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Top tips for taking your child mountain biking

child mountain bikingchild mountain biking
child mountain bikingchild mountain biking

 

Top tips for taking your child mountain biking

Taking your child for their first mountain biking experience is something that any outdoor fan looks forward to doing. The rush of rocketing down rocky surfaces is a fun and exciting experience, but not one that should be entered into lightly. There are certain considerations to think about, including safety.

When looking at letting your children experience their first ride on their very own mountain bike, there are some top tips to follow to ensure a safe, successful and happy ride.

 

Choose the right bike

Choosing the correct mountain bike for your child is vital to starting their outdoor journey. Make sure your child is able to test out a wide selection of bikes before deciding on one of their choosing. While adults choose their bikes by frame size, with children it is better to go by wheel size.

Children aged two to three years old should opt for wheel sizes of 12 inches, and ages from three onwards should increase in increments of two, i.e. 14 inches, 16 inches and so forth. Getting too thick a wheel or too thin a wheel may cause discomfort when riding, so be sure to ask your child whether or not they feel comfortable and safe on the bike they are testing.

 

Always be prepared

The most important thing to remember with taking children mountain biking is not to jump right into it. Prepare them beforehand for the experience by taking them for rides on flat, easy terrain to start with, getting them used to and comfortable with the bike itself. Once they can ride the bike with ease, move onto bumpier and tougher terrain.

Build a route around a fun and unique place to ride, such as a park or a local botanical gardens. Ask your child how long they would like to ride for, as enduring a long bike ride may make them tired and cause them to enjoy it less. Always check how difficult the route is before taking your child on it.

 

Teach proper technique

Mountain biking is very different to riding on a pavement or on a flat terrain. It is bumpy and can often be a lot more fast paced than regular cycling. You will have to teach them about the default position of mountain biking, also known as the “attack position”: stand with pedals level, elbows bent, and weight centred over the bike. You must remind them to remain relaxed, as stiff muscles are more likely to be injured over any bumps in the path.

No matter the terrain they are on, your children will need to keep their heads upright, fixed on the path ahead of them and not on the obstacle they are currently trying to avoid. If they are constantly looking at trees, rocks or other obstacles, it is more likely that they will hit them.

 

Visit a bike park

To build up your child’s confidence on the bicycle, you should take them to a bike friendly park in your area, with trails to experiment on. This is a safe environment for their first few rides and can teach them to be more confident and sturdy on the bike itself.

Riding a repetitive obstacle course in the bike park for a week or two will help them become familiar with how to handle bumps and uneven terrain, but be sure that they do not become lazy while doing this obstacle course. Always be certain they have the correct posture and are paying full attention to the course, as this will help them to have a successful trail run.

 

Take a reasonable risk

Many children are quite fearless when it comes to sporting activities, especially ones which involve speed and possible danger. Be prepared to gradually increase the level of difficulty, no matter how enthusiastic they are about the idea of a difficult trail. This will allow them to build their strength and skills, over time making for a successful mountain biker.

If your child is slightly timid, try breaking up the trail into fun, different steps, coaching them over each obstacle that they reach. Suggest trails that are slightly out of their comfort zone and let them attempt these at their own speed. Soon your child will be more confident and able to try a trail all on their own.

 

Bumps and bruises will happen

Riding a bicycle, whether mountain biking or on the pavement, will result in bumps and bruises.  Remember, your child will more than likely react to your reaction to their injury. Be prepared with a first aid kit and do not react negatively if they fall on an obstacle you deem as “easy”.

Rather encourage them to try again once you have patched up their wounds, and remember to have fun. After all, teaching your child an activity or sport you enjoy is meant to be an enriching and exciting experience.

 

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