22 May Why Cycling Holidays are Great for Families
Why Cycling Holidays are Great for Families
My memories of family holidays are pretty vague. That could be down to the fact that I’ve drunk an awful lot of vodka, beer and wine since then, or it could be because I didn’t find them particularly memorable or eventful. There are half-held memories of splashing around and dunking my brother in pools, of being shouted at, of being stuck in the car for hours on end then dragged around museums and other such places of culture which rarely capture the imagination of the young.
But now the wheel has turned full circle and I am the parent. I want to give my kids great holidays which they will remember fondly, even through the alcoholic haze that I’m sure they too will negotiate in due course. Given both my kids have been slightly inspired by Sir Bradley Wiggins’ exploits at the Tour de France and 2012 Olympics (then just plain old Brad of course) it seemed like a good idea to build their newly discovered love of cycling into our holiday.
And even though I say so myself, it was a masterstroke – adults and children embraced it with similar gusto and as a result our family cycling holidays are certainly here to stay.
We went to France for our trip but many European countries, including the UK, offer great options for such a trip. We wanted somewhere with relatively gentle cycling (they think they are “Wiggo” but they don’t quite have his stamina just yet), great scenery, a strong food and wine culture and plenty to do besides cycling all day. In addition we wanted somewhere with a good standard of accommodation and after a little rudimentary research we decided on the Midi-Pyrénées region in the south west of France, an area housing some of the most beautiful villages in the country.
This ticked all the aforementioned boxes and also had the advantage of a perfect climate in late spring, warm and sunny but without the humidity that would have made the cycling tougher than any of us could have coped with. We found riding to be a fantastic way for the family to bond and by involving the kids in the decision making they really felt it was their holiday too. Kids clearly have so much energy and although the cycling was moderate it definitely gave them an outlet for that and meant that getting them to sleep was easy enough. That had the obvious advantage that we could enjoy the odd glass of wine without having to answer questions such as, “when will I be old enough to grow sideburns?”
While there could have been some advantages of joining a group, we chose to do a self-guided trip which gave us more flexibility. As opposed to simply turning up and hiring bikes the self-guided option also saved us from having to do a lot of research into where we should go, how long the cycling would take and which routes and locations would be family-friendly. That worked well for us, although the children have expressed an interest in doing a guided, group trip next time, I think in the hope they would find some new friends their own age with whom to have fun.
Next time we may go to Catalunya, which is, so I’m told, great for kids as there is so little traffic and also some excellent beaches on which to chill and break up the trip and the cycling. The fact that I’ve been checking for tickets to watch Barcelona play whilst we’re there is, I assure you, purely a coincidence!