Getting your family out on the trails for a mountain bike ride is a great way to bond with the kids and create some really neat core memories as a family. It does, however, come with its own set of challenges. We had a yarn to our Managing Director, Charlie (who has two little ones) to get some pro-tips about taking the kids for a bike ride, as well as his packing list for “must-haves” when he brings the little ones out for a lap at Bike Glendhu. Keep reading to learn about some endeavours you’ll have to conquer and how to do so successfully.
Planning is Key
You’ll first need to plan where you’re going and how long the journey will be. Make sure to choose something that suits the least abled rider but everyone else can enjoy – we want to make sure everyone has an epic ride, every time if we can.
At Bike Glendhu, we’ve got heaps of family-friendly trails. The best family MTB trail for all ages is Kākāriki Down. This 3.8km trail is our easiest and least technical trail and even suits the little ones on balance bikes, but provides some berms to encourage progression.
What to Bring
You’ll still obviously need to bring your regular kit for yourself, but your family MTB checklist will vary. This will depend on the age of your kids, their ability, the type of terrain where you’re planning to go and the length of the ride.
It might be about the journey (not the destination), but sometimes it can be a good thing to aim for. Get the stoke levels high by making a plan of attack of getting to a point or destination – a family favourite at Bike Glendhu is to aim for a family picnic at either Jack’s Spot or Falcon’s Nest (the summit), if you’ve got kids that are more comfortable riding their bike. If that’s a bit too far for their little legs, you can always get a boost with a Can-Am or Van Shuttle.
For example, if you’ve got a little one that is still teeny tiny, you might want to opt for a child carrier backpack. If they’re too big for a backpack but too small for a balance bike, a Kids Ride Shotgun seat will be your best friend. If they have a balance bike or a pedal bike, grab a tow rope to help them with the uphill climbs.
If your mini-me isn’t kitted out with mountain bike gear yet, our friendly team in Rentals and Retail can help. We’ve got rental tow ropes, Kids Ride Shotgun seats, bikes suitable for kids taller than 110cm and protective gear too. You’ll even find Kids Ride Shotgun products to purchase, clothing and protective gear like gloves and knee pads for the little ones in our retail shop.
The main things to bring along for the kids is their mountain bike gear (plus extra layers), snacks and some entertainment. If you’re planning to head out to Bike Glendhu for your bike ride, we’ve got a bunch of activities at Base 334 to keep them entertained. Think colouring in sheets, a sandpit, swings, a mini pump track and our very own playhouse.
Charlie is a seasoned expert at taking the kids out for a bike ride. This is his list of “must-haves” when taking his two little ones for a few laps:
- Osprey Poco Plus Backpack for his younger one
- Kids Ride Shotgun Seat for his toddler
- Helmets: the kids wear Giro Scamp and Giro Tremor Youth helmets
- A lunch box filled with snacks for the kids and Camelback drink bottles with water so they can be fuelled on the way to the Bike Glendhu summit (Falcons Nest)
- Windbreakers or rain jackets for everyone depending on the weather, but definitely a mid-layer for any wind
- Closed-toe shoes
- Sunblock and hats for all
- Change in the pocket to buy an ice block for the kids after their laps at Velo Cafe and Beer Garden (and maybe a cheeky pint for himself)
Buy the right gear for them now, not something they’ll grow into. You want to make sure that all safety gear fits well and they find the ride enjoyable, we all know that good and well-fitting gear makes a much more enjoyable experience. The budget doesn’t have to ruin the fun though – you can pick up some great quality second-hand kids MTB gear, especially in towns like Wanaka.
Last but not least is making sure you’re setting a good example for the kiddos by showing them some quality trail etiquette. Remember the pre-ride, re-ride, free-ride rule of thumb too – they’ll gain heaps of confidence on any trail they hit when following this!
Just remember, don’t treat this as a regular ride. If you want to head out for a few party laps on some trickier terrain that the kids aren’t up for quiiite yet, check out our on-site nanny services at the bike park. So, you can drop the kids off and head out for a ride, knowing that the little ones will be in safe and reliable hands until you return.
There you have it – our pro tips for mountain biking with kids and a list of what you’ll need to bring. Family rides are a different pace, but you’ll have some quality time with the kiddos and build some really neat core memories that they’ll probably remember for life. Happy riding!