May was Bike Month! Although it’s now June, I’m finally wrapping up my Family Bike interviews because I got so many responses from awesome people. Over the course of five weeks, I profiled Kathleen from Portland, Stacy from Buffalo, NY, Kate from D.C., Leanne from D.C., Sarah from Chicago and Mike from Fairfax, VA. Keep an eye out for a final post on the best family biking resources I know of.
This final profile is of Kristen Bonkoski, who lives in Salt Lake City, UT with her husband and son. She and her husband run the website Rascal Rides, which has the goal of #morekidsonbikes. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
1) How long have you been biking with your children and how did you get started?
We’ve been biking with my son since just before his first birthday. We started riding with him in both a trailer (Thule Chariot) and a front-mounted bike seat (the iBert). The iBert was definitely our favorite. We enjoyed being able to talk and interact with him while riding.
2) What are your typical family biking outings? Are they mainly for transportation, recreation, or some combination of the two?
We do it all. We spend a lot of time biking for transportation. If our destination is within a couple miles of our house, we bike. Our family also loves mountain biking. At least one day on the weekend, we try to do a family mountain bike outing. We might do a trail ride or hit up a local mountain bike park. We let our 3 year old ride as much as he can on his own, and when he gets tired we haul him in the Weehoo.
3) Describe your current set-up for biking with your kids. What’s your dream set-up?
We have lots of different setups and we use them all! We use a TykeToter front-mounted seat for quick trips around town; our Weehoo gets a lot of use mountain biking. We also still use our Chariot occasionally, especially when we want to haul my son’s bike on the rear.
My dream set-up is a long-tail cargo bike. We have a lot of bikes, but still haven’t bought a “family bike.” We do an awfully good job of carrying groceries, kiddo, etc. without one though. Oh, and I would also love a tandem mountain bike with a stoker kit (an adapter for young children)!
4) Do your children ride their own bikes or only on yours? What is their attitude towards biking?
My son LOVES biking. We joke that we’ve done an excellent job of brainwashing him. He currently rides a Woom 2 pedal bike and does a great job on it. He can bike several miles on his own, and we encourage him to do that. We also bring along a way to haul him when he gets tired. My husband might put him on the TykeToter and I’ll put his bike in the trailer.
5) What do you love the most and the least about biking with your family?
The thing I love most is adventuring together. When we do a family mountain bike ride, we’ll always do lots of off-the-bike exploring and playing. Seeing my son learn to love nature like I do is awesome!
While my son usually likes biking, there are days where he doesn’t want to cooperate. That’s a challenge. Sometimes I also just want to get in a big, hard ride and you can’t do that with a child. If I can get in my own ride first, I’m usually happy to go at kid-pace.
6) What is your number one wish for improving family biking in your area?
More protected bike lanes and off-road bike paths. Especially now that my little boy wants to ride on his own, I get very nervous about riding around traffic.
7) What is your best piece of advice for a parent looking to start biking with their children, either on the parent’s bike or on the children’s own bikes?
Make it fun and start small. Riding a mile to a local park is totally legit. Once everybody has the hang of things, you can try bigger outings.
Also, if you’re child is riding on their own, make sure you invest in a good bike for them. It’s amazing what a huge difference a quality bike can make for a kid as opposed to a bike for a big box store.
And always bring snacks!
Thanks for the great insight, Kristen!