As my children have developed a passion for bike riding at an early age, I’ve been asked a few times what the secrets been to success. While I would love to give my husband and I some credit, or maybe my children rather, I really am convinced it comes down to introducing the right bike at the right time and getting out and using it as often as possible. While certainly no two children are the same, I do think there are a few key tips that have helped us get started and maybe can help you too:
–Strider Balance Bikes (http://www.striderbikes.com): Great friends of ours introduced us and we fell in LOVE. We’ve often said that the balance bike has been one of the greatest tools we’ve utilized as parents. It really is brilliant and simple… learn balance before proceeding to pedals and brakes. Once balance is learned all that’s needed is a little confidence to make the transition to pedals without ever having to introduce training wheels. We’ve been advocates of the Strider brand since they make the lightest balance bikes in their category (less than 7 lbs.) and have the lowest seat height for the youngest starting age. Kids as young as 18 months are learning to ride! (NOTE: If you have a child that just stands and walks on the balance bike, adjust the seat height. I see a lot of people struggle with that. There is a “magic” seat height that they will sit down on.)
–Keep it light: When transitioning to a pedal bike, we’ve found that the lighter weight bikes make it easier for the child to manage by themselves. After the Strider we transitioned our kids to a 12” Specialized Hotrock, and then the 16” Hotrock. While these might be more expensive than others on the market, they will still have great resell value after holding up to the abuse of young children. (NOTE: The advice we have been given is to keep them on a pedal brake until a 20″. Both gears and hand brakes will be introduced then.)
–Carry your own weight: This next tip really offers no clear benefit to a child, but rather sanity for the parent. From the beginning, we’ve had a “no carry” parenting policy. If they decided to take their bike on a walk, it’s been their responsibility to get it home. It may seem harsh but since that was the rule from the beginning they never new any different.
–SNACKS: Just like anything else with kids, a good ride can be summed up by the quality of snacks and water readily available. Both of our kids have the children’s version of the Camelbak hydration backpack. They carry their own water and snacks and they LOVE it.
So….looking to get your little one excited about biking?? There are a couple great events coming up for the family you should check out. Cyclovia is this next Sunday (July 27th) from 11am-4pm in downtown Boone. (http://boonecyclovia.com ) We will be stationed at the High Country Recreation booth having relay races and obstacle courses if you want to come play! Cyclovia is this next Sunday (July 27th) from 11am-4pm
Also coming soon is Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day at Rocky Knob Park. It will be on Saturday, October 4th. More details will be coming as we get closer to the date!