Family Bicycling: Life On Two Wheels

Far too many kids today live in an electronic world and, frankly, too many parents are simply too busy to do anything about that. Is it time to try something different?

Bicycling can be a great activity for many families. Rich Colgin, the owner of Paradise Bikes says, “Riding with the family is a great way to get kids out of their electronic bubble and interact with actual humans and with nature, not to mention, get some exercise.”

Fun, fresh air, the beauty of nature and a chance at real bonding with the family are just a few of the rewards of riding together, whether that means a few loops around your neighborhood or going to one of the plethora of bike trails and routes that meander through our beautiful North State region. Many bike trails are well maintained and paved, while others are little more than rural dirt paths but all have one thing in common – you and your family will love riding them together.

Take the family to Redding and ride across the Sundial Bridge over the Sacramento River and follow the Arboretum Loop Trail to enjoy more than 200 acres teeming with wildlife. Try one of the several “non-motorized” trails that join Keswick and Lake Shasta. Bidwell Park in Chico has miles and miles of bike trails for riders of all skill and endurance levels. Test yourself riding up through the pines on the Paradise Bike Path and take a breather coasting back down. See the beauty of the Lake Siskiyou Loop trail in Mount Shasta which hugs the lake (use caution in the gravel areas). Many towns have charity fundraising rides, like Paradise’s Tour de Chocolate, that are organized and allow your kids to get immersed in the cycling culture, while helping a cause. The type of excursion that will yield the most positive response depends on the age and skill level of your youngest bike riders. For ideas on where to go, Google is your friend, but here are some other resources: http://www.BikeRedding.com, http://www.mapmyride.com/us/chico-ca/, http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist2/pdf/bikeguide.pdf, bikeshasta.org/trails/lake-siskiyou-loop/.

Parents can also use the time spent together as a teaching opportunity. Teach your children some of the laws of physics like momentum and gravity ( for instance, why they shouldn’t stop peddling during an uphill climb). The time spent teaching your children hand signals and traffic laws, patterns and courtesies will yield dividends and give them confidence when they are riding on their own and even give them a head start on understanding the rules of the road when they reach driving age.

Depending on the age and experience of your family, this may take some planning to make it enjoyable. Here are a few things to to bring along:

  • Bottled water or camelbacks (freeze them the night before and as they thaw during your ride you will always have fresh cold water)
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellant (or try wiping them down with a fabric softener sheet)
  • Helmets are a personal choice, however, if we are teaching them about safety, then we probably need to practice what we preach.
  • •High energy snacks for each of you (cashews, jerky, raisins, etc.)
  • Sneakers, not flip-flops. It’s important to wear real shoes that are appropriate for cycling. Too many potential dangers await those who try to skimp on this one.
  • At least one spare tire tube for each bike.

All of this will easily fit in one backpack, and you’ll be glad you brought it with you.

If you are riding in a rural area take time to “stop and smell the roses” (literally). Talk about the different environments and wildlife that you come across. Stop and let them splash in streams. Take pictures from bridges. Stop midway for a picnic or snack. Let them develop an appreciation for the outdoors. Stop at the local ice cream shop to cool down.

At the end of day, the goal of family biking should not be about distance, or speed or technique. The goal is to have fun! The more fun your children have, the more they will be willing (dare I say, want) to go again.

Michael Orr is the father of four, a small business owner and a prodigious generator of musical notes and the written word.
North State Parent
About North State Parent

North State Parent is a free monthly publication that circulates within five California counties: Butte, Glenn, Shasta, Southern Siskiyou and Tehama. Our pages are filled with family-oriented places to go, services and products geared for women and things to do; a focus on parenting, community, health, education, teens, youth, and much more.

Updated: Oct 10, 2017 @ 11:10 am