France loves cyclists, and taking your bikes on holiday is a great way of seeing some more of the destination you are visiting.
We asked Claire Crawley, of Cycling for Softies, to give us her expert tips on how families with young children should go about planning a bike trip to France.1. If your child can sit up she can come
My youngest daughter was just nine months old when we took her to Provence in August. She would sit on the back, a sunhat squashed under her helmet, and literally squeal with delight as we whizzed along.
2. Get the right equipment for your children
Use child seats until your offspring are too big – or simply refuse – to get in them.
Then try trailgators when your kids are moving on to their own bike. A trailgator is a detachable tube that links our bikes to theirs so you can give them a pull when they get tired.
Make sure you check your kids haven’t had a growth spurt before you go so that the bike waiting for them is the right size.
3. Plan routes with a purpose
An aimless wander can morph into a hellish long cycle ride, so plan routes so there is a sense of achievement when you make it to your chosen chateau, market or picnic spot.
4. Cycle morning – pool afternoon
It’s a holiday, not Le Tour. Start by 10 and try to have at least two thirds of your route under your belt by lunchtime. Find a nice shady spot to eat and the last few miles home won’t be any hardship.
5. Don’t go too far
If your children are over eight and confident cyclists they will easily manage 10 km and probably handle at least one 25 km trip. Honestly, you’ll be amazed.6. Bring dinnertime entertainment
If you’re eating out a few quiz or colouring books, card games or a pocket sized toy saves you having to cringe at their table manners.
7. Pack cagouls
Cycling in the rain is actually not bad as long as it’s relatively warm and you’re properly protected. One year we didn’t bring the waterproofs. Big mistake.
8. Always carry some food and drink with you
A bit of fruit and a hunk of bread from breakfast will put you on if you turn up to the boulangerie five minutes after closing.
9. Enjoy being restricted by two wheels
On holiday as in life, we try to do too much. Limiting your activities to what can be reached by bike is wonderfully liberating. Leave the car at home and you’ll find the journey becomes as much fun as the destination.
Have a wonderful holiday!
For lots more hints and tips, find out more about Cycling For Softies.