How NOT to Introduce Your Sons to Mountain Biking


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Last month, my wife and I brought our four kids to Breckenridge, CO for a week-long summer vacation.  We love to visit Colorado – both in the winter for skiing and snowboarding, and during the summer for hiking, mountain biking, rafting, and other summer fun.

I Know: Let’s Go Mountain Biking!

So, this year, since my two boys are nine and eight years old, I decide it’s a good time to introduce them to mountain biking.  I called several local guide companies and bike shops.  I decided to simply rent bikes for the three of us and hit an “easy” local trail in the Breck area.  So far, so good.

The bike shop gave us really nice bikes – I had a fully suspended Santa Cruz which felt lighter than my mountain bike helmet.  Very nice bike.  I asked the shop dude to recommend an easy and age-appropriate trail for me and my sons.  “Oh, you’ll love this one,” he says.   See what’s coming?  Not me. Nah, at this point I’m all fired up and ready to ride the Santa Cruz with my sons in tow.

Off We Go

I stuff the trail map in my pocket, load the three bikes into the rental minivan, and head out.  The ride to the trailhead is a winding switchback beginning right outside Breckenridge and heading straight up towards the Continental Divide.  “Cool, we’ll be descending most of the ride”, I think. We reach the trailhead, unload the bikes, and start our ride. 

Straight uphill.

Bad Choices 

We’re flatlanders from way back in Ohio.  A 41 year old dad, a 9 year old boy, and an 8 year old boy.  We start the ride at about 10,000ft elevation.  Heading up to…oh, I don’t know……11,000ft.  “Uh-oh,” I think, “this is not so good.” 

Mountain biking is fun.  I want my boys to enjoy a nice easy single track ride, preferrably a descent, with classic Rocky Mountain views all around.  Is that so hard? 

CRASH!  That’s the sound of my little vision hitting the rock strewn trail.

“Dad, Mountain Biking Sucks.”

OK, so this is not exactly what I had planned.  We’re riding straight uphill for the first half of the ride.  “Hang in there, boys.  When we turn around, the bike shop dude said it’s a nice single track descent back to the car.”  Yeah, right.  If I ever get my hands on that guy…

We Summit

After about a hour of continuous climb (it was a fire road, not single track), and a few other details I’ll share in a future post, we get the chance to turn around and head back down.  Great! I think.  Finally, some fun for the boys. 

Not So Much Fun

Well, the single track mountain bike trail was indeed downhill.  OK, I think.  So bike shop guy neglected to tell me the first half of the ride was uphill.  But at least now we can enjoy a nice easy singletrack descent.

Um, no. 

The single track is about 18 inches wide, with rocks, stumps, and ruts everywhere.  It took about 10 minutes or so before our first mountain bike crash.  My younger son’s speed exceeded his capabilities, and whoop – over the bars he went.  The mountain bike helmet did it’s job wonderfully, and he was ok.  No more than 5 minutes later, my older son’s bike kicks up while riding over a rock, and smacks him in the private parts.

Ride Over

That’s it for the ride.  Both boys are done done done.  So now, we get to walk our bikes down the rest of the singletrack.  Santa Cruz mountain bike, Colorado scenery, challenging single track – and I’m walking my bike.  To all you dad’s out there – you know my pain.  Chances to ride like that - with that bike – don’t come around often.

Finish Strong

I takes about an hour to walk down to the car.  My wife greets us – keeping her distance from me. I think there was smoke coming out of my ears. She makes a great suggestion – pile the bikes in the car, drive up the fire road, and let the boys ride down. At least end the day on a positive note. 

So that’s what we do.  Three times.  The boys have a ball.  So do I.  I don’t know if it was enough to overcome the negative experience from earlier in the day, but it helped.  At least my sons don’t say “mountain biking sucks.”  I guess I’ll settle for that right now.  Over dinner, we’re able to laugh about our day.  It was the least fun experience of the week, but likely the one I’ll remember the longest.  And savor every moment of it. That’s what dads do.

Now, if I can only get back to Breck and ride that Santa Cruz again.   ALONE….


Published by XSP Staff on September 3rd, 2008
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