Sunday, September 30, 2012

List #45: Ten Autumn Cycling Must-Haves for Biking with Small Children

It's that time again: Monday Listicles! Stasha's topic for the week was Ten Autumn Must-Haves, which I'm er, customizing somewhat to be all about cycling. I know, you're surprised, right? Before I get started, if you've arrived from Google & have no idea what Listicles are, just ignore that part & enjoy my suggestions for what you need to ride through fall with your little one. A list of ten essentials seems like a lot of stuff to buy to ride with your wee one, but you probably have most of these things already. My guess is you might only be buying items 1, 6, 9 & 10, which could cost less than $25! One further caveat--I haven't included helmets, child seats or trailers on the list, as I'm assuming you already have those. :)

Ten Autumn Cycling Must-Haves for Biking with Small Children

1. A drink carrier & a container to fit in it. Yeah, I know, the weather's cooler, but you still need to keep hydrated. Or perhaps caffeinated is more important, as we are talking about parents of little kids here. If you haven't already got one, you can get the typical bottle cage that attaches to your frame for under $4, or you can pick up a nifty coffee cup holder that straps onto your handlebars for a truly civilized ride. Pro-tip: the universal stroller coffee cup holders will often fit on your bike & can be cheaper.

We bike in 'civilian clothes'
2. Layered clothing. You & your little one don't need to buy any special gear to ride in the fall--your normal clothes are fine! I suggest you dress in thin layers so you can remove one or two if you get going enough to heat up. Keep your wee one dressed warmer than you, as they won't be exerting themselves much.

3. A decent rain coat for both of you. Riding in the rain is not actually that bad when you have a decent rain coat. Just as I said in #2, yours doesn't have to be a cycling-specific one, just something that is loose enough to allow your arms & legs to move. I have worn many rain coats on my bike & the one I like best is a slightly sporty water resistant knee-length one. The length covers a lot of my thighs as I'm riding, so even if it's pouring, they don't get that wet. If I know it's going to be raining when we ride somewhere & I'm not using the trailer, I'll dress Sprout in a rain suit so he stays totally dry.

4. Warm mittens for baby. I find my hands don't get that cold when I'm riding, so I rarely wear gloves. Sprout, on the other hand, isn't pedalling, so his little hands get pretty chilly if he doesn't have cozy mitts.

5. Appropriate footwear. Whatever you'd wear to walk in whatever weather you're riding in is perfect for cycling with a tot. If it's raining we'll wear our gumboots. Though I got caught off guard by a rain shower on our way home from Costco the other day & though I was wearing Birkenstocks, the world did not end. :)

2 panniers + 1 bungee cord = cargo capacity for a Costco run
6. A carrier of some sort for your stuff. (If you have a child trailer with a 'trunk' like our MEC one, you can skip this & move on to #6.) Wearing a backpack or purse works fine. I prefer to have the stuff off my body, so I have a rear rack on my bike which I'll occasionally just strap a box to with bungees for a quick grocery trip. I often use panniers too, but they're a bit pricey & really not necessary. I hear great things about front baskets, but as I have a front-mounted seat for Sprout, I can't use one. If you use a rear-mounted seat, you can use pretty much any kind you like!

7. An extra facecloth/terry wipe. I usually toss a terry wipe in my purse whenever I'm going anywhere. They're great for getting the bike smudges off my fingers (I should probably clean my bike sometime) or drying up wet faces, bike seats, etc.

I named him Squeaky D
8. A small toy to entertain junior. No need to buy anything special for this (though I picked up a squeaky dinosaur for Sprout to 'honk' at people). Sprout loves to 'drive' small cars across the bar on his iBert as we bike along. I try to get him to bring the ones we're less attached to in case something happens to it, though he hasn't dropped one yet. In a trailer, as long as you're riding with the font cover on it, the only thing to worry about is if the toy & the child both fit in there. Sprout often brings a teddy when he rides in the trailer. We also put our old stroller chines in there, which he used to hang onto like the loops on the bus/subway.

9. A red tail light. It gets dark earlier these days, so I find myself riding at night a lot more & a bright rear light is essential. You can go for a cheap red turtle light, but I'd recommend one of the Planet Bike Superflash lights--they're very visible from the front & side.

10. Last, but definitely not least: a head light. I usually use an MEC turbo turtle. The turtle lights aren't that effective for seeing your way around, they're more just to make you visible to cars. If you're riding in an area that's quite dark, I'd recommend a proper headlamp.

Hope this list was helpful for those of you who are starting to ride into the cooler (& wetter, around here) weather of autumn. If you're an experienced all-weather cyclist with kids & you have a tip to add, please share in the comments! Happy cycling!

While I'm at it: if you've read this far, could you possibly head over to Circle of Moms & vote for The Sprog in the Top 25 Canadian Blogs? Just click on the badge over there → 

You can vote daily, by the way. :D 

Why Monday lists? Reading the lovely Chloe's blog, Tea Swamp Park, I found an idea I had to 'steal': a list of all her Halloween costumes, with quite a few photos. She got the idea from Hula Seventy's List Project. I've decided to do the weekly lists for a year that Hula Seventy is doing. 

Tea Swamp Park & Hula Seventy are not the only ones doing lists, however. Click on the Listicles badge to the left to check out NorthWestMommy's list & 'assignment' for next week.


  1. Fun that you bike so much! We don't live in a good biking neighborhood, unfortunately.

  2. WHat a super-cool informative list! Where were you when I was ferrying my little guys around town? Love this. Erin

  3. That carrier seems so great! My three year old would love to be in front of the bike. I'm sure he'd think he was steering! I haven't seen that type before. Sounds like fun!

    1. It's an iBert--I love it & so does Sprout! The weight limit goes up to 40 lbs, so you might still be able to use one... :)

  4. Tis is great. I am always missing our iBert when I see your photos. But we passed it on to our neighbour and he is so happy with it. We just had one of those Velcro string things attached to my son's seat for him to drink on the go...


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