When children cross over into their teen years, cycle training can be a difficult subject. Gone are the days of easy all-pleasing family bike rides, when your children reach secondary school age, you might have difficulties persuading them to come out on a bike at all with you or you might find that they want to go out on their own with their friends. Let’s take a look at some of the ways we can encourage our teens to stay into cycling and keep doing it safely.
When children mature, there are so many more possibilities available to them when it comes to cycling. You won’t have to stick to traffic-free, flat and short routes. You can start exploring other terrains and go further. There are, of course, some things you need to think about before you set off.
As with any physically-demanding activity, cycling demands practice. Just because your child becomes a teen, doesn’t mean they have suddenly developed amazing cycling skills. Also, if they haven’t cycled much at all, you will still need to provide them with opportunities to work on the basics and develop their confidence. Leave the mountain trails, skinny tyres and drop handlebars until they’re confident.
If your teen has additional needs, there are services available that provide access to adaptive cycling.
- Cycle size
- Awareness of traffic
- Don’t forget your tech!
- Give them their own choices
- Cycling safety isn’t for the image-conscious
- Cycling friends
- Selfies on the go
- Get on your bike!
It matters that your teen has a bike that fits correctly. If you want your son or daughter to enjoy cycle training then you’ll need a lightweight, good quality bike. This will hold its value much better than a poorly-made heavy bike. Since kids grow quickly, perhaps you could consider rental bikes, particularly if you ride don’t ride very often. You could always buy second hand too.
It’s nerve-wracking letting your teen go off on their own for a ride on roads. Road safety and awareness of traffic is something that takes a long time to acquire and it needs constant reinforcement. Be prepared to stop your teen from riding alone if you don’t think they are safe enough.
Don’t be a technophobe, technology has a lot to offer any would-be cyclist! With performance trackers, route planners and smartwatches, your teen can be incentivised to stay active and get fit. If you’re really nervous about letting them go alone, you can always ask them to share their location with you on a location tracking app.
You might be an avid mountain biker, cycle tourer or road cyclist but your teen might not follow the same path. Try to think of different ways you can get them to explore a variety of cycling types. For example, see if you can hire mountain bikes if you don’t already have them, go and try out a track for BMX or cyclocross or you could even make a weekend of it and stay in a hotel or B&B for cycling fun!
Cycling as a teen should be about fun and enjoyment so don’t push them to ride for extreme distances or on difficult terrains. Facilitate the development of their own passions and they will be more likely to enjoy cycling willingly.
Your teen might struggle with being seen in hi-viz or lycra so talk to them openly about what they need to wear and what is appropriate to wear in terms of protection. Make sure you stick to your guns when it comes to wearing helmets and being visible and explain your reasoning.
Friends become really influential to teens and finding like-minded friends is a good idea and much more enjoyable for your son or daughter than just tagging along on their parents’ ride. Invite friends to come along on your bike rides.
If your teen does agree to come on a bike ride with you, make sure you get their permission before you post photos of them online! In terms of role models for cycling, lots of Instagrammers and YouTubers that are into cycling are out there for them to follow. You could even encourage them to start their own cycling account on social media to track their progress and talk about their rides.
Realistically speaking, nothing you can say or do will be able to persuade a reluctant teen to join you on a bike ride. Just like all other aspects of parenting, cycle training for teens will come with its own challenges. All you can do is persevere and try to be a good cycle training role model. You never know, one day they might love the sport just as much as you do! Patience is required though, passions take time to develop and there’ll be many bumps in the road along the way.