Hey parents, are you tired of doing the same things with your kids? Are you looking for a unique experience or new date idea? The Sunburst Railbikes are a fun way to get outside, spend a few hours together, and have a little adventure with your child
A New Adventure
Prior to our ride at Sunburst, I hadn’t ever heard of Santa Paula, nor had I been there. So the railbikes were a fun way to get us out of Thousand Oaks, and on to the train tracks in the middle of the “citrus capital of the world”. When I got the opportunity to try something different with my son, I jumped on it!
My 6 year old, Venice, is always very hesitant to try new things, so I didn’t really tell him what we were doing until we got there. I gave him a hint that we were doing something that required peddling together. When we pulled up, he thought it was cool that we were going to be riding these totally unique bikes together on actual railroad tracks.
There were 2 different times to choose from, a morning and afternoon ride. We chose the afternoon ride. As it gets hotter though, the morning ride (I believe it’s at 9am) might be best to beat the heat!
I didn’t count, but there were about 10 to 15 bikes total lined up on the rails. We got there right when everyone was learning how to use them. Venice was excited that our bikes were electrical, and wanted to go “super fast!” But the bikes are set to max out at 15 miles per hour. It seemed fairly safe for a 6 year old, even though he was the only kid in the group. The Sunburst guide was helpful in adjusting Venice’s seat so he could reach the pedals, and also brought out a kids-sized helmet. I strapped him tight in his seatbelt and we were ready to roll!
Once we got going with our group, I realized it didn’t take much energy at all to pedal. If you don’t want to, you don’t actually have to pedal. You just need to start pedaling to get the motor going on the bikes. I used what I referred to as a “turbo boost” button a few times. Once you started pedaling, you could accelerate using a little lever on the right side of the bike without pedaling faster. It was actually relaxing to sit back, feel the cool breeze on our faces and enjoy the ride!
MOM TIP: Sit on the right side of the bike so you are able to control the break and speed.
Stops & Bathroom Breaks
We stopped at a little farm about a quarter way into our ride, where we got to see some adorable goats, alpacas, donkeys, and horses. There was a cute little market on the other side of the tracks where you could buy local produce and some snacks such as dried fruits, beef jerky, ice cream, etc. This is also a good place to use the restroom as the next ride is a bit longer before you stop again. After about half an hour, we were back on the bikes.
We rode at a brisk pace through the beautiful citrus groves. My son had fun taking turns controlling the break. We sang songs and counted the bridges we went over. He also loved when we crossed the street a couple times at the railroad crossing, where we waved at the cars waiting for us to pass. We sang songs and chatted about life as we rode along the rails together.
Mom Tip: No need to worry about the road crossings. You have a guide in the front and back. The guide will honk the horn, make sure the railroad crossing gates are down, and everyone crosses safely.
We eventually came to a resting point in the middle of the citrus groves, and stopped for a snack break and to stretch out our legs. We watched as the guides strategically turned all of the bikes around to face the opposite direction on the track. After about 15 minutes, we were set up to head back. We were now in the front (as opposed to the back of the bike lane). My son liked hearing the horn that the guide on the bike in front of us would honk before each time we were about to pass a road. The trip back went by pretty quickly, and before we knew it we were rolling up to the station. My son even got to honk the guide’s horn before we headed off. He said he wanted to “do that again” as we walked to our car and headed home.
Mom Tip: Eat snacks, rehydrate and use the restroom at the turn around point. There are no stops on the way back to the station.
It was a fun time to bond and try something new with my favorite little dude!
Tips for Families
- Adults need to sit on the right side of the bike to control the speed and the break.
- Pack snacks and water.
- Wear comfortable clothes and athletic shoes. I wouldn’t recommend sandals as it would’ve been hard to petal. Depending on the weather, bring layers. It was chilly when we were going fast, but warm when we stopped.
- Wear sunglasses and/or a hat as there isn’t much shade.
- Sunscreen might be a good idea too! You’re outside for several hours.
- A small bluetooth speaker would have been fun to play music as we were riding.
- Make sure the seat belt is tight, and also that the extra length doesn’t hang down past the seat. I knotted Venice’s once or twice to keep it from unraveling. Don’t be afraid to ask the guide to help make sure your child’s seat belt is fastened correctly.
- Only 2 people can fit on a bike, so plan accordingly.
- Kids younger than 5 or 6 (my son is fairly tall for 6) may have a hard time pedaling, but they could still ride. Any kids younger than this may also want to bring their own helmets. This adventure is 3 hours and since you know your child best, make sure this is an activity your child would enjoy the entire time.
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