September 12, 2016 - Eva Dunn-Froebig is Adventure Cycling's events and outreach coordinator.
Families will love Bike Your Park Day on September 24. Enhance your Bike Your Park Day experience by sharing bicycling and a love for the outdoors with your kids.
Bike Your Park Day can be whatever you want it to be.
The National Park Service offers many programs to help your kids discover the outdoors. The Every Kid in a Park initiative offers your fourth grader and your entire family free entry into parks. And by the way, admission is free in many parks on September 24 for National Public Lands Day.
Whether your child sits in a bike trailer, bike seat, or they ride a tag-along bike, strider bike, a bike with training wheels, or their own two wheels, it’s easy to participate in Bike Your Park Day with little ones. Check out the Get Inspired page for more resources on planning your family ride.
Make sure your kids — no matter what age — wear a properly fitted helmet ... you too, moms and dads!
And before you leave, give your family’s bike equipment a check. Fill the tires with air and ensure the brakes work.
If your family feels uncomfortable sharing the road with vehicles, seek a separated bicycle/pedestrian path on public lands as your Bike Your Park Day route. Some parks, like Crater Lake National Park, hold car-free days, so you can ride with your kids worry free. If sharing the road with vehicles, see and be seen by riding in daylight, wearing bright colors, and making eye contact with drivers.
Snacks and drinks are key when you’re riding with kids.
I once saved a ride with my son, filled with complaints about sunscreen and an itchy helmet, by stopping for a water-pretzel-gummy-bear break. I used to never let my son indulge in sugar-filled products like energy chews and gels. But now, anything goes when we’re riding our bikes. I pack my panniers with turkey sandwiches, beef jerky, cookies, cold lemonade, and energy chews or candy. The right snacks can make a big difference in a child’s mood. Plus, you can turn your assortment of snacks into a lovely trailside or roadside picnic.
Weekend plans don’t always go as expected when you have kids in tow. Sometimes you have to turn around early or spontaneously stop for ice cream. Little ones may get too tired to ride the entire route. Bring a bike trailer or tag-along bike and a way to transport your young child’s bike as backup in case your child decides to hop in your bike trailer for a rest. Alternatively, seek a shuttle service so you have the option of riding one way, or just decide that it’s okay to turn around early. Use the time to explore your park off your bicycle or participate in a National Public Lands Day service project. As your child goes on more bike adventures, he or she will get stronger and more interested in riding longer distances.
Not sure where to start when planning your Bike Your Park Day ride? Here are some examples of family-friendly Bike Your Park Day rides, open for others to join, ranging from 3 miles to 45 miles. Join an existing Bike Your Park Day ride on the interactive map or get inspired to plan your own.
Now join a ride or design your own adventure and be sure to register it for free at BikeYourParkDay.org.
Photo 1 courtesy of Meg Whicher | Photo 2 by Jeff Bookwalter | Photo 3 & 4 by Saara Snow | Photo 5 courtesy of Lassen NP | Photo 6 & 7 by Eva Dunn-Froebig | Photo 8 courtesy of Jamie Bianchini
Adventure Cycling celebrated its 40th anniversary all year with National Bike Travel Weekend, the Montana Bicycle Celebration, and Bike Your Park Day. Look for National Bike Travel Weekend and Bike Your Park Day in 2017. Thank you to the 40th anniversary sponsors: Raleigh Bicycles, Montana Department of Commerce, Salsa Cycles, Advocate Cycles, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, Primal Wear, Visit Mississippi, Visit Idaho, Travel Oregon, Osprey Packs, Experience Plus!, Destination Missoula and Missoulian.
Find out more about Adventure Cycling’s generous sponsors.