Monday, August 11, 2014

Fat Tire Bike Tours with kids

Our family of five went on a Fat Tire bicycle tour of Berlin yesterday. The concept  of these bike tours is fairly straightforward: ride a bike around the city with a guide, stopping at major sights and enjoying life on a bicycle. Here are some notes about our experience on a bike tour in a big city with small children.

To accommodate your children, you can choose from rumble seats, tagalong bikes, bike trailers, or kid-sized bikes. I had read in a Fat Tire brochure that they were happy to have families along on their tours, but I did wonder if they meant it. Turns out, they did! They hardly batted an eye when we showed up with an 8-year-old (tagalong), a 6-year-old with a broken arm (trailer), and a baby (also trailer). They set us all up and we were ready to go.

Be prepared for any weather. We didn't do so well at this. Fat Tire has ponchos you can use, but only in adult sizes. It ended up being lucky that we had the trailer (with waterproof cover), because a massive rainstorm drenched the rest of us on our ride. Then, since our tour continued into the early (ok, late) evening, the light summer clothes the kids had on during the day were no longer quite warm enough.

There is a lot of stopping and starting. I had this idea that we would load the kids in the trailer and they would stay there the whole time. However, we ended up taking them out at almost every stop. Our guide was good about letting us know how long we'd be at each location so we could decide whether it was worth letting them out (or whether there was time for a diaper change or feeding session).

The tour won't slow down for kids. I didn't mind this - there were a dozen other people on the bike tour and I would have felt bad if I thought the guide was dumbing things down. That said, make sure your kids go to the bathroom before the tour, because there won't be a lot of chances once you get going. Also, make sure you bring your own snacks and water. There is a food stop 2/3 of the way through, but I was glad I had food to give my kids on my own schedule.

The ride could be more strenuous than you think. One of the advertised aspects of the Fat Tire bike tours is that they are not difficult. However, children riding their own bikes could get tired more easily. In addition, since I was pulling a trailer with two kids in it, I was sometimes working hard to keep up. I loved the exercise, but it could be a surprise to someone who was expecting a leisurely ride!

It could last a long time! Our tour was supposed to last about 4.5 hours. It ended up being about six hours. It was six hours of fun, but even fun can be tiring for little ones.

We had a great time as a family on our bike tour of Berlin, and I would recommend the experience to anyone. I hope to go again myself, in fact! There is something about riding on a bike that just makes everything better, and I was glad to share the experience with my kids.


4 comments:

Jen said...

Is Berlin a bike-friendly city? (I assume??)

Jessie said...

We toured Versailles with Fat Tire :)

Bridget said...

Jen, yes, so bike-friendly. I was nervous about pulling a trailer but it was a breeze.

Jessie, DROOL.

Jennifer said...

I haven't traveles much in the past few years, but my parents have and they have found bike tours to be the best way around a city. They've probably done 5-6 on 3 different continents. I'm so glad to hear that your experience with children was also positive.

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