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June 8 is International Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day! We asked local Fernie Dad & outdoor enthusiast Erich Leidums for some tips on raising kids who love to mountain bike:
They are only little once. Take your little ones mountain biking! As a father of 3 living in a mountain town like Fernie, I am very grateful for the opportunities my children have from a young age. Here are 3 things I focus on when going biking with my kids:
This is true no matter the sport or activity. This is the hook. This is our chance to imprint a positive experience into our kids' minds and foster the desire for them to want to come back and do it again.
When I go mountain biking with my kids I always allow time for exploring creeks and taking breaks, and I make a point to sing songs and be silly. Bringing a good snack to look forward to is another great move that relates to hooking kids into a new activity.
Keep it small and keep it simple. Choosing the right terrain and length of the ride can make all the difference and is directly related to tip #1.
Parenting takes an endless amount of patience and I sometimes see parents push their kids too far too fast in outdoor activities. It is also 100% okay to walk up hills which I like to do with my kids to stick together. We are fortunate in Fernie to have the Dyke Trail network, the Bike Park and Montane Trail network to choose a variety of rides that are great for beginners.
I don't believe in 8th place trophies. I think it's important for kids to learn to be unsuccessful. When I see my kids struggle, fall or fail at something I am stoked. I love their effort and I often let them know how awesome it is that they tried something and it didn't work out. My perspective has lead me to value this process in life. Every successful athlete, entrepreneur or student has failed more times than they have succeeded.
In order to walk this walk I like to lead by example and try features at the bike park that I am unsure I can do. Lately I've been trying to cat walk on my bike which is something I haven't done since I was 16. It's a trick that I currently can not do. As my kids are learning to do "Pop-a-wheelies" on the curb I practice my cat walks along side them. They see me struggle. They see me have to jump off my bike. They see my fail. It is okay to fail!
I hope the Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day video inspires you to get outside and go mountain biking with your little one. There's something special experiencing wild forests while cruising down smooth trails that wind between tall timbers.
Erich Leidums lives in Fernie, BC and is a father of 3 kids ages 1, 4 and 5. He works as a paramedic and ski patroller, and is a Co-Founder of an outdoor education company in Fernie called Outdoor Connections. Erich has recently started a Youtube channel called "That Mountain Life" where he creates family content highlighting his journey as a father living the outdoor mountain lifestyle.