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Mountain Bike Tips

Tips for Introducing Your Kids to Mountain Biking

A Kid Around Eleven Years Old Being Coached by an Adult Standing Next to Him While He Learns How to Ride a Mountain Bike Up a Small Ramp

Today’s guest post is from Sophie Elise at  bestbikesforwomen.com

If you’re a moun­tain bik­ing par­ent, you might be think­ing of intro­duc­ing your kids to moun­tain bik­ing. It’s a great activ­i­ty to boost con­fi­dence, con­nect with the great out­doors and cre­ate a spe­cial rela­tion­ship with your child. When intro­duc­ing chil­dren to any sport or activ­i­ty, a thou­sand ques­tions rid­dle our minds; how do we intro­duce our kids to moun­tain bik­ing in a wel­com­ing envi­ron­ment? How do we ensure their safe­ty and man­age ele­ments of risk? What if they aren’t inter­est­ed or can’t stand the thought of hav­ing their par­ents teach them a new skill? To help you along the process of intro­duc­ing your child to moun­tain bik­ing, I’ve put togeth­er a list of sev­en help­ful tips to ensure success.

1. TALK TO THEM.

It might seem obvi­ous and easy, but it’s impor­tant to talk to your child. Find out what inter­ests them and if any of their friends might like to try moun­tain bik­ing with them. It might make it a lit­tle eas­i­er to have a bud­dy their own age learn with them. If they don’t show an ini­tial inter­est, don’t push it on them. Plant the seed by talk­ing about all the fan­tas­tic things you enjoy about moun­tain bik­ing; the thrill, the adven­ture and get them excit­ed. Offer to take them on their first ride, and see if they would pre­fer a one on one expe­ri­ence or a group bike ses­sion with friends.

2. FIND A SUITABLE BIKE.

Buy­ing a bike that fits your child’s height and body struc­ture is of utmost impor­tance, as it will allow them to have more con­trol over the bike. They will be able to enjoy each ride to the fullest and take their rid­ing skills to the next lev­el. Rid­ing a bike that does­n’t fit prop­er­ly can also be a safe­ty con­cern, as it’s hard­er to prac­tice prop­er body posi­tion­ing and cre­ate good habits from the start. Vis­it your local bike shop and have them test ride a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent bikes from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers. Review siz­ing charts and make sure your child feels com­fort­able. I would also sug­gest that you include your kid in the buy­ing process as it will make them feel more involved. If you’re unsure if your child will enjoy moun­tain bik­ing, think about rent­ing a bike before com­mit­ting to a big pur­chase. Ensure that you have a moun­tain bike hel­met that fits prop­er­ly and that it offers max­i­mum pro­tec­tion. You may also wish to have oth­er pro­tec­tive equip­ment such as knee pads, elbow pads, and gloves.

A Green Kid-Sized Mountain Bike Leaning Against a Tree in the Woods

3. GET STARTED (BUT SLOWLY).

The thrill, the rush of adren­a­line and immense joy that we get from moun­tain bik­ing is dif­fi­cult to describe in words, and yes, we also want our kids to expe­ri­ence the same thing, and they’ll get there even­tu­al­ly. Don’t  get them in over their head  right off the bat.  Prac­tice body posi­tion­ing, stance and bal­ance exer­cis­es on sim­ple,   flat ter­rain. Prac­tice on your lawn, or take them to a  local park. Grab small objects to use as obsta­cles (small logs, flat rocks etc.) so they can prac­tice bik­ing over them. Let them ride at their own pace. Get them used to tight turns by using cones (or any object)  to cre­ate a steer­ing course in the park­ing lot.
Look up moun­tain bike youth devel­op­ment pro­grams in your com­mu­ni­ty,   they might be inter­est­ed in doing an after­noon intro­duc­to­ry les­son with a coach, as opposed to learn­ing from their parent 😉 

4. START RIDING OFF-ROAD. 

Start with easy trails and keep the rough stuff for lat­er. Broad jeep trails or paved trails in the neigh­bor­hood would be ide­al for your kid to start their moun­tain bik­ing career!  More­over, you should let your kid take the lead, if they get tired, take a break. But don’t push them too hard. It’s all about hav­ing fun… soon­er or lat­er, they’ll most like­ly by out-bik­ing you! 

Several Kids Riding Mountain Bikes on Small Ramps in a Field With an Adult Standing Next to One Ramp to Give Them Guidance

5. GO EASY ON THEM. 

If you want to moun­tain bike with your child (or any child), patience is key!   Offer them encour­age­ment, con­struc­tive feed­back and cel­e­brate mile­stones. Instead of find­ing faults with your child’s rid­ing, solve obsta­cles togeth­er. Rid­ing with them will strength­en your bond and make it a mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence for both of you. 

6. FACING DIFFICULT TRAILS. 

Don’t under­es­ti­mate their abil­i­ties,  but ensure you man­age ele­ments of risk. Kids are usu­al­ly pret­ty fear­less and fast learn­ers. It is imper­a­tive that you allow them the free­dom to make their own deci­sions and let them find solu­tions.  Don’t get mad if they decide to walk a sec­tion of trail and ask if they want to see you ride a sec­tion first that they are ner­vous about rid­ing.  If need­ed, get off your bike and walk with them, talk them through dif­fi­cult obsta­cles pro­vide a slow pro­gres­sion of more dif­fi­cult trails. 

7. TECHNICAL RIDING. 

Once they have strong bike han­dling skills and feel con­fi­dent on begin­ner and inter­me­di­ate trails, it’s time to teach them some more advanced skills and rec­og­nize that you might not be the best teacher! tech­ni­cal climb­ing, rolls downs, small jumps and drop need to be taught in a pro­gres­sion. Start small, prac­tice (a lot!) and ses­sion sec­tions of the trail. at this point, you’ll have a good idea how inter­est­ed your child is in moun­tain bik­ing and if they’d like to con­tin­ue recre­ation­al­ly, try rac­ing or join a skills clin­ic. which brings us back to #1… talk to them! it’s impor­tant to know where they’re at through­out the entire learn­ing process, and what they hope to get out of their bik­ing experience. 

Man on Mountain Bike Talking to Kid Next to Him Wearing a Mountain Bike Helmet

Moun­tain bik­ing is a great fam­i­ly activ­i­ty. It offers a great way to explore the nat­ur­al world,  prac­tice a healthy lifestyle and cre­ate a healthy chal­lenge for all fam­i­ly mem­bers.   Just remem­ber, the end goal is for every­one to have fun! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Sophie Elise is a pas­sion­ate cyclist, author, and blog­ger. She is very pas­sion­ate about writ­ing on dif­fer­ent types of women’s bikes, acces­sories, health, fit­ness and more. She reg­u­lar­ly writes on bestbikesforwomen.com