8 Essentials for Family Bike Night

Riding bikes as a family is one of our favorite outdoor activities. Just like hiking, we’ve evolved a lot this summer from both kids riding in a bike trailer pulled by my husband, to at least one, if not both, of our girls wanting to ride their own bikes. This transition has changed the distance of our rides and the gear that we need.

If you are interested in spending more unstructured time together as a family, biking is a great option. Here are a list of things to consider before heading out:

We temporarily added poms on the side of Cecy’s bike for our neighborhood 4th of July parade.

1: time

Sometimes it is a challenge to find time in our busy schedules to go on a family bike ride. It typically takes us only 15-20 minutes to go on a bike ride with our kids if we are riding around our neighborhood. I would budget 1-2 hours for a trail ride depending on travel distance and loading bikes.

2: Helmets

I’m always shouting towards my kids to put on their helmets. I want to make it second nature for them, like putting on your seat belts. I think it helps if you let them pick out their helmet in a favorite color or movie character.

3: Bikes

I don’t believe it matters what bikes you are riding on a family bike night. If you are looking for suggestions, we are happy with our bikes:

  • My husband rides a road bike that he purchased from a site called bikesdirect.
  • I have an old hybrid bike similar to this one.
  • My 4.5 year old rides a Co-op kids bike from REI like this one.
  • My 2.5 year old has a KaZam No Pedal Balance Bike like this one from amazon.

Of all of these bikes, we have been most amazed by how fast our older daughter picked up riding bikes (without training wheels) by practicing on the balance bike. Now, our little one is taking off riding the balance bike and getting better each day.

4: Bike Trailer with Connecting Pin

We have a Schwinn 2-seater bike trailer similar to this trailer. My Mom found a great deal on it at a garage sale. (I think we spent $15). We ordered an extra bike coupler like this one, so that we could easily connect the trailer to both my husband’s and my bike.

Schwinn Bike trailer

5: pack to carry phone and car keys

We’ve been using a simple drawstring backpack (like this pack) to carry our phones and car keys in. You can also purchase a bag that fits directly to your bike like this bag from REI.

6: water bottle

Keeping water conveniently accessible is the easiest way to keep hydrated. For me, that means getting a water bottle that fits into the water bottle cage on our bike.

7: Bike rack

We purchased a Saris bike rack from local bike shop Phat Tire for our anniversary present this year. This has been a great tool that allows us to go biking on trials throughout our area.

8: Proper clothes and shoes – AKA no princess dresses

My girls love dressing up in princess costumes. My oldest refused to wear t-shirts for the longest time, but I’ve convinced her that riding bikes in fancy dresses isn’t the safest idea. We were able to find some cute ‘princess approved’ active wear at Old Navy and Target. Her favorite t-shirts are flip-over sequin shirts. We also want our girls to wear good athletic shoes instead of flip flops or bare feet when they are riding their bikes. For this age, I buy Velcro which helps make sure the laces don’t get wound up in the wheels. These purple Puma’s are on sale right now at DSW, and they are adorable!

Sunglasses are also helpful when it’s bright outside and to keep bugs from flying into everyone’s eyes.

EXTRAS

Like any outdoor sport you get into, cycling and bicycling has unlimited gear to add to the experience. For example, we enjoy having a GPS watch to track mileage, but I wouldn’t consider this an essential item.

For our family, biking has created a fun bonding experience and we can see our girls’ self-confidence grow as they improve on a new skill. Biking is a good way to enjoy nature, explore our new home town, learn to communicate safety rules-of-the-road, and get some screen-free time together. Plus, it’s great exercise!

Riding the Razorback Trail: Biking and Breweries in Fayetteville, Arkansas

This summer I’ve rekindled a long lost love. Before marriage, home ownership, and kids, Eric and I spent many weekends racking up miles on the trails near our apartments. Our goal was to ride a two-day 150 mile bike ride. ( MS-150) It felt great when we accomplished our goal, but soon life got busy and our bikes started collecting dust.

2010 MS 150…almost 10 years ago!

Thanks to great babysitter(s), this summer we decided to tune up our bikes and hit the trails in our new home town of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Fayetteville has an amazing trail system including a portion of the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway. If we wanted to, we could ride 36 paved miles (mostly without crossing a road) all the way to Lake Bella Vista, Arkansas. For now, we’ve been sticking closer to home. Here are 5 trails we’ve enjoyed so far this summer:

We purchased a Saris bike rack from local bike shop Phat Tire for our anniversary present this year.

*We tracked mileage using my husband’s gps watch, so distances given are estimates.

Kessler Mountain to Columbus house

We started at Kessler Mountain parking lot (near the playground) and jumped on the Cato Springs trail which connects Kessler Mountain to the Razorback Greenway system. The first few miles are peaceful and fast moving. Soon we crossed through Walker Park and headed into the lively downtown Fayetteville area. We continued past downtown to North Street where we took a right (East) to get to Columbus House Brewery. We sat outside and enjoyed the local beer before heading back towards Kessler Mountain.

Distance: 11.69 miles*

I highlighted the Cato Springs Trail that connects to the Razorback Trail in yellow.

Kessler Mountain to Fossil cove

We enjoyed Kessler Mountain area so much that we returned for another bike ride. We challenged ourselves to ride a little further on to Poplar Street where we took a right (East) and went to Fossil Cove Brewery. We sat outside and ordered pizza from adjacent Wicked Wood Fire Pizza.

Distance: Estimate 13.5 miles, we accidently missed our turn and ended up riding a total of 14.88 miles*

veterans memorial park – lake fayetteville loop

For a shorter ride, we took a quick evening loop around Lake Fayetteville starting at Veterans Memorial Park. Lake Fayetteville can sometimes be a pretty crowded area, but even if you have to slow down to accommodate fellow walkers and bikers, it’s worth it. I enjoy the views of waterfalls, bridges, wildflowers, wildlife, and of course the lake.

Distance: 5.27 miles*

Lake Fayetteville Loop with wildflowers

Gordon long park – lake fayetteville

We started at Gordon Long Park and rode towards Lake Fayetteville. Gordon Long trailhead has a playground, several parking spaces and a restroom facility.

My favorite part of this ride was cruising beside several creeks including Scull Creek, Mud Creek, and Clear Creek. My least favorite part was traveling through the long tunnel under Fulbright Expressway which felt a little eerie. We jumped off the trail on Lake Fayetteville Road to grab a bite to eat at the food trucks. I ate street tacos which were tasty and Eric ordered Thai food. Refueled, we finished our loop around Lake Fayetteville and headed back towards Gordon Long. This was a really fun date! To celebrate, we treated ourselves by driving across town to Crisis Brewing Company.

Distance: 12.94 miles*

Veterans memorial park – Luther george park in springdale, arkansas

We started at Veterans Memorial Park and headed towards Lake Fayetteville. We split off the loop to continue on the Razorback Greenway trail north towards Springdale. I was excited to learn about a new section, but this was my least favorite because their was less nature and more road traffic once we left the lake area. It was pretty hot, so we also noticed the lack of shade. We made it to Luther George Park, which looked like a spot my kids would love.

We headed back and continued the loop around Lake Fayetteville. This time it was less crowded and we were able to catch a breeze to cool off. On this ride we were short on time, but if we wanted to sip a local beer we could have easily stopped by Apple Blossom Brewing Company which is close to Veterans Memorial Park.

Distance: 10.5 miles*

I’m thrilled to be exploring our home town via the trail system. I know there is a lot more to enjoy. Cheers to that!