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Old 08-05-10, 03:17 PM   #1
NE Tiger
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How Far Can Kids Ride?

I know that's an awfully generic question, and it depends on the kid. I'd still like to hear opinions.

We're going on a bike ride Saturday afternoon and taking along my two nephews. It's a rail trail, four miles each way, relatively flat. I'm not worried about the 12 year old he's old enough and a little piece of steel anyway, but the 7 year old hasn't ridden this far, and is still riding a BMX style bike with no gears.

I originally intended to take just the older kid, but their mother feels like the younger kid can do it too, wouldn't want to be excluded, etc. But she's not exactly an expert cyclist and I don't know how she can gauge what the kid can do. Plus these kids rarely get off their own street on bikes.

Am I asking for trouble agreeing to this? Will we be miles from our car with a little kid flipping out? Or is what is to me a short distance on a bike probably short enough for them too? Thanks.
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Old 08-05-10, 03:26 PM   #2
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Back in 2007, one of my nephews age 10 rode with me and a cousin on a 50 mile round trip to the beach. He didn't have any trouble.
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Old 08-05-10, 03:41 PM   #3
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Knew a 9 year old who rode from Oregon to Virginia without any trouble, but there's obviously a lot of individual variation. I expect you'll be able to tell in the first mile or so if the distance is going to be a problem with the 7 year old. Of equal concern is how amenable the 12 year old will be to waiting for his brother. If he's ok with either going slow or going off ahead to the next designated spot and doubling back then I expect things will work out fine.
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Old 08-05-10, 05:42 PM   #4
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The 3 year old rode 2 & 1/2 miles on his first day without training wheels. The 6 year old loses interest at about 7 miles.
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Old 08-05-10, 05:45 PM   #5
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My 6 year old has 10 flat miles on a single speed many times. The key is to take your time, stop often for water and snacks, and go somewhere fun.
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Old 08-05-10, 06:25 PM   #6
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My 6 year old has 10 flat miles on a single speed many times. The key is to take your time, stop often for water and snacks, and go somewhere fun.
That would be my take on it. We routinely did 12-20 mile family rides where we let the youngest rider (typically in the 6-8 year old range) set the pace. IIRC there was one youngster that only rode a single speed BMX, most of the others had multi speed bikes. My DD was riding a 5 speed BMX style bike at the time and had no problems, she was one of the 8 year olds.

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Old 08-05-10, 06:46 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mijome07 View Post
Back in 2007, one of my nephews age 10 rode with me and a cousin on a 50 mile round trip to the beach. He didn't have any trouble.
Give him this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Hey-Ride-Bike-.../dp/0962570761
and see where he stops.
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Old 08-05-10, 07:37 PM   #8
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My 7-y-o nephew has done 2 20+ rides this year; one on a 20" bike, the other on his new 24" (measured by wheel, BBS bikes w/ upgrades). Handled them just fine, was a bit slow, that's all.
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Old 08-05-10, 07:38 PM   #9
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My 5 year old rode 11 miles yesterday on his BMX on the local rail trail. YMMV
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Old 08-05-10, 07:56 PM   #10
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My 9 year old has been going on 8 to 16 mile rides with us all summer.

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Old 08-05-10, 08:17 PM   #11
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Give him this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Hey-Ride-Bike-.../dp/0962570761
and see where he stops.
Not a bad idea. Now at 13 he's into mountain biking. In fact, he rides his Dads' 1990-something GT MTB. My brother passed back in 2002, so I'm helping raise my nephew. I take my other 5 nephews for bike rides too.
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Old 08-05-10, 08:52 PM   #12
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My 6yo daughter did a 9mi ride on her little bike a week ago. My 8yo son did 34 mi when he was 6 on a box store BMX bike. Granted, it was a flat ride. This Saturday, I'm taking the 8yo on a 34 mi ride. There's a hill in the middle with about 600 ft of gain. It'll be a good time, especially with breakfast in the middle.

Make sure to bring snacks for the kids at the half way point. They run out pretty quickly and need to refuel.
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Old 08-06-10, 12:05 AM   #13
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Well, there is ice cream involved at the halfway point.

Thanks for the replies, I'm not worried now.
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Old 08-06-10, 12:08 AM   #14
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Well, there is ice cream involved at the halfway point.

Thanks for the replies, I'm not worried now.
With kids, it helps to have a destination. On our longer rides, I usually plan to stop, sometimes for ice cream, sometimes for sandwiches, and last weekend, breakfast.
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Old 08-06-10, 02:11 AM   #15
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With kids, it helps to have a destination. On our longer rides, I usually plan to stop, sometimes for ice cream, sometimes for sandwiches, and last weekend, breakfast.
It isn't just the kids that want a destination...throw in a brew pub and I will ride every time.

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Old 08-06-10, 06:16 AM   #16
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You'll need to be prepared to bail out and end the ride early. I don't mean to be a wet blanket, but that's how I see it. Seven-year-old kid. No track record. BMX bike. He might or might not make the distance. You just don't know, so you have to at least be prepared to turn back should he get tired and cranky.

Watch him closely, because if you do turn back, you'll want to do so before he reaches the point of throwing his bike down and quitting on you. Trust me. That can happen.

He'll certainly have trouble keeping up with the 12-year-old, so you could have trouble if the older kid wants to go fast and the younger kid gets frustrated over his inability to keep up the pace. You could end up with neither kid happy.

IMHO, I would take the kids on separate rides at first. My experience with really young kids is that a mile or two is a HUGE ride in their eyes. Take the younger kid on a separate ride. One or two trips with him and you'll get a feel for what he's capable of, and what he's interested in doing.
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Old 08-06-10, 06:39 AM   #17
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Give him this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Hey-Ride-Bike-.../dp/0962570761
and see where he stops.
Cool! Just ordered a copy. I'm reminded of the book about the two kids who took off from northern Minnesota by canoe to Hudson Bay, Canada the summer after their high-school graduation. What a great adventure that was.
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Old 08-06-10, 07:05 AM   #18
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I know that's an awfully generic question, and it depends on the kid. I'd still like to hear opinions.
Just me, but as a kid (7-9) I used to ride solo trips that were 10-14 miles round trip.
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Old 08-06-10, 04:53 PM   #19
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Just me, but as a kid (7-9) I used to ride solo trips that were 10-14 miles round trip.
Funny that you made me think about that...

I went and checked on Gmaps Pedometer on some of the routes I used to ride at that age. Most were within a 5-6 mile range of home but I would go back and forth multiple times. I ran a typically day and most were in the 20 mile range. I did one that was 12 miles one way out to a friend's house more than once, he usually would meet us somewhere in between. Amazing how far we rode on those old single speed cruisers and didn't realize it.

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Old 08-06-10, 07:50 PM   #20
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My youngest started MTB racing when he was 6 - not the kids races, the regular 10K in the WV MTB race circuit... so yeah, if the kid is generally in good shape, a rail trail should be no problem. BUT - take snacks & some G2 just in case... circus peanuts go over well with that age, and they have the same stuff that Goo has in it.
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Old 08-06-10, 07:53 PM   #21
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Since my girls were 7 and 9 (they are now 10 and 12) they have been able to ride 20-25 miles at a good pace and they just get stronger and stronger... my youngest wants to ride across Canada with me in 5 years when she is 15.
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Old 08-06-10, 09:53 PM   #22
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My 6 year old has 10 flat miles on a single speed many times. The key is to take your time, stop often for water and snacks, and go somewhere fun.
Sounds about right... make sure the 7-year old has his seat high enough. The BMX bikes tend to have them low and it can tire the youngster out.
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Old 08-07-10, 06:27 AM   #23
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@OP: Today's the day, right? Be sure to post back and tell us how the ride went.
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Old 08-07-10, 08:16 AM   #24
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Today is the day, and I was heading outside to load up bikes when I got a text from their mom. The 12 year old had a temper tantrum, didn't do any of his chores and can't go.

Well, now little Joey can ride at his own pace without worrying about big brother. Post ride update to come.
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Old 08-07-10, 09:10 AM   #25
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Well, there is ice cream involved at the halfway point.

Thanks for the replies, I'm not worried now.
On a Tuesday my 7 year old grandson got off training wheels. That Thursday we rode a moderately hilly 13 miles - he on a single speed kids bike. Oh yes, it was to and from an ice cream shop.
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