Cycling is a great way of combining exercise with spending time together as a family (while staying safe during these uncertain times). And with a little bit of forethought, you and your family can really get the most of this adaptable activity.
Here are some top tips that you can use to maximise your family time in the saddle.
Before you head out
There are some fundamentals you can do to make sure everyone is equipped before you all head out on the road together. So, before you jump on the bikes, check out the following list.
1. Remind everyone of road safety
Have a look at the Highway Code rules for cyclists and refresh your memory of the basic laws and regulations. The roads might be a bit quieter right now, but we’re all being asked to take more responsibility and not put any further pressure on the emergency services by being careless.
2. Know the correct road positioning
Assuming all members of your family are confident riders, make sure everyone understands the distancing rules for when you’re passing people and cars. Cyclists need to maintain a two metre distance from pedestrians and 1.5 metres from cars. Your children are going to copy whatever you do so it’s important to get this right. If there are two adults, then having one at the front and one at the back is a really safe configuration when you’re out on the road and having to be particularly careful.
3. Check all the bikes
We really want to avoid any extra hassle or unwelcome surprises right now so it’s even more important to check that everyone’s bike is in good working order. Give each bike a once over, checking that all the moving components are running smoothly, chains are lubricated and brakes are functioning correctly.
You’ll want to check that tyres are pumped up and there aren’t any pesky punctures that could cause problems. Pack a puncture kit and a bike tool in case you have any surprises when you’re out. And, a clean bike is always a good idea to help keep it in tip top condition. Another job to keep the kids occupied!
If you need any help with bike maintenance, our simple and clear How-To Guides are packed full of information on how to tackle most cycling maintenance tasks. Additionally, you can take advantage of a Free Bike Health Check at any of our Halfords stores for added peace of mind.
4. Get the safety gear on
We recommend that everyone, regardless of age, wears a helmet when out cycling to protect from any nasty falls and possible head injury. We’ve got some fun options for children that will appeal to their individual sense of style and you can use our bike helmet guide to make sure you choose the right fit. For adults, you can go as basic or as more technically advanced as you like with many helmets now coming with Bluetooth and GPS location technology.
Complete your kit with some hi-vis clothing so that everyone is seen when you’re out.
5. Stay hydrated
Make sure that everyone has their water bottle filled. Children can get dehydrated quite easily, plus packing a small snack will help them keep going when you’re not able to stop at your favourite café.
Time to venture out!
Ok, it’s time to head out, hooray! So, what’s going to keep everyone interested? Here are some ideas for you!
1. Choose your destination
This is a really helpful and simple way to keep the kids motivated and interested. Decide together on where you’re headed, whether it be to the local park, to a certain road or to a landmark like a bridge that you all know. Kids enjoy having somewhere to head to and aim for. It’s also helpful to know the route you’re taking rather than be cycling aimlessly around.
2. Appoint a Master of the Odometer!
If you’ve got an odometer, then this can be a really nice job for the kids to take turns monitoring. They can update everyone on how far you’ve cycled and keep track of each daily cycle.
3. Stop for play
If your local area has the facilities, including a stopping point in your route adds a bit of variety. Stopping for some play at a green spot or to check out wildlife gives everyone the chance to get off the bikes and have some fun, running-around time.
4. The No Pedal Challenge
This is a great game that helps develop balance skills and coordination. Find a section on the route that has a downhill incline (it doesn’t have to be really steep and always pick the safest spot) and pick a point after which no-one is allowed to pedal. The winner is the cyclist who travels the furthest. Parents might gain at first, but children will likely whizz past at the end. Loads of fun!
5. And the award for Slowest Cyclist goes to…
Another great option for building balance and strength is to have a slowest cyclist race. The advantage to this is you don’t need to have a long distance to travel. Just pick your end point and see who can do their best snail impression!
If you’ve got a bit of space, you can actually do a lot in your own driveway. A strip of paper and some acrylic paints will encourage any avant-garde artists in the family. You can also set up an obstacle course with cones, chalk or water balloons and get kids navigating some challenges. Or, if you’ve got a bubble maker, play a game of catch the bubbles where the kids have to ride around and catch bubbles with any part of their bike.
You don’t need to ride hard or for long distances to burn off calories and get the endorphins flowing. Riding for just 15 minutes a day can have a positive impact on the physical and mental health of the whole family. So grab your bikes and get riding!