Contributed by Nate Evans
Saturday, October 6th was a little known bike holiday: IMBA’s “Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day.” It’s not as widely celebrated as Bike To Work Day, Bike Party or any of the other “high holy days” of the biking community, but it does encourage us to share our love of off-road biking with the next generation of riders. 2012 marked the 8th year IMBA has promoted the worldwide event in getting more kids to ride trails. This event gave me a personal excuse to get out with my three favorite kids to hit some local trails.
Growing up in the Evans household, biking is highly encouraged. While there have been some groans and grumbles in years past about going for a bike ride, 2012 has been a particularly positive year in my kids’ biking progress. All are now riding with confidence and without assistance, which greatly expands our family biking possibilities. Given our surroundings, I’ve taught my kids the basics of urban and suburban riding, being mindful of cars, pedestrians, storm grates, speed humps and other man made hazards to cyclists. I’ve taken my oldest on single track trails for years now, and on the 1st Saturday in October, it was time to share those experiences with his siblings. On the crisp early autumn afternoon, we headed to the Big Gunpowder Trail at the Belair Rd trailhead. It was on this trail that I cut my teeth (and several other body parts) on mountain biking many, many years ago. This is a great introductory trail for mountain biking as its basically flat along the river with good obstacles and a great destination.
Before we hit the trail to Pot Rocks, we reviewed some basic mountain bike rules and etiquette: Yield to pedestrians (especially those with pets), stay on the trail, its ok to ride through mud and shift your weight over roots, rocks and down logs. Not long into the ride, we reached a challenging spot which offered a teaching moment: Finding your line. The ‘line’ is a 2″-3″ wide path through an obstacle where the rider steers to continue the ride. With varying levels of assistance, my kids continued their journey downstream. Further along, we hoisted bikes over downed trees, forded streams, navigated rock gardens and imagined we were riding speeder bikes through the forests of Endor. After bouncing around Pot Rocks, we returned on the same trail where all three rode with greater confidence. Watching them easily handle riding over rocks, shifting stances up hills and finding their line could not have made this dad prouder. The only thing that made this day better was when they said, “When can we go again, Dad!”