- Written by Kim Sharpe Kim Sharpe
Head outdoors together for some two-wheeled adventures
Are you looking for a new adventure your whole clan can enjoy? Then take the gang mountain biking, because, "It's a great way for families to enjoy the outdoors together, get some exercise and have some fun," says Jamie Gaskill-Fox, a mountain-biking mom with two mountain-biking boys.
Mountain biking is filled with life lessons, too. Kenny Bearden, Overland Mountain Bike Club (OMBC) administrator says," mountain biking helps kids learn confidence, self-sufficiency, connection to nature, stewardship and a greater sense of freedom. They also learn that small failures are necessary to achieve success. At some point they will crash. There will be obstacles that can't be cleared. They learn to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and to try again...oftentimes again and again."
Kids can gain mountain-biking skills once they're steady on their feet and before they know how to pedal if they use a balance bike like a Strider®. Bearden says pedal-less bikes allow young kids to develop the proper balance, coordination and basic body control very early as compared to the more traditional training wheels.
Gaskill-Fox, whose sons learned to mountain bike when they were about 4 years old, says, "Let your child be the guide for how much or little they want to do when you’re first getting started. Trails that are less technical (not as rocky or steep) and are relatively flat or even slightly downhill are great places to start. And remember that learning how to push their bike along the trail is also an important skill to master for those sections they don’t feel comfortable riding."
"Bike parks are some of the best places to learn and usually have helpful hints listed on signage," adds Bearden. "They are designed to have progressive skills features so they can continue to be useful as skills develop."
The Spring Canyon Park at 2626 W. Horsetooth Rd. in Fort Collins has a bike course and the City of Loveland is in the process of identifying the most appropriate location to include one within its parks and open space system.
If you take to the trail, remember, "Helmets are a must and pads are a great option because kids are less likely to get hurt if they fall," Gaskill-Fox says. Bearden adds, "Stiff soled or cycling-specific shoes are another benefit. Gloves, sunglasses, backpacks with hydration systems and breathable riding clothes can also help improve the experience."
Tami Perrin, OMBC member whose family mountain bikes together, feels rolling out on two fat tires is simply the best. "Being able to watch your kids' skills and enjoyment progress over the years creates a bonding experience like no other, creating lifelong memories for the whole family. You are able to share the fun from the moment they sit on a Strider for the first time in the driveway to sharing the outdoors on some of the most challenging trails and most epic rides imaginable. Not many of life’s moments are more rewarding than that!”
Learn fat tire skills
These local organizations support youth and family mountain biking.
Ciclismo Youth Foundation - www.ciclismoyouthfoundation.org
Laramie Enduro Youth Program – www.laramieenduro.org/youth.php
Overland Mountain Bike Club – www.overlandmtb.org. (OMBC hosts "Take A Kid Mountain" days. The next one will be held on Saturday, October 7, at Lory State Park.)