The weekend rolls around and it's the one time in the week you can realistically contemplate a nice long ride, without having to wake up with the sun. Or is it?
Don't get me wrong – I wouldn't trade this parenting gig for anything in the world, not even a new bike. But if I want to get out on a longer ride on the weekend, as a parent it can honestly be quite challenging. Nonetheless, the husband and I have mastered this quite well, and it doesn't all boil down to a parent relay event. We involve the kids because they love riding too.
Earlier this year we managed to do the Thredbo Valley Trail in both directions in a single day with a 7 and an 8 year old. For the non locals, that's a solid 40-ish kilometre return trip. And, everyone had fun. My kids are not super human by any stretch. We achieved this great feat with a lot of planning, mostly involving two important things:
Food and hydration. Lots of it.
This is how we did it:
- The kids knew what the plan for the day was, we prepared them for a few days and told them that if at any point it was too much, we could turn around or one of the grown ups could go get the car. Any time we ride with the kids, in fact, we tell them we can call it quits whenever they say.
- Everyone had breakfast, which I prepared the night before and prewarned everyone that it was going to be simple and full of energy and we weren't going to have time for a great breakfast debate in the morning if we wanted to get going in time. I soaked rolled oats in milk the night before and added honey and fruit in the morning. Essentially we wanted some nice low GI carbs to start the day.
- What everyone didn't know, was that I packed second breakfast for two hours later when we arrived at Crackenback to start our ride. Again this was a simple wholemeal wrap with some cheese, and a piece of fruit.
- We each have our own Camelbak hydration packs so these were filled with water and I also put as many Camelbak water bottles as I could fit onto each bike – these had electrolytes mixed into the water. Being the middle of summer, and a long day, this is well worth considering.
- We also packed muesli bars and a few lollies because I'm not the grinch, and this is meant to be fun!
All of that was more than sufficient to get us up to Thredbo and back, happily, with a stop for lunch while we were up there. Full disclosure, we stopped for ice cream in Jindabyne on the way home.
My number one rule when riding with kids is to be prepared - that means water, snacks and first aid. It can make for a great family day out. So invest in a good hydration pack for yourselves and them, with pockets for other bits and pieces! And I have found making sure that they feel like they do have some control over the adventure, can really help their mindset when you do hit the inevitable climb.