There’s nothing quite like a day of mountain biking to bring excitement to activity holidays for families. It is a fantastic way to get the kids outside doing something fun and active, while at the same time you’ll see their confidence grow as they get increasingly comfortable racing up and down steep, bumpy hills and tackling sharp turns. |
Here are some tips to help you introduce your children to the fun of mountain biking.
Select a Bike
With a wide range of bikes available, quality is king. However, if your budget is limited, it is better to go for a higher quality frame and cheaper components, with the option of upgrading the components at a future date, after you see whether your kid takes to mountain biking and as his or her skill level builds. Look for a bike with the biggest wheels your son or daughter can handle, on a frame that best fits his or her size. Of course you will also need to purchase a good helmet to be worn on every ride, to keep noggins safe.
As many activity holidays for families include bikes, we are assuming the child has mastered basic riding skills, including balancing, stopping, steering, pedalling and easy take off abilities, before attempting mountain biking. One thing you will need to teach is the default position, which is basically standing with weight centred over the bike, pedals level and elbows bent. The biker should be moderately relaxed to allow the bike to be handled easily beneath them. This default position will help your child tackle difficult or technical situations on bumpy hills with greater ease.
Before starting your kids on the larger hills, have them practice riding through various terrains to help give them an off-road feel and to build the muscles and stamina needed for more aggressive mountain biking. Take them to a nearby park with grassy hills and then graduate to small dirt hills, which will help them build skills and confidence before taking on steeper inclines. Rolling over gutters and curbs, down a few steps at a time and over small bumps are all good practice.
Taking Tight Turns
You will want to make sure your children are comfortable making tight turns, something that comes up a lot in mountain biking. You may want to set up an obstacle course in the driveway or empty parking lot and have your kid weave in and out of objects without knocking them down. Also, make sure you encourage them to look ahead and not focus their attention on the front tire - good practice for when unexpected obstacles lie ahead.
Activity holidays for families often require patience while kids practice new skills, and learning to mountain bike is no different. Allow them to develop their mountain biking skills at their own pace and don’t pressure them to take on hills that are beyond the scope of their abilities. With every hill, your children’s confidence will grow and soon they will want to take on the more challenging climbs and turns that they may have shied away from at first.
Richard Edwards is the Managing Director of Summit & Blue, an adventure holiday company offering independently crafted activity holidays for families to exciting destinations around the world, including France, Italy, Portugal, the USA and Canada. With unique itineraries and exciting activities like biking, hiking, white water rafting and canoeing, we create holidays for those looking for an experience a little more off the beaten track.
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