1. Why am I doing this journey?
It sounds obvious, but the answer to this question is will inform your decisions on trip length and duration, how direct (or not) your route will be, and your choice of roads too.
2. What can I expect from my family?
How far or fast is reasonable for my children (and others in the group)? The distance should be roughly equivalent to your child’s age, so a five-year old – 5 miles; a ten-year old – 10 miles etc. – you get the picture! And expect to be completing that distance in about an hour, or just over. Obviously all children will have different ability levels, but be careful not to push too hard, they need to enjoy it!
3. Is shorter better?
Drawing a line from A to B is a good way to start planning at very least, as it provides a starting point to start building variations into your route. But note that often the most direct route will include busier roads with more traffic – which you may not want to take small children on. Are there particular section(s) on the route which is above your comfort level? There will be route options to avoid these section(s), but this will increase your distance.
4. Where can I cycle?
You can legally cycle on roads, designated cycle/shared use paths, permitted routes and bridleways, but not on the pavement. Look out for the signs, and always proceed with great respect for others sharing your space.
5. How long do I want to be cycling?
Think about how long your children, (and the rest of your group) can cycle without getting too tired! Frequent stops will help increase the time, whilst also keeping children interested and increasing the distance you can go.
6. Where are the hills?
Hills can be challenging for all, but especially younger riders, so when thinking about which route to take, make sure you know how high you will be going as well!
7. What does the route ‘look’ like?
What are the views like along the way? If you have a choice of two possible ways, think about which one will be the most rewarding visually, you will appreciate it, and so will everyone with you!
8. Should I ride it before my family does?
Where possible do try to cycle the route beforehand on your own, just so you exactly what is coming, and when. And even if the route is appropriate or not, its good to plan thoroughly, but there is nothing quite like riding it first.
9. Where am I going to eat?
If it is a long ride, you need to plan in rest and refuelling stops, think about how long you will be cycling before you run out of energy, of course you can (and should) take food with you, but if you can plan in a café stop, even better.
10. Use an app or online planning tool
With the actually plotting of the route, there are loads of websites or apps which can help you plan a great route, so have an explore and find out which one works best for you. Below are a few suggestions that we received from Bikeability instructors (their personal recommendations):