Share the Love: Biking with your Kids
This week I’m excited to share with you a guest blog post about bicycling with your kids in Minnesota by Melissa Hunter. Melissa has been riding bikes for about four years. Her favorite type of cycling is long distance rides, either on gravel or pavement. For example, once she rode across Iowa in a day! She can also be found mountain biking, doing short road rides, or even riding the indoor trainer. She blogs about cycling at Melissa Bikes. You can also follow her on Twitter at @Melissamhunter and on Instagram at melissamhunter.
If you’re an avid cyclist with kids, I bet that you also want to get them involved in biking! I started my son on a strider, and then his own little bike at age 4. Transitioning him off of training wheels was easier than my parents had it with me — I didn’t do the “run alongside their bike and pray they can balance” routine — instead, I followed the instructions here and it was a fast transition. It wasn’t without a few wipeouts, but the kid learned to ride on his own much younger than I did.
After a year or two of riding on the sidewalks, I decided to let him try some of the easiest single track trails around. They were fairly wide, undulating trails with minimal hills and zero obstacles. HE LOVED IT!! I have a fond memory of him yelling “THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!” as he cruised down the hill … and then he crashed into the bushes. I’ve learned to give him space and I still have to remind myself not to audibly gasp when he’s doing something that looks risky. The kid already has better balance and innate skill on the mountain bike than I do! If you ask him, he’ll tell you that “mountain biking is all about getting dirty, having fun, falling down and getting hurt. Actually no, not getting hurt. Just falling down.”
Our Favorite Places to Bike
South central Minnesota is home to some amazing bike trails that the whole family can enjoy. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Murphy Hanrehan, Savage, MN – Murphy Hanrehan has one of the best beginner MTB trails in the area, in my opinion. It is fairly flat, on wide open grassy prairie, with minimal elevation changes. It was the first place I had my son try singletrack!
- Lebanon Hills, Eagan, MN – Lebanon Hills is a great MTB spot in the metro area. There is a skills park located next to a picnic shelter. This is a great spot for the parents to sit, eat, and chat while the little ones rip laps around the skills park!
- Sechler Park, Northfield, MN – over the past few years the Cannon River Offroad Cycling and Trails (CROCT) group has really worked to improve mountain biking in the Northfield area, and it shows. The trails are expanding every year!
- Paved bike paths near our house, Lakeville, MN – I love the paved trails for teaching my son “the rules of the road” without actually having to deal with much traffic. We work on riding side by side, hand signals, holding a steady line, etc. all while keeping my blood pressure down!
- Low key gravel on our tandem!, Northfield, MN – The kid loves gravel rides. We rode with a group outside of Northfield, MN in the fall as the full moon was rising. My son was more enamored with the farm equipment harvesting crops in the darkness than the supermoon!
I have a few tips to share from my trials and tribulations of biking with my elementary school aged son. To read more, head over to my blog Melissa Bikes.
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