Going on bike rides is one of the best activities you can do with your family. Nothing can bring a family closer than heading out on an adventure together. However, your adventure can quickly go sour if you are not properly prepared. If you’re cycling with your children, there are certain items that are a must to keep in your bag. Here’s a list of what I always have in my bag when I’m heading out on a bike ride with my three kids.
Spare Bike Tools and Parts
No matter how well you know the trail or what the road looks like, there is always a chance of a flat tire or another type of mishap. This can easily make the worst out of a great bike ride with your kids. However, if you carry spare bike tools and parts, this is much less likely to happen.
For example, my youngest’s bike fell victim to a puncture while out on a ride and we didn’t have spanners or other tools to change for the flat tyre. This is why it’s important to have at least one spare tube that is the correct size for each child’s bike wheel, at least one set of tyre levers, and either CO2 to inflate the tyres or a pump. We have a spare tube bag under each child’s seat for this possibility. This can save you the annoying, long walk back to the car. We also changed all the wheel axles to quick release, so that when punctures happen in the future they are easier to repair.
Water and Snacks for All
It goes without saying, cycling can be a tough workout. This is why it is imperative to always stay hydrated throughout the entire ride. The last thing you’ll want is to run out of water halfway through your journey. Of course there are taps and bubblers findable in most locations, but it’s much easier to have more water than you think you need. Make sure that every bike has at least one water bottle of fresh water. This way, you’re much less likely to run out and you can stay hydrated throughout the ride.
Also, snacks are always important to include in your bag. Great snacks to stow in your bag are muesli bars, sandwiches made at home, or some fresh fruit. We stop at almost every playground along our ride routes and also snack at almost every playground too. Here’s what I usually bring for me and my kids:
A 250mL juice ‘poppa’ each.
A 250mL milk drink (like Up n Go) each (drink this one first, Poppas taste better than milk as they warm up throughout the day)
Nuts (subject to allergies), fruit, muesli bars, or LCM’s each
A mini pack of chips each
Ovalteenies or Freddo Frog (or similar chocolate treat) each
A Chuppa Chup lolly pop each (it’s worthwhile having some spare Chuppa Chups – they are a great distractant if one of the kids falls off the bike and grazes themselves, this is one of the few things that can instantly change their demeanour).
Sandwiches (if we are unlikely to pass a bakery to eat at on the way).
In addition to this, we aim to find something to eat at a local bakery, sushi-bar, fish and chips shop or gelato shop along the way.
Another great item to keep you while on a family bike ride is spare clothes. Weather can be sometimes unpredictable and you’ll be hit with showers of rain when the weather app promised clear skies. We once got hit by a freak thunderstorm that wasn’t on any of the radars (until it arrived) and had to quickly find cover under a man-made hill (Barangaroo). I recommend an extra layer of clothing like a rain-jacket, extra long-sleeve top or jumper be in your bag. Spare clothes are great for the winter months when you’re feeling colder than you thought you would on the ride. One example was one of our rides past Collaroy Beach on a cold, windy winter’s day, the kids got off their bikes, played on the sand near the water, when all of a sudden one of them slipped – splash! We were a little underprepared on that occasion, so that daughter got my extra layers and we quickly rode back to the car.
For warmer months, a small tube of sunscreen is always a must in your bag, and sometimes some swimmers can be handy if you’re going riding along a river, lake, the beach or to a playground with water play features. Sometimes on these hot days, we continue our ride in our swimmers so the evaporating water can keep us cool.