Winter is a time when we typically slow down our outdoor activity. This isn’t completely because of the weather, although that plays a part. For most families, the school year is a busy time full of extracurricular activities and after school lessons. When you add that to the fact that it gets dark much earlier during winter, there usually is much less time to get on the trail this time of year.
You can still us this time efficiently though. This is a great time to plan for a long summer bike ride. Depending on where you live and if you don’t plan to fly or drive far to your starting point, planning ahead will give you some options for routes to ride. Tim and I are looking forward to doing a multi-day ride down the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail from Northeastern Pennsylvania to Pittston, PA. From Pittston we hope to map out a route to Philadelphia. This will be a trail mom and dad trip only.
There are many options available almost anywhere. We would recommend the Rail-Trail system in the US. You can read more about the Rail-Trails in our post here. To give you a brief overview, these are trails that have been made from former railroad beds. The rails and ties have been removed and the pathway has been resurfaced. In many places, these trails are even paved.
To prepare for our multi-day trip, we will have to make a gear list and schedule accommodations along our route. We will have to decide if we want to stay in hotels, at campgrounds, or a mix of the two.
The pros of staying in hotels only means that we will not have to carry a tent. This lightens our load and reduces our gear list. It will probably also be nice to have a hot shower to wash off all the trail dust each day! The second pro of staying in hotels only and having hot showers, is that we want to do some sightseeing in Philadelphia before catching the bus home.
I seem to have talked myself into it. OK, hotels it is! The optimal lodging sights will be inexpensive and easily accessible from the trail. We don’t want to have to bike through high traffic areas to get to our lodgings. Many trail guidebooks or Rail-Trail websites will have this type of information for wherever you are planning to ride. As the Rail-Trail system has become popular, many small towns along those trails are becoming very tourist friendly and love to accommodate riders and hikers. We made a video about Rail-Trails that you can check out on our YouTube channel TrailFamilyLife.
The optimal lodging sights will be inexpensive and easily accessible from the trail.
The key pieces of gear that we are lacking are saddlebags and a rear rack. We will have to bring clothes, extra shoes, toiletries, food, bike repair kits, maps, and phone chargers. Our best option for the most space will be to get rear mounting racks for each bike and a set of saddlebags. I’m in the research phase on this one, but here are some that we are looking at. I like that they have over 1000 reviews each and 4 or more stars.
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We like to read lots of reviews and check ratings before we make gear purchases. This makes the winter the perfect time to window shop and compare prices and ratings. Use these long months and short days to get your family revved up for all the summer fun that awaits you. If you are like us, once the warm weather hits, we get rolling and hardly slow down. You’ll be glad you put in some planning time while you are off the trail.
I hope some of these suggestions were helpful. What trip will you plan for this summer? What could you add to this gear list? What is a great trial town that you know of?
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