I have long lamented the fact that neither of my kids love horses like I do. They don’t like hiking either, so I feel like I’m forever dragging them outside, whether it’s to the barn or to a trail. I believe that kids need the outdoors so I’ll continue to drag them, but it sure would be nice if I could find an outdoor activity they could get excited about. Enter mountain biking.
Recently my boss gave me a mountain bike he bought for his wife but she wasn’t using. I took it to the local mountain bike trail by myself the first time, just to check it out. I had an absolute blast, just putzing around on the beginner trails and getting a feel for the bike, since I haven’t been on one in ages.
On my next trip, I brought my 8 year old son. We did an easy 1 mile trail with a lot of little hills and tight turns, and he was completely stoked. He actually said, “Mom, this sport is for me!”
We’ve been mountain biking every single day since then. We dragged my 10 year old daughter along, and even though she tried to pretend that she didn’t like it, she couldn’t hide the big grin on her face after completing the course! Even though she would never admit it, she feels super cool after completing any of the trails. I made a little video about their first time out.
I’m kind of an intense person. When I start a new hobby, I dive in headfirst. I want to know every single thing there is to know about the new hobby. I want to learn the lingo. I need to know what kind of gear I can’t do without. Teach me all the things!
I’ve been watching YouTube videos and tutorials and learning what this mountain biking thing is all about. I really enjoy being a beginner. It sounds strange, but there’s this cool phase when you’re learning a new skill where everything is new and exciting and even the smallest accomplishments make you feel proud. (Check out Skills with Phil on YouTube for great videos about improving your riding!)
Mountain biking reminds me a lot of jumping horses. You’re dealing with speed and balance and some of the techniques are similar. When I’m standing up on my pedals, it’s like cantering in half seat. When my son had his first crash coming off a jump, I made him do the jump again, even though he was crying and scared. (Meanest mommy ever.) I told him it’s just like riding horses and coming off. If you’re not going to the hospital, you’re getting back on! You have to conquer your fear immediately, before it has a chance to take hold. I made a video about it here.
I’ve never been all that into the typical team sports, mostly because my ability to put up with wacko parents is almost nil. I’ve always been more interested in adventure sports. The people who pursue those activities are generally more my type. I do believe that whatever sport or activity you choose, those things teach life lessons in a profound way. Your kids will learn things like persistence, hard work, refusal to give up, conquering fear and taking criticism.
My son is definitely on board with the new family hobby, and my daughter is quickly warming up to the idea. She doesn’t have any interest in the extreme stuff like my son does, but she enjoys riding her bike a heck of a lot more than she enjoys hiking 3 miles. We’re going to keep at it! See you on the trail!