Biking with kids
in the Salzburger Saalachtal
“Riding uphill is stupid!” Biking with kids is often a lottery. Sometimes it goes sensationally well but other times you just can’t do right by the kids: too far, too boring, too steep, too hungry, too thirsty, want to sit in the trailer, want to ride by themselves, right up to “I can’t go another metre.”
We parents can only influence the “daily form” of our kids to a certain extent, but we can indeed control the general conditions. This includes good tour planning most of all.
For a long time we have been thinking about how we can support you in your choice of a family bike tour. However, we had to conclude that a general recommendation is not possible. Why not? Because children – fortunately – are so very different and cannot be sorted into boxes.
We have therefore taken the liberty of offering you a few pointers to making a decision:
1. What are you riding?
In the mountains, when we talk about a bike, we mean a mountain bike and therefore the details of these tours are designed for this type of bike. Why is this important to know? Well, because you can do the tours much faster with an e-mountain bike, for example, but you would curse us on the first steep gravel track on a city bike.
Tours with a normal MTB in the mountains are much more strenuous for children than in the lowlands. However, with the right equipment you can work around this situation:
Trailer bike or tow bar
Have you chosen a tour and are not sure whether your child can complete the tour completely alone? Here a trailer bike or a tow bar could be an option. While the child is fixed to your MTB on a trailer bike (and can then pedal along with you according to their mood), with the help of a tow bar the child’s bike can be mounted flexibly. This means your kids can be pulled along on steeper sections for example. But be careful: for Mum and Dad it will be a lot more strenuous.
Child seat or trailer
A bike trailer is an option especially for longer tours. These are quite comfortable for the kids (it is not uncommon for them to fall asleep due to the constant rocking); protect them from wind and rain and offer enough space for additional baggage, a snack or even a toy.
Similar to the trailer bike or the tow bar, Mum and Dad will need strong calves because of the additional weight of the trailer. A child seat is also an option for those who feel uncomfortable with a trailer.
E-bikes for everyone
You can make these first two options easier if you ride an e-bike yourself. Thanks to the tailwind, even those less bike-savvy Mums and Dads can pull a trailer uphill. At the same time, you can cover longer routes and more altitude. The limits are then set by the battery capacity rather than your own fitness. Almost 25 charging stations in the region won’t let you down.
For those children who have already outgrown a trailer, there is the option of a children’s e-bike. This is not a new phenomenon although it is controversial. Here it is important that children get used to the e-bike before they set off on their first summit tour. The bikes are significantly heavier due to the battery and therefore have a different braking behaviour than the kids will be used to on their own bikes.
As balance bikes are not really suitable in the mountains, walks in the valley with your little ones zooming around in front of you are a great option. Our tip: combine a “balance bike walk” with one of the 4 Hiking rounds of golf or discover the pumptrack in Weißbach.
2. How high – how far?
The crucial factor on every tour is how many metres of altitude are involved. With or without e-bike, if children are overstretched because it only goes steeply uphill, their motivation plummets straight away. Therefore we recommend that you find out about the altitude beforehand. If you don’t have any experience with these figures then proceed cautiously and increase this from tour to tour.
3. The children’s fitness
This point is significantly influenced by the choice of transport. If the children are sitting in the trailer, the question of your own physical fitness arises; the tailwind of the battery lets you cover completely different distances and altitudes. You know best what your children can do. If you aren’t sure, we recommend that you begin with a shorter tour and then increase slowly. By the way: even though the little ones appear to be relaxed in the trailer, there usually comes a time when it becomes boring for them.
4. Highlights along the route
The journey is the destination. Especially when biking with kids it isn’t just the destination which is crucial, but also the journey there. When choosing a tour, highlights along the way should also be considered.
First of all, these motivate the children as intermediate goals and secondly they invite you to take a rest. Our tip: pack your swimming things. Cooling off in a wild bathing spot in summer is compulsory. Also recommended are stops at playgrounds or a detour to one of the Saalachtal natural monuments.
5. Anything else?
Not all surfaces are the same.
Depending on how much experience your kids have, the trail conditions can also be a factor. A rough gravel track is more difficult to ride, whether up or downhill, than an asphalt road, especially of course with children’s bikes or the additional weight of a trailer. Many children are not very practised at braking. You will find details of the trail conditions in each tour description.
A stop for refreshments or self-catering.
On every trip out with the little ones, sooner or later you will need to eat and drink. When planning the tour, pay attention to whether there are places to stop for refreshments along the way or whether you will have to take your own snack with you. In case you underestimate the distance or time and want to spare yourself pronouncements such as “I’m thirsty. How much further is it?”, we recommend you always take some emergency rations along.
For the downhillers of the future or all those who would like to get a taste of the trail, we recommend the Bike-Parcours at the Friedlwirt in Unken.
For all further questions about biking, we warmly recommend our bike specialists. Alongside perfect accommodation, they help you with tips and tricks and can lend you (children’s) e-bikes, trailers etc.