The joy of riding bikes with kids
We’re excited to bring you our second instalment from our very own resident Ride Nation blogger, Dr Lachlan Soper! Hear from Lachy about just how much fun it can be to go for a bike ride to spend some quality time with the kids, build up their resilience as they overcome challenges with new bike routes and create a family project that uses bike riding to familiarise the kids with the great outdoors. We hope this inspires you to do the same!
While an amazing adventure, bike riding with kids is so much more than simply an achievement. It is amazing family bonding. While kids may protest before going for the ride at the prospect of an entire day out of the house, mostly on bikes, by the time they get out of the car and start spinning around they are loving it instantly. There are no distractions with technology or little jobs to do at home etc… it’s simply the family, the bikes and the route. There are so many times I get “Dadda, just one question…” and a day long journey of chatting and questions begins. More than that, some of these rides have been quite challenging (e.g: the Lower North Shore ones involve stairs and some steep short hills) and their resilience in overcoming difficulties and helping each other with their bikes has been among my top proud parenting moments.
These adventures are such a benefit to families. It gets kids away from screens, they get fit, they learn resilience and perseverance, they see the outdoors, get fresh air, see an amazing spectrum of playgrounds and get to know the city they live in in an amazingly personal and intimate way. Also, when we go along similar, but different routes on future rides, the kids have said things like “I remember this Daddy, we parked there, there was the gold Lamborghini just behind us and the playground is over there ”. They are connecting the dots all around Sydney in their minds (although the gold Lamborghini wasn’t there the next time we rode to Parramatta Park :-) ).
These rides are awesome for people of all ages, on regular bikes (road, mountain or hybrid) or e-bikes. I’ve taken recent comers to Australia from both South Africa and the UK on some of these routes and they thought they were great. I’d do these rides with any future visitors from overseas, rather than the usual tourist traps. One of the great things about exploring a place on bike is how it contrasts with other modes of transport: when you walk you can’t get too far, when you drive - zoom and you’re past a great sight, and if you don’t miss it you have to find a parking spot. When riding you can cover a fair chunk of ground and pull up at any view, cafe, or playground you like, or simply sit under a tree in the shade by the water, creating lifelong memories and joy.
So, where to from here? Well, we’ll keep riding these rides, and other permutations of them. I’m currently mapping out an almost exactly 100km ride that goes from Balmoral, over the Harbour Bridge, all along the Southern part of Parramatta River to Parramatta Park, back along the Northern side and back to Balmoral. Cracking views, brilliant playgrounds and stops at some great restaurants, cafes and gelato joints along the way - yep an early start and 4 food stops - yum! Other than that, our next family project is to map out rides from the Hunter River to Tilba on the South Coast. This will include the rail trail in Newcastle, circumnavigating all the Central Coast lakes, a ferry to Palm Beach; then Thirroul to Port Kembla, to Kiama, Huskisson, Bateman’s Bay, Narooma, Tilba and some detours in Kangaroo Valley, Berry and Bowral. After that… well we’re not super skilled on mountain bikes, but may see what we can do with mapping out family trails in the Sydney region.
We hope you enjoyed reading about how Lachy is encouraging his own kids to fall in love with bike riding! Stay across our @ridenationaus social channels to find out when the next blog to the series lands, and follow us for lots more tips, tricks, inspiration and fun events to help you #bikeforlife.