bicycling-familyAs soon as the days get longer and the spring sun spills its promise of summer on after-school hours, my kids want to start biking.  “I’ll be out front, mom!” one will yell.  “I’m riding around!” another will say.

Then I’ll hear the familiar bang of the garage door rising.  This sound means spring to me, more than a robin’s song ever will.

For my sons, bikes (and their “companion vehicles,” skateboards, rollerblades and scooters) are more than just transportation from home to the closest convenience store.  Riding is a way of life.

Of course, it’s easy for my oldest (an aspiring BMX-er), my middle son (strictly Schwinn) and the youngest boy (the one with training wheels!) to go riding.  We live in the suburbs, where there is plenty of street and sidewalk room for all (the bigger kids are even able to create makeshift ramps and practice jumping on their bikes and boards, clearing out only once in a while for a neighbor’s car.)  But as fun as biking at home can be, traveling to the city for a bike ride is considered a real adventure for my boys. But city traffic makes cycling around the neighborhood too dangerous. It’s important to seek out a bike path before you pack the car and head to the big city.

Fortunately for those of us in the Philadelphia area, there are numerous beautiful and enjoyable bike paths on both sides of the Delaware River.  One of our favorites is the eight mile loop right in the heart of the city in Fairmount Park.  Local riders know the route, but for those of you riding here for the first time, here’s the loop – pedal north from the downtown area along the east bank of the Schuylkill River (check out the view of boat house row!)  Cross Fall Bridge and head back along the west bank.  One time around is a long but healthy ride for an afternoon, and the fresh air, river breeze and sunshine will benefit the family as much as the “together time” will.  For information, contact  The Schuylkill Trail, Fairmount Park, Montgomery County Planning Commission, 610-278-3736 or the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800-537-7676