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One of the greatest freedoms a child encounters is the day he’s learned to ride his bike and sets off on his own. Even if it’s only down the block, it is his first travel experience away from home, leaving Mom and Dad behind, and being independent (in a kids’ mind at least).
All too often kids are being carted from activity to activity, school, sports, friends’ houses for play dates, etc., and aren’t getting the opportunity to spend time learning to ride their bikes – more than just the days of riding back and forth on the street in front of their house. We see kids drop the bikes as an activity once they get really involved in after-school activities, because they spend all of their time in the car. Or in some cases, not ever learning to ride at all.
Taking this from a preparedness point of view, learning to ride a bike – really ride a bike long-distances, over rough terrain, in the dark – is a skill kids should learn early on. In a grid-down situation, where we have no fuel-driven transportation (including electric cars since their power is derived from fossil fuels or nuclear capabilities), bikes will be some of the few options for transport. And if you have to leave your home, from a few days to forever, bikes may be the best way out.
And on a more practical matter – they begin to rely on themselves. You’re not there to tell them which way to go. They get to choose where they ride to, they get to go as fast or as slowly as they wish. Depending on how far off you allow them, they’re learning skills to cope with whatever happens along the way (we’ve gradually allowed our kids to venture further and further away as long as we keep in contact with a walkie talkie. They can venture off as far as they can hear us through it). They get exercise, develop better reflexes, begin to learn traffic laws and dealing with traffic. It’s just not playtime!
Preparedness Tips for Your Kids and Their Bikes
- Safety first – good bike helmets and knowing how to fall go a long way in keeping them safe on two wheels
- Pick a good bike -don’t go for 50 speed bikes that can’t handle rough terrain or hard usage
- Teach them maintenance – fixing their own flats, repairing broken spokes or remounting chains
- Practice riding in the park or empty fields
- Build a small PVC trailer to practice pulling light loads (heck – they’ll love it to hall supplies to build a fort in their special place!)
- Build endurance by going on long bike rides during the weekend, touring areas you don’t know and learning to navigate
Do you have any great tips for your munchkin riders?