Becky and her family biking in Cape Girardeau, MO  Photo Credit: Videogize

The author and her family biking in Cape Girardeau, MO
Photo Credit: Videogize

Cycling as a family is not only great exercise, but is also a way to see thing you may have missed from a car.  I have been cycling with my kids for six years now; my youngest son was just a baby the first time I strapped him in a bike trailer and set out for a ride.

I often forget how complicated it can be to get ready to go for a bike ride. Like any other trip, you must be prepared, because sometimes it can be a long trip back. Here are my top six must-have items for a family bike ride.

1. Helmets.

Not everywhere that you will ride will require a helmet; however, anytime you are riding on a road, a helmet is highly suggested.  Helmets should fit snug and properly on your head; if it does not you are not protected.

2. Brightly colored clothing.

Yes, your bike has reflectors, but bright colors are needed also, otherwise you will blend in with your surroundings.  I often dress my kids in pinks, yellows, orange, or neon greens so that they also reflect light when someone passes them.

3. A light, durable cooler.

The last thing you want to do is add weight to your bike, but if you plan to ride for very long, having snacks and water with you is a must.  Cooler bags work great as they also shrink in size as you empty them, leaving space for any treasures you may pick up along the way.

4. A trailer.

Not every family needs one of these, but I use a bike trailer for more than just hauling kids.  I pack our cooler, my camera, extra changes of clothes, and sometimes unused or broken bikes in the trailer.

5. A bike tool kit.

While you hope you will need nothing out of it, you want to be prepared before you go. Our tool kit has a small hand air pump in case of low tires, an extra chain, a set of allen wrenches, a pair of pliers, tire patches, a screw driver, and a wrench.

6.  Comfortable bike seat.

The first time I went biking, I thought, I did this as a child so what is the big deal.  The next day, when I woke up with a sore hiney and could barely walk, I knew what the big deal was.  I highly suggest in investing in a soft, wide, and squishy bike seat that will absorb some of the shock you get when you hit a bump on the trail.

And one more thing…

Now something that is not a must, but is an accessory that I love and often suggest for my friends is my co-pilot bike.  My youngest son has been riding bikes for years, or riding along for years, but when he got bored in his trailer I knew it was time to look at my options.  Our co-pilot bike simply hooks to the back of my bike and the little guy can either peddle along behind me, or when he is tired he can just enjoy the ride.