Taking my daughter for her first trail ride - help?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Taking my daughter for her first trail ride - help?

    So there we were, watching Sam Hill destroy the comp on YouTube when my 6 year old says the magic words, “Daddy, can you take me mountain biking someday?” I almost cried tears of joy!

    So now what? I’m thinking either a family trail or should we try a pump track? Any suggestion for protection besides a helmet?

    Thanks guys/gals!


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  2. #2
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    We started pump track which worked really well. if she can make it the first round, she is guaranteed to have a ton of fun. easy to rest, snack, etc.

    Trails - start small, stop frequent, SNACK. more potential fun, but also more risk of fun killers (falls, bugs, ...) that could set you back

    Have fun!

  3. #3
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    Find some local dirt/gravel paths or some green level single track (in addition to the pump track). If there's anything she can't get up, over, over or through, walk it and try it again later. Gear-wise, we went with a full face pretty early on... it's paid off too. Otherwise, knee/shin guards, big emphasis on gloves as well. Check out this thread for more info. Otherwise, just take it slow. Congrats and enjoy it!!!

    http://forums.mtbr.com/families-ridi...p-1058958.html

  4. #4
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    Go with the flow ....
    We started off with very flat off road (a canal towpath) ... then a fire trail type that had some climbing and pushing... then a friend suggested we try the local trail centre.

    Went planning on "green" and ended up on blue.

    Main tip is keep them fed... they store much less energy than adults (or even a couple of years) ... so plan plenty of food stops and try and get them to eat (even stuff you might not usually encourage) ... don't know your climate but cold/wet kill fun... and if you plan plenty of stops make sure you are carrying something to keep them warm and dry...


    Be ready to push them up hills ... if needed... and we always made a rule we only stop at the top of a hill... this avoids having a rest then first thing is a big hill..

    I found mine went much further than I'd expected... so long as you stop and keep them fed and rep it fun. If you have a specific spot we also had "dens" in the woods... might or might not work with girls as well as boys but he liked to patrol his dens and add a few branches... then next time it was easy to motivate him to go to the next den. We had our own names for trails... one through some dank woods was "spooky forest" and one with a nice set of rollers was "roller coaster" etc.

    Gear wise... I'd probably have geared up more if I knew he was going to take to it...

  5. #5
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    Ditto on the food stuff. This is an EATING trip with some biking involved. Not the other way around. Proactively stuff food in them before they are hungry to stave off the Whines. I bring stuff they REALLY like to eat so it's fun. Lots of ZBars and gummie snacks and organic Gatorade.

    Weve done lots of flat single track to start with. We are lucky to have a skills dev area with pump track and lots of wooden features, log rides, rip tracks etc. Diversity makes it fun. Encourage them to stand and pedal a lot. Stay positive AT ALL TIMES. Wear lots of pads and gloves. Protecting their confidence is key for many kids and encourages them to try new things. I always give my kids a single item to work on, nothing more.

    Also getting them some other kids to ride with is key. Preferably kids that are decent.

    Keep it short. Maybe built a fort in the woods? We do a fair amount of that (shelter building) and they love it.

  6. #6
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    Here's my grandaughter at age 4 and my son on our local trails. She absolutely loves being out there. That WeeRide tagalong is a great way to get them enjoying the trails at a point before they have the skills to ride the trails on their own bike.



    Before that, she started out on her strider, on our little kids' skills track, then the pump track.



  7. #7
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    Kids seem to do especially well when there are other kids around. I'd suggest a BMX track (they'll have a pump track or will mark off a section of the main track for noobs and striders--start there) or a mtb kid's group ride (these can be hard to find, but are a thing in at least some areas). My little guy has been mad about bikes since he was 14months old so we haven't had challenges really with riding, but I've seen him encourage and help out many other more timid or just generally less bike-crazy kids. He's even manged to get several kids on 2-wheels for their first time.

  8. #8
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    Aw man, you guys/gals are awesome!

    Very excited about our first go. The food thing would not have occurred to me. Any idea on mileage? Right now she can do about 2.5 to 3 miles on the road without any complaining; should I keep it close to that or wing it? We stop halfway at a coffee house and eat breakfast to load her up and them come home.

    On the trails, there's no coffee house and it really didn't occur to me to stuff her full of food and bring lots of tasty snacks.

    I love the idea of exploring the woods around the trails.

    Again, many thanks!

  9. #9
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    Mileage can vary a lot depending on conditions and the kids' interest that particular day. When I led kids group rides for our club we tried to keep a loop to 2 miles or less (often just 1 mile) and we'd go around 3 or 4 times with opportunities for kids to drop off at each lap.

    Loads of great info in this thread! For food we have lots of stuff at the trailhead (now that's also our house most of the time!) and I usually bring two packs of gummy bears and two fruit/veggie squeeze pouches and of course water for us both.

    One tip on kid bike setup, low tire pressure helps. Kids are so light they need a lot lower pressure than we do for a given tire width.

    Another thing is I carry a rope and tow the kid if he gets tired or we have big climbs. I tie a loop in one end and slip it over the bars and around the back of the stem. I usually just hold the other end by hand. This is fairly unnecessary if you have a short, flat loop, but can be a game changer if you have to go up big hills (our local loop has close to 2k' of elevation change). Plus you get a workout that way too! We often shuttle one fun downhill (one way) section of trail by blasting down, hop on a road, I tow him back up the mountain to the upper trailhead, rinse and repeat

    We also end up using the rope to play around when exploring the woods along the trail. Great for "rappelling down clifs" (think steep 10' dirt embankment along a creek) and other such shenanigans.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wacha Wacha Wacha View Post
    Aw man, you guys/gals are awesome!

    Very excited about our first go. The food thing would not have occurred to me. Any idea on mileage? Right now she can do about 2.5 to 3 miles on the road without any complaining; should I keep it close to that or wing it? We stop halfway at a coffee house and eat breakfast to load her up and them come home.

    On the trails, there's no coffee house and it really didn't occur to me to stuff her full of food and bring lots of tasty snacks.

    I love the idea of exploring the woods around the trails.

    Again, many thanks!
    Judging distance is tricky.... the first thing is the food... (yeah I know I'm mentioning it again)... kids blow through their energy more quickly (and either they can't or its not fun anymore.. probably doesn't matter which) .. as they get older it gets better and at 9 mine doesn't require so much feeding... but 5-6 it was the difference between 4-5 miles and 20 miles... if you do stop eat cycle ... and repeat we found the distance increases very quickly..

    When we started we'd stop every 15 mins... eat a little and then cycle ... etc. Then aim for a longer stop every hour or so... (and dens/explore etc.)


    At the time it was frustrating... looking back at the photo's it was great
    Start with what she is currently comfortable with on road... if the weather is good etc. then worse case you end up walking or pushing... obviously make sure it doesn't go dark or you are a 1 hour walk back through rain.... stick in the current coffee house on the way home if you can (or similar) ... this is your motivator on the last part

    Even now we have a gas station we pass (8/10 rides) does a decent hot choc... and it's become an institution to stop on the way home and/or on the way out for early mornings.

  11. #11
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    I agree with pretty much everything on here. If you can't find a flat trail around you, the Tow-whee https://towwhee.com/ will help you two (well, her anyway. You'll be sucking!!!). It'll also keep you guys out there a little longer because she can literally coast along while you pull her. My 5 year old and I have knocked out 8+ mile rides with ours.

    I strongly recommend getting her comfortable with it on pavement first. If she's anything like my son was she won't be comfortable with not being able to control the speed, she'll lock her brakes, and then either slingshot into you or you'll both stop pretty abruptly.

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