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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Anecdote about Introducing Mountain Biking

    Just a quick story from a couple of weekends ago and some follow-on suggestions. For many of us, we're really enthusiastic about the sport, but this is about introducing them on their terms so THEY can find the fun on their own.

    I took my 13YO daughter mountain biking for the first time at a ski resort and it was very successful. This is the basic idea:

    -This is not for you. This ride is for them. Wear mostly regular clothes. My daughter was intimidated by the gearheads in the parking lot. When I explained it was mostly fashion and ritual, she got on with it.

    -99% fun and easy downhill. The 1% of climbing will result in some whining but it's easy to get them past it after the first run. There's more to this strategy than meets the eye.

    -Shuttle to the top. The rare kid will immediately take to the climbing. Your kid will probably miss the climbing lottery. Even then, they are a kid. Leave them wanting more.

    -Time limit. Be aware that fatigue will set in even after the first 30 minutes. We stopped frequently just to talk about stuff that happened in the last few minutes. My kid is a talker this way. We actually weren't on the mountain very long for me, but for my kid it was a big event.

    -Repeat one run. They will not be as coordinated after the first hour, so don't switch runs or increase complexity unless they get bored. My kid thought the corner variations were different 'runs' and each was a new experience. There's way more to this tactic than I've mentioned here.

    -Water on the bottom of the run and offer a snack at regular intervals. If you go longer than an hour, I offer some shaken, cold coke and sitting for a while.

    -When riding, don't ever gap them beyond a safe distance. I saw this with a couple on the same trail as us. The girl was NOT happy. We want happy riders/memories.

    At the end my kid said, "I see why you like the sport. This is fun." Now, I could have ridden 4-6 more hours and like climbing, but that's not the point. The point is she wants to go back.

    Finally, not much bike equipment works right for people weighing 100lbs or less. The shocks need to be very, very linear to the point of using much thinner oil. Brake levers are too far out and most shifters are still too stiff. This makes mountain biking much less pleasant than being an adult weighing 140+ lbs. This is the fundamental reason for keeping the ride short.

  2. #2
    Falls-a-Lot
    Reputation: Zoomy29er's Avatar
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    Aug 2012
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    This is all great advice. Most of this applies to us newbie grown-ups, too. I didn't really take to a mountain bike until the past year and I am almost 40. My friends remind me that it was not long ago that I said I would never mountain bike. Admittedly, I still freak out on narrow sections of trail with big drops and trees. I'm not sure I will ever get over my fear of heights--it's genetic. I'm far better than I was a year ago and I remind my son of this on a regular basis. Practice really does make perfect (or at least less frustrating).

    I still get tired relatively fast, too. Part of it's having a low-rent, heavy bike and trying to keep up with friends and DH on MUCH better equipment. The uphills really wipe me out in ways I don't experience when I've had opportunity to borrow better gear (even a fat bike feels like a breeze to move compared to my Cannondale F5). That will hopefully change VERY soon (have a Salsa El Mariachi 3 on the way). My rugrat will inherit my bike, which I know frustrates him. If he weren't 11 and still growing like a weed it would be tempting to spend a good deal more on a bike that he doesn't have to fight to keep at speed.
    '11 Cannondale SuperSix 4 Rival
    '11 Redline Conquest Apex
    '13 Salsa El Mariachi 3
    '12 Salsa Mukluk 3

  3. #3
    Inspector Gadget
    Reputation: abeckstead's Avatar
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    Feb 2012
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    497
    Good advice. Funny how different siblings can be too. I've got that rare 8yr old kid that has taken to climbing. He has knocked out 2k vert rides. My other kid... She needs a tow strap

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