We all remember that sense of adventure, right? I’m smiling now just thinking of the fun I had as a child, meeting up with my friends, pedalling around the local park and enjoying that sense of freedom...
Athlete and Giant Ambassador, Matt Bottrill shares his love of cycling with his 9-year old son, who mastered the Giant balance bike from the age of 2.5 years old. Since then, his love for cycling has grown significantly; and today he rides the ARX 24; which he absolutely adores!
Matt Bottrill’s top tips for encouraging your children to cycle:
It’s all about having fun - When your children are young, it's great to get them out on their bike in a safe space to gradually build their confidence. it's really important that you rememeber to have fun while learning... Cycling is a great activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Skill days/ Sessions - If you look around your local area and cycling clubs; you should find some skill sessions; these are super helpful when it comes to your children learning all sorts of bike handling techniques. Our local one is ran by the Coalville Wheelers Swift’s, at Hicks Lodge over in Moira. This is a fantastic group ran by some great people who share their years of experience and knowledge with the youngsters.
Progression - Once your children are feeling more confident on the bike and the enjoyment is there for them it’s great to get out on the gravel / mountain bike tracks. Do your research on some good routes to take them on and build it up from there. Riding off-road is a great way to build fitness/ stamina and the exhilaration of all the twists and turns on the tracks is so much more fun than just riding on the roads.
Essential kit items - Make sure they have the correct size bike for them, you can check the sizing guide on the Giant website. They have a great range of bikes to get the children off to a great start! The ARX range starts from ages 2 up to 14! The next item which for me is the most important is a properly fitted helmet. They will inevitably fall off their bikes so this is essential! Again Giant offer a great range of children’s helmets to suit all. Finally, if they are riding out on the road then you should certainly invest in some high-vis items like jackets or reflective strips. You should also ensure that lights are on their bikes before they head out, especially for this time of year.
Listen to them - it’s easy for us as parents, especially those who cycle themselves to pressure them into it and what we think they should be doing. What do they want to do? I’ve found with my son that if I say shall we go out on our bikes and go for a cafe stop he is much more willing to go out than if I say let’s go training. Emphasis on fun and excitement is key! Especially while they’re young and then they can try so many different elements of it.
Cycling is an awesome sport and skill which I highly recommend and there's a whole range of disciplines to try from MTB, gravel riding, time trialling, road racing and cyclocross. It’s a skill that once you’ve learnt, you never forget and it’s great for your health and well-being. You can start from a toddler and continue into your 80s. Whether it’s the commute to school, the journey to work, or a competitive race, I’m certain cycling will fit seamlessly into yours and your family’s life.
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