Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How to take your kid mountain biking

A few weeks ago it was "take your kid mountain biking day." I believe it was October 6th. I was planning to take a few kids from the neighbourhood, but it was a really ugly day, rainy and windy. My son was keen though, and at seven, has no real idea of the elements yet -- he just wanted to go biking. So he and I went and I was "schooled" appropriately. He showed me how to ride off ledges and up tricky rocky sections, it was humbling.

In general , however, it is difficult taking your kid mountain biking on the North Shore, all the terrain is difficult. What is also difficult, for him, is the fact that his dad, me, doesn't believe in shuttling. So whenever we ride we have to ride up to go down. This significantly limits the types of trails that we can do. One of our early favourites was Griffin on Mt. Fromme. Griffin gives kids a taste for the Shore without huge amounts of climbing. But what happens when they are ready for more?

This summer we spent some time at my family's cabin in the Interior of our province. We take all our mountain bikes, but like the Shore, all the riding is "up" to begin with. I rode alone most of the time. One day though Ai asked if he could come along. The ride I usually take is a gut busting, no warm up ascent through some abandoned logging roads to the top of the mountain behind our cabin. I wanted him to come so we set about thinking of a way to get him up the mountain. We found some rope on our dock and decided that if we attached our bikes together that I could maybe help him up the mountain if I pulled him. I had seen this done in adventure races where the stronger members of a team pull the weaker members of the team. As it turned out we had some Dock Buddies, ropes with bungee cords inside. As we soon found out these are the perfect things to help kids get up the mountain. We attached one end to my bike around the seat post and I looped the other end over his handlebars. Off we went. I got an awesome work out, he got to the top of the mountain. There was only a couple of times where things got a bit hairy. On a couple of switch backs I "dragged" him to the ground, but we were going slow enough that no damage was done.

The great part about being "tied" together was that we were able to talk the whole way up. He was absolutely stoked about going with Dad to where Dad goes. We chatted about all sorts of things. We got spooked by sounds in the woods -- he was sure he saw a bear. It was really a great time. In fact I'm going to go and get another one of those ropes so we can go for another ride. Soon my daughter will be old enough for this as well. Happy days ahead. Go out and take your kid for a drag, it will do you both good.

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