Thursday, May 16, 2013

Kids on Wheels - How to Create Your Own Junior Biker Gang

Following on the success of my last biking story on our newly formed biker gang, I wanted to write a second piece with encouragement on how to form your own "gang."

Members of our Junior Biker Gang take to the Elbow Valley

I don't profess to be a cycling expert and truth be told I only bought my first adult bike last summer,  but our son LOVES his bike!  The confidence he's built riding his little Strider balance bike has spread into all other areas of his life and we are now able to go for longer walks, faster hikes, and have more enjoyable outings.

First Mountain Bike Trails

It really doesn't have to be that complicated.  Start with your child's classmates from school, Sunday School class at church, soccer team, gymnastics class...etc.  Send out some emails to the other parents, and plan a date, location, and time.  Even if only one family comes out the first time, you will still have friends to ride with.

Group bike ride with our Outdoor Playgroup
Another Outdoor Playgroup Bike Ride

Take lots of photos, share them with the other families and guaranteed you'll have more families next time!  I've had a lot of requests to join my "gang" since writing the story on our ride through Bow Valley.

The Bow Valley Biker Gang

A few notes on why the "gang" approach works:

Peer Pressure, Peer Pressure, Peer Pressure

If you want your child to learn how to ride a bike, how to balance on a run bike without pedals, and eventually how to pedal on his first big boy or girl bike there is nothing like peer pressure as a teacher.  Last year my son tried in vain to ride his balance bike and couldn't figure out the whole - sit on your bum, lean forward, and paddle your legs out to the sides - concept.  He would walk his bike up hills, down hills, and on the flats.  There was no gliding and his feet never left the ground.  One weekend camping with his friend Brody however was all it took to show him some proper technique - and he was off.  One weekend!  I had tried for months!!

Balance and Confidence

I heard the same thing on our Bow Valley bike ride too.  "My son picked his legs up and glided for the first time after watching the other kids doing it."

The girl in the photo below told her mom that she didn't like mountain biking.  One day with my son and she's a convert!  Kids just need to see other kids having fun.

Gentle Trail Riding in the Elbow Valley

But remember - Patience - and lots of patience as well!

It takes time so don't rush it.  If your son or daughter doesn't want to ride, let him or her hike along with the other kids.  Most preschoolers can ride and run at roughly the same speed so mixed outings of biking and hiking work quite well.

They may start off walking but they'll eventually want to ride
Bike and Run together

We do a lot of group walks and we see kids show up on foot, on pedal bikes with or without training wheels, on balance bikes, and even on tricycles.   As long as you are all outside together, it's all good.  Some kids may just need more time before they want to ride a bike.

Group ride with our Outdoor Playgroup
Another Group ride with our playgroup - Strollers, Training wheels, scooters...

To read the next two stories in this series, follow the links to:

Ten Tips to Make Bike Riding FUN

An Introduction to Bike Hiking