Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Riding With Kids
Adults involved with kids rides agree. Nothing is more rewarding than watching kids have fun. Adults always say that they enjoy the rides more than the kids. If that’s possible. The only thing that’s more fun than riding with a few children is riding with a lot of them.
Kid’s rides need more planning than adult rides. Young kids in the 50–80-pound range could be riding a bike that weigh 30 pounds or more. So, climbing hills won’t be enjoyed by them for very long. Imagine if you were riding on a bike that weighed as much as half your body weight.
For older kids and teens this is not as much of a problem, but still, newer riders will prefer not to do a lot of climbing.
Technical singletrack trails, the ones that you enjoy the most, probably won’t be good choices for kids, especially newer riders.
A kid’s age can make a big difference though. A fit teen may be stronger and in better shape than you are.
Kids seem to have unlimited energy. Right up until they don’t. So be aware of kids that are struggling. Stop for snacks and cut the ride short when needed.
Group rides are the best. Think how much fun it would be to be out there with your daughter or son when the parent/child equation can be forgotten for a while. This happens on a kid’s group rides. Kids always enjoy themselves more on a group ride than they do with just their parents.
Younger kids need mostly flat trails. Their bike to body weight ratio precludes a lot of climbing. Not only that, but their bikes may also not have gears. Small tires don’t do well in rock fields or on technical trails. Nor do they do well in mud. Taking young kids on shorter, interesting, but mostly flat rides brings out the grins. The opposite won’t. Don’t hesitate to stop to do fun things. Throw rocks into a pond, climb a tree or big rock. Check out some interesting plants, mushrooms, large bugs or (gasp) snakes. Bring water, candy, or snacks for when energy levels fail. Shorter duration rides are best.
Older kids with full or almost full-sized bikes can still be challenged by the bike to body weight ratio. Even when they have been riding for a while and have some skills, they probably won’t want to climb a lot of hills. Plan your route accordingly.
Teens can be challenging. Experienced teens will ride longer and faster than younger kids. They will want more challenges. But remember, keep it fun.
Safety should be a primary concern. If you have a fun route planned in your mind, be ready to change it if you sense that one of the kids is not ready for it. Always start off kids rides by saying something like, “Remember, every mountain bike comes equipped with a walker. Use yours when you don’t think you can ride something.” We never want to give kids a crash course in mountain biking.
Riding with kids can be one of the most rewarding experiences that you will ever have. Watch a kid do something on their own. Something that they didn’t know that they could do, and your grin will be as big as theirs.
Check your NEMBA chapter’s ride schedule to see if there are upcoming kids & family rides. If there aren’t any ask, “Why not?” Or start your own.
In any case, get out there with kids whenever you can.
Have you ever said, “Riding my bike makes me feel like a kid again?”
Well, why not ride with kids who feel that way all the time?