If there is one non-specific piece of advice that I can offer to parents, it is to be prepared at all times. The ability to anticipate potential problems in any circumstance will save you from headaches, inconveniences and the time it takes to figure things out when something goes awry.
This applies to sports dads too.
My son and I have been spending a lot of time on our bikes lately, exploring city trails and riding to the park. The further we venture from home, the more harrowing the thought is of something going wrong. Knowing from experience, the most minor issues can quickly spiral into more significant problems when riding a bike with a child. For example, the absence of water on the shortest of rides can prove to be earth shattering to a dehydrated four-year-old. They may not be able to continue the ride without sustenance, but they will be able to muster up the energy to protest in a fury.
So what does it mean to be a prepared parent on a bike ride? Whether it is a short leisurely jaunt or a more lengthily ride, there are a few key items that you should never leave home without:
Seat Post Bag
The simplest method to transport your necessities is in a seat-post bag. It will save you from carrying a pack and is an inexpensive, light option. Seat-post bags vary in size from small, fixed bags to expandable, removable bags. I recommend equipping your bike with a larger bag for increased storage. And the removable option offers an added convenience while packing.
Most bikes either come equipped with a water bottle holder or include mounts to have one installed. It is important to pack water on every ride to ensure hydration and to satisfy your child’s potential unwavering determination to have a drink at any time.
Hungry children can become frustrated children, quickly. This is a fact. Because kids are developing they often lack the communication skills and tools to cope with the body’s reaction to feeling fatigued, irritable, and uncomfortable when they are malnourished. This not only poses a behavioral problem, but also can create safety concerns. Feeling hungry and drained of energy can cause your child to lose concentration while riding, leading to mistakes and sometimes injury.
I recommend packing cereal or granola bars in your bag to offset any looming hunger. Bars are convenient, carbohydrate rich and are available in a variety flavours.
Scraped knees and elbows are a part of cycling. Even if you and your child are more confident, seasoned riders, falls are often unavoidable. In preparation and in mitigation of any first-aid needs, it is important to have access to the following items while enjoying an outing:
- Adhesive bandages for any cuts or scrapes.
- Antiseptic spray or wipes to clean minor cuts and prevent infection.
- Petroleum jelly to prevent facial windburn on blustery days.
- High SPF sunscreen to avoid the harmful effects of the sun.
- Hand sanitizer to disinfect and clean hands.
- Tissue for runny noses and tears.
- Sunglasses to protect you and your child’s eyes from the sun’s rays, dust and tree branches (if you are riding on wooded cycling trails).
These first aid staples can be stored in a plastic bag and tucked away at the back of your pack.
Depending on the type of riding you and your child are embarking on (on or off road) you may want to consider preparing for the off chance of puncturing a tire. If you are concerned about getting a flat, include a multi tool and small puncture repair kit in your pack. If you are riding outside of the city and will not have access to compressed air, compact tire pumps are available and can be stored in your bag or fastened to your bike frame for easy transportation.
The most vital piece of equipment that you will carry while riding with your child is a phone. Access to a phone in the event of any emergency is crucial. It is also important to be able to contact your partner or a family member to relay your whereabouts or to inform them if you are running late.
Whether it is stopping for treat or to use the toilet, you should always keep your bikes secured. If you fail to lock your bike, there’s a chance it could be taken – in which case you would need to use your phone to call for a ride.
Get outside and enjoy the opportunity cycle and bond with your child. Just remember, proper planning and riding with the right gear will make your experience less stressful and will help you survive the unpredictable.
Mathew Lajoie writes about parenting on his blog, “YOUAREdadTOme…”