Off the Rails – Tips for Family cycling

A couple of weekends ago we took part in a sponsored bike ride, organised by Son Number One’s Scout group. The challenge was to cycle from Hawsker, near Whitby to Ravenscar and back again, a distance of 17 miles. The weather was perfect, sunny but not too hot. Nevertheless, it was still quite a challenge, especially for The Middle Miss with her little bike and me with Babykins on the back.

IMG_3537There was much stopping and starting on the outward leg of the journey as my girl struggled to get to grips with her gears. Let me tell you that stopping and starting when you have an almost three year old on the back of your bike is no fun. While you are stationary it’s hard work holding the bike up and keeping it steady and when you set off again it’s just darn heavy.

IMG_8292Of course, there are incentives to spending the day cycling in Autumn….

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IMG_8308If you are thinking of cycling with small children here are my tips:

1. Aim for as much off road cycling as possible but check the state of the tracks. Too much gravel, mud or rough track makes for accidents.

2. Avoid hilly terrain. Obvious really. Disused railway lines are often great cycle tracks. Steam engines don’t like steep hills any better than small children.

3. Try and cycle where you will have a mobile phone signal. We didn’t have any signal for a lot of the time so we couldn’t let our friends know how far behind we were. As part of an organised ride with regular checkpoints it wasn’t really a safety issue but had we been on our own, it might have caused problems.

4. Encourage children to carry their own drink and snack but be prepared for taking that responsibility from them. It made all the difference to The Middle Miss when we carried her bag.

5. Make sure that non-cycling children who are being towed or carried on a seat are well wrapped up. They are much more likely to get cold than the person transporting them! You can buy cape style covers for children in bike seats. I improvised by wrapping an old rain coat of mine right around Babykins and zipping it up at the front (see the first picture). Gloves are well worth having. Warm shoes or boots are also important.

6. Cycle with friends. I barely saw Son Number One on this ride because he shot off with his friends from his Beaver Scout group. There were three other families doing the ride with us and all the children knew each other. They really kept each other motivated. Having other adults on hand was a blessing and had there been any serious difficulties, we could have split up and still supervised the children.

7. Take a first aid kit, wear a helmet and be prepared for running repairs like punctures.

8. Check the weather – too hot, too cold, too windy or too wet – don’t even bother. It won’t be fun.

9. Know your limits and the limits of your children. Don’t push them too far or everyone will be frustrated. If possible, start small and build up over time.

10. Take plenty of snacks and drinks. Be ready with cash for an ice-cream at the end. Or in our case, fish and chips in Whitby. The perfect way to end the day.

52 weeks of happy: 37 and 38/52

Arachnophobes beware, there is a picture of a spider at the end (but it is small and pretty).

IMG_8269Babykins can peel a carrot! We cook together almost every day and he’s watched me do it lots of times so I’m very pleased to know, that at the age of two years and nine months, he can do it himself.

IMG_8279Dropped scones. We’ve had them twice recently. They are so quick, easy and comforting. Cooking and eating them makes me feel good and for some reason I associate them with autumn. They have also saved my bacon when the children have been squabbling – make up a quick batch of these, sit them at the table and hey presto – 10 minutes peace and quiet.

IMG_8287Crochet: I have been trying really hard to make lots of my hanging decorations. I am going to take the plunge and sell some at a small, local craft fair. I love the colours in these. This is an ‘in progress’ photo. Now they are all stitched together with a few beads between each heart and look even prettier. I wonder what colour choices other people would like.
IMG_8261Sunlight coming through the ruby red of my steeping damson gin. It should probably be in a dark place but where’s the joy in that? I just love looking at it as the colour seeps out, bit by bit each day.

IMG_3548We went on a family bike ride on Saturday with Son Number One’s scout group. Son Number One was off like a shot with his friends, but The Middle Miss found it a lot harder. I was amazed at how hard she worked to complete all 17 miles. It was a very proud moment when she crossed the finish line.

IMG_3595These pretty little stripy spiders define the season – late summer, early autumn. There are so many of them about at the moment and when the sun shines low through their delicate but superbly strong silk is a thing of beauty.