Way to Go

1999 Family Vacation Guide, A Wheelie Good Time

Way to Go
Tips for First-Time Family Bike-Trippers

We talked with Christopher White, a Backroads trip leader since 1993 and current "Happiness and Longevity Coordinator" for the company:

Is there any generalization you can make about kids on bike trips?
"When they're having a good time, you can't stop them. When they're having a bad time, you can't make them go."

How can you ensure a successful family cycling trip?
"Pick a destination that everyone's excited about and make sure that everybody's expectations and goals match. Once everyone is gung ho, families have the greatest time. Proper clothing and equipment help, too."

What are some potential meltdown scenarios for kids on bike trips?
"Wind is bad. Hills are bad. Monotony is terrible. Anything that is bad for an adult is 10 times worse for a kid. Quick little wham-bam interludes, like checking out a waterfall or looking at a moose, are key."

How should families train for a bike trip?
"Take the whole gang out for a cruise and simulate some of the mileages. Adults have to make sure they don't go absolutely crazy over the fact that a ten-year-old's legs whiz around at a different pace."

What is the most important safety consideration?
"Learn how to properly fit your child's helmet. If you do that, you've won half the battle. Other than that, make sure that your kid can ride in a straight line, so that if he's distracted by a bald eagle, he won't weave out in front of a truck. Otherwise, you're going to be a nervous wreck the entire time."
— S.G.

Copyright 1999, Outside magazine

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