12 June 2018

A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords (AD)

This post has been sponsored by Halfords.
Now that the boys have mastered cycling they are wanting to ride further afield, take on new challenges and really stretch themselves. I love that they are happy to spend so much time outdoors, getting exercise, riding their bikes, as well as having fun. And this summer has just been perfect weather-wise so far, so we are looking into longer rides and family days out to enjoy this summer.


A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords


A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking 


Halfords, the UKs largest kids bike retailer, has produced a really handy beginners guide to mountain biking with lots of tips but also locations of trails to check out. The UK has plenty of great locations for escaping the 9 - 5 and getting back in touch with nature and Halford's has compiled four of the best mountain bike trail centres for beginners, just an hour's drive from some of the UK's biggest cities plus highlighting others in the Lake District, Scotland & Wales.

Living up north it’s great to see that Kielder Forest features in the guide. About an hour’s drive from us in Newcastle is Kielder Forest & Water Park.

A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords

A go-to for all levels of mountain biking. With over 100km of riding available, there's scope for all abilities. Families will enjoy the green graded Borderline trail whilst those looking to step up their skills should try out the breath-taking Osprey MTB trail. It also has parking, a café, toilets and a bike wash.


A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords
Image from www.forestrycommission.gov.uk

If you are located further south, then, Swinley Forest near London, Cannock Chase near Birmingham and the Forest of Dean, close to Bristol are also great for beginners. We are only just over an hour from The Lake District too so heading west we can also easily reach Whinlatter & Grizedale. We’ve been to Whinlatter before but not with bikes and they also have a brilliant free outdoor adventure play area that the boys loved.

I loved BMX’s when I was growing up, I’ve headed out on bike rides in the past, hiring bikes with friends to cycle all the way around Derwent Water from Keswick, hubby regularly cycles to the coast as we are lucky enough to live on a cycle route but heading out mountain biking is not something we’ve done as a family, but not to worry as the Halfords guide is full of useful hints and tips.

A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords

What do the different colour routes mean?

The GREEN routes are the easiest, with smooth, wide tracks and shallow climbs. A perfect fit for beginner mountain bikers and families. On the UK's standard trail grading system you also get BLUE, RED and BLACK which increase in difficulty in that order.

How do you choose a mountain bike?

The easiest way is to sit on one and try it out. Other things to think about are wheel size, tyres suspensions, gears etc.

As well as a bike, what accessories do you need?

You might not need them all but have a think about gloves – for warmth, protection and grip; mudguards if you don’t like too much mud; lights – essential if cycling in the dark; layered clothing – be ready for all weather; water and snacks; sunglasses; and a puncture kit or spare inner tube and bike pump. And don’t forget your camera!

A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords

Three Top Tips from a Nine Year Old

Now that my youngest is loving getting out and about on his bike I asked him for three tips he’d like to pass on to my readers … he says ...

A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords


1. Ring your bell.

Let people know you are there when approaching walkers and other slower cyclists slow down and ping your bell or shout out - but don't assume they can hear or see you. It’s great having cycle tracks away from cars and other vehicles but some people ride so fast that it can be frightening for beginners. My son often asks why others don’t ring their bells more?

2. Wear your helmet.

They have been educated so well at school that it’s not a problem at all to get my boys to wear their helmets but they are often amazed at the number of cyclists they see not wearing one.


3. Take plenty of snacks and drinks.

Both of my boys are always thirsty and hungry when out cycling. It’s great exercise – apparently, cycling raises your metabolic rate, and regular cyclists are as fit as an average person 10 years younger but our bodies also need fuel and hydration too.

A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords


Where to mountain bike with the family?


I asked some other parents where they love mountain biking with their families.

Hamsterley Forest, Durham

Jan says “Hamsterley Forest is lovely and also in the North East. It's popular with families. There are forest cycling trails and a picnic area. I think I remember a cafe. We also paddled in the stream.” 

We haven’t cycled there yet but from walking we know it’s a great family day out.

A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords

The Forest of Ae

Eileen's favourite place to go mountain biking when her kids were younger was at The Forest of Ae, in beautiful South West Scotland, just off the M74. She says “The blue trail is amazing! It has winding paths through the forest, along the riverside and a couple of fantastic flowing downhill sections with some berms thrown in. Awesome fun for everyone. Now they are older it's still a favourite place, but we are loving the red route - challenging in places, but amazing fun. There is also a brilliant bike shop and cafe, which serves the best cakes you will ever taste!”

Sounds a great place to develop your skills.

A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords


Kielder Forest & Water Park

Emma says she was captivated by the beauty of the Kielder the first time she visited and now tries to visit at least once a year and cycle around the many different routes available. “Even if you aren’t a regular cyclist, which we aren’t,” she says, “there’s a trail suitable for your ability. And the North Lakeside trail also has Art installations dotted along the route.” 


A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords
Photo  of Kielder from Cannyfood
A Family Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords
Photo of Kielder from Cannyfood

Where is your favourite place to take the family mountain biking?

Deb x

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Halfords.

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