Travellers' Tales: Touring for Teenagers

Casual cycling success
Simon Challand's daughters enjoyed lycra-free riding around Lake Constance.

My wife and I both ride road bikes with friends at the weekend and use bikes to commute and shop whenever we can. Our 13 and 14-year-old daughters can ride and have bikes but rarely use them – especially with us, because "That’s so weird, Dad." So when my wife suggested a family holiday cycling round Lake Constance in southern Germany instead of the usual villa and pool in Spain, there was a mix of whoops from me and groans from the girls.

It turned out to be the perfect introduction. Apart from the beautiful scenery and picturesque villages, it’s flat. My girls are fit and do plenty of sport but seem to think cycling up any incline is unnecessary exertion. It is well signposted, which is important since my family assume any dad-led expedition involves getting lost. They didn’t buy my argument that "As long as the lake’s on the right, we’ll be fine."

Cycling in Germany is normal. Lots of people do it, cycle routes and roads are designed for it, and drivers treated us with respect not as the enemy. So for my girls it was safe and acceptable rather than weird. Lycra and helmets are optional, which is important to the fashion conscious.

We stayed in lakeside hotels and our luggage was conveyed for us, so no camping and little sweat were involved. There was plenty of ice cream and lake swimming. Another cycling holiday now looks a real possibility.