With his three children leading the charge, Lachlan Soper is off for another bike riding adventure across Sydney.
Abigail (10), Miriam (8) and Joshua (6), are regular riders often doing up to 60km in a single trip. For them it’s about the enjoyment and adventure of being out on the bike as a family.
"My favourite route is the one we did the other day from Bicentennial Park to Breakfast Point and back, around 51km” Abigail told us, “I really love it because it has so many stops where you can sit back and relax and enjoy the view.”
In his children, Lachlan has instilled that’s it about the journey and not the destination. Instead of encouraging them to ride to a certain place, he encourages them to look at the view and enjoy the ride.
“When it is about the view - the rivers, the trees, the parks, when it is about what you can do along the way – stopping and rolling down a hill, climbing a tree, doing cartwheels by the Harbour, then the whole day is an adventure,” explained Lachlan.
Doing a family ride this way means Lachlan can encourage the children to ride 40km-60km over a 3-5 hour riding time, but an 8 hour day out adventure.
“My favourite thing about riding bikes is it’s fun, and I get to do great things on the way and it’s awesome!” Miriam told us.
While older sister Abigail explained she “...likes going to places you would never ever expect to go on a bike ride and that would be breathtaking and to have a nice conversation on the way with your brother or sister or dad. I like that my brother and sister can talk to me as they ride about really funny stuff."
All three children love bike riding, so it’s only right that a tandem bike ride home from school with Dad is very popular.
“I ride to school with my helmet and 3 helmets hanging off the handlebars,” explained Lachlan.
“Because the tandem is so popular, we have a roster for who gets to do the full ride home with me. I ride home with the first child and two backpacks and then pick up the other two children who have walked part way home. It takes a little planning, but they absolutely love it!”
When we asked Abigail about the tandem... "I like riding it because sometimes when it's really hard to push you have a helping hand and you can hear the person on the tandem better.”
Lachlan has been riding with his children since they were young. For him, it’s all about slowly helping them progress in skills and confidence on the bike.
“Start on footpaths. Get them used to stopping and waiting at each intersection and never going until daddy says it's okay.
Progress to nice bike paths. Initially choose bike path routes that have plenty of parks to play in so they feel the bike riding takes them to somewhere joyful. Enable lots of time for them to play in the parks, on the swings, to play tip etc.
If you go on a longer ride, stop at multiple playgrounds. If the bike ride is greater than 2 hours or 15km take a backpack with nutrition to keep the kids energy levels up.
COVID-19 has given us an opportunity to convert our footpath rides into riding on quieter roads. Because they were known routes, we could focus on some skill work with the kids such as keeping together, keeping left, indicating directions with their arms up etc. We have evolved it to calls like ‘car back’ and ‘single up’ and they neatly form into line on the left.”
Lachlan and his kids love having bike riding adventures and have created lifelong memories from their rides together.
After a day of riding from Homebush to Brighton Le Sands return over the weekend, Lachlan asked his young son, Joshua, what his favourite part was.
“Cuddling my daddy under the stars at the end of the ride,” replied Joshua, while being held in Lachlan’s arms looking up at the Southern Cross.