Several years before Damiano was born, Ignacio Rivera de Rosales and Daniela Diamente discovered the Route Verte, a 2,500-mile network of off-road trails and paths in the Canadian province of Quebec.
"Right away, we decided that if we ever had a child, the Route Verte would be the first bike tour we'd go on," Ignacio says. "I remember thinking, 'This is exactly the type of ride I'd want to take my kid on.'"
Soon, the active parents' dream of a family biking vacation became a reality, and all it took was a little planning. Take a few tips from their book before your family hits the road.
Stick to What You Know1 of 7
Ignacio and Daniela were avid cyclists long before becoming parents and had completed several bike tours before their son was born. It's not so much a hobby for the couple, as a way of life. In short, their cycling skills were dialed in, along with a good deal of camping experience.
This is not to say that rookie cyclists can't take their families on bike-touring trips. However, be sure to hone your skills and work out any kinks before taking the entire clan on the road.
Rethink How You Vacation2 of 7
Prior life with Damiano, Ignacio and Daniela would purposefully seek out secluded campsites on their biking trips. That all changed with a kid in the picture. On one of their first nights on the Route Verte, the couple chose to camp in a remote spot recommended by a fellow traveler.
"It was gorgeous," they recall. "But then the sun started to go down, and we'd never seen so many mosquitoes in our lives!"
The new parents also wondered how they were going to address basic needs, such as giving Damiano a bath. They soon realized their old camping ways weren't going to work.
"We needed to be organized, and we need to have a place with bathrooms and something for our son to do," Ignacio says. "So, the next day we found a big campground with a pool and lots of other families. Kids were all over the place, and there was an instant play group for Damiano."
Be Flexible3 of 7
Ignacio and Daniela stress flexibility on any activity-based family vacation.
For example, if a full family bike tour isn't realistic, consider creating a single home base and taking rides from there. Parents can take turns, with Dad riding with the kids on one day while Mom takes a longer solo ride. Spend the evening swapping stories at base camp, then switch roles in the morning. Experiment with itineraries until you find the right schedule for your family.
Be Willing to Stop4 of 7
"We'd be riding along and all of a sudden, he'd be like, 'Swings, swings!'" Ignacio recalls of an early ride with Damiano. "So, we'd go ahead and stop because that would make him happy. And if the kid's happy, then we're all happy."
In other words, make time to check out local sites and attractions. Do a little research beforehand, and plan to stop at an interesting lunch spot or cool playground on your route. It shouldn't be just about getting in the miles.
Forget the Toys5 of 7
The couple packed plenty of toys and games for their son on their first family bike trip, but soon found they were merely excess weight.
"Damiano really didn't need toys," Daniela says. "He was interested in the scenery and the ride itself. When he did need a diversion, he was fine with a spoon or a tennis ball!"
Team Up6 of 7
Looking to the future, this active couple came up with yet another way to marry family time and their love of bicycle touring. Next time around, they plan to meet up with the grandparents along the way.
"As always, we're going to keep it flexible," they say. "One day, maybe we'll leave early in the morning and bike to the next town, then meet our parents for lunch. It's a great way for Damiano to spend time with his grandparents while we get some riding in."
Who knows? Maybe your family biking vacations will evolve to include visiting friends or family in nearby cities–or even a trip overseas!