You should have gone before we left the house
Touring with kids
I started touring with my kids when they were 10 and 7. Here's the reader's digest version of what I learned- despite my best efforts to the contrary.
- Feed them frequently- carry lots of snacks, try to keep them healthy, but throw in a little junk. Don't wait for them to get hungry, kids bonk quicker than adults, if your kids get whiney and/or sullen you've waited too long (unless your kids are normally whiney and/or sullen), stop immediately, stuff their little faces and apologize profusely.
- Stop early and often. Stop and swim, stop and play, stop and make cloud animals, stop and spit water on each other.
- Hydrate them continuously- if you're not annoyed by their constant requests for bathroom breaks, they're not drinking enough. Make sure they drink WATER at every stop- stop signs, stop lights, map checks landmarks, road kill disections...etc.
- Ride behind and to the left of the last child (unless you live in one of those countries that insist their citizenry drive on the wrong side of the road)staying to the left keeps cars that much further away from your little tax deductions. If you're behind you can keep an eye on them; also gaining additional character building nag time. Put the slowest up front, that way you won't have to worry about a strung out paceline. This is hard on the rabbits in the group though, so if you have more than one adult let the fast ones go ahead. Alternating leaders also works, each child gets to lead and you get to impart pithy pearls of wisdom to whomever is fortunate enough to ride directly ahead of you.
- Give them a job- mine always pack and carry their own stuff, set up the tent and get water. Let them help with navigation(it'll teach you patience). Keeping their own journals (updated daily) and cameras(I like disposables)works well, especially if you like pictures of stray dogs, the insides of your children's noses and yourself caught in various embarassing poses.
- Keep goals incredibly small, our first tour was in eastern PA, it was very hilly, the first day we made nine miles. Keeping expectations low will guarantee you won't be disappointed, riding with kids is not about mileage- its about doing the most psychological damage with the least ecological impact. Stop at ANYTHING interesting (keeping in mind who thinks what is interesting). For my kids it was dogs, after we got home I told them we could have skipped the bike trip and just went to the pound.
- Patience- you can't imagine how important this is. I wish I had more of that during our first tour. I've gotten better but there's always room for improvement. Patience can make the difference between an enjoyable tour that your kids will want to do again or a mini Bataan death march that will have to be dredged up through hypnosis on some psychoanalyst's couch.
2001 TRIP HOME
PLANNING AND LOGISTICS
WHO WE ARE
OUR MIGHTY STEEDS
TOURING WITH KIDS/
LINKS & BOOKLIST
RIDE PARTNER WANTED
STATE BY STATE