by Pico ヨハネス
Old article on family cycling.
It was summer and our family was without an operational vehicle that we could legally use as transportation. Our old van came with us from Quebec and needed major work to pass the Ontario road vehicle safety check. We had enough money to feed ourselves and to pay our rent but not fix up that old crate. We were living in a house divided into two apartments. The single guy living in the other unit struck me as a very odd individual and we tended to give him a very wide berth. Across the street was the local drug supplier for the high school around the corner. How the police were not aware of what he was up to was beyond me. Next door on the one side was a similar house to the one we were in with a weekend Canadian Maritimer do it yourself bar downstairs and a couple of college students living upstairs. On the other side there was a normal family. The factory where I was working was shutting down for a week for the construction holiday and we really did not wish to spend the whole week vacationing in that environment. Sheldon who was seven years old at the time suggested the solution to our dilemma after looking at my old solo touring photo album. Mom objected thinking that it was impossible but I thought maybe. We had a month to address our equipment shortcomings and to see if it was even possible to prepare a seven year old and two five year olds to ride far enough to make it all worth our while.
Our first step was to purchase a bicycle trailer. We justified the expense by using it to do our weekly shopping. We had been doing that on foot. With the trailer we could actually travel across town and buy our groceries cheaper at discount stores. Mieke who was three at the time got used to having food piled up around her ears. We rode as a family almost everyday for that entire month. At least half of those rides were to do things most people here do with their car. The bikes were our transportation to and from everything we wanted to do. Besides shopping we visited the city library regularly. Went to a museum and in general saw every local sight within range. After a month all of us were confident that the four-day 83-kilometer trip we had planned was completely within our ability.
We ended up with one of our most memorable vacations ever. Had we waited for them to grow up we would have spent the holiday at home basically doing nothing. Instead we opened up a whole new set of possibilities. We still believe we can go anywhere we want. All we need is the time to ride there and we can do it without spending a whole lot of money.
The main keys for making a bicycle tour with a small family work are as follow: Adequate equipment, lots of training together and careful planning. Build your cycling around other activities. All the things that make any other vacations fun and memorable need to be built into your family cycling trips. The only real difference is your means of transportation.