So you love biking and you’d love to share it with your kids, but you’re not sure how to do that. After all, kids seem pretty fragile, it takes them a while to even learn how to ride a bike, and sometimes they don’t even want to go. It can be hard to imagine enjoying a ride with them.
However, sharing your passions with your kids is one of life’s joys. Sure, you’ll have to change some things and give them time to learn, but it’s totally possible to get out on the trails you love with the people you love. Here’s how to start.
Choose Your Location Carefully
Find easy trails in your area for your first few rides with your kids. You may even want to ride the trails before they do, just to make sure there aren’t hidden hazards or dangers. If they are trails you know really well, all the better!
You should also choose trails that are relatively shorter and closer to civilization, just in case someone gets tired, needs a real bathroom, overheats, or just wants an indoor place to sit for a while. Descent-only trails are good for kids, too, especially if you don’t mind shuttling them back to the top with your car when they get tired of pedaling.
Change Your Story
Ok, so you’re an amazing mountain biker, but that story you tell yourself isn’t necessarily going to help your kids. Change your mindset so you are thinking long-term when you’re biking with them. Remember that you are making memories and building a passion for a sport that could be with them their entire lives.
If you want them to love biking as much as you do, you’ll make it easier for them, too. You’ll take more breaks, pedal easier trails, and not ask them to take on obstacles that terrify them. You’ll help them overcome the intimidating parts and give them the foundation they need to practice the sport for years to come.
Overall, focus on having fun instead of taking on technical challenges or going for speed. There will be plenty of time to do that alongside your kids when they’ve mastered the basics and gotten a little bigger. For now, just enjoy being out there with them and have a blast!
Practice Makes Perfect
Chances are, you weren’t an amazing mountain biker the first time you went out, and your kids won’t be, either. It may take them a while to figure out how to navigate a tricky section of the trail or to build up the courage to take a turn at speed. Help them practice these things by doing them over and over. Take the same trails (even if you’re bored to tears). Talk them through the tough spots. Show them how to get braver, stronger, and better at their new sport.
Build Their Confidence Slowly
Don’t take things too fast. If your kids are nervous or scared, start them really easy. In fact, start them really easy no matter what. Make sure they feel completely confident on short beginner trails before you do anything longer and harder. Add in endurance and complexity strategically so they don’t feel overwhelmed or like they’ll never get good enough to ride with you. When something is too much one day, bring them back when they are fresh and happy (or at least after they have had a snack). Help them face their fears and overcome their challenges on the course, and they’ll be building life skills, too.
Go Out Regularly
Make mountain biking a regular part of your routine together. If your kids know that you go out every Saturday, it will become something they depend on. It may even be a time when you can have meaningful conversations, invite their friends along and get to know them, or enjoy nature together. Make mountain biking a habit that you do together and you’ll get a lot more out of your rides with your kids.
Get Them Helmets That Fit
Kids need helmets that are specifically made for their little heads, as well as for the types of impact they can experience falling off a mountain bike. Get their helmets fitted by specialists and check them regularly. If your kid grows, she probably needs a bigger helmet! Adjust them as necessary and don’t hesitate to buy a new one, even if it’s the second this year.
Pack More Snacks
When it comes to kids, food solves a lot of problems. Took a fall? Have a snack. Can’t solve a problem on the course? Try some brain food. Need a pick-me-up between runs? Snack again.
It may sound silly, but having plenty of food along can mean the difference between a successful day on the trails and one where everyone has a meltdown. Bring more snacks than you think you’ll need because you’ll most likely eat them all.
Make sure you bring healthy food that your kids will eat. Protein bars, lunchmeat wraps, crackers with peanut butter, fruit chews (for glucose) and dried fruit can all help keep you going, no matter what happens.
Passing along your passion for mountain biking can be fun and rewarding. Start small, build slowly, focus on fun, and always bring plenty of food. Pretty soon, riding will be one more thing that you and your kids do well and love doing together.