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  1. #1
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    Suggestions on touring with a 5 year old?

    Well I have been thinking about it for a while and I think my oldest son will be up for it by next year (when he will be 5)

    He has a trail-a-bike that he would be riding, which believe it or not has rack mounts so I will be loading his bike as well as mine (just ordered my LHT, although they are on back-order and I won't get it until October )

    I want to do a couple during the summer, for the first I think we will likely do a pretty tame tour, likely Niagara Falls from Toronto, camp a night and then back to Toronto, about 130km each way (+/-80 miles). After that it would probably be to the Bruce Peninsula National Park which is about 300km from Toronto.

    Anyone here do a tour like this with their kids? Tips? I have done Toronto->Montreal years ago and have done Niagara Falls at least a dozen times. I know that my camping has gone from parking and hiking 10k to parking the car and setting up a giant crappy tire tent so cycling is going to be different too.

    Thanks in advance.
    d

  2. #2
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    What size is the motor on his bike?

  3. #3
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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    80 miles with a 5 year old? Hope you have plenty of valium. Keep in mind his attention span and his physical condition. 80 miles is a lot for some adults with loaded bikes. Perhaps you should make it a shorter trip.
    I had issues with my 12 year olds doing 20 miles unloaded on a rail trail. 1 nights sleep with a 5 year old? hel'll want TV, toys, I'm bored, I'm tired, are we there yet?, i gotta "go", I wanna go home.

    Wait a little while longer for a 80 mile trip

  4. #4
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by somebikerider View Post
    Well I have been thinking about it for a while and I think my oldest son will be up for it by next year (when he will be 5)

    He has a trail-a-bike that he would be riding, which believe it or not has rack mounts so I will be loading his bike as well as mine (just ordered my LHT, although they are on back-order and I won't get it until October )

    I want to do a couple during the summer, for the first I think we will likely do a pretty tame tour, likely Niagara Falls from Toronto, camp a night and then back to Toronto, about 130km each way (+/-80 miles). After that it would probably be to the Bruce Peninsula National Park which is about 300km from Toronto.

    Anyone here do a tour like this with their kids? Tips? I have done Toronto->Montreal years ago and have done Niagara Falls at least a dozen times. I know that my camping has gone from parking and hiking 10k to parking the car and setting up a giant crappy tire tent so cycling is going to be different too.

    Thanks in advance.
    d
    80 miles may be too much for a single day for a 5 year old. I've done the MS150 with a 6 year old but we didn't have to carry our own gear. 40 miles per day would be better and plan some fun stops along the way. I'd suggest a rail trail with lots of towns to stop and poke around in.

    One other item is the trail-a-bike. The ones I see on trails around here are listing pretty heavily to either starboard or port. They don't look like they'd handle a load that well and you'd probably not be that comfortable trying to pilot a heavy bike with a load that is listing like that. We did our tours on a tandem which is far more stable than your kind of rig.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  5. #5
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    How far has he gone without problems as of now? Five miles, 10 miles with fun stops, or 20 miles with him in a trailer. Let the child be the test of the trip planned. It can be done but consider driving most of the way then pedaling the last 10-15 miles. My hard-core Sierra Club type dad did not take any of his three kids back-packing until we were at least 9 years old.
    This space open

  6. #6
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    WE did a 10 day sagged tour with our 9 yo son during the first part of August.
    Background-
    My partner had been having our guys stay with a grandparent for our summer bike tour; we all liked the exposure. Last year, not long before we went our teenage son hinted that he might want to go- so after some scurry of activity we got him and us ready and we went. During
    the first couple of days he didn't like it; temp and humidity were both in the lower 90s, but by the end of the trip he said that he "had to admit that he liked it". The teenager said he wasn't so fond of the cycling- but like the trip. Our other son didn't have the best time by him self at the grandparents. So a year ago we talked about all of us going on a tour this summer.
    We bought a tandem bike, spent a lot of time getting the set up and fit just right. Spent a year learning to ride together and riding. Did a couple of long shake down rides and riding in different road conditions, traffic levels and weather (we practiced in the rain- for example). Late last spring we signed all four of us up for a sagged tour. Our younger son too had been riding an Adam's trail a bike since he was 4 ish. He learned to ride his own bike solo and we would often ride together, for an adolescent he is a pretty competent cyclist. We got information about what to watch out for from his pedi (who is a cyclist). We kept careful track of his nutrition, hydration, tiredness, any ache or pain, temperature control. There is not a lot of literature, for example, on how an adolescent handles long duration strenuous exercise or how to set up a bike for a young rider. We thought of everything we could about how to make this trip pleasant for our son and ourselves.
    So, off we went. Well- the first two days it rained and it was cooler than desired- everything got pretty soggy. We rode 80-100 km per day. Our goal was to make this an adventure of discovery for a young mind that soaks up everything. Then our route was more hilly than anticipated. Our bike's weight with riders and stuff was in the 350 pound area, we carried over a gallon of water and other fluids each day. Then after the rain and terrain was a poorer than anticipated - the road; especially had almost no shoulders and big trucks racing by. These really rattled our experienced 9 yo. Next it got very hot and humid.
    We kept going and laughing at everything that came up- well with the road and terrain and weather came mechanical issues; we frequently broke spokes (despite having our bike broken in and well checked out well before our tour).
    We did out best to make everything an adventure. An adolescent can only take so much adventure.
    My point in this rambling post is that we all struggled with a 9 year old;
    IMHO it would not be fair to anyone in the party to do this with a 5 year old, especially the 5 yo.
    Wait until he/she is 10 or so.
    Last edited by martianone; 08-23-08 at 07:43 PM.

  7. #7
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    He'll have some good stories for his first day of kindergarten,if he survives it.80 miles to a 5 year old has to seem like he's riding to the ends of the earth,are we there yet?
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  8. #8
    Look! My Spine! RubenX's Avatar
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    Get him a nice saddle, an mp3 player, carry plenty of candy and have a cellphone ready to call mommy for an e-vac.

  9. #9
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    So much depends upon the kid. I've had experience with touring with childern and here are a few of those experiences. Two couples taking 3 kids ages 10, 6, and 2 riding a single bike with no extra gear, a Burley Picolo, a Burley trailer respectively. We rode along the Great Allegany Passage south of Pittsburgh, PA. The gear was distributed between the adults. Twenty miles a day was doable and enjoyable. The 10 year old on the single bike was the more difficult child to keep moving. We found that holding out M&M's about 10 yards in front of him (one at a time) was a good incentitive encouraging him along. We were not on roads rather a bike trail. I'd do it again, but not plan on riding long distances. Since that ride when my son turned 12 he and I biked from Buffalo to Albany along the Erie Canal. A great experience where he carried some of his own gear. Again most of that ride was along a trail and not much on the road. Distances increased where we averaged forty some on miles a day with our high just shy of 60. I think our next trip will be from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh, PA.

    Regarding the comment on the leaning trail-a-bike... I am not sure if Burly still makes the Picolo, but it is rock solid. I can highly recommend it.
    Wells Horton
    Sherburne, NY

  10. #10
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    Thanks so much for the input.

    A little more background, and re. listing.

    If a trail-a-bike is listing it is either A. not a trail-a-bike but a cheap knock-off OR is installed wrong, his trail-a-bike doesn't list.

    This summer we have done 50km (about 35 miles) round trip in a day with one major stop and a couple of minor stops for snacks/water/look at something cool a bunch of times, I figure at least 7-8 trips like this. He is pooped by the end of it but that is partly because he spends a couple of hours running and playing on playground equipment in between. You also have to remember that he doesn't have to peddle if he doesn't want to, the only time I ever ask him to peddle is when he we are going uphill and I will tell him to peddle with me. Other than that he peddles as he likes and on most flats his gearing is too low to keep up with the speeds. He really does have a heck of a lot of energy, some days we go up to the local high school and he will run the track for kicks, he will do 4-5 laps stopping only to get a congratulatory hug each lap and that is 400m per lap, meaning he RUNS 1.6-2km on tiny legs without any problems.

    I was thinking about the tv/bed thing and what most of you are saying is enforcing it, likely we will stay at a hotel with a pool for the night.

    I think I will probably give the 80 mile one a shot next year, it is pretty well populated the whole way so if I want to cut it short and get a hotel/motel along the way I can.

    I will let you all know how it goes. Who knows, I will have to check record books but maybe by 6 I can get him to be the youngest person to bike across Canada coast to coast

  11. #11
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by somebikerider View Post
    Thanks so much for the input.

    A little more background, and re. listing.

    If a trail-a-bike is listing it is either A. not a trail-a-bike but a cheap knock-off OR is installed wrong, his trail-a-bike doesn't list.
    That's good to know. I would still suggest that you look into tandems if you want to do something as ambitious as across Canada. If nothing else, it makes your job of piloting the rig easier

    I would also suggest that you make use of the LHT's cargo carrying capability rather than the trial-a-bikes. Carrying cargo in a low mount trailer is challenging. The tail tends to wag the dog. On a high mount trailer, the trailer can actually lift the rear of the bike in some situations (I toured with both kinds) and still wag the dog. I'd test it around the neighborhood with panniers weighted with rice (my favorite training ballast) before heading out on the open road.

    Just to be clear, I don't think you should wait until the child is 8, 10, 47 or some other random age to try this. I had some wonderful adventures with my kids when they were from 6 months old to their current age (22 and 18). Just know that there are limitations and don't get into the Daddy hammerfest mentality. Make the experience enjoyable for both of you.

    Good luck.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  12. #12
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    The first to ur I did with my oldest daughter when she had just turned 5. We had done quite a few day rides (50-100 km) together the year before and earlier that year, so I knew she could do that. Still I did my best to make it as enjoyable as possible.

    – We went to visit my mother in Trois-Rivières, meaning we travelled about 150 km on flat, not-to-busy roads (Montréal to Trois-Rivières). We took two days each way, meaning 70-85 km/day on a loaded bike.

    – We carried camping gear, and I think the camping experience was the highlight of the trip.

    - I chose the travel days carefully so we could get mostly good weather.

    - We stopped a couple of times at playgrounds and a few times for ice cream.

    As for carrying the gear, I went with six panniers. My daughter was really interested in the rearmost panniers ("I'm carrying gear too!"), but it's important for stability to keep them as lightweight as possible. I ended up carrying her clothes on one side and her teddy bear + play toys on the other side, so I probably had only 10 lb of gear there, whereas I had some 50 lb in both the front and rear panniers.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  13. #13
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    Suggestions on touring with a 5 year old?

    We did ~100 mls with our daughter last year in Quebec when she was 6, over a few days. Her on a Gary Fisher tag-along attached to my LHT or my wife's road bike. You will need to take it as it goes. She'd want to stop for anything from a veg stand, to a playground, or a hiking trail. One day, she didn't want to go on the bike at all. So we walked and hiked.

    In general, the faster I'd go, the harder she'd pedal. But I wouldn't have expected to do any more than 25 miles in any given day. Before that, we had done plenty of ~20 mls round trips to the next town, and even a 25mls Sunday ride with a local club. So don't expect to take off like this without trying first.

    Oh, and one thing: get your kid some padded bike shorts and even a suspension seat post. I even lowered the pressure on the trail-bike a little.

    Good luck, it's all fun!

  14. #14
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    Why not try a supported tour? Examples include the Bon Ton Roulet, Bike Virginia, and GOBA. There are usually families and youngsters on them.

  15. #15
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    Go for it!! Your child will have a blast. We took off with our 8-year-old twins and spent a year on the road cycling 9300 miles. they loved it.

    Check out crazy guy for Nunes journal - they rode a triple from Florida to Seattle with their (barely) 6-year-old daughter. Elizabeth did great and she had a blast. They put in some long days too.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  16. #16
    Senior Member kbabin's Avatar
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    I know you already ordered an LHT, but thought you might be interested in this bike

    http://www.bilenky.com/viewpnt.html

    Kevin

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