Children tend to learn how to cycle in and around the area where they live. For those who live in cities or suburban areas, this usually means the child spends most of his time cycling on the sidewalk, which is not a bad thing. However, if you love cycling on rougher terrain and taking in the wonderful sights and sounds of the mountain trails, you might be wondering how you can help get your child off the sidewalk and onto the trail. Read on for some ideas.
Why Introduce Your Child to Mountain Biking?
If you love mountain biking, then it makes sense that you would want your child to love it too. But let’s be honest, mountain biking can be a challenge and not all children are up for it. Instead of cycling on flat, smooth sidewalks, mountain biking involves riding over rocks, twigs, and gravel. Then there are the hills to contend with. It is no surprise that some children are reluctant to give it a go.
However, once a child gets used to mountain biking, they might develop a love for it and never want to go back to cycling on sidewalks again. There are so many benefits to mountain biking for both adults and children. Being out in the fresh air and spending time in nature is beneficial for mental health. Learning how to cycle on rough terrain helps children to build their confidence and improves their muscle strength, coordination, and balance.
How to Get Started
The most obvious place to start is by investing in a mountain bike for kids. The experts at Woom say that you need to find the right bike for your child and advise taking him to your local bike store to try out a few models before you buy. Mountain bikes tend to have wider tires that can handle trails better, and they should also have a suitable suspension system to make the ride more comfortable.
Remember, mountain bikes tend to come with gears so your child will need to learn how to operate the gears before hitting the trails. This is something that he can practice on the flat sidewalks with guidance from you.
It is also imperative that your child has appropriate protective gear before attempting to cycle on rough trails. Accidents can and do happen, so a helmet is essential. Although optional, it is advisable for children to wear knee and elbow pads at the very least.
What to Teach Your Child
Before taking your child to the trails, you should encourage him to practice weaving in and out of markers or cones as this can help with balance and coordination when doing the real thing. Braking is another thing to learn. Your child needs to know how to feather the brakes, rather than pulling sharply because, as you know, this could lead to skidding.
Maintenance and repair of the bike on the trail is another worthwhile skill to learn. If you teach your child some basic bike repairs, then you can be sure that he will know what to do should he experience a flat tire when riding alone.
You might find that your child is reluctant to move from the relative safety and comfort of sidewalk cycling and onto the mountain trails but there are some things that you can do to encourage him to make the transition.
Take him shopping for a mountain bike for kids and teach him how to use it on the flat before tackling the trails. Insist on protective equipment and start off slow. Choose easier trails and then move on to more challenging ones once he has more confidence.