Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Moving on two wheels . . . and then some

At the beginning of the summer, we outfitted ourselves with some bikes and equipment so that we could take the family out on some bike rides.  Our criteria were a little unusual, I suppose: we didn’t want to spend a lot of money since we didn’t know how it would go, and because our kids are so young and not accustomed to navigating traffic with their bikes (we live on a farm), we wanted them all attached to us.

Hubby and I each got a new bike, and we got two tagalongs and a double trailer.  (I had joked that if I got a tandem bike I could have handled all four kids by myself, but we didn’t go that far.)  Again, these were all basic models, so our outlay for everything was less than $600, and we anticipate decent resale from the taglongs and trailer in a few years.  The kids and I all got new helmets at a bike fair, they were good helmets at a bargain price.

When we ride, I have our five-year-old behind me on a taglong, and hubby has our seven-year-old on a tagalong, with the girls (2 and 4) in the trailer attached behind it.

Our first “big” trip was a trip into town.  3 miles didn’t sound so bad, even on gravel.  Funny how I hadn’t realized how hilly our roads were until that time.  And hadn’t thought about the wind being against us on the way home.  But we made it home and everyone enjoyed the ride.

Our next stop was the paved portion of the Luce Line trail in Hutchinson, MN, which runs from one end of town to the other with some nice parks along the way, as well as restaurants.  We even made a shopping stop at Shopko, which is just off the trail.

We took the gear along when we spent a week at the lake and went on rides almost every morning.  We rode through Sibley State Park near New London, Minnesota, which is beautiful; along the Glacial Lakes trail beginning at Willmar, Minnesota, which is wide and smooth and flat and very peaceful; and around Spicer’s Green Lake, which we had estimated at 6-7 miles but found out when we were done that it was closer to 12!

At the end of the summer, hubby and I got away for a rare night out and decided to see how our bikes handle without trailers and tagalongs attached.  It was so gloriously easy without the extra 50-150 pounds of kids behind!  We rode the trail in New Ulm, Minnesota, and we’re planning to take the kids along on it soon.  On the north half, there’s only one street to cross, so we may actually unleash the kids and let them ride by themselves with their training wheels on it.

We’re still novices at this bike thing, but it was a fun way to spend some family time together this summer.

 

Do you take your kids on bike rides?  What kind of equipment do you use?  Do you have any favorite trails?  How do you teach your kids road safety?  Please let us know with a comment!

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3 Comments»

  Michelle D wrote @

We’re not big on biking in my household, but we do try to get out every so often. It’s been fun seeing the kids grow from trailer to trail-a-bike to using their own bikes.
We’re just about at the point of upgrading our youngest to a ‘real bike’ (his words – i.e. with gears).
We live in Seattle, so we have an awesome urban trail system along the Burke Gilman Trail around Lake Union and through the University of Washington.

  Jonah Lisa wrote @

I have told myself I’d do this the last 2 years. Oh well, next year. My belly is officially too big try it now. Plus I’d be worried the gravel roads would send me into labor.

We both have hybrid bikes (csomewhere inbetween road bikes and mtn bikes) and a Chariot. Only problem now is that the Chariot is a one-seater! Will need to get a seat for back of bike by next summer I guess. That or sell the single chariot and get a double, but that’s spendy. We’ll see.

Way to go getting out on the bikes though. I can’t wait to do it myself.

  doucementgently wrote @

Our oldest (6) rides a “real” bike (using Michelle D’s youngest’s criteria) with #2 (5) riding a smaller bike with training wheels. When us two parents want to ride as well, we have one hybrid and one old “ten speed” that pulls the two-seat Schwinn trailer with children #3 (2) and #4 (1) in it. We go riding frequently.

When we are just out for a “walk,” we let Child #3 (2 yrs old) ride her own small bike with training wheels while we push Child #4 in the stroller and help her up steep hills in town. She can only make it about a mile (roundtrip) without tiring out, so this is only for the short walks.

Practice makes perfect so we just constantly ingrain into the kids to stay to the right, stop at the corners to watch for traffic (and/or wait for parents if we are on foot), and keep their eyes/ears open for vehicles. We haven’t tried the bikes on too many trails because we don’t have room in the vehicle for more than four of the five bikes.


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