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Taking Kids Mountain Biking

Photo by Lee McCormack

By Lee McCormack

Pick the right tool. Kids 2 and under should ride in a trailer. Kids 3-6 can ride small bikes or pedal trailers. Kids 7 and older can ride their own bikes. Helmets are mandatory. Gloves are an excellent idea. Knee guards won't hurt.

Pick a destination. Ride to a spot the kids will think is cool. A waterfall, a herd of bison, an ice cream shop... adults know it's all about the journey, but kids look forward to the destination. Not sure about the right trail in your area? Ask your local IMBA chapter or check out the trail guides on

Bring lots of drinks and snacks. Not only is nibbling fun, it keeps kids' hummingbird-like metabolisms stoked and ready to ride. Don't forget sunscreen.

Make it easy. Keep rides short and not steep. This is your chance to turn video game masters into mountain bikers. If the kids think riding is hard, it's back to the X-Box.

Stop often. Kids' energy comes in bursts. Give them a chance to replenish their bodies - and their attention spans.

There's more than one way to mountain bike. While old farts love long singletracks, young riders often prefer urban terrain, skate parks, dirt jump areas, BMX tracks and pump tracks. A fun ride might combine some of the above plus some trails. Be creative.

- Lee McCormack is a journalist, bike skills instructor and co-author of "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills." Lee lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and two kids. For more riding tips, check out Lee's site,