Your way of cycling changes. Eight-hour century rides are out, unless you can earn enough brownie points for some ground leave. In their place you have short, sharp bouts of cycling. Actually, this can still be an excellent workout, as any parent who has pulled a trailer, a tot and paraphernalia will tell you.
With the right kit, you can get places on your bike – with kid in tow – you might not have thought possible. In fact, cycling with portable kids can be a positive joy. Hauling groceries by bike is practical but rarely joyful. Add kids to the mix and it becomes fun. Kids love being outdoors in the fresh air, up close to nature. Of course, on child-seats kids are closer to your posterior than nature but so long as you’re not a particularly windy parent, kids don’t mind the restricted view.
You can cart your kids to nursery on the bike or you can pack a picnic and head to a countryside bike path, a beach, anywhere scenic. Flora and fauna is a bonus, especially the fauna, especially if big and horse-shaped.
One of the chief advantages of pulling/pushing children from your bike is the coaching: when you’re going too slow for your little passengers, say up a steep hill, you can be sure you’ll be told about it.
Kids who are carted by bike from an early age pick up the message that cycling is normal, a standard way of getting around. It also gets kids used to the idea of cycling on the road. Kids who are carted often transition easily to their own bikes, under their own steam. It’s easy to fall into the trap of pulling/pushing your kids so your range and speed isn’t limited but it’s in everybody’s interests to get your kids pedalling solo as soon as possible. By the age of six they should no longer need one of the products below, except for acting as stoker on a tandem, which can be for life. If your child is a lot slower than you’d prefer, handicap yourself. For instance, you could be the family packhorse by loading yourself down with luggage.
When you cycle you get warm rapidly. However, children in childseats, and to a lesser extent, children on tagalongs won’t be as warm. Wrap them up in extra layers to prevent wind chill.
If your bike is fitted with a kickstand, bear in mind this won’t be enough to balance a bike and a squirming child in a child seat, front or rear. Getting on and off a bike fitted with a rear child seat takes some getting used to. Swing your leg backwards and you risk whacking your child in the face, although it’s more likely you’ll hit your leg on the footwell of the robust plastic childseat.