A trip or a cycling holiday with children is an opportunity to explore new destinations, to rediscover already known places exploring them through the spontaneity and originality of a child. As for other experiences with children, even cycling tourism is an experience that can be refined by pedaling, changing itineraries, evolving from the simplest ones to trips in stages, choosing the landscapes to be crossed. If the time with the children is a dimension that expands, let alone if there is a bicycle in the middle. Whether they are out-of-doors itineraries in the green of nature, excursions to the sea, urban exploration of parks, museums and attractions , cycling with a child adds details and stimuli that make cycling an ever-changing adventure.
But what are the precautions before and during the rides with the children? What are the means to choose, the precautions not to forget . We try to put them all in line to enjoy a full adventure on a bicycle with the children.
HOW DO I CHOOSE THE ROUTE?
Start from the easy things. Better to start from a short cycle path in safety , without connections to traffic. Calculate the itinerary on the times and habits of children, perhaps planning stops to play and sleep. Prefer not to put them in front of “an itinerary from here to there”, rather intrigued with the things that will be seen during the trip … the animals, a pond, a house in the woods . If your path is in stages, prefer one in a false flat (downhill) and with the possibility of a help represented by the presence of lines of trains, buses and boats : in addition to breaking the journey and allowing rest, sometimes represent for the child an adventure in the adventure. Finally if yours is a journey in stages, plan a few days without a bicycle.
WHICH BICYCLE CAN WE USE?
The advice is valid for all cycle tourists, big and small: the bicycle must be comfortable, generally light and flowing and the size that best suits your size. A method of “the grandfather” to take the right measure is to bring the bike to the side of the child : the saddle should get him (with the necessary adjustments) at hip height . When the child gets on the bike, take care that he can rest his feet firmly and that the torso is a little forward on the handlebars. Obviously the bicycle must comply with the European standard EN 14765. Some measure in inches of the wheels? 11 ” for 2-3 years; 16 for 4-5 years; 20 ” for 6-8 years. Obviously everything depends on the height of the child (and the dealer’s expertise).
AND TO CARRY CHILDREN?
Before transporting a child to a bicycle , pediatricians (and common sense) recommend waiting 6 months of age. But if instead of the trip in a park you plan a tour of 30 or more kilometers , or even a cycling holiday, the choice to make is that of the trolley. The carriages (cyclists in the Nordic countries are the most prudent and experienced consumers) can carry even more than one child up to five years(certain uphill must be trained) and have the advantage of being able to accommodate a substantial part of the luggage. In addition you can close, make waterproof and then allow you to cover even rough stretches in not perfect weather conditions. And if the path was uphill and maybe on a bumpy surface?
THE SOLUTION IS AN E-BIKE
We have experienced the winning combination e-bike + trolley in a family trip, testing a Riese and Muller Charger touring among the enchanted landscapes of the Val di Fassa, a memorable experience for mom, dad and two crazy little riders! Perhaps the e-bikes are a perfect solution for family cycle tourism. How do they work? You climb into the saddle, pedal normally and choose the size of the electric thrust (our Bosch engine provided the eco-turbo options, sport, tour, pedaling echo). The bends do not seem so hard to deal with and on uneven paths you can maintain a constant speed without excessive effort. And if the batteries are finished, a small power supply is always supplied. Today there are folding e-bikes, mtb, citybike, gravel powered by increasingly efficient electric motors. And at the end of the tour the e-bike with the trolley in tow did not show signs of subsidence, the battery was still in good shape and half its capacity, and we had the feeling of having practiced authentic cycling , having fun with the whole family.
FOR THE LARGESTS THERE ARE THE “CAMMELLINO” AND THE BARS OF TRAINO
The “camellino” is a half-bike . It has a handlebar, the pedals, but only one wheel. The frame attaches to the bike of the parent or adult companion thus giving the child the feeling of participating in the ride but with the advantage of not controlling the direction. The drawbar is even more convenient . In practice, the child has his bike, can drive it if he wants , but can also be anchored to the father or mother in case there is an unsafe or particularly challenging.
AND WHERE DO WE GO ALL TOGETHER?
For short journeys the choice is yours! But if you fancy the idea of a family cycling holiday it is better to let go of territories with many climbs. Choose rather flat paths, with little traffic, perhaps near a river in the direction of water (and then slightly downhill) and if there was the opportunity, choosing a well-marked cycle path and protected from traffic. Maybe find out if there are albergabics on the route , refreshment areas with play areas and toilets.
There are many possibilities to combine the bicycle with a train or boat journey , both in Italy and in Europe. But before leaving, great fun is to choose the itinerary all together, passionately!
IN BICYCLE WITH CHILDREN, GUIDE
To inspire our advice is the Guide of the Tci in Bicicletta with the Children , an instrument for traveling at a slow pace crossing the most evocative landscapes of Italila and Europe: from the cycling path of Versilia to that of Garda, from the holiday cycle in the park of the Po to adventures on two wheels in the Maremma, in Salento, along the Danube and the Loire or through Flanders.