Let the children rule the driver’s seat! We have gathered our best tips for trips for a kid-friendly cycling holiday where children can participate on their own bike. Some bicycle routes and destinations offer bike rides with little or no car traffic suitable for kids, and points of sale along the route with the opportunity to stop when little legs get tired and in need for some “ice cream medication” to continue.
Most children love to ride a bike! If you remember to give everyone a good experience by adjusting the length and speed of the trip to the youngest/slowest child, you can help give your child an interest in outdoor life, nature experiences and an active lifestyle. Keep in mind that creating the cosy little breaks along the way is an important part of the experience, and enough breaks when children ride their own bike is essential – maybe with a tasty reward?
Plan your trip to be suitable for the youngest and weakest cyclists, and preferably choose flat / slightly hilly routes with good gravel and asphalt roads. Short day trips of around 10 – 15 km are nice from the age of 6-7 years old. From 8 to 10 years you can consider day trips from 15-30 km, and now they may be ready for a trip over several days. Motivated and cycling children from 11 to 12 years can ride more than three miles in one day if you remember to take enough breaks and make sure to provide food at the right time.
Children from one to four years old are easy to bring along in their own bicycle hanger. Keep in mind that the hills get more challenging for the one pulling the trailer. It’s a good idea to choose routes without too many hills. A child of 4 to 5 years may think it’s boring to sit for a long time in a bicycle trailer.
Tip: fasten the child’s bike on the bicycle trailer, and let the children ride now and then on their own on easy and car-free parts of the route.
To stay safe, finding roads with little or no car traffic is the most important for a kid friendly cycling trip. Alternatively, roads with separate cycle path next to the main road. There are many nice roads and routes to choose from, such as Stølsvidda in Valdres, Golsfjellet, Nordseter area, and other mountain roads closed by car traffic, dead end roads and forest roads. The roads on some of the islands along the coast also have modest car traffic, and may be suitable at least for a little older children. Some biking guides may also be useful to find more tips and ideas.
Give the children knowledge about and expectations for the trip. Tell them where you plan to cycle, how long it is, and if there are any special challenges (eg a particularly tough hill) along the route. Show on the route on the map and talk about what you can experience and see along the way, where you can go swimming, fishing, etc.
Depending on age, a child can experience a trip from 10 to 30 km as long and monotonous, especially if cycled non-stop. It is then extra important to keep in mind getting enough breaks, preferably with a little snack, and that the children have a reward to look forward to at arrival worth the extra effort. This may be a café, an ice-cream kiosk, a barbecue area, a beach, a nice fishing spot, a playground, a dairy farm in the mountains selling waffles and maybe let you pet the animals, etc.
Day excursions from a base camp give you more benefits. You don´t have to bring all your luggage, you don´t have to move on to the next accommodation, and you can make the day trips as short as you want – or choose to do something else if the weather is bad. In some places you have the advantage of riding uphill hill until you are tired, and then just roll back home. Bicycling eg. out of a campsite over several days, also gives greater opportunity to get to know other children and their families. Often the campsites offer nice playgrounds as well.
A trip will seldom be like you planned it. The more people involved, the more incidents can occur along the way, both with equipment and the individual motivation. Children’s bicycles often have cheap components, so the adults should be able to fix small bikes and make adjustments. Proper equipment like a spare hose for puncture etc. is smart to remember.
It’s almost impossible to calculate the duration of a family trip – you should always bring more food than you think you need! Rain can ruin the day, and rainwear should always be included in your bag. It may also be advisable to have the opportunity to stop when the children have had enough. For example, if you ride the Old Navvie´s road from Haugastøl, you can jump on the train back from Finse or Hallingskeid instead.
The noise gap between Gol in the west and Vangsmjøsi at Fagernes is a big and great area for cycling for children on their own bike. Here there is a pleasant rolling landscape without the big backdrops. Here you can enjoy several mountain lodges and explore the big road network, shorter and longer trips, not least along the many mountain waters where you can go swimming or fishing. Along the way, you can stop at a seat, and get variety by setting a small hike to a top. Fine starting points are, for example, Golsfjellet, Vaset, Tisleidalen, Sanderstølen and Hallingen.
Golsfjellet is connected to Stølsvidda mountain plateau, and can easily be combined. There is a large network of nice gravel roads on Golsfjellet, so you will not have trouble finding nice areas for children on your own bike here.
There are nice gravel roads to ride in from the top of the Krossobanen at Rjukan. For a little older children, it is possible to ride all the way to Kalhovd Turisthytte (ca 30 km), otherwise you can ride the bike as far as you like, and maybe tent on a nice spot before turning around, going back the same way.
Geilo is a great starting point for cycling, both on trails at Vestlia, children’s downhill riding in the ski resort and many nice forest roads in the area and across Hardangervidda.
Geilo Summer Park has downhill trails that are suitable for children aged 5 years +. There is a downhill trail and a technical trail – perfect for all children who love cycling! Also suitable for adults. The area has its own band lift, which even the smallest children manage to take alone.
Geilo is also a convenient starting point for cycling the Old Navvie´s Road. Take a car, bus or train to Haugastøl and ride as far as the kids´ legs allow, or take the train to Hallingskeid or Finse and cycle back to Haugastøl (Hallingskeid-Finse 21 km, Finse-Haugastøl 27 km). This helps you avoiding being in a hurry to catch the train.