Spoke Talk: Shredding bikes with the little ones
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
One of the most rewarding parts of fatherhood for me has been the amount of adventures I have gotten to have with my twins. Bikes have been a key ingredient to a large part of our outdoor enjoyment together. I’m no parenting expert but I know in my heart the bond we have created and are creating through our enjoyment of bicycles is and has been invaluable to their development and our development as a family unit.
Our velotastic tale started one snowy Christmas morning in 2017 when Santa Claus left a Strider Bike with the rocking base. The twins immediately took to their new rocking horse. Having that in the house for over a year gave them the comfort to know what a bike was, swinging a leg over their whip, extreme rocking and overall comfort on the bicycle.
Biking with toddlers, as with almost everything else you do with them can be quite the process, but hey, the first rule of sharing your love of the mountains with little kids is: just do it. As soon as they showed a propensity for the balance bikes, I was taking them to Buffalo Pass to the Fiddlehead and Panorama trails multiple times a week — we are so lucky to have trails the munchkins can ride at their ability level.
The first year when they were just older than 2 years old — it was a very slow walk for dad, and the kids would ride maybe a quarter of a mile and we’d turn around. There were lots of shoulder rides and dad carrying bikes, yet slowly but surely we worked our way up to covering some decent ground considering their age.
This year, I walked the first time we went back to Fiddlehead and immediately realized that they were strong enough that I could ride with them. The papa fun factor went way up. Riding cleanup behind them, yelling tons of praise and sharing lots of excitement really helped them progress.
In our second year of biking, I also decided to have a dedicated kid pack that I take on our adventures stocked up with lots of essentials: huge variety of snack options, water, poop bags (the need arises at very inconvenient times), some toilet paper or napkins, basic medical kit, knife, emergency blanket, sunscreen and bug spray.
It has been amazing to watch them grow their bike handling skills this summer — purely through practice and getting out there as much as we can. Every ride involves a long snack stop and lots of time to balance on logs, climb rocks, search for worms and whatever else keeps it fun. The giggles and fun don’t really stop when we’re in the forest and that’s the whole point. In the blink of an eye, they’ll be outriding papa and that will be a grand day too.
Nate Bird is the senior director of sales for Honey Stinger.
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The 11th annual STARS Biking the Boat fundraising bike ride is moving from its usual September slot to June 19.