Leonia's Matt Kuruc has always been a keen cyclist, so as soon as his twin girls, who are now 8 years old, were old enough to hold up their heads (but not old enough to walk), he was ready to get them on two wheels. "I had my girls in a buggy or trailer when they were about 6 months," says Kuruc, a former president of the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey. "It wasn't about going on long rides, but more to get them used to the motion."
When his girls were preschoolers, they graduated to training wheels and Kuruc experimented with a tag-along-bike – a one-wheel bike with handlebars and pedals that fits to an adult bike's saddle post. "That took some getting used to," he says. "It makes for a somewhat squirrelly ride."
As kindergartners, says Kuruck, his twins were ready for their first "real" bike. "As well as helmets and training wheels, consider gloves," suggests Kuruc. "The aim at this level is for the child to learn how to use the brakes – that is key once the training wheels come off."
Once the child is up to a 20-inchwheel bike, the next step is to decide on a road bike or a mountain bike (when they are about 10). "Bikes can be easily modified with bigger cogs. Older children will get frustrated as they pedal and find themselves spinning without getting any faster!" says Kuruc.
Saddle River County Park is a recently opened linear park that meanders along the Saddle River and its tributary brooks in Glen Rock, Ridgewood, Paramus and Rochelle Park. Among the benefits are the five park/playground areas that can act as rest stops, diversions or incentives while pedaling along the six-mile multi-use path.
Overpeck County Park in Ridgefield Park has five miles of paved routes plus a large playground area. On nice days, the family can find enough to do here to spend the entire day.
Ringwood State Park is a haven for mountain bikers, so teens will appreciate it more than younger children.
Learning to Ride
• Lower the bike seat so the child can easily put both feet on the ground.
• Remove the bike pedals. With the pedals off and the seat down, the rider will get the feel of balancing on two wheels safely.
• Put the pedals back on and hold the back of the saddle.
Once the shoulders are steady, they will be riding straight and true in no time.