If you enjoy getting out and about on two wheels, the long summer holidays can be a great opportunity to encourage children to discover the joy of cycling.
Time & Leisure Junior asked local cycling coach Tianne Bell of London Dynamo for her top tips on getting into cycling.
London Dynamo is based in Richmond Park and has 500 members. The club has an active junior section for anyone aged 8-18 years old. You can find out more about London Dynamo at www.londondynamo.co.uk.
It’s all about the bike
Get them on a balance bike as soon as you can. Balance bikes are much lighter than traditional bikes and encourage littles ones to learn by pushing along with their feet on the ground. Both my kids were on these aged 2 and riding bikes without stabilisers by the age of 3!
Size and weight are important. Don’t be tempted to buy a bigger bike on the basis they will grow into it. The bigger and heavier the bike, the harder it will be to balance and control and could put your child off cycling altogether.
Make cycling part of everyday life
Cycle as much as you can: to the shops, to school, with friends, anywhere with a reasonable path. Plan a bike trip with other families or let children plan their own if they are old enough.
Don’t expect your kids to be able to scale an Alp or ride in a cycling event immediately: plan an easy route: smooth, flat, avoiding steep hills and busy roads where possible.
Find out if there is an area older children can try out some jumps or other obstacles. There are lots of skate/scooter/bike parks around which allow children to bring their bikes or borrow ones and try out BMX type tracks with skilled instructors.
Keep it safe
Check bikes regularly to ensure they are safe and road (or trail) worthy. A cycle coach from a reputable club (like London Dynamo) will be able to teach you the basic checks you should perform.
Join the club
Many cycle clubs have a junior section where, for a nominal fee, your youngsters can come along and be coached in all aspects of riding from the basics through to racing techniques and tactics, and fitness training on turbos and rollers.
Check out the British Cycling website to find a local club near you www.britishcycling.org.uk/clubfinder