Children love riding bicycles, whether they start with a balance bike, a little bike or start straight into a bigger bike that will last some years as the seat and handle bars are raised as they grow. Cycling is a good way of enjoying exercise out doors and it can so easily be enjoyed as a family.
Perhaps to begin with the parents are walking and teaching the children to ride and teaching them road safety. Later the whole family can ride together and may enjoy the following games. Even little ones on balance bikes can join in and grow in confidence.
Slow Bike Races
In this race the slowest person wins. Everyone starts together, as in a normal speed race, and has to cycle as slowly as possible to the finish line without falling off or putting their foot down. It’s an excellent way of developing balance and control.
If someone does put a foot down or fall over they are given a penalty point and can continue in the race. The winner is the last person to cross the finish line with the least number of penalty points.
In this game the cyclists have to negotiate an obstacle course and you can all have fun building or devising the course. Depending on the skill and agility of the riders the course can be as simple as weaving in and out of obstacles like stones, balls, sticks, baked bean tins or it can become more complicated by including simple tricks.
For example raise both legs sideways as you pass a certain obstacle, or do a wheelie at another obstacle. For the more advanced riders a see saw can be made with a plank over a log and the cyclist has to ride over the plank. A bucket can be added to the course and the rider has to toss a ball into the bucket as they pass.
Follow the Leader
This is a good way of developing confidence and agility. Take it in turns to be the “Leader” and ride in circles, figures of eight, up a curb and down a curb, put down the bike and run to touch a tree or gate post and then jump back on the bike.
Parents can call out the name of the next “Leader” to keep the game exciting – the Leader has to ride to the front of the group, or the group can turn to chase the new “Leader”
Ride Along the Lines
This is another game to develop balance and the more proficient riders can be handicapped to make it interesting for them as well. Using chalk draw a line along the road or pavement and make it curved or wavy as well as straight.
The cyclist has to ride along the line without putting their foot down. Balance bikers are allowed to put their feet down but the concentration of following the line will develop their balance and confidence.
Proficient riders can complete the course with “no hands”
For very young children you can draw two parallel chalk lines several feet apart and the child has to ride towards one line and as they cross it lift their feet out sideways until they have crossed the next line. The lines can become further and further apart and they grow stronger and more confident.
Bicycle Relay Races
This is very like an ordinary relay race with teams and team members. The riders race towards their team member and give them something, a baton, a ball, a balloon, a handkerchief to grab and race back to the next member and pass on the object.
Or the rider may wear a hat which he has to place on the next team member’s head as he races past. You can combine the relay race with an obstacle race as well.
Children benefit in so many ways when they ride a bicycle, not just in the development of new skills but they are also learning about road safety, awareness of others, and learning independence and self-reliance.
There is undisputed evidence of the benefits of exercise and especially outdoor exercise for children and for adults.
You never know, what starts out as simple family fun can build into a lasting interest in cycling, whether it be touring, racing or enjoying cycling holidays. However, it will always remain a happy memory of childhood and no doubt that fun will be passed on to their children and the beauty of these 5 games is that grandparents can join in too.