How NOT to introduce your sons to mountain biking

Jim’s a 41 year old dad from Ohio. He’s vacationing in Colorado in Breckenridge. He takes his two boys — age 8 and 9 — mountain biking for the first time at elevation 10,000 feet. Maybe you’ve been there.

Ian in Wilder Ranch Little Fritz mountain biking through Wilder Ranch, Santa Cruz County, California.

That reminds me of the time my son and I were mountain biking through the Santa Cruz Mountains and he got a little over enthusiastic during what was supposed to be a short one hour ride.

“Let’s go this way,” Little Fritz says, pointing downhill toward the San Lorenzo River.

In the best tradition of fatherly advice, I try to discourage him. “Umm, no, it’s a rock garden, a river, and then about a thousand feet of uphill before you finally reach some decent trails. It’s pretty tough and long.”

“It sounds like fun!” responds Little Fritz. “Let’s do it!”

Charged by his youthful energy, I go with my son’s recommendation and we dive headlong down the trail, through the rock garden, ford the river, go uphill, and … Little Fritz runs out of steam inside an isolated valley. Downhill isn’t an option, because downhill only leads down the valley and through the River, from which you must go uphill again. He’s bonked in an isolated valley, and we have little water and no food, so our only real choice is for me to walk both bikes uphill so he rest a little.

We finally make it to the UC-Santa Cruz fire trails, from which we eventually get to Bay Drive, then Pacific Avenue Santa Cruz and Jamba Juice, where we refuel for the arduous trip back uphill to home. We took the bus home from Santa Cruz that day :-)

11 Comments

  • matthew.addison
    September 4, 2008 - 3:21 pm | Permalink

    That's so true, almost harder than trying to get your gf into mountain biking.

    I recently broke my collarbone and a few days later my five year old son said 'you know, when I'm older? I'm not going to ride a bike!'

    Not that's deflating!

  • matthew.addison
    September 4, 2008 - 10:21 pm | Permalink

    That's so true, almost harder than trying to get your gf into mountain biking.I recently broke my collarbone and a few days later my five year old son said 'you know, when I'm older? I'm not going to ride a bike!'Not that's deflating!

  • Anonymous
    September 4, 2008 - 7:18 pm | Permalink

    At least you got out! When they are older they can figure it out.

  • Anonymous
    September 5, 2008 - 2:18 am | Permalink

    At least you got out! When they are older they can figure it out.

  • Yokota Fritz
    September 4, 2008 - 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Matthew — oh man. Deflating indeed.

    Anon — indeed :-) My son bonked, but I was exhausted too. We were both glad for the nice long downhill at the end of the ride.

  • Yokota Fritz
    September 5, 2008 - 5:27 am | Permalink

    Matthew — oh man. Deflating indeed.Anon — indeed :-) My son bonked, but I was exhausted too. We were both glad for the nice long downhill at the end of the ride.

  • Joel
    September 5, 2008 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    Not having kids, this isn't something I have to deal with (yet) but YIKES, does not sound fun.

    I guess if I was trying to recruit someone to MTB I'd look to a ski resort where you can ride the lift up and then just ride around and take trails down, with little to no serious climbing. Seems like a good way to show the exciting part before they realize how tough it can be.

  • Joel
    September 5, 2008 - 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Not having kids, this isn't something I have to deal with (yet) but YIKES, does not sound fun.I guess if I was trying to recruit someone to MTB I'd look to a ski resort where you can ride the lift up and then just ride around and take trails down, with little to no serious climbing. Seems like a good way to show the exciting part before they realize how tough it can be.

  • Yokota Fritz
    September 5, 2008 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    When I lived in Colorado I heard all kinds of disaster stories of folks who'd hit something extreme for their first experience. Usually the story involved girlfriends or wives. "YOU'LL LIVE THIS!" the guys would say. "I HATE THIS" was the usual ending.

    Little Fritz been mountain biking for four or five years now so his ordeal wasn't as bad as it could have been.

  • Yokota Fritz
    September 5, 2008 - 4:47 pm | Permalink

    When I lived in Colorado I heard all kinds of disaster stories of folks who'd hit something extreme for their first experience. Usually the story involved girlfriends or wives. "YOU'LL LIVE THIS!" the guys would say. "I HATE THIS" was the usual ending.Little Fritz been mountain biking for four or five years now so his ordeal wasn't as bad as it could have been.

  • captainkickstand
    January 4, 2011 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I took my nephew for a ride on our local rail trail last summer. He’s six, and relatively speaking, really strong. Anyway, we’re a mile or so in, and I am starting to ask him at regular intervals to just say if he’s tired so we can turn back but he wants to go “the whole way” which I laughed and told him was 30 miles round trip. He didn’t care.

    I did refuse to consider that idea seriously, but I also considered that he just might be able to make it. Kids are funny that way. They have a way of convincing you they’re capable of anything, right before they completely collapse.

    As it turned out, at about 3.5 miles he was admitting to getting tired so we turned around and had a really fun 7 mile ride.

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