By Growing A Skier \ May 30 2018
Let’s be honest, spending your Saturdays on the slopes together as a family plays a big role in keeping everybody balanced, healthy and SANE. Winter might be over, but exploring a new way to spend quality family time together can continue. The snow has melted, the trails are dry, and the lifts have stopped spinning… just in time for your wheels to BEGIN spinning.
We have a few tips for getting the whole family outside together on bikes.
We get it, getting outfitted for new sport can feel intimidating. Chamois butter, lube, or spandex anybody? Before investing in gear, take a little time to do some research. The first question you’ll want to ask yourself is “what type of riding do we want to do as a family?” Do you envision yourself cruising around the neighborhood, exploring the trails, or putting in some miles on the parkway?
One of the best, and most efficient, ways to learn about what your family really needs to get ready is to head into one of the local bike shops. People working in the local bike shops in Utah seem to universally love their job. They will invite you in, listen to your needs, and eagerly steer you towards bikes within your budget and rides within your ability level. Once you have an idea of what bike you might like, ask about any demos or opportunities to try a bike before you invest in one. If you’re not ready to make a big investment now, you might consider shopping used on KSL.com or even buying one of the shop’s used demo bikes. Don’t forget to ask about helmets, spare tubes, chain lube, or buying your first pair of chamois (those padded shorts that make the miles in the saddle bearable).
One of the best ways to help your children fall in love with biking is to bring them along on rides at a young age. Let them feel the thrill of the wind in their hair! Kids as young as twelve months old can begin to join your family on rides. Even if your little one is just cruising around the driveway on a balance bike, ALWAYS wear a helmet. Shopping for used kid gear is a smart way to save some major money and find some lightly used gear in great shape. If you end up buying new gear, remember that you will be able to pass it down through the family.
Bike Seat (1yr- 40 lbs): With the wind in their hair while sitting right behind (or in front of) mom or dad, your child’s first ride on the bike will be magical. Most laws require that children are at least one years old and that they always wear a helmet.
Bike Trailer (1yr - 6 yr): One of the perks of pulling a trailer behind your bike is bringing along a few groceries, library books, or even a second kiddo. Even though trailers are lower to ground and less visible, they are the most stable mode of transportation.
Balance Bike (2yr- 5yr): A balance bike is a simple set of wheels and frame- without pedals. Children learn to balance and steer as they power the bike with their feet.
Training wheels and pedals (3yr-5yr): Often times training wheels are the perfect confidence builder to prepare your child to ride on her own.
So now that you’ve got the gear, the first ride can still feel intimidating. “Won’t everybody be able to tell that I don’t know what I’m doing yet?” Joining a beginner group ride is a GREAT way feel at home on your bike in a very approachable way. If you like learning from others, exploring new trails/rides, and could benefit from a few group skill clinics, you might consider joining a bike club at your local shop. One of the best ways to advance quickly is to invest in a lesson or two. Whether you want to check out one of Solitude’s new mountain biking clinics or sign up for one of the classes (for adults and kids as young as 9) offered in Deer Valley’s Mountain Bike School Program you’ll ride away feeling more confident and capable on the trail.
Once you’ve gone on a few successful rides, you’ll feel the itch to get out and explore some new trails/roads. UtahMountainBiking and BikeUtah are great resources for ideas. If mountain biking is your thing - you are about to fall in love with the resorts in a WHOLE NEW WAY. Check out our guide from ranging from Beaver all the way down to Brian Head.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of biking is the community. Sign up for an event or race! You don’t have to be decked out in spandex to sign up for a race- most people do it non-competitively just to enjoy the community with friends and family. A few of our favorite events and races, to begin with, are Midweekmtb (kids race for free!), Antelope by Moonlight, Wildflower Pedalfest, Summit Challenge Series, and of course the Strider bike race for toddlers.
You know, biking isn’t really all that different than skiing. You’ll find yourself checking the weather obsessively before the weekend, and will somehow see past all the gear that overruns your garage. Your kids MIGHT just get a little competitive with each other, and they will DEFINITELY bond as they cheer each other on. And then that crazy thing will happen. You’ll see the first snow in the forecast and you’ll want to hold onto biking season for just the tiniest moment longer. Happy trails!
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