Parental and life responsibilities can make it more challenging to get our kids outside as much as they ought to be. When thinking of ways to get the kids off the screen and into the natural world, mountain biking might not be the first thing that comes to mind, simply since many of us might not be comfortable with the sport ourselves.
However, mountain biking engages children in ways that other activities don’t.
It allows kiddos to explore their surroundings in a more exciting way than walking or hiking. It allows them to push their limits and be their own boss, face their fears, and feel the pride that comes with accomplishing something independently, not to mention the benefits that physical exercise has on these tiny people!
As with anything, there can be a bit of a learning curve (for all involved) when teaching our children something new. We’re here to remind you of some essential safety tips to remember when mountain biking with kids.
Mountain biking safety tips to teach your kids
1. Make sure they’re ready for trail riding
Riding bikes on a trail feels different than riding on pavement and gravel.
On trails, there’s mud and rocks and bumps that can be hard to see, and they’ll require your child to react quickly and be more observant. Once your child has mastered pavement riding, transition them to riding in a yard or grassy area, this will give them some practice riding on rough terrain.
Then, when they’re ready, you can introduce them to some green, beginner trails.
2. Choose the right bike
Even though it can be financially appealing, don’t buy your kid a bike that’s too large for them for the sake of letting them grow into it.
What if someone sat you on a giant bicycle and expected you to be comfortable? That would be pretty frustrating, and it can cause some physical pain while riding.
Take your child for a test ride and let them try out different-sized bikes until they find the perfect fit. Furthermore, please don’t assume that since your child is mountain biking, they need a 21 gear mountain bike.
Too many gears will likely be overwhelming for your child, especially if they are a beginner.
Keep it simple with a basic speed bike; that will be more than good enough until they get older and are ready for an upgrade.
3. Make wearing a helmet a habit
Set the standard for your child that they must wear a helmet at all times while riding their bike, and make sure it fits properly.
Even if it’s hot, even if they are afraid they don’t look cool, even if the helmet is itchy, even if they’re excellent at riding– helmets save lives.
If they’re concerned with the cool factor, buy your child a stylish helmet they will wear. It’s worth whatever the price tag says. Alternatively, since money doesn’t grow on trees, you can let them pick out their favorite stickers to personalize their helmet.
4. Be familiar with the trail
You’ll want to be at least somewhat familiar with the trail where you plan to take your kid mountain biking.
Don’t take your child mountain biking along a rocky ridge or on super narrow or technical trails for the first time.
If you want them to also be familiar with the trail before they bike on it, go out hiking on the trail a few times first. Then they’ll know where to expect rocky terrain, turns, hills, or other natural obstacles.
5. Set an example
Perhaps the most important tip on the list is to get out there and set a good example of safe, fun riding for your kids.
Always wear your helmet.
Check your bike’s tire pressure before mountain bike rides and teach your kids to do the same.
Take frequent breaks for water.
You can tell your child all of the safety rules you want, but they will follow your example far more than anything you say.
6. Ask for help
If you aren’t comfortable with any aspect of helping your child learn to mountain bike safely, ask for help.
Our guides at SOA are well-practiced when it comes to mountain biking with kids. They’ll set your child up with the right bike, make sure their helmet fits properly, and take them on a trail appropriate for their skill level!
Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy nature! This list of mountain biking safety tips to teach your kids will help you and your child feel confident while adventuring. That, in turn, will ease stress and help everyone have more fun.