How to take a long bike ride with a toddler – Paternity Leave Activity #1

Circus Queen’s husband reporting here on what we did at birth plus two days:

As her majesty languishes in bed, recovering from her wounds and trying to establish breastfeeding, I am trying to find as many ways as I can to keep our toddler entertained.

Activity number one is a bike ride. Two birds with one stone, fun for Talitha, and I get to keep my fitness up during paternity leave.

The route
I got given a toddler bike seat for Christmas and I’ve taken it out for a few short rides with Talitha since then, but nothing properly substantial. So I decided as the weather was nice I’d go for a longer one. At two years eight months, I was intrigued to see how well she would cope. I didn’t do any research beforehand to see what people said. Just picked a route and decided to go for it.

It was a big loop down to Avonmouth, along the cycle track the far side of the Avon Gorge, up to the suspension bride and back. The nice thing about this route as there was no short cuts to be had, so once we committed we had to push on through and finish it. I’ve just discover it was 21km!

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The clothes
We got wrapped up warm, and this is the most important bit, as the toddler would be just sitting there. Even though it was a warm day, the wind was quite chilly. So she wore a t-shirt and tights as a base layer, a fleecy onesie, a hoodie and, as her outer layer was an all-in-one waterproof thing, to keep the wind out. The more layers the better for trapping warm air. She wore her warm boots, gloves and a woolie headband that kinda fits under the helmet. Although this was abandoned about an hour and a half into the ride.
I just wore some jeans (didn’t want to get all lycra’d up for a family ride), a merino wool long sleeve base layer and a lovely North Face fleece jacket. Millets wonderfully sent us this awesome jacket for review, which is great for just this sort of thing, and also will be part of my camping kit.

I must say it worked a treat, I was never cold, even when the sun went down. I didn’t overheat even though I was sweating pushing my little lump up some hills!

The adventure
We merrily set off singing “The wheels on the bike go round and round” (actually, Talitha didn’t like me changing the lyrics). I promised her that we would look for Bambi in Leigh Woods, so we chatted away about this, and whether we would see the trees, the flowers, Thumper and the butterflies. She loved looking at the view from the M5 bridge and blasting through the puddles. She was amazed by some large muriel sculptures and was delighted to see some geese.

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We passed another rider, and heard him shout “watch out for the mud”. It was a bit tricky, and I had to take it pretty slowly (I was overtaken by at least two pensioners!). We had a couple of little slips and slides, but it was okay actually. The bike seat has Talitha in-front of me, so I was pretty confident that at a slow speed I could keep her from getting hurt.

The handling is a bit funny with her weight up front, and my knees were at a bit of a funny angle but all in all it worked pretty well. Talitha loved it the whole way round, she only moaned about a snack and her head band when we were nearly home. She was sad not to see Bambi, but next time I might go to Ashton Court and guarantee to see some deer.

I’ve learnt something new: Toddlers can go for two-hour bike rides in the mud, and we can have a proper good adventure together.

Now I just have to figure out what to do tomorrow!

Millets sent us the North Face jacket featured in this post for our honest review.

ETA: Laurence has now launched his own blog, Chasing Wilderness, documenting a search for adventures in the everyday.