There are a plethora of benefits to mountain biking for kids.
If we really get into it, there’s the fitness aspect of it, the enjoyment of taking in nature, the freedom that one experiences being outdoors, and generally the state of being happier. Not to mention pursuing challenges on trails has a great impact on one’s mental health.
But even more awesome is the exhilaration of being on a two-wheeler in the midst of nature and then getting to relish the most picturesque peaks and views.
Need we go on?
Of course, as a mountain biker, you know all about these. And you probably want to share your passion with your child/children.
But it’s getting much harder to showcase the beauty of the outdoors in this gadget-obsessed age. So how can you reel your children into this sport, and is there an age limit that indicates the right age to introduce children to mountain biking?
Valuable Tips to Entice Kids into Mountain Biking
Here we are to the rescue. We’ve assembled 13 tips that we have found to be extremely helpful in
1. Be the example
The biggest influence on a child is usually in their immediate environment. More often than not, children usually copy what their parents are doing.
That means that if your children see you participating in an activity and enjoying it, they will be encouraged to try out those activities.
The same goes for mountain biking. Again, your child’s curiosity will be sparked by the awareness that there is such a sport and that it brings gratification. This brings us to the next tip…
2. Indulge in nature
You know, a love for mountain biking really has a lot to do with a love for nature in general.
Take your child out where they can get used to being surrounded by nature. I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t that the same as taking them along for a bike ride?
Well, not exactly.
You can start by taking your child for a nature walk as opposed to introducing them to trail riding right away.
They will start appreciating the scenery and life that is around them. Your child will quickly start to identify and differentiate different types of trees and bushes that exist in different environments.
Once they interact with nature, they will be more excited about outdoor activities.
And if they find fun in the outdoors, they will stop limiting their idea of fun to indoor activities.
3. Introduce them as early as possible
The only way you can get your child to develop a love for mountain biking is if they have a love for biking to start with.
There’s a slim chance that your child will be interested in riding mountain bikes on their own. But a huge percentage of children love biking because they were introduced to the sport while they were still really young.
Before they can hop onto a two-wheeler, you can introduce your child to bike-related picture books. That way, they will develop a familiarity with bikes.
As soon as they are old enough to be pulled in bike trailers, be sure to do so. You also have the option to purchase tandem or tag-along bikes and ride with them. You can also invest in good MTB child bike seats to entice them with the wonderful and pristine views of trails and nature.
Next, you can introduce them to their first bike. Then, children as young as 18 months can get onto their own balance bikes. That way, they can learn the fundamental skill of balancing a bike.
In due time, when they are at the pedaling age, then you can introduce the concept of mountain biking. But remember, all this starts at the infant age. For the best results, riding a bike needs to be a familiar concept as opposed to an entirely new activity.
4. Buy them their own mountain bikes
It’s really simple. There’s nothing more exciting for a child than having their own gear.
While you can introduce the smallest bikes to infants, you will notice that the smallest mountain bikes are usually 20-inch mountain bikes. These bikes are sized for kids around 6 to 8 years in age and usually about 4 feet tall.
There are also 24-inch mountain bikes with brakes, suspension, and gears similar to that of adult bikes.
But the truth is that most mountain bikes cost an arm and a leg. And the last thing you want to do is waste your money and end up with a machine that will only rust in the garage. So, what’s the way out? ...
As you buy them kid-specific mountain bikes, ensure that you teach them how to use all the features on their bikes. Alongside developing bike handling skills, train your kids on etiquette as they’ll need it on the mountain bike trails. Let them know the different types of mountain bikes as time goes by, and if possible, invest in their newfound love.
5. Allow them to choose their favorite bike
Of course, as a mountain biking parent, you know what to look out for in a mountain bike. And at the same time, you’re responsible for the financial input into your child’s bike. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to decide every detail about the bike.
Once your child is ready to advance from paved roads to more technical trails, they might not vocalize it, but they will definitely be thrilled to make their selection.
Allow the child to choose their favorite color or graphics. That way, they will be more excited to hop onto the bike.
6. Bring them along
Don’t be the type of parent who only teaches through word of mouth. Instead, please bring your child/ children along for your rides so they can have a first-hand experience.
You can even have dedicated weekends where they get to see you in action.
Just be sure that you are accurately prepared before you take your children out on the trails.
You have to be familiar with the requirements, difficulties, and dangers of the trails you choose to relay this information to your child/ children accurately.
While you’re out there, practice trail etiquette. And be ready to answer any questions that your child may have. A good student can only come from a good teacher.
7. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Ease your child in the sport with utmost patience and intentionality.
Because they are probably used to riding on flat surfaces and paved roads, you probably want to start by riding on sidewalks and then move on to single-track trails and pump tracks.
Let them have a feel of how to change gears, as they will have to do so quickly and frequently on the trails.
Through these experiences, they will learn how to anticipate gear changes on different trail conditions, how to exercise control when bringing the bike to a stop as well as how to absorb bumps on bumpy trails
In addition, they will learn how to balance and shift weight as they take on corners and gentle gradients. The more they practice the skill, the easier the knowledge will shift from head knowledge to practical knowledge.
If you don’t have the resources to facilitate this, you can start by using 6 feet long wood as an obstacle. Then, even within the locality, they can learn to concentrate on the trail/ piece of wood as well as how to control the inclines.
8. Have fun as a family
Mountain biking is a physically demanding activity.
And to truly nurture a love for it, one must truly have a passion for riding, a love for nature, and an effortless desire for both.
Family riding excursions diminish the energy requirement of mountain biking by showcasing its beauty. In addition, having people around is a good distraction as there’s always a fun game involved, a good educational moment, or even a great picnic after the ride.
Another advantage to riding as a family is that there is a comfort that comes with it that asserts the activity.
It’s also a great way to spend quality time together and bond with one another.
Whatever you do, just make it fun!
This shouldn’t be hard for you to do. Just think of what excites you about mountain biking, and you can be sure that your child will be quick to denote the joy and peace that comes from it.
9. Affirm your children’s effort
Affirmation goes a long way.
Whenever your child makes any milestone, be the first one to acknowledge it and applaud them for it. It will show them that they are making good progress and will be encouraged to get even better.
10. Invite friends along
You can organize a riding outing with the parents of your children’s friends. That way, they get to spend time with their friends and have more fun riding.
Of course, this will be much easier if the parents are also lovers of mountain biking.
But all in all, the more willing their friends are to learning and enjoying the sport, the easier it will be for your child to want also to participate.
11. Enroll them in a local mountain biking program.
Enrolling children into local youth biking programs and clubs allows your child to enjoy the company of people within their age range while also nurturing a love for mountain biking.
Through these programs, they can also meet new people and develop meaningful friendships!
12. Take them out to a race at the local track
If you really want your child to experience the thrill of mountain biking, then you definitely want to take them to a local track during a race day.
The anticipation in the crowds and the tension in the atmosphere coupled with the food stalls and sports sponsorships is truly an experience like no other.
They might start out as spectators, but the whole experience might inspire them to participate in the competition.
At the end of the day, it’s really about healthy competition, and there’s no better way to hone their skills.
Just remember not to do this at their expense. Forcing your desires onto your child can have rough outcomes.
Alternatively, you can attend bike festivals together where they can equally experience trail rides.
13. Use Cable TV as a learning aid
It may seem unlikely, but it works.
If your child is the type that likes to cocoon indoors and play video games or watch TV all day, then you can reel them in using their favorite activity.
The goal is to tune them into extreme sports to get still to experience the thrill of it in the comfort of a couch.
Besides this method being a great way to bring the sport to the child’s comfort zone, it also has the advantage of introducing the child to professional mountain bikers.
All the stars in any sport are usually a great influence on the children who watch them and admire them. And by watching these role models on their screens, your child will learn that they can also love a sport and even go as far as learning a living from it.
Introducing your child to mountain biking really isn’t as hard as people peg it out to be!
We hope that these tips will be helpful in getting your kid(s) into mountain biking.
As you incorporate them, be sure to monitor your child’s reaction. There’s really no need to force them into an activity that they entirely do not like.
At best, you want them to enjoy the sport just as much as you do. So don’t force it. But, on the other hand, if they are willing to learn, there’s nothing to stop you from being that cool mountain biking family!
In no time, you’ll be planning multi-day rides together!
Try them out and tell us how it turns out.