When kids really get the hang of riding, many parents are itching to start taking them on longer rides - so they can finally enjoy riding as a family, and not just short trips to the local playground or shops. We chatted to a few ByK parents about when they started taking kids on longer rides, around 20km, and what they saw as the main benefits:
1. Healthy and active family time outdoors.
The kids really enjoy the family time it’s very rewarding for all of us. Riding gives you all the opportunity to experience the same thing and have discussions about that along the way. The kids love it and it’s so amazing to be out doing something healthy and rewarding.
2. Learning road rules.
And recognising road hazards and how to deal with them. Riding a long distance will also add to a child’s sense of navigation and interpretation of their surroundings.
3. Giving kids a sense of freedom.
Kids so often spend their lives on a schedule so giving them the chance to just ride, on their own steam, at their own pace will give them a sense of freedom and control of their own bike that they often don’t get in other areas of their lives.
4. Great bragging rights for everyone.
To say you have ridden 20+ km with your kids at such a young age is a great achievement and challenge, everyone feels good about it.” Also, as ByK Mum, Jayne D’arcy, points out, “it showed great resilience - I was able to say for a long time after to my son ‘don’t forget, you cycled 50km!’"
“When my son looked at his bike speedometer at the end of a long ride, and realised how far he had pedalled, he grew a foot taller in that moment. He was so proud of himself!"
ByK Mum, Shelley, says, basic speedometers are quite cheap and kids love them. At the end of the ride there are buttons to push, numbers to count and the feeling of achievement from a achieving a measurable goal is enormous.
5. Achieving fundraising and personal goals.
You can enter an organised 20km ride that is quite often attached to a fundraising event/goal which means the kids will help with fundraising leading up to the event. This creates a sense of excitement and anticipation of what they are planning on doing. Also, as ByK Mum Jayne D’Arcy points out,
“big organised events often have a lot of excitement involved, like a starting line, a lot of other riders, volunteers cheering them on, rest stops, and so on, which makes it much more interesting and fun”.
Most parents take their kids on bike rides of 20km or so around the age of 7. Some 6 year olds will often have the strength and fitness to do a ride of this size also. Advice from ByK Mum, Shelley: “Every big ride on a bicycle is a great adventure. Some days it all goes right and the ride is the best day out you could have, other days it's not so much fun at all, but the story will be the best Monday morning story of them all. Don't be afraid to turn around early if it's all going a bit wrong. Just celebrate the fact that you got out there and rode.”
Like anything when it comes to children, earlier is not always better - all kids accomplish milestones in their own time, on their own terms. Looking for a great family bike ride? Check out the Bicycle Network’s Around the Bay in a Day Family Bike Ride - 20km of closed roads and kids under 12 ride free!