Going on a bike ride with children can be a great bonding experience, but it takes some preparation and an openness to the unexpected to help ensure it goes smoothly. Today, you’ll discover some tips on how to prepare for longer rides, as well as ways to make the ride more exciting and engaging for those involved.

Before you even pop the kick stand, it’s important to do some homework. For example, make sure you know your route well, including the surrounding area and nearby facilities. That way, if you get lost or the route is longer than expected, no one has a horrible time and hydration or sun exposure aren’t risks. Also, it’s smart to carry a tool kit and know how to use it, along with a first-aid kit that includes a few bandages and antibiotic cream to handle minor cases of road rash. Furthermore, with the weather as unpredictable as it is, I suggest you bring a daypack to hold extra jackets, in order to handle these changes on the fly.

When planning your ride, it’s smart to hit the road early. Children tend to tire more quickly in the afternoon, so take advantage of their energy in the morning and start your ride then. Also, cycling is more fun when shared, so if your child has a friend who is at the same level of competency on a bike, bring him or her along for company. Finally, you’ll need to be realistic in terms of pacing, and sacrifice some of your own exercise ambitions when cycling with children. Realize that a four mile ride may take a few hours, so don’t expect to ride as fast as you would on your own.

To stay energized and alert during the ride, it’s smart to take frequent short breaks and allow time to stop, get off the bike and explore. Also, it’s crucial to always have water readily available. Be sure to drink before feeling thirsty to stay hydrated. Along those same lines, food is vital, as well. Not only will food provide energy, but kids tend to misbehave more when they’re tired, hungry or thirsty, and a well-timed snack can cure a bad mood and keep energy going.

To keep the kids engaged, choose an interesting route that goes by gardens, streams, views, or farms. Most children are interested in what they see along the ride rather than what’s at the end of the road or trail. Finally, it’s important that everyone has fun, which includes you, so patience and positivity are vital. If you convey a genuinely upbeat attitude, children most often will be inclined to mimic it and the day will be more fun for everyone.

Sharing a passion and love of the outdoors with children is not only a great way to bond with them, but it’s a surefire way of ensuring that the outdoors last for generations. By getting your kids involved and active on the trail or on the water, you instill within them a desire to share that with their future children, as well.