Preparing kids for mountain biking adventures

When it comes to mountain biking, kids and younger riders are often left behind. For many, the sport is viewed as dangerous and not fit for kids. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Mountain biking is a great sport for kids of all ages. While they may be limited to safer trails in the beginning, kids can enjoy the perks of off-road biking all the same.

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Mountain biking offers a number of benefits that kids can take advantage of. Not only is it enjoyable, but it’s a great opportunity for kids to explore the world around them while getting some exercise. Families that ride together also have the chance to bond as they make their way through a trail.

Before you venture off, you should prepare your child for what’s to come. Mountain biking is very different from a casual ride through the park. Whether the child is apprehensive about their first foray off-road or excited to explore some trails, you should prepare them to make the trip safe and fun.

Get in Physical and Mental Shape for Mountain Biking Adventures

Depending on your child, you may have to do a bit of ongoing physical and mental preparation prior to your first ride. As with adults, being in great shape is a necessity. Even on smoother trails designed for beginners, obstacles will demand a lot from riders. It’s a good idea to do a bit of physical conditioning.

This can include fun and enjoyable workouts that appeal to kids. Instead of a staunch exercise regime, you can play physically demanding games that push the child’s body. The better shape the kid is in, the better they will be at biking safely.

In addition to physical preparation, you should speak to them about what they can expect. They should understand the types of obstacles they’ll face and how to get over them. If the child is a bit nervous, mental preparation will ensure that they face their fears safely. The same goes for a kid that’s overconfident in their skills.

Gather the Right Equipment

It’s crucial to choose the right bike for going through a trail. Kid bikes can be a bit tougher to fit than adult bikes. It’s a good idea to let the child be a part of the decision process. Not only will they enjoy choosing something they like, but you’ll be able to teach them how to properly fit the bike and what types of things they should look for.

A solid frame and large wheels are always a good thing to look for. This will make the bike easier and more comfortable to ride. Obviously, higher end components like brakes and shifters are a good idea. However, if you’re on a budget, a solid frame with basic components is a good place to start. You can always upgrade components as the child grows and improves.

The bike should fit the child perfectly. A bike that’s too small or too large can lead to falls and injuries. Make sure that the child sits on the bike and takes a ride on flat ground prior to making a purchase.

In addition to the bike, safety equipment is a must. The kid will need a high-quality helmet to protect them from bumps and falls. Protective clothing and guards will also help keep them safe throughout the ride.

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Pre-ride Training

The feeling of riding off-road is something that requires a bit of getting used to. It’s never a good idea to just hit the trail and hope for the best. Children need to know what to expect in terms of terrain. Starting off on some grass will give them an idea of what to expect.

A park with numerous hills will expose them to the feeling of riding down a slope. Even something as simple as riding off of a small curb is beneficial. This will allow them to learn how to maneuver different obstacles and terrain as well as how to ride in different positions. For even more training, parents can set up a small course in the backyard that teaches them how to get through basic hazards.

Start Off Easy

Make the first trail ride the child takes an easy one. Simple trails with minimal obstacles will allow the kid to ease into the sport. Dirt roads or jeep trails are perfect for kids just starting out. These trails provide the feeling of off-road biking while allowing the kid to build their strength and comfort level.

Parents and experienced riders should hang back. Never stray too far from the child, just in case they need your help. By letting them take the lead, you can follow along at a comfortable pace and make judgment calls on when to rest. The child should be able to ride as please without feeling pressured to attempt something harder. Without being pushed, kids will naturally improve and move on to more difficult trails at their own pace.

canyons bike park

Learning Techniques Safely

As the child improves, it’s important that you teach them how to ride technically. You can do this by introducing simple moves and techniques throughout the ride. Of course, you should never pressure them to try something they’re not comfortable with. While it may seem easy to you, a young child may find it terrifying.

Constant affirmation and praise will help them learn with time. Technical riding is crucial, and it’s good to start teaching children as soon as possible so that they adopt good riding habits in the future. Things like steering, riding positions, and obstacle maneuvers are all good things to learn.

As the child learns, it’s important to monitor them at all times. Kids are notorious for being overconfident. In the sport of mountain biking, overconfidence can be dangerous. They should learn new techniques while also being aware that of what can go wrong.

All in all, taking your kid out to the trail with you doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be incredibly fun and rewarding to ride a mountain trail with a kid. All it takes is proper preparation and patience to teach kids how to ride safely. Before long, the child will be your go-to riding buddy for all of your mountain biking adventures.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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  1. This is awesome. I have learnt a lot of things through your post. Mountain biking with kids is great fun. The whole family is involved and everyone feels happy about it. Going for adventure into different places with different terrains – up and down with good bikes. Thanks for sharing this interesting article.

  2. Do you think that hybrid bikes actually can do well in a mountain environment?

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