Starting with mountain biking with children

Learning to mountain bike

By: Marleen Wilschut (SoulRide MTB instructor)

Mountain biking with your child... I can really enjoy it. But how do you start and what can you do to make the mtb adventure go smoothly?
At the beginning of the first corona lockdown, I took my eldest son, then just 7 years old, to the mtb trails of Appelscha and Beetsterzwaag for the first time.

It's quite exciting: starting with mountain biking is not too difficult, how far can he cycle off-road, will it remain fun if he falls or if it starts to rain? We rode a short mtb round for an hour and that went well.

Grumbling and persistence

A few weeks later we went mountain biking again and he took a friend with him. We rode a longer route. On the first stretch, the boys really went for it. In between, I did a few cornering exercises with them on a field.

During the second part of the bike ride, tiredness set in and yes.... it started to rain. The boys had difficulty with the distance and the bad weather. Grumbling and frustration followed. With lots of sweets, compliments and a talk about learning to persevere, we made it to the car.

Once they were wrapped in a large towel on the back seat, the boys were proud of their tough journey. And I was proud of them too... Another experience together.

From forest to Alpine drive

In the meantime, I have gone mountain biking with my son more often and I can better assess what he is capable of. More importantly, he is getting more used to mountain biking and building up his self-confidence. The foundation has been laid.... So nice to see! Last summer we rode in the Austrian Alps. We rode in the gondola together for the first time and we rode a flowy mountain trail... it made me shudder, it was so cool.
Conclusion: mountain biking is a wonderful, challenging outdoor sport that you can discover and learn together with children.

Start together: Parent-child mtb ride

To give parents/carers with a child or as a family a low-threshold introduction to mountain biking, SoulRide regularly organises a [su_permalink]MTB introrit Ouder - Kind. [As a group the participants do technique exercises under the guidance of experienced mtb guides to learn some basics and then we explore a mtb route. Experience of mountain biking is not necessary, a positive and sporty attitude is sufficient.

The instructors will guide the participants through the ride and the terrain. Ride with us, because the fun of biking is great to experience together... getting dirty is fun! With these rides we hope, as SoulRide, that more and more parents, educators, families will get active together and start enjoying mountain biking: #morekidsonbikes.

Five tips for mountain biking with kids

Do you have enough experience with mountain biking and do you want to take your child out on the trails? Five tips to make the mtb adventure a success:

1. Prepare your mtb ride:

Check the map or a route app in advance to see if and where the route can be shortened or extended. That way you can adjust the route on the way to how it goes.

2. Learning by doing:

Give one instruction at a time, for example standing on the pedals instead of sitting on the saddle. Let the child practice with this for a while in the terrain.

3. Self-discovery:

Let a child ride ahead on its own for some time and find the mtb route, it gives more sense of adventure and responsibility. Make clear agreements about safety: stop before a difficult passage and always before crossing a road.

4. Stop regularly, but briefly:

Many children find it difficult to control their energy. Short stops help to maintain sufficient energy physically and ensure that children can oversee the ride well. In addition, children (especially when young) need food and drink more quickly. So make sure you always have something to eat during the stops: banana, slice of gingerbread, some wine gums, dried fruit, drink in a water bottle, etc.

5. Practising MTB skills together:

Many children like to try out cool mtb skills or stunt a little on their mountain bike. Riding over a narrow board, standing still in balance (track position) or riding on your back wheel. These skills can be practised together on the street or in the park. Three advantages: it is fun to do together, you can sharpen your own mtb skills and it makes children more agile on their bikes and that also helps when riding off road.

#Letyoursoulguideyourride

Practice

There is more to be said about it. But in the end, experiencing the sport with your child - or perhaps your nephew, niece or grandchild - is what works best. Prepare your ride, go on the adventure and enjoy being active outdoors together, and then the better mountain biking will come. And after a few years... they'll blow past you on the trails.

Check out our offer of MTB rides, clinics and courses here.