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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bike rides offer opportunity for quality time with family

Bike rides offer opportunity for quality time with family
By:  Michael Lander
Bike rides can provide an opportunity for a father and son
and other family members to get some exercise and to spend
some quality time together.
Life today, for most of us, can feel a lot like being in a car that is in the fast lane and is on the verge of possibly careening out-of-control.  Everyone, it seems these days, is in a hurry, they are always on-the-go, having to grab some fast food, and having little time in the day to get everything done.

With our hectic and fast-paced lives-on-the-run, it isn't always easy for us to find ways that we can pull back the reins on our hurried lives and to make room for some good quality time with our families.
  

As difficult as that might be, however, it is sometimes necessary for us to step back, to try to slow things down just a little bit , and to carve some time out of our busy lives for those who matter the most to us.  

Parents who are willing and able to free up or to make some time for their families, though, may find that one of the most enjoyable and healthiest activities that they can do together with their children is to go out and do some occasional bike riding as a family.

Whether it is just around the neighborhood or on one of the many trails in and around Memphis, cycling offers a level of family fun and exercise that can be beneficial to both parents and children alike. 

Even though the first ride or two might seem a little challenging to some parents, it usually is something that they will easily overcome after just a few outings.  All that is a needed beforehand is just a little planning and preparation and just making sure that the bicycles or tricycles are the right size for their children.


For their own safety, children should be given a helmet
to wear while riding and a bicycle that is appropriate for
their size and abilities.
Along with the size of the bike or trike, a parent should also check it over to make sure that it is equipped with reflectors, that the tires are properly inflated, and that everything is in working order before starting any ride. 

As for the children themselves, parents should make sure that they are wearing helmets and parents should also set the example by wearing one as well.  The helmets are especially important for a child's head, which is not fully developed and cannot sustain the same impact as an adult.  Since helmets can help protect against serious head injuries, they should always be worn by both children and adults.


Along with the helmet, parents should also take a little time to talk with children about bicycle safety.  This will help lay the groundwork for them as they get older and start riding on their own.  The cycling experience also offers other teaching moments for a parent on how to ride, how to do simple maintenance and repairs, and providing them with some of the basics on the rules of the road.
Family members can take in some beautiful scenery
while enjoying a nice pleasant bike ride with
each other.
For most children, parents can and should expect them to do a slow and steady pace, and it is always a good idea to keep it that way, especially when they are really small.  You do not want to overly exert or wear a child out by going too fast or too far since that will quickly reduce the fun factor for them and you, too.

A slow and leisurely pace allows you to take in the scenery of wherever you ride and provides an opportunity to meet neighbors and other families like yours.  To make it even more enjoyable, you can always pack for a picnic or, for older children, you can consider riding through a national park, or on scenic bike trails, or even participate in an organized bike riding event.

Research and studies that have been conducted seem to indicate that parental involvement in a child's education seems to lead to academic success and that, more than anything, children want parents who are involved and show interest in their lives, and who just take the time to do things with them.  As far as I see, that really doesn't seem like too much to ask for.

The Shelby Farms Greenline, and other local area trails, are
popular with families who want to be able to safely ride
with one another.
There are websites, like the one from the Relationships Foundation and Brigham Young University's "Forever Families," that highlight the importance of parental involvement and time that is spent with family.

A big part of any quality time with family includes time that is spent together having fun and playing together.  It has been said that the family that plays together, stays together and cycling can be a great way to unite and bring family members closer to one another.

When it comes down to it, you really can't put a price on the time that you spend with family, and what could be more important than that?  Bike rides are not only fun, but they can create some great childhood memories than can last a lifetime.  They also help to promote a healthy lifestyle, and it is one way to get children interested in athletics and sports.  This could eventually lead them into competitive cycling, triathlons, or other exciting adventures.

Taking some time out of your life and spending that time with your family on a bike ride will pay big dividends to you and your children now and for many years to come.

To learn more on family bike rides, you might want to visit Kiri Blakeley's blog, "6 Road Rules for Fun Family Bike Rides," and Erin Mirabella's blog, "Family Bike Rides: Keeping Them Fun and Safe."

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