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Anyone tour with a kid(s)?

Old 03-11-11, 07:57 AM
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Anyone tour with a kid(s)?

I'm thinking of doing a supported tour with my grandson this summer. About 225 miles in 5 days. I've done this several times.
He's 8 years old. Last summer I got him off training wheels. A day or so later we did 13 hilly miles and he wanted to keep going. He's a tough little guy. Not afraid to get wet or muddy. Likes being outdoors. Likes to camp. Likes to root around in the mud and dirt.
Another question. If he goes, he'll need a different bike. Right now he has a Walmart kids bike. I would get him something better, but I don't want to spend too much. I was thinking that since he is small and light, he wouldn't be putting too much stress on a bike. Maybe I could find him a better department store bike which I could tune up for the ride. I could check the bearings and brakes, etc. I can even true the wheels. Can't see him breaking spokes or anything like that.
Anyone have experience along these lines? Any suggestions for a bike? Even if he doesn't go on the trip I may get him a better bike anyway.
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Old 03-11-11, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by sknhgy
I'm thinking of doing a supported tour with my grandson this summer. About 225 miles in 5 days. I've done this several times.
He's 8 years old. Last summer I got him off training wheels. A day or so later we did 13 hilly miles and he wanted to keep going. He's a tough little guy. Not afraid to get wet or muddy. Likes being outdoors. Likes to camp. Likes to root around in the mud and dirt.
Another question. If he goes, he'll need a different bike. Right now he has a Walmart kids bike. I would get him something better, but I don't want to spend too much. I was thinking that since he is small and light, he wouldn't be putting too much stress on a bike. Maybe I could find him a better department store bike which I could tune up for the ride. I could check the bearings and brakes, etc. I can even true the wheels. Can't see him breaking spokes or anything like that.
Anyone have experience along these lines? Any suggestions for a bike? Even if he doesn't go on the trip I may get him a better bike anyway.

Most of it depends on your grandson, not the bike. How much experience does he have riding? There's one heck of a lot of difference between 13 miles and 50+ miles per day.

My longest tour with my nine-year-old son was last summer, about 170 miles in 4 days. In his case, we'd been doing 40-50 miles per day all summer, so he was more than able to handle it. When he was younger, I found that he was good for 3 days of riding those distances, but really dragged after that unless we had a rest day.

Anyhow, I wouldn't even consider trying it unless you've verified that he's able to do several days straight of at least 40 miles per day.

As for bikes - we got Specialized Hotrock 24's for both my kids - the 7 speed versions, not the 24 speeds. We're extremely pleased with them, as they're nearly indestructable, which has come in handy for the spills that are inevitable. You can put a small rack and trunk bag on them, just right for a couple changes of clothes/etc for a tour.

Here's a blog from our tour last year: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/mulveyerie2
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Old 03-11-11, 04:18 PM
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At age 5, my oldest son rode 20 kms with me on an old railgrade. At the end, he wanted more. At age 8, my younger son lost interest somewhere between 15 and 20 kms. He'd rather get off his bike and play.

So, it all depends on the personality and fitness level of the child.

When they were 8 and 10, I rented a kiddie trailer and loaded it for an unsupported 4 day family tour. My wife and boys didn't carry anything. Me dragging close to 100 lbs in the trailer slowed me down to a speed that we all could ride happily together.
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Old 03-11-11, 09:16 PM
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I haven't toured with a child, but Joe Kurmaskie has written a couple great books about touring with his kids and family. Momentum is Your Friend is about his self-supported trip across the U.S. with his two young sons. He's a great writer, and I highly recommend it. Blood, Sweat, and Gears is about his trip across Canada with his wife and three kids.
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Old 03-12-11, 06:40 AM
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Paging nancy_sv.....

Oh wait, their on some island off of patagonia right now, probably no internet. Here's her blog:

https://www.familyonbikes.org
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Old 03-12-11, 03:57 PM
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Over the years I have encountered several families with children younger than your grandson touring along, often unsupported. Since yours will be a supported tour, you have a built in daily bail-out available. Get some fun training rides in and go make some memories.
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Old 03-12-11, 05:02 PM
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YMMV but the thing I've found with most of the kids bikes I've been looking at as a replacement for my 12yo son's bike is that they're ridiculously heavy. The 24" wheel MTB that my ex-wife bought him weighs more than my 22.5" frame front suspension MTB w/ front and rear racks, fenders, lights, batteries, etc. My bike is around 35lbs before I put bags on it, his is at least 40. the '85 Ross 10-speed is lighter.

We're also planning a tour, though I think we're going to try to take 10 days to ride 320ish miles unsupported, and I'm starting to think that a 20" wheel folding bike might be the right choice. Maybe a Brompton or a Bike Friday - seems like they can be expanded a lot or a little and can therefore grow with him a bit. Even if it costs a bit more up front, it'll be lighter and easier for him to handle and the components on a nicer bike seem worth it to me. Still thinking about it though, so I look forward to seeing what you come up with.
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Old 03-12-11, 06:23 PM
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Still don't know what bike I'll get for him, and, I still haven't decided if I'm going to take him along on the ride. We've floated the idea past him and he sounded enthusiastic. I am going to see if that enthusiasm remains.
Physically, I have few doubts that he can do it. I think his level of determination will be far more important. But isn't that true of everything?
If we go I know there will be some risk involved, but I think the payoff can be great. That's what's making me consider it.
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Old 03-12-11, 07:03 PM
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You may want to try some overnighters with him before doing the longer trip. Find out if he really likes it before it's too late.
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Old 03-13-11, 02:54 PM
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My family and I are planning a 5 day credit-card route this summer, where we average just over 30 miles a day. Ages of kids are 17 to 11. I'm a little concerned that this may be a little much for some of the group, so I've got some fun training days in mind during the month preceding our trip.

We're lucky to live near the intersection of some good MUPS that lead in different directions, so we can keep training rides interesting, visiting different towns around us. I'm thinking that every weekend we'll pick one of these neighboring towns (about 8-12 miles away) and head to fun places to eat. Ice cream parlors, restaurants, fairs, etc. That should provide some good reinforcement prior to our trip.
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Old 03-13-11, 06:11 PM
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I took a trip of similar length last summer on a tandem with my 10 year old son and 5 year old daughter - my son as stoker, and my daughter on a child's seat above the back wheel. Journal here: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=7203&v=2j

If you're thinking of buying your grandson a new bike, why not consider a tandem for the two of you? They can often be picked up off Craigslist or elsewhere relatively cheaply. My son's a decent rider, but I would go nuts riding that far if I had to stick to his pace, and it's likely you'll be safer with the two of you on one bike vs. two.
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Old 03-14-11, 05:02 AM
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I use a Burley Piccolo. My son just turned 8. It lets them rest when they want to and you don't have to worry about where they are on the road.

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Old 03-14-11, 07:51 AM
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Great write-ups, Rich! Thanks for posting the blogs on CGoaB. My son is six and I'm looking forward to starting to do some overnight tours with him and my wife. He hasn't mastered riding his own bike long distances yet, but can easily do 30 miles on the back of our tandem.

Originally Posted by mulveyr
My longest tour with my nine-year-old son was last summer, about 170 miles in 4 days. In his case, we'd been doing 40-50 miles per day all summer, so he was more than able to handle it. When he was younger, I found that he was good for 3 days of riding those distances, but really dragged after that unless we had a rest day.

Here's a blog from our tour last year: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/mulveyerie2
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Old 03-14-11, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by briwasson
Great write-ups, Rich! Thanks for posting the blogs on CGoaB. My son is six and I'm looking forward to starting to do some overnight tours with him and my wife. He hasn't mastered riding his own bike long distances yet, but can easily do 30 miles on the back of our tandem.

Thanks! I did discover some things that made a huge difference in my son's enjoyment; First, it was important that he participate in the decision-making. When we got to a tricky intersection, I'd make sure that we both agreed which way to go. As it turned out, he caught some errors that I would have made, so it was a good idea all around.

Second - and this might be very dependent on the child - Ben is the type of kid who would ask every half mile "How far have we gone now?" Not because he was bored, but out of simple curiosity, and a desire to beat the number of miles we did the previous day. A cheap bike computer was a great investment for him. Though I did have to scold him a few times when he spent more time looking at the computer instead of the road. Combined with small-scale goals ( "Let's get to Rome by 3:00PM", for example ), it kept his interest high. And I'd always have a large-scale goal at the end as well, like a promise to get ice cream after we got to the hotel.

Third, he's the type of kid who will NOT admit when he's about to bonk. I had to be very careful about keeping an eye on him and and making sure he was eating and drinking enough. Essentially, we had a picnic on wheels. ;-) Just looking for signs that he was petering out, like not talking as much, etc. helped a lot to make sure we both ended up happy at the end of the day.

Finally, just have fun. Don't begrudge lots of stops to look at snakes, flowers, etc. You might end up being on the bikes for six hours instead of three, but it makes a huge difference in how much enjoyment everyone gets from the trip.
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Old 03-14-11, 11:05 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. I am going to look into the Burley Piccolo. I still haven't decided yet. If we don't go on the long tour we will definitely do some camping and riding on a rail trail.

Edit. Dang. The Piccolo is cashy.
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Old 03-14-11, 12:31 PM
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Don't let the Piccolo's price scare you off. It's worth every dollar compared to the cheaper varieties of tag-alongs. Quite simply, there is nothing on the market that compares with the handling of a Piccolo behind you. The challenge is that it seems Burley is not making them any more (I thought they had started up again, but I don't see it on their website). Keep an eye on Craigslist and Ebay for good used ones.

They also hold their value really well, and you'll probably end up selling it years down the road for around the same price you bought it for.

A nice aspect of the Piccolo for touring is that you can put panniers both on the rack on your bike (Burley uses a proprietary rear rack that the Piccolo clamps to) and you can also put a regular rear rack on the Piccolo and put panniers/sleeping bags/etc. on that. I use a Blackburn Expedition rack that has the single middle strut that attaches to the brake bridge on the Piccolo. Works great.
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Old 03-15-11, 11:31 PM
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He will be able to do it if he wants to - it's really as simple as that.

We've been touring extensively with our kids since they were 8 - did a few short tours when they were seven. The boys have been great! they love it.

We have found we like to keep daily mileage under 50 miles. We can do more, but then the cycling hours are long and don't have as much time to play. We frequently do 20 mile days and are perfectly fine with that. Tehre is no rush.

Good luck! I do hope you take him - it'll be fabulous for everybody!
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Old 03-16-11, 04:25 AM
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sknhgy, are you doing the Katy ride?


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Old 03-16-11, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by sknhgy
Thanks for the suggestions. I am going to look into the Burley Piccolo. I still haven't decided yet. If we don't go on the long tour we will definitely do some camping and riding on a rail trail.

Edit. Dang. The Piccolo is cashy.
Crazyguyonabike has couple of threads of the Bristol family on tours.

Bristol Family on the GAP and C&O

There are links to their Vimeo videos at the end of their crazyguy report. I think the key to their success was preparation, relatively short ride distances per day, and time to stop and play.
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Old 03-16-11, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by KenSmith
sknhgy, are you doing the Katy ride?


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Yes. At least I'm considering it at this point.
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Old 03-21-11, 07:57 PM
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I'm planning to do the Katy with my family this summer as well. We haven't set the date but wify knows I'll be really cranky if we don't do it this summer. We still have to see if our 7 year old son will be riding his own 7-speed bike or ride on the trail-along. Depending on that our 4 year old daughter might upgrade from the trailer to the trail-along. Of course the distance we'll ride will be quite a bit different depending if our son will ride on his own.

BTW, I much rather pull the trailer than the adams trail-along bike since it's so floppy. That's probably where the Burley Piccolo recommendation comes from. But I'm sure a tandem would be the nicest for touring with kids.

Maybe we'll see you out on the trail.
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Old 04-11-11, 08:24 PM
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We will be going. Thanks everyone for the help. Wish us luck.

Last edited by sknhgy; 04-12-11 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 04-13-11, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by sknhgy
I'm thinking of doing a supported tour with my grandson this summer. About 225 miles in 5 days. Any suggestions for a bike?
The Piccolo is an excellent suggestion. And you will be able to sell it in a year or two for nearly what you paid for it. Your avatar says you are in Illinois. There is a Piccolo listed on the Chicago Craigslist:
https://chicago.craigslist.org/nwc/bik/2321664421.html

If you still want to get him a bike and want to go cheap, I'd recommend finding a used high quality bike versus a new dept. store bike. You'll get lighter weight, better performing components, higher quality all around.
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Old 04-13-11, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by EriktheFish
The Piccolo is an excellent suggestion. And you will be able to sell it in a year or two for nearly what you paid for it. Your avatar says you are in Illinois. There is a Piccolo listed on the Chicago Craigslist:
https://chicago.craigslist.org/nwc/bik/2321664421.html

If you still want to get him a bike and want to go cheap, I'd recommend finding a used high quality bike versus a new dept. store bike. You'll get lighter weight, better performing components, higher quality all around.
The Piccolo is nice but I've been looking at a Specialized Hotrock or a similar bike that Trek makes. I think it's an MT 220 or something like that. He's outgrown his starter bike and needs an upgrade. I'm still open to bike suggestions.
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Old 04-13-11, 10:24 AM
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If you're not gonna do a Piccolo or a tandem, then I suggest going with the attitude that you may or may not make 225 miles in 5 days. (My son rode across the U.S. at 11 with us, so I'm speaking from experience.) Maybe he'll ride hard all 5 days and all will be fine, or maybe he'll do 3 strong days and then not be into doing the mileage you want on day 4. The last thing one wants to do is turn a kid off from touring by "pushing".

I bought my son his first "big" Mtn bike (26") wheels at 8. If you can find a good 26incher like the Trek 820 that fits, then it will last him a number of years. Otherwise the Trek 220 is a good 24incher.

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