Bike Trekking With Kids
One of the highlights of parenthood is teaching children how to ride their bicycles. "Once kids (and their friends) know how to ride bikes, they'll enjoy attending a bike party," says Penny Warner, author of Kids' Outdoor Parties: Hundreds of Fun Things to Do at Outdoor Parties for Kids 4-12 (Meadowbrook Press, 1999). "At a bike party, kids can have fun in a clean, safe way. And it takes little effort to organize."
Warner says the first step is to send invitations to your children's friends, giving them all the details of the event. For optimal effect, make your invites out of bike decals, with the party information written on the back of the stickers.
Encourage the children to come dressed in colorful biking outfits. Provide decorations so the kids can customize their bikes before the rally. Supply things such as colored reflector tape, handlebar streamers and horns.
Once the guests are ready, get on your bikes and ride to the party location. If you're holding the event in an empty parking lot, set up a racetrack. You can mimic orange traffic cones by creating markers out of stiff tagboard.
Have the kids weave through the obstacle course. Time each racer and offer a prize to whoever finishes the race in the shortest time. You can also supervise the kids in the bike version of "horse." This means the kids copy one another's moves as they whip through the course.
Another option is to hold the party in a park or forest. You can hand out maps to the bikers and set them off on a race through the woods. To make it more interesting, supply only written clues about the course's layout, forcing the racers to decode your messages rather than follow a map. But don't make the course too difficult, and be sure that each child knows where the race is supposed to end. This guarantees that even if a child gets lost, he will still be able to find his way to you.
At the end of a hard day's biking, treat the racers to a picnic of sandwiches, drinks and treats. Be sure that all the kids have plenty of water to drink, because dehydration is fun for no one.
Then present prizes to the day's big winners. To ensure that everyone gets acknowledgement, create funny categories such as "Most Tired-Looking Biker" and "Best Wipeout" in addition to honoring the kids who won the races. The ideal prizes are accessories for the children's bikes. Hand out mirrors, small license plates and other objects that kids can use to personalize their bikes.