Real Family MTB Adventures

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Family MTB Adventures

There are more and more families enjoying cycling in all its forms – up to and including full-on downhill and enduro epics on some of the gnarliest, steepest and downright scariest descents that you can imagine. And why not, lots of families go skiing for example, it’s just that mountain biking has opened up a similar sport that you can actually do all year round, at some of the best locations, here in the UK.

It does take some commitment to get the whole family riding regularly, especially if you really get bitten hard and want to keep everyone up to date with the skills and gear that will allow them to enjoy riding off-road. Modern MTBs are great bits of kit, capable of being piloted in some seriously challenging terrain but they don’t come cheap – and the skills to tame them also require a real investment in time. But to my mind, this sport is still the best commitment we have made yet; every weekend we are out as a family or with groups riding in the outdoors and sharing a passion. You will need a Red Bull TV subscription for back home though…

Coaching is the best upgrade

The broadening of the MTB scene has led to greater diversity (although still plenty to do) which in turn has improved the range and choice across genders and ages, so your children can ride bikes that fit them and function. Surely now, there is no excuse for Dad on a £5k Yeti to be moaning that no one’s having as much fun on the bone-shakers he’s found for them in the shed…

Our family wasn’t in much danger of that – all three of us boys have been inspired by Kate’s commitment to riding bikes. She’s raced Triathlon, Road, Cyclo-cross, MTB cross country and enduro so it was bound to rub off on us at some point.

That point came when we discovered the Little Fodders coaching programme for kids in the Forest of Dean. Run by WyeMTB out of the Pedalabikeaway centre, every Saturday for 5 years our boys progressed through the groups, made friends and graduated as great riders. Watching some of the Little Fodders shred the trails and race people think they have no fear. I don’t think that’s true, they’ve developed skills and no bad habits (on the bike!) which means they understand their limits and make good choices. In almost exactly the same way that I don’t, which is why I can no longer keep up.

Finding (or starting?) one of these groups can accelerate your skills and your enjoyment of the sport. Most of the trail centres have coaching programmes or sessions for new or developing riders and can be a great option. British Cycling even has talent development programmes in association with coaching companies to encourage more youth participation in racing. And we have some of the best role models in the UK for MTB success, from full-on pro downhill racers to freeriders, adventurers to vloggers and all in between.