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You Are Viewing Bicycle Touring With Kids

How To Make Sun Shades For A Children’s Bike Trailer

Posted July 1st, 2012

Sun shades for the ChariotWhen we first made plans to go cycling with Luke, our biggest worry was the summer heat.

Luke’s Chariot Cougar 1 trailer has a fair amount of ventilation but some light does come through the tinted windows on the side.

We wanted the option to have Luke in total shade on very hot and sunny days.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, we had a conversation with another mum, Christine. She’s written a very helpful article about bike touring with a baby, and immediately had our solution: a homemade sun shade.

Read about how we made the sun shades.

Making Sun Shades For The Chariot Cougar 1

Posted June 30th, 2012

When we first made plans to go cycling with Luke, our biggest worry was the summer heat.

Luke’s Chariot Cougar 1 trailer has a fair amount of ventilation but some light does come through the tinted windows on the side. We wanted the option to have him in total shade on very hot and sunny days.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, we had a conversation with another mum, Christine. She’s written a very helpful article about bike touring with a baby, and immediately had our solution: a homemade sun shade.

Christine sent pictures to show exactly what she was talking about.

Sun shades for the Chariot

Sun Shades For The Chariot

We loved this idea and decided to follow Christine’s lead.

We bought red nylon fabric (210D Ripstop) and webbing from a Dutch company, Radical Design. We also purchased velcro and thread from our local fabric shop.

After tracing out a pattern, followed by an hour of cutting and sewing, Andrew came up with this:

Sun cover for Luke's Chariot

He made one for each side. Here are the shades fitted on the Chariot.

Sun cover for Luke's Chariot

The shades totally block any light from coming in the carriage but all the ventilation slots remain open. They’re also lightweight and water resistant. They can be easily removed and stored under the seat when not in use. Success!

As part of the process of making these shades, we also talked to two other parents about cycling in the heat. Stuart (from the Family Adventure Project) and Thomas gave us these helpful tips.

  • Aim for shady routes (not always possible or practical)
  • Get up early or cycle late (depending on existing routines) and nap during the hottest part of the day
  • Dress the baby in cool loose fitting clothes, or even just a nappy (watching out for sunburn)
  • If you don’t make your own shades as we did, then rig light cotton cloth shades over the buggy to minimise direct sunlight (simple cotton diapers can be used for this purpose and can also cover baby’s feet)
  • Put a drink bottle in trailer so the baby can drink on demand (if old enough)
  • Put damp clothes on to keep the baby cooler
  • Put a little battery operated fan in the trailer
  • Stop for drinks and ice lollies and ice cream
  • Go to a colder country or travel off season!
Now we’re ready to go summer touring with Luke.

Bicycle Touring In Baby Steps: The Video

Posted June 12th, 2012

When we go cycling in the Netherlands, we often go with our friend Blanche.

Lucky for us, she’s not only a cyclist and a wonderful friend – she’s also a film maker! And recently she decided to make a mini documentary with us about bicycle touring with a baby.

We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it with her.

Baby On Board: Lessons From Our First Family Bike Tour

Posted May 22nd, 2012

Camping and bike touring with a 3 month old baby: a crazy plan? Perhaps. At least that’s what some of our friends thought. 

Crazy or not, the fact is that we were itching to go touring. We’d had a sedentary autumn and winter waiting for Luke to arrive and our last night in the tent was nearly 6 months ago.

It was the middle of May before the right factors came together: a baby that was (mostly) sleeping through the night, warmer evening temperatures and a good weather forecast. We packed up the bikes and set off. It had been ages, but the wait was worth it.

The roads were quiet, smooth and lined with spring flowers. This was bike touring in the Netherlands at its best.

Heading out on the quiet roads with Luke's trailerSpring touring in the Netherlands: glorious!

We cycled about 100km over two days (see the GPS track). It was fantastic, and we learned a few things about family bike touring along the way. Here are our main learning points for the next tour. Maybe they’ll help other families also planning to take a young child on tour.

1. Research The Route Carefully. The route we planned wasn’t as well laid out as it could have been. In a few places the bike paths were unpaved or very narrow. We didn’t want to jostle Luke around too much so we went slowly and occasionally walked the bike.

A very narrow path!We could have made some changes to our route to avoid ending up on small, bumpy paths.

We also ended up on a few roads which were a touch too busy for our liking. As single tourers, these roads wouldn’t have bothered us at all but as new parents we (unsurprisingly) felt very protective of our new little boy and more sensitive to traffic. For future tours, we’ll be researching the roads better to avoid these kinds of situations.

2. Divide and Conquer. A baby needs a lot of attention and it quickly became clear that the only way to get anything done around the campsite was to have one person take care of the baby while the others set up camp, did the cooking and took over any other tasks that needed doing. Happily, we had our good friend Alicia along for the ride and she was happy to take turns entertaining. That was a huge help!

Entertaining Luke
Entertaining Luke: someone was always on duty.

3. Go Slowly. With a baby in tow, it’s the baby that sets the pace and that’s unlikely to be anywhere near as quick as your pre-kid touring days. We only cycled 40km on Saturday because Luke was a little fussy. We didn’t want to stress him out so we stopped for plenty of play breaks and breastfeeding on demand.

On Sunday, we rode 60km and that was plenty. Andrew really noticed how much the extra drag of the trailer was wearing him out. For our 3 week bike tour later this summer, we’re planning on an average of 40km a day. That’s half the distance we were used to doing without a baby.

Chilling Out
Luke, just chilling out on his sleeping mat.

4. Expect The Unexpected. We didn’t have too many unexpected occurrences during our trip but one thing caught us off-guard: Luke’s bedtime. He normally drops right off to sleep at 8pm at home. When we put him in a tent at 8pm, however, it was still very bright out and all that sunshine meant he didn’t want to go to sleep at all. It took twice as long to get him to sleep as normal and that was initially a bit stressful.

Thankfully, once he dropped off he slept like a log. The next morning, we woke up to find that Luke had already been awake for some time but had been kept quietly amused by the patterns of light and shadows on the tent walls.

Luke going to bedPutting Luke to bed took longer than expected.

Overall, we had a wonderful time and we can’t wait to do more bike touring trips with Luke. Here are some more of our favourite pictures from the weekend…

Alicia making supper
Alicia making supper.

Asparagus!
Asparagus! We bought it from a roadside farm stand.

Friedel & her cheese
Cheese that we bought from a small cheesefarm along the route.

Andrew with the Chariot
Andrew towing Luke’s Chariot trailer. Luxury travel for a baby!

Deciding On Baby’s First Bike Ride

Posted April 16th, 2012

Luke in the ChariotAny bicycle-loving parent will be familiar with the debate that is currently happening in our home: when can we take baby Luke on his first bike ride in a trailer?

If you’re from a country where cycling isn’t a mainstream form of transport, the idea of putting an infant in a bicycle trailer may be shocking. Internet searches reveal plenty of people concerned about harm to the baby from vibrations and the risk of accidents but little in the way of actual data to back up these fears.

One American website suggests two ways of checking to see if your child is ready to ride in a trailer. It starts off sensibly enough:

We would recommend that you do two things before using a trailer: ask your pediatrician if the child is ready.

Put a check mark beside point one. We’ve done that. But then, they recommend this….

If you can find one that accommodates your weight and size, ride in a trailer yourself for at least 10 miles, at the speed you expect to travel. At least put a jar of milk in a trailer and ride as you will with the baby, checking the foam level when you stop.

Click to read the full post on babies and cycling…