure of it.
But there is another aspect which is often omitted – using an action cam.
I have a Sony HDR-AZ1 Action Camera (affiliate link) which I use to record my rides for safety reasons – after doing a front flip over the bonnet of a car; I figured it would be a good idea to have it documented. One day I had a million dollar idea to stick the mount on Timmy’s helmet.
And it didn’t disappoint! We have now several videos of how the world looks by the eyes of the 4-5-year-old boy. Amazing!
7) Take all the props
Depending on where are you going, expected weather, activities and estimated time on the ride, prepare and take all you need or plan to buy it on the way. I have prepared the whole article on what we take on our rides so you can make it as an inspiration.
8) Be safe
Never, ever overestimate your ability and equipment!
Never, ever underestimate the terrain, road, traffic and weather!
You are responsible not just for yourself, but also for the most important person/persons in your life.
9) Have an exit strategy
Wherever you go, think about how you can get back home in case of an emergency. It could be mechanical you can’t repair or it could be a health issue developed on the ride. For example, here in London, I can call Addison Lee and their CycleCab.
10) Have fun
Cycling with kids should be fun. Not just for them, but also you. Try to find places interesting for both parties – a nice playground for the little one next to a nice cafe for you (our case).
Here is a list of our routes, you can get inspired by. I am sure you will find even better, please share it. I am interested to see your route as well!