Tips for biking the Fraser Valley with children
Mountain Biking with Keith
It looks like the weather might actually be nice this weekend, or at least a bit nicer. This may be a good time to get out and enjoy the trails with your kids. Nothing can be more rewarding than taking a kid mountain biking. On the other hand nothing can be more frustrating than taking a kid mountain biking. In order to avoid the latter, I thought I would toss out a few ideas to make it an enjoyable experience.
The most important part of the ride may be route selection. You want a route that isn’t too long or too hard. Most people underestimate the length and difficulty of the ride. What may be easy to you can be very intimidating to a novice or child.
A great easy ride is Northwest Passage. It is fairly level and overall pretty easy for a singletrack. I’ve come across many a family that due to picking too difficult of a ride turned something fun into a survival test. You can always alter the route a bit if things are going really well. Don’t hesitate to get off and walk when you need to.
Remember that to a kid the ride can be more about the overall experience. You may remember how great the trail is and they may remember the marmot on a rock or riding through a puddle. Keep the ride interesting. Stop often to check out the view, beaver ponds, mud puddles, flowers, etc. Keeping it fun can be your key to success.
I remember taking my son out when he was younger. We stopped to play in the mud and checked out almost every beaver pond on Creekside hoping the beavers would be out for us to see. We still stop on the South Fork Loop to look for fish in the stream.
Every parent knows the value of taking snacks along on any activity. This is no different. Pack what you think you need and then pack some more. Kids are full of energy but as every parent knows, when they run “out of gas” it is just like running out of gas in the car. Everything seems fine and then it all goes bad. Getting fatigued can cause not only diminished enjoyment but can contribute to falls as well. Stop often, and when you do have your kids along, drink something and eat a bit.
Before you go check each kids gear to make sure it is fitting well and adjusted properly. Helmets should be level on the head. If it is too high then it does not provide adequate protection. If the helmet is too loose then it will fall down over their eyes. Sunglasses or some type of eyewear is important. Make sure any eyewear is not going to slide down the nose during the ride. Loose helmets and loose eyewear may cause the rider to take his or her hands off of the handlebars to adjust them as they ride. This can sometimes be very dangerous.
Do a visual check of what youngsters are wearing. If they have shoes with laces, are the laces tucked away under the other laces so they don’t catch on the bike? Are pant legs secure so they doesn’t catch the chain or tire? You can use a rubber band or Velcro strap to secure the pant legs. Always take at least one extra one along as the simple things often get lost. Don’t underestimate the value of gloves. They are not just for comfort on the bars but falls will happen and these will help protect the hands. On that note don’t forget to take at least some first aid supplies as well.
At the end of the ride ask the kids what was the best part. This is often great information to help you select the route for the next ride. This will also let you know what type of experiences they enjoy.
Be careful out there and if you have a great time then do it again! Enjoy your rides! Life’s too short not to have fun!
Looking for more information or want to get involved as a mountain biker? Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber!
Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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