A year later, and I'm pretty stoked as we've done a fair bit of riding, both at joyride and now on trails. So, from re-reading this thread I realize it hasn't actually identified what might be a short introductory race event for a 7 year old. The weekly series at Albion and Kelso were certainly my first thought, but starting from downtown toronto I'm worried the driving in rush-hour gridlock will turn my son off faster than any racing 'pressure' (not that there'd be any). I haven't been to any weekend events since the mid 90's... but many of you have. Are there any 7 year-olds out there? What are the distances? Seeing as hockey was mentioned earlier in the thread, let me just say that this past winter I've seen my son's friends going through their first year of select hockey, and I know that mountain bike racing would not approach that level of focus and intensity (my son's friends can now skate backwards better than I can). So, I'm certainly interested in trying a short mtb event if there's a good match, any info appreciated.
Honestly, I think your best bet is the kids' race at Kelso on Tuesday nights.
I have a 10 yo daughter, 8 yo boy and another 7 yo daughter all riding at the Kelso Tuesday night MTB series. It's a fantastic event and there are more and more kids coming out which is encouraging to see. I can appreciate that getting there from downtown TO is a bit of a trek (pun not intended.) Personally I work downtown and have to sneak out of the office at 4:15, catch a GO Train back to Burlington, walk home, hop in the van with the family (5 bikes pre-loaded on the roof racks the night before) and race north to Kelso. I never get a warm-up-- essentially my first lap is warm-up.
My 7 yo daughter rides the "Beginner" course which runs 1.3 km * 3 laps around the base of the hill. At first I wasn't sure if she would be up for it, so the day before the first race I made a deal with her. I promised that for every night she completed her 3 laps, she gets a prize (it's amazing how far cheap candy goes with her:) She had been asking for a real cycling jersey, so I also said that if she was committed, and was able to finish her race 8 times this summer, she would get her cycling jersey. So far she's done 2, 6 more to go.
Kelso Race series also has a "Kids" course which is just a few hundred meters long. We started our kids here at the age of 4 yo. This is a good place to start and helps to build skills and confidence. It's not timed, but the # laps completed by each "racer" is tracked each week. For $15 they get a race plate, or they can go without and race for free.
We have adopted a "no pressure" approach to riding/racing. If they want to take an evening off, completely cool with that. Our kids do tend to be at the more active end of the spectrum though so it's not been hard to get them out for an event like Kelso. Last weekend my 8 yo boy did the 24 km ride back from Kelso to Burlington and he was asking to go to the local BMX track when he got home:shocked: And that was after having done a ride at Kelso including the climb up Fire.
Kids don't alway like doing what you do, I couldn't stand my dad's sailing when i was younger, but in the end love windsurfing. I have 4 kids 8 to 16 and it has only really stuck with one – my youngest – he's a rocket in the trails and I will give a lot of kudos to Christie Lake it's perfect for getting them out for what they can handle.
My second oldest has no real interest but put her on a bike on the road and all you will see is her back but she could take it or leave it. My youngest girl also took the testing at school from the OCA and finished in the top 2 or 3% but even though she plays travel hockey with boys at 10 she is timid on a bike and does not enjoy off road at all.
Best case scenario is expose them to as much fun cycling and at least they will feel comfortable on a bike for their lifetime.
Excellent question, Kay. 18 months after the start of this thread my boys are still good hockey players. My 8 year old hasn't been chomping at the bit to ride, but the older one has embraced it. He is using his slightly pimped ride for personal transportation. He told me the other night, "I rode from Chase's in 4 minutes". I'm not sure that is possible. ;) but I admire the spirit. He has also pulled away from me on several rides we do together, I think he is faster than me.
I'd like to see him do a race and would be curious about good options...
As an update to another thread I posted on here my blood pressure is a drug assisted 125/70, so I have been comfortable pushing myself cardiovascularly. Also I have recently started a new job and have celebrated my new found happiness with some new shite (Shimano Zee drivetrain and some Raceface rings). I also commute occasionally to supplement my exercise.
Originally Posted by Kay.
Once they have mastered the simple riding. It is easy for parents to without knowing have their ego and pride about cycling get in the way of their kid riding. Just let your kid ride and do whatever for now. The most important thing we as parents can do for our kids is expose them to as many different sports and disciplines of the sports as possible. Our kids will figure out what they are drawn to and show interest in that. And even sports they are interested in now will change over time as well.
Originally Posted by croft
Seen far to often what happens to kids who get all the pressure of their parents to do the sports that either interest their parents or made to focus to much on the sport by their parents because they showed interest. Most of those kids quit when they go to Uni and are no longer under their parents direct influence.
We have a MTB Festival just for our club in a week. Meet and greet for kids and such. My 6 year old daughter is going but she knows if she doesn't want to ride at all she doesn't have to. If all she wants to do is run around Robs farm with the other kids or jump in the pool to swim. So be it. Much more important that she is out and is exposed to cycling even if she doesn't ride that day.
A few "motivating" things I've gone with:
1) A bike is not a gift or a present like toys. A bike is a requirement like shoes. When a bike is needed, it will be provided, period.
2) Bike rides are never a required activity. But in lieu of a ride, they will be outside doing physical activity of some type.
3) Helmets are to be worn as a precaution and in accordance with the law. Not because cycling is inherently dangerous, it is not.
4) Hammer Bars from dad's stash may only be consumed during or after bike rides of 1 hour or more (this rule has inspired some epic rides in it's own right).
So far, we're still giving bikes as gifts but it hasn't dampened his enthusiasm one bit. The boy will be getting his first pedal bike in the fall and we plan on using it and the run bike in tandem until he's fully switched over.
Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
I don't know if he's totally ready for pedals but he definitely needs brakes. His Flintstone brakes just aren't cutting it on the Christie single-track! :)
Thanks for the thoughts, Kelso is certainly catering to kids on their Tuesday night event, so that'll be a go if I can get the drive organized. In the meantime, we'll continue with some riding on the weekends at Albion. It's been my first look at the place, and after all the discussions on this forum over the past few years wasn't sure what to expect. Well it certainly exceeded my expectations, and it just seems like a perfect spot for kids. Buff singletrack; splash pad/pool; picnic; repeat. As suggested, don't want to overdo it... our rule now is, it's up to him to suggest mountain biking, so it doesn't happen if he's not thinking about it.
I started my girl and boy on the trail a bike for thier first taste of singletrack. Just out with mom and dad having fun. We kept it up with the kids races at what ever race we happened to be at sometimes with mom and dad running behind them giving pushes now and then. Fast forward to ages 9 and 11 and they are both on proper mountain bikes with skill sets to match. It has been a relaxed process with many rides only taking in a short taste of single track to start out. Often with frustration and tears in the middle of the ride. We made a point of adjusting the ride to always finish off with enough easy riding to rebuild confidence and have fun. Now we are at the point where we are able to get out for relaxed rides on real trail systems for 1-3 hours. In fact best fathers day ever a day trip to Turkey Point with nearly 5 hours of riding with a snack break in the middle.
The Details | sixinthehood.com will have a free fun kids race and with Canal Days City of Port Colborne • Canal Days there are lots of other events for the family.