Dad’s Survival Guide To Cycling With Kids

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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.

First Aid/Safety

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…”

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  1. Mrs Puddleducky

    Being prepared for anything is a must, it’s why I have such a large baby bag! Water, snacks and a phone especially at all times!! Lovely you are taking your little man out on the bike x

  2. Mama, My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

    Good advice. Never though about petroleum jelly for wind burn- will try it sometime. Murphy’s law of parenting states you will always need the thing you forgot to pack!


  3. Sarah Howe

    Good advice! I’ve never taken my daughter cycling but hope to as she gets older. Such a fun thing to do together xx #bigfatlinky

  4. Steph

    Great tips – O’s Daddy sometimes takes O on the back of his bike which O loves! Although they’ve never been on a big job ;o) x

  5. Sophie @ Mum, M & More

    Great post. It good to be prepared. We go cycling, we have a seat for M on the back. I can’t wait till she is big enough to go out for family bike rides :-) #bigfatlinky

  6. Catriona

    Great tips. I haven’t cycled since I was about 10! If I ever attempt to go cycling with Osian, I’ll be sure to come and find this post :)

  7. Kelly Edwards

    Great advice for getting out on the bike… now I just need to wait until my little girl is big enough to go on a bike :-) #bigfatlinky

  8. Mummy Fever

    Really good advice – we have two that can ride on their own without stabilizers now and then two little ones . #bigfatlinky

  9. Lisa (mummascribbles)

    This is such a great post. The next big thing we buy for Zach will be a bike. He’ll be three in September so we’ll either get it for his birthday or we’ll, or this summer or next spring! Anytime that’s not winter basically! I also just grabbed my bike back from my sisters shed and I can’t wait for us to be out on our bikes together in time. This list will come in so handy, I must bookmark this page for when it happens! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! #bigfatlinky
    Thanks also for linking up with us at #TwinklyTuesday!

  10. Sabrina (The Mummy Stylist)

    Great post. I don’t cycle as a particularly clumsy person, but I’m sure my boy will be begging to in the future! Sabrina x

  11. Laura @Dot Makes 4

    What a great post!
    It’s always great to be prepared- I never thought of petroleum jelly!
    I’ll definitely check this post when I take my son cycling :)

  12. John Roberts

    Great Post Mathew!!! I remember the days of our little geek having a melt down because we didn’t bring enough water!! She hasn’t changed always gets a bit panicky if she has no access to a drink!

  13. Adelaide Goffin

    I wish I could bike with my children, but I can’t find a bike anywhere that will let me have both of them on, nightmare! Fantastic and helpful post though! I find snacks are always essential!

    • Al Ferguson

      You’re welcome! Get them a bike seat? We’re just about to publish our next vlog reviewing one.

  14. Adrian

    Great advice. I used to cycle all the time when I was younger but since moving to London I haven’t got back in the saddle. I really want Baby B to learn to ride though so I think we either have to move somewhere safer or simply get on with it and work out some traffic free routes. I would never have thought of all these things to take on a ride!

  15. Domesticated Momster

    Great advice! I never go anywhere without my phone. If I could permanently attach it to my body oh how I probably would! Thanks for hosting #bigfatlinky :)

  16. Daddy Daydream

    I’m lacking two major things to take my children out by bike; a balls to do it and a bike! It might be quite sometime before this ever happens!

  17. Kelly

    I never ever leave the house without water and snacks for my 2 year old. Even if I am just stepping out to our front lawn. Haven’t been for a ride with him yet, as he is too young, but I will take some of your handy tips for the future :). #BigFatLinky

    • Al Ferguson

      Get him a bike seat? We’ve just reviewed one in our latest vlog.

  18. Dawn of the Dad

    It’s always good to be prepared, as the scouts like to say. As a fan of climbing mountains I always go for the back pack. Bikes won’t be on the agenda for another 12/18 months, and I’m looking forward to that moment when I let go of the saddle, and watch him ride off into the sunset.

    • Al Ferguson

      I’m hoping to combine the 2! Climb to the top of mt snows on and then cycle down! Amazing!

      • Dawn of the Dad

        Wow! That would be awesome! I dream of doing the three peaks but maybe not in 24 hours. Maybe over a weekend

        • Al Ferguson

          We did it in 22 hours! :) It’s actually not quite as gruelling as it seems. :)

  19. Elizabeth (Wander Mum)

    Great tips. My little girl is a couple of years off cycling but looking forward to doing this family activity together. Much of being a parent is about the planning…can save a lot of stress and frustration! #bigfatlinky

  20. Mother Mands

    Don’t forget a map incase you have no mobile signal! :D

    In a bid to get fit and healthy before ‘trying again’, me and a friend have started bike riding. We should of read your guide before going, as we ended up with sunburned necks! Worst though, we got completely lost and our short, ‘break back into it’ bike ride turned into a 6 + mile ride, with hills…hills I tell you! If there’s one thing I remember from being a child on family bike rides it’s the tantrums I used to throw when faced with a hill…I haven’t changed much :D

    • Al Ferguson

      Ha! That’s brilliant. Surely you get signal almost everywhere in this day n age?!

  21. MummyBexm

    Nice post – not into cycling but my uncle massively is and blogs about it. Interesting to read your tips. #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson

      Cool, what’s his blog?

  22. Ashley Beolens

    Being prepared is a must with kids, but I’m pretty sure I am the least prepared person at times lol

  23. Something Crunchy Mummy

    Fab post! This has been very informative for me as my nearly 4 year old is starting to want to ride his bike now and we have a seat for our bike for our youngest. Thank you for sharing #bigfatlinky

  24. Silly Mummy

    Good advice. I like to be prepared for every single possibility even when not cycling! #bigfatlinky

  25. Ashleigh Lawrence-Rye

    I always wanted to cycle more with Seb when he was a baby. I bought one of those wagons, rather than a child seat, attached it to my bike, realised that it weighed a tonne and sold it on Ebay a few months later. This time around when baby arrives I think I’ll just get a proper seat! I’m just worried that my Pashley Brittania, whilst beautiful – might not be the most appropriate bike for the job :/

  26. International Elf Service

    Great idea for a post and very informative! The trouble with young kids is they don’t always feel hungry or thirsty until it’s reached desperate levels it seems. Biking with your Dad must rank really high in the childhood memories bank :)

  27. Michelle Reeves (bodfortea)

    Great list! We haven’t ventured out of the garden with our two yet but I know that time will come *gulps* so good to have some advice from one who’s been there :) #TheBigFatLinky

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