We have had some fabulous cycling holidays with our kids which we’d like to share.
1. You can’t beat Brittany! Our first cycling holiday was with Breton Bikes when the kids were 3 and 5. Their main operation is to organise cycle tours (camping or B&B) but we rented a gite in their base of Gouarec, and hired one trailer and one tag-along. The weather was glorious, the roads were oh so quiet, their routes well designed….we must go back!
2. The Loire came next, with Loire Valley Breaks, so 2 tag-alongs this time. Their accommodation is laid out for 3 families in separate apartments, and with communal meals provided on some evenings it was very social. The routes are varied, with the option to mix your cycling with horse riding or kayaking down the Loire which was particularly special.
3. Isle of Wight is a wonderful place to cycle. It is so well set up with cycle routes – lots of disused railway lines have been turned into bike tracks – and loads of B&Bs and hotels offer bike storage. We bit the bullet and went bike only when our kids were 5 and 7. They were on their own bikes and we, parents, had panniers. We had planned our route and booked B&Bs in advance. We travelled Lymington to Yarmouth – the parking in Yarmouth is more secure – and had 5 days cycling from there. There is lots of information about routes on the Wight Link site and accommodation bookings can be done via the Isle of Wight website
4. Saddle Skedaddle have an enormous range of rides including fabulous family friendly ones. We rode in the Dordogne (Dordogne Discoveries) on a self guided, fully supported holiday. We travelled through, and stayed in, some beautiful places and although there were a couple of tough rides in very hot weather, all the hotels had swimming pools which definitely made the difference between a great holiday and a chore for the kids! They were 7 and 9 on this holiday.
All of these holiday types and companies were great and we would recommend. Please do ensure that you are careful to select the holiday that’s right for you and your children.
Having done these holidays our tips for a successful family cycling holiday are:
- Plan rides with a ‘middle’, a great picnic spot with swimming, a good place to visit, a playground. Something that gets the kids off their bikes and gives them something else to do. They will rarely sit down and actually rest but will feel refreshed.
- Ride fairly early so after lunch there is much less riding to do and you arrive back with plenty of playtime left in the afternoon.
- Carry plenty of water and food – this goes without saying on any excursion with kids, but know where you can get more on your route. We got caught out on a very hot day in France and had to knock on someone’s door to ask for a water refill!
- Carry the essentials to keep the bikes working – spare tubes for the different wheel sizes you are all riding plus the tools to take them on and off. As well as a decent first aid kit in case of any falls.
- Don’t be too ambitious about how much ground you can cover – better to go too short than too long is our experience.
- Get your kids out on a few long rides before the holiday to ensure that they are up to it and give them a chance to get used to it
- Make sure everyone has the right clothing. Padded bike shorts can be worth every penny, but have a few rides in them before the holidays to ensure they’re not rubbing anywhere. In our experience the Specialized kids shorts were more comfortable than other brands.
- And most importantly, make sure that their bike is the right size! Long-ish days in the saddle will be no fun for anyone if the bikes aren’t right.