By Catherine Ellis, Hill & Ellis

Springtime is a great time to start cycling! It’s cool but not cold, there’s more light, it’s usually a drier time of year and it’s a great way to see the season unfold. But to start the cycling season off properly here are 7 things you need to know, to cycle this spring as a family:

1. The Prep

Check the bike. Kids grow so fast that you need to check not only that the bike is safe but that it fits them. Adjust the seat and the handlebars to check that they are confident with the size.

Check their skills. If your kids haven’t completed a cycling proficiency course, it is a good idea to run them through the same skills and teach them proper braking before heading out – ensuring they know how long it takes to brake comfortably.

2. The Route

Children under 10 are allowed to cycle on the pavement but if they have the control to cycle on the road, you will find it much easier to cycle as a family from the road. Do your homework and find quieter roads, that aren’t too narrow so you can cycle as a peloton. (Sustrans is THE place to go for that. https://www.sustrans.org.uk/get-your-traffic-free-route-guides/)

And remember kids’ bikes do tend to be heavier so what might seem like a small hill to you might be a mountain to little legs and it could put them off. So, aim to stay relatively flat.

3. Keep the pinkies warm.

Cycling in spring can still be pretty cold, especially for the end of your fingers. Avoid that searing pain in your (or your children’s) fingertips and invest in good gloves. They don’t need to be lined with the wool from the underbelly of a rare Hebridean sheep, they just need to be windproof and rainproof.  We love these from Loffi – which also have a reflective smiley face on them. A great addition to help you get them on your kids’ hands, and they reduce the risk of having to deal with grazes. https://loffi.cc/

4. Some call it snacks, some call it Bribery.

We all know the power of a little mid ride treat so take some with you for the journey. A bike basket is the perfect quick access way to carry them or clip on a pannier bag, perfect for snacks and water and carrying those extra layers. The advantage of both is that your bike carries the load instead of your back making it a more comfortable ride for you. Luckily we have both – www.hillandellis.com

5. The Parental Peloton

If you are two adults and two kids, ride as a “kids sandwich” – one adult at the front and back and kids in the middle. If you can, ride slightly closer into the road than your kids, it will help you get seen by cars and encourages cars to give you all more space as they drive past you. If you are riding as one adult with kids the jury is still out as to whether to ride at the front of the back. Staying at the back ensures cars see you from behind and they are likely to give you more space, but leading means you are in control of junctions and making sure they are safe. Personally, I would ride behind, and then ride ahead to be at the front for any complicated junctions and crossings but try both and see which way you feel the most comfortable.

6. Be seen.

If you are cycling with the family, do it in daylight if you can. Making your family peloton as visible as possible is the safest way to cycling. You don’t need to be told to get lights – but do get lights. Daylight at this time of year can occasionally be dull and putting lights on your bike will make sure you all get seen. I’d also recommend buying some reflective tape or reflective stickers to attach to your kids’ bikes. Turn it into a bike decorating session and you’ve got an extra 30 minute activity to amuse them during lockdown 3.0 or 11.9 (whichever one we are at now!)

7. Enjoy it!

It is meant to be fun and it’s a wonderful family activity so relax, take in the scenery and enjoy the journey together.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Ellis is from Hill & Ellis, which produces a range of high quality, stylish cycle bags. Each bag, designed in the UK, is created to transition perfectly from home to bike to boardroom to bar. They are functional, fashionable and hard wearing.  There’s plenty of space inside for a laptop and other essentials, and each bag comes with patented pannier clips that fit almost any bike, allowing you to clip the bag on and off quickly and easily.

Web: www.hillandellis.com

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