In this article, guest author and cyclist Paul, provides some great tips to help keep the kids entertained while on a family bike ride.
So, you’ve managed to convince the whole family out on a bike ride, but you’re worried that you might hear those dreaded words at any moment: “I’m bored”. Well, in this article, I want to talk about ways you can keep a bike ride fresh and interesting by incorporating games into your ride!
This is an obvious place to start - a good old-fashioned race! Nothing could be simpler, just pick a point and race to it, first one to reach it wins. But, you have to be careful when it comes to racing.
First, it might be a bad idea to start with a five-mile ride with a race; everyone will be tired out and wanting to quit before long. Similarly, if it’s a hilly ride, or particularly tough going, maybe racing is a bad move because it’s so exhausting.
Second, when you have kids of different ages and riding abilities, it might be a little unfair to race, which can be disheartening for weaker riders. However, this is where you can get a little bit creative.
Maybe give headstarts or stagger when each racer begins. Or maybe the stronger riders have to stay in a tougher gear, while weaker riders are allowed to swap.
By mixing it up this way, you make it more fun, more interesting and much less predictable!
2. No More Pedalling Past a Certain Point
This is a classic.
Basically, you pick an upcoming landmark and say that after that point no-one is allowed to pedal. The winner is the person that travels the farthest.
It works best on rides with a nice downhill section, because you can call the top of a hill the point where you stop pedalling. This way you can go for a really long time and cover some distance. Also, this gives you a welcome break and a chance to catch your breath after ascending.
You’ll find that this game is well balanced too because while heavier riders will initially build up the most momentum, they will also lose that momentum faster once the track flattens out and starts to climb again. So, parents have the initial advantage and take the lead, only to have children whizz past them as they’re bikes come to a standstill! This is a game that rewards good balance and being able to get yourself as streamlined as possible.
Another great way to keep a ride interesting is building it around geocaching.
Basically, geocaches are like hidden treasure, but their GPS coordinates are published online. They are usually plastic boxes containing a logbook and if you’re lucky maybe some kind of treasure! The idea is that when you find one, you add your name to the logbook and update the site online to say that you have visited that cache.
While many would think of geocaching as primarily something you do on foot, there are some that can be found by bike, especially if you’re on a mountain bike and are willing to go offroad!
The fun here is that it feels like a secret; like you are spies on a mission. This can give purpose to a ride, and might just spark your kids’ interest and be the push they need to get them out and riding.
Once you get into geocaching, it can also become kind of addictive. You want to find them all! This is great because it’ll get you out of the house and on your bike. It also makes the planning of rides fun, as you do your research, plot your route. It can even be a great way to teach map reading, a useful skill even in the age of the smartphone.
One thing is that you will need to purchase some GPS gear, especially if you’re going after rural caches, because you’ll probably be without a signal on your phone and need some way of navigating to GPS coordinates. Also, although most websites offer the basic level of information for free, you may have to pay for more advanced features and bonus information. So, there is a little extra investment involved. But it’ll all be worth it when you’re whole family’s out on your bikes and exploring!