October is Love your Bike Month in Shropshire, all this month there are free events, courses and giveaways to help your family to enjoy their bikes and to be visible while cycling during the dark winter months.
To celebrate Love Your Bike Month we’re bringing you some fun ideas for ways to get your kids cycling and improve their skills and confidence on their bicycles.
Practice cycling skills
Find a place away from traffic to practice so that you can concentrate on improving your child’s skills. In Shrewsbury, the Quarry or the Sports Village cycle track are great places to start.
Try these fun exercises for improving skills:
- If your child is very young, practice using a balance bike or take the pedals off their bike so they get used to balancing and steering on the bike before having to master pedalling. Ask your child to bounce on their bike like a kangaroo and move forward. If necessary lower the saddle so they can sit with both feet on the ground.
- Ask your child to cycle away from you and look back at you and say how many fingers you are holding up – this will help them learn to look around them when they cycle on the road.
- Ask your child to cycle with one hand off the handlebar, start with one second and build up to three. This will help them to learn to signal in traffic.
- If you’ve got a group of 3 or more, practice braking and speed control by cycling single file in a circle and asking your child to increase or decrease the space between the bikes to the size of an animal e.g. elephant, dog etc.
- Practice steering by placing some obstacles on the ground and ask your child to weave in and out of them, or ask you child to try cycling in a figure of eight. Put the objects closer together or make the figure of eight tighter as they improve.
Ideas to make cycling trips as fun as possible:
- Start off with short trips
- Go somewhere fun like the cinema, the swimming pool or their best friend’s house
- Take lots of rests along the route and play games along the way. You could try one of Travel Shropshire’s cycling treasure hunt routes in Shrewsbury, Oswestry or Ludlow http://travelshropshire.co.uk/treasure-competition.
- Bring snacks to give them a burst of energy if they get tired.
Join a guided family cycle ride
If you’re not confident cycling on your own with your child, try a guided family cycle ride. Your children can make some friends along the route and you can pick up some tips on where and how to cycle with your children.
There are a number of family cycle rides during Love Your Bike Month:
- Colemere – 29 October 2013
- Ludlow – 29 October 2013
- Shrewsbury – 30 October 2013
More details of these rides are available here: http://www.travelshropshire.co.uk/love-your-bike
Check the Travel Shropshire website for rides at other times of the year.
If the weather is bad…
If it’s too miserable outside for a fun cycle ride, try a fun indoor or garden cycling activity:
- Wash your bikes – all you need is a bucket, a sponge and some washing up liquid.
- Do some cycling art such as colouring in a bike picture; draw a picture of where you would like to cycle; or a make a cycling collage.
- Check your bike is safe with a simple M check. Find out more with this handy tip sheet from Sustrans: http://www.sustrans.org.uk/sites/default/files/images/files/migrated-pdfs/frk_bikemcheck.pdf
Visit a local BMX track
There are several BMX tracks across Shropshire. Take your child to a track and see if they can cycle the course without pedalling!
Find out about Shrewsbury’s BMX tracks with Cycle Shrewsbury’s leaflet available here: http://www.travelshropshire.co.uk/cycle/cycle-routes/family-friendly.aspx
BMX coaching sessions run on the last Sunday of the month, 10am-11am at Upton Lane BMX track (Monkmoor, Shrewsbury) for children aged up to 16.
Contact Steve Cunningham for more information about Shrewsbury BMX club, tel: 01743 252361 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be safe be seen!
During Love Your Bike Month Shropshire Council is giving away free winter cycling packs if you sign up to the Travel Shropshire e-newsletter. Sign up before the end of October. Visit the Travel Shropshire website for details of this offer and all the free events and courses on offer during the month: http://www.travelshropshire.co.uk/love-your-bike.