It’s my mission to let people know that biking is wonderful, and it’s not that hard to integrate into everyday life.
There are a few things I want to have the space to say, so I’ll take the time to do that here. Think of it as Biking with Kids: Extended Play.
* Have realistic expectations. If you’re imagining a blissful time pedaling along with your family, set that picture aside for a bit. Those times definitely happen, but if you’re just getting your children used to the idea of biking, there are a dozen interruptions that happen along the way. Expect frequent stops and adjustments or just plan them into the ride.
* If you’re just introducing children to biking, make sure you have time to ride on your own, at your own pace. Chances are, biking at child speed isn’t going to give you the workout you needed nor will it satisfy your longing to cruise along. Make sure you have time to connect with your love of biking, your way.
* Be a savvy shopper. Before you go out and drop big money on the perfect equipment, ask around to see who might have bikes, helmets, bike trailers, and the like that they’re looking to unload. Our kids have very nice bikes that cost less than lesser-quality big box store brands. We looked for deals from our friends, got a used bike from the local bike shop that takes trade-ins, and checked Craigslist. Kids grow so fast that buying used is worth it.
*For tots just learning to manage a two-wheeler, consider nixing the training wheels and getting them a push bike instead. These are essentially bikes without pedals that kids power with their feet. Think scooter with a seat. Kind of.
The advantage to push bikes is that kids get the sense of how to balance and steer without having to think about pedaling and braking, too. They just put their feet down, which is a pretty natural thing to do. After a few weeks or months of this, kids generally have the hang of riding a two-wheeler. Because we’re cheap frugal smart, we just took the cranks and pedals off of a regular little kids’ bike and let Monkey Boy work with that. At 6, he’s still not riding a 2-wheeler, but I’m pretty sure that’s because he’s with us on his Trail-A-Bike for most rides. We just don’t give the kid enough practice.
What matters most is not the gear, but simply time on the bike. When in doubt, just get out there and go, even for 15 or 20 minutes. It’s simplicity and freedom, all at the end of your driveway.