Family Mountain Biking Part 1 – Nice and Flat

Getting started with mountain biking

Mountain Biking can be a great way to get the whole family enjoying the outdoors. Yet as a beginner, and for families with young children, it can be a challenge to work your way into this world.

Our advice (as a family of ‘leisure cyclists’) is to start flat! Hills and young children don’t really go together, so get them off on the right pedal by making your route flat. The less of an incline, the more inclined the kids will be to get on and start (and keep) pedalling.

Hitting the road (the railroad)

There are numerous bike trails around the country created from disused railway lines. They make ideal family trails because they are reasonably flat and traffic free.

One such trail, near us, is the Tissington Trail, a former railway line connecting Ashbourne to Buxton, in the Peak District. It runs for 13 miles from Ashbourne in the south to Parsley Hay in the north. The dusty, crushed limestone surface inclines slightly as you travel north.

Over the years, we’ve done it in various ways, depending on the age and ability of the kids as they’ve grown up. There are numerous stopping points along the route which allow for breaks but also change-overs, meaning the route can be completed as a whole journey in small chunks, with a vehicle for support. As a family of four, this meant that we completed sections in pairs (one adult and one child) while the others drove to the next stopping point before swapping.

Then as the children got older we’d complete longer sections, pair would do the route south to north while the other did the return leg. As older and more confident cyclists, the kids were then able to complete the whole route from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay and back.

There is also the possibiltiy of extending the route further by then joining the High Peak trail – the options are endless!

Beginner’s tips from the experts

Halfords have created the Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking. There’s skills tips, advice on what to bring and features on trail centres across the country.

Be sure to check it out.


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