My first experience of mountain biking came when I was in my early 20s when I was involved with the local organisation of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme. It seemed a fairly new sport to me at the time, as I’d only become aware of it at university, and I was very keen to give it a go. I much preferred it to road cycling as it let me get out into the countryside, and not just country lanes, and it was just a lot more fun. Over the years mountain biking formed a part of holiday and weekend trips, but then I didn’t do any for a number of years until H got old enough to ride a bike. H was a bit of a reluctant bike rider and we didn’t seem to have much luck trying to teach him (we were probably doing it all wrong), so in the end we got in a professional coach and he could ride within an hour or two. We moved onto building confidence using the techniques his coach had taught him and H did well when he did his cycling proficiency class at school.
H has now got his own bike and we chose one that is suited to both for riding on paths or roads and going off-road to provide lots of flexibility. Obviously, if you find yourself doing a lot of mountain biking, it makes sense to get a specialist mountain bike. Halfords have put together a beginner’s guide to mountain biking which has lots of useful tips on choosing a bike and what sort of routes to follow. I’ve got a few tips of my own though based on my experience:
- Build up confidence off-road for new cyclists before trying mountain bike trails. Get your child riding on the grass at the park and then move onto rougher paths and uneven ground.
- Choose a waymarked route for your first proper mountain biking trip. It’s a lot easier if you don’t have to concentrate on navigation and it’s useful to have a clear idea of the distance you are planning on covering (waymarked routes often state the distance so you know what you are letting yourself in for).
- Choose a trail with a treat at the end (or even half way along). Maybe a pub lunch or a hot chocolate and cake in a cafe.
- Be prepared. Have the kit you need and don’t forget a drink/energy snack.
Disclosure: This post is in association with Halfords.