Mountain biking is an action-packed sport full of fun and challenges, and a great way to get some quality outdoor time with the kids. It can, however, be demanding and sometimes a little dangerous for youngsters, so try following these simple safety tips for a safe and enjoyable two-wheeled adventure with the family.
Make sure you’ve invested in a good quality helmet for your child, and that it fits properly. It should be comfortable and not cause any pain or undue pressure. It should sit about an inch above the eyebrows and should not slip forward or backward.
It should also be tight enough on the straps – a good test is for your child to open his/her mouth and feel whether the helmet moves a little. If it doesn’t move when the mouth is opened, the chin strap isn’t tight enough. Tighten it up but make sure it doesn’t feel like it’s choking or hurting.
Before you embark on your family mountain biking adventure, get your bearings. Know exactly where you are, where you’re planning on going, and how to get back. If you can take a GPS this can help immensely with navigation, but you should always bring a map of the area (and a compass) in case there’s no mobile reception or you run out of battery. Always better to be safe than sorry. You might like to let the kids use the map to navigate – it teaches them a great skill, gives them a sense of responsibility and help add another element of fun to your trip together.
You should also make sure somebody knows where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Plan quick and safe routes back to your car or any amenities you might require, so you’re prepared with a back-up plan should anything go wrong.
Make sure your child is riding a bike that is safe, reliable, and suitable for mountain biking. The same goes for your bike! Tune up your bikes before you leave to ensure there’s nothing that requires repair or maintenance, and bring an emergency repair kit with a few tools and puncture repair items along with you.
Be prepared for the worst, as (again) it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Arm yourself with a few basic first-aid skills; learn how to wrap a bandage, what the “recovery position” is, how to deal with possible fractures or back injuries, and what to do in the event of a snake bite.