Children Cycling Adventures

A recent family holiday to Devon meant we had easy access to the excellent Tarka Tail. For the first time, the kids were really into the cycling.

First we did a couple of full family rides where the 5 year old gave a good account of himself. I had had the genius idea of giving him the Garmin and he greatly enjoyed calling out the distance, which, being km, built nice and quickly. The plan was to go from Great Torrington to Bideford, however, he wanted to go on to make 10k, so that we’d have 20k total:

He also did an excellent grind back up the 3% “Tunnel Hill” with his mum. A great stoic expression.

The next day we took the path the other way to the excellent Yarde Orchard cafe. The path this way is much rougher with a big climb:

The little one was not impressed by the very slow building of the km, but he made it and the descent meant the return journey was less than half the time.

Having met some older kids at the holiday cottages, the big one fancied a crack at Torrington to Barnstable. I warned him it’d take a long time, but he was still game. The first 10k he went like the clappers, then the stopping started to creep in. We stopped for lunch past Instow. I was expecting that he’d want to turn back after lunch, but the sandwiches (and cookies) evidently revived him and we pressed on to Barnstable. We made it and I took the lead on the way back so that the boy could take my wheel. This meant far fewer stops and we completed the 45km in just under 5 hours:

Most importantly, he learned to eat ice creme like a true Audaxer:

The evidently gave him some energy, because we flew up the “Tunnel Hill” and he said “was that it?” at the top!


  1. 45km, well done to the Junior Coder. How old? Keen to know what challenges to set for our wee man. Being able to balance his peddle-less bike well enough to graduate to one with peddles is clearly step 1, but he’s only 3 😀

    • The big one is 7, almost 8 and the small one is 5, almost 6. Alot of it is motivation / competitiveness. The 5 year old made 20k, which the big one would never have done 2 years ago, despite actually being quite a strong cyclist. Important to have a nice smooth flat route for early longer distance riding (which is very rare in the UK, Tarka Trail and Bristol – Bath cycle path being exceptions) so they don’t get disheartened. 12-14″ wheels are terrible on rough surfaces.

      For 3-5 I’d really recommend a good trailer bike (, incredibly expensive new, but < £100 on ebay). It means they (and you) can get a nice fast ride while also learning pedalling & gears with small balance input. You just have to be confident they're not going to jump off mid ride. My little one was into doing "stunts", like standing on the saddle, which would give the wife heart attacks!

      Something I thought of, but never got was one of these: Instead I got a Trailgator, which was terrible, as the bike inevitably tipped over to a 30-45 degree angle! I think the same can happen with bad trailer bikes as well (ones that attach to the seatpost).

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