Lots of people say that once you have kids your riding days are over. That is not true! You will have time to yourself to ride eventually, although maybe not in the first week or two of having a baby. You will also find that a bicycle is a great way to travel with your kids. You can get exercise and they get a great view of the world. There are a few things to keep in mind when you are riding with a baby to keep everyone safe and happy.
Shiny Side Up
Out on your training ride when you fall, it is only you that gets road rash filled with gravel and other road debris. If you dump it when you are riding with a baby or little kid, you are going to give road rash to said baby. DO NOT DO THAT.
Dial back your risk taking and temper your speed expectations. Riding with a baby is a utility – you can travel places efficiently while enjoying the outdoors. You are not going to develop top end fitness and work on your handling skills. Give yourself plenty of space and time to get to where you are going safely.
Keeping it safe might also mean that you have to drive somewhere that is easier to navigate with a kid. Do not worry; this will not last forever. Kids grow up and will eventually be able to ride on the same roads you ride currently. Your current job is to instill a love of riding in them right now so it will last a lifetime. It is a temporary concession so you can make them successful riders too.
The Equipment for Riding with a Baby or Young Child
The easiest way to get riding with a baby is to attach a baby seat to one of your current bikes – either on the top tube or off a rack on the back. There are weight limits and your kid will outgrow the seat within a couple of years. It is also great if you want to keep your kids close.
A trailer’s utility goes beyond hauling your kids around; you can haul other stuff too when they are not there. You can also use your current bike with a trailer. Be prepared to feel the trailer pulling you back as you climb or pushing you forward as you descend. A quality trailer is quite safe. The frame acts as a roll cage in the event it tips over. Some trailers even convert to strollers. It is a handy multipurpose tool.
A bakfiets, or box bike, is the ultimate in kid transportation. They have an unobstructed view from their seats. The bike itself is purpose built for hauling people and cargo. Because of the long wheelbase, it is very stable. It is a solid machine without the lag of a trailer or high center of gravity like a baby seat. Its biggest drawback is price, but if you see a lot of riding with multiple kids along the way, it is well worth the investment. Additionally, you will make many friends with your unique bike and drivers will stay far away because they have no idea what to make of it.
Protect your kids’ heads like your own and put a helmet on them in case of the unfortunate fall. Lights are also a great idea, even in broad daylight. Drivers tend to give more space if they see lights (but no guarantee if they are looking at their phones). A tall flag is also a necessity so others can see where the bike is even through traffic. Basically anything that enhances visibility is a good thing.
Keep Them Happy
Like any trip out of the house with your kids, be sure to be prepared with snacks, waters, extra clothes, fun things to do in case you run into boredom, sunscreen, etc. You know what your kids like; bring it. Make sure they have good associations with riding bikes. They should have fun, you should have fun. If you that happens, everyone wins.
If you need more convincing that riding with a baby is a good idea, there are couple of elements to think about:
- No more getting in a blazing hot car on a sunny day. Nobody gets burned by seatbelt buckles. You want to ride your bike on nice summer days anyway.
- Less pollution because you are riding means you are leaving a better world for your kids.
- This is repetitive, but you are teaching your kids that riding is fun and a part of their lives.
- It is far more social than driving. You see other people out in the open, where you can interact with them.
- It is far easier to swing your bike off the side of the road or path to check out interesting things. This is especially great for curious kids. They are not watching the world go by at fifty five miles per hour.
Keep it Safe, Keep it Fun
Riding with a baby, and as they grow, is a great way to introduce them to the joy of riding a bike. Riding in a safe and positive manner leaves them with good associations of the bike. They will be on the road to a lifetime of riding with your help.