With better weather around the corner (it is, we promise), it's time to start planning those family days out. If you, your kids and your bikes have been hibernating all winter, here are some top tips to make your first family bike ride of the year memorable for all the right reasons.
1. Check that your child's bike is still the correct size
Kids have a habit of getting bigger... Chances are that when you're getting ready for your first family bike ride of the year you'll be amazed at how much they've grown since last summer. You may need to raise the saddle or amend the position of the handlebars before the bike ride.
Of course you may also have that dreaded moment where you realise that they've totally outgrown their bicycle, so plan ahead and check that they can still pedal without hitting their knees on the handlebars. Kids can also quickly grow out of cycle helmets, bike gloves and cycling clothing, so it's worth checking in advance to avoid spending ages trying to find something to fit just before you're setting out.
2. Make sure that all your bikes are safe and roadworthy
Of course, you should check your bikes before each ride, but before your first family ride of the year, it's advisable to do a full once over of each bike. Ensure that tyres are fully inflated to the correct pressure (this can be found on the side of the tyre wall) and the wheels are turning smoothly.
Spokes can sometimes get damaged during winter storage, and the chain will likely need lubricating. You should always check that the brakes and gears are working before your child gets on their bike. If you're unfortunate enough to be faced with a fleet of seized up bikes that have changed colour to 'rusty brown' then you will probably require professional help to get it usable and safe to ride. Thankfully we are here to help!
We have a range of services starting from just £25 to give you complete peace of mind and get you and the family out on the trails! You can book your services with us online here.
3. Have a little practice ride before you set off
Kids can lose quickly confidence over the winter so give them a chance to get used to pedalling, braking and changing gear again before you set off on your first ride. Don't be surprised if a child who had become a confident rider during last summer seems a little wobbly - they'll soon be back to where they were, but may need some encouragement and a helping hand.
It's also worth reminding the entire family of the basic rules of cycling (i.e. which side of the road you're riding on, how to signal clearly at a junction, riding considerately on shared paths). You may also need some reminders about how you ride as a family. For example - how far ahead are your kids allowed to ride? What do they do if they come to a road junction? How do you signal for them to stop in an emergency? How long can they go before asking for a snack?
4. Pace yourselves
Just because your kids rode 15 miles uphill at the end of last summer doesn't mean that they, (or you!), are fit enough to do the same straight away this spring. Make sure that your first family cycle ride of the year is a gentle one to get you all used to being back in the saddle.
5. Keep warm
Spring weather can be very changeable and you can suddenly find yourself riding through a shower of rain, or an icy blast of wind. Remember that few things can spoil a family bike ride like cold or wet kids - layer up and remember to take gloves for cold fingers and an extra layer for when you stop. Remember that babies and toddlers in bikes seats, trailers and cargo bikes aren't moving and get colder more quickly.
6. I'm hungry! I'm thirsty!
It's almost impossible to carry enough food or drinks on a family bike ride! Remember that a route with a hot chocolate or an ice cream at the end is always easier to get round...
7. Have fun!
Your bikes are in safe working order and your route is planned. The bag is packed and the kids are raring to go. Have a great time, and enjoy this, the first of many family cycle rides together this year.
If you need help with ideas for routes to take then please feel free to pop into our shop in Ocean Terminal. We have plenty of route maps and loads of experience when it come to riding around Scotland's trails.