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Birthday parties are fun. Birthday parties with bikes are
even more fun!
By Kathleen Wilker
Birthday parties are fun. Birthday parties with bikes are even more fun!
When our daughter, Anna Sierra, turned five years old, we asked her how she wanted to celebrate her special day. Having recently learned how to ride her very own big girl bike with no training wheels, Anna Sierra said she wanted a bike birthday.
Hmmm. Her dad, Derek, and I are avid cyclists. We definitely think bikes are a party. But we weren’t quite sure what a bike birthday was. So we invented one. It was so much fun we had another one the next year. You can too!
We picked a big, beautiful, shady neighborhood park with a splash pad for the party. Wading pools are fun, but splash pads are better for parties because they don’t require the same level of adult supervision. Splash pads are also great because you can wash off in them if you get covered in icing. We picked a park that we don’t usually go to because we wanted to avoid running into friends from our neighborhood who weren’t invited to the party.
We informed our guests it was a bike party, so they all rode their bikes to the park. Big kids rode their own bikes. Little kids rode on bike seats or in trailers. Some of the little ones rode their tricycles. Now that I’m looking at the pictures again, I think some of them were so little they needed their parents to push their tricycles.
By the time everyone arrived, there were so many bikes all over the park that we decided to have a bike parade. All the kids hopped on their bikes and lined up behind Derek. He said something sweet and fatherly about how proud he was of Anna Sierra’s biking and how he hoped everyone would have a great parade. Then he blew his whistle and the whole gang rode onto a nearby basketball court. It was a wheel-spinning, riding in circles, bell-dinging, hand waving, giggling, some-kind-of-wonderful parade.
The kids traded bikes, Derek gave everyone a turn on the trail-a-bike, big kids and little kids tried out the front seat and the parade carried on.
For older kids eager to show off their well-honed bike handling skills, try creating an obstacle course for them to weave in and out of. Bike races are also a possibility. But I find the less competition at parties, the fewer tears.
Keep it simple. Pizza seems to taste extra delicious when it’s delivered by bike trailer. Bowls of fresh berries or hummus and pita are also tasty and portable treats.
Transporting iced cupcakes in a bike trailer seemed messy. So we brought un-iced cupcakes in one container, icing in another, and the kids decorated their own cupcakes when they were ready to eat them. Now that’s an easy craft!
When the kids started getting lots of birthday invites, our group of friends made a pact to not give each other’s kids landfill loot bags. Instead of plastic crap, some parents give one book. Some give seeds for the children to take home and plant. Some give one special toy. A bike bell or a bike light would be a great take-away from a bike party.
1. Make your own handlebar tassels with ribbon and tape. Cut a bunch of ribbon to size. Tape one end of the ribbon bunch to make a firm end you can poke into or tape onto your handlebars.
2. Personalize your bike with a license plate. This can be a homemade plate created from cardboard and zip-tied into place by the handlebars. Or you can try contacting your local bike racing group and ask them to print some personalized license plates for the kids. Somersault Events (somersault.ca), an organization that puts on triathlons, created personalized plates for every kid at a friend’s street party.
3. Tattoos for the young biker might be in order. Temporary tattoos are cheap, widely available and won’t take up a lot of space in your pannier on the ride to the park.
Kathleen Wilker is a regular blogger on Momentum’s Families on Bikes blog. For more tips and experiences from real families who ride, check out momentumplanet.com/blogs/families-on-bikes