by Jason LakeyI love riding bikes with kids. It’s such a fun way to get out and explore the spectacular landscapes of the Gunnison Valley. When riding with kids I get to be a kid again and see through the eyes of a person that just wants to have fun and go on an adventure. Biking with kids brings huge smiles and helps give them a sense of accomplishment. When riding with kids the best thing to do is come up with a simple plan, have no expectations, and stay positive.
Where to StartI like to start out by assessing the group. What level is everyone at? How long do you plan to be out? Do you have the essentials? Kids are pretty resilient so as long as you keep it fun & give them breaks, they can go 2-5 hours with the right plan.
The Right GearThe keys to a successful day are having the right gear and making sure everyone’s bike is tuned and ready to roll. If you are Mom, Dad, or a bike coach like me you will be carrying the burden of the load, so make sure you have a comfortable bike specific pack for all of the essentials. Essentials that are always in my pack include basic tools, a simple med kit, a map of the area, a raincoat, sunscreen, ample water, and an array of healthy energy filled snacks (I’ll give a more detailed list at the end of the blog). Now please don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the adults should have to carry all of the weight. So get your child an age appropriate hydration pack and have them carry lightweight snacks, a tube specific to their wheel size, and their raincoat. A pack is great because it allows them to easily stay hydrated while also providing protection between their back and the ground in the event that they have a little crash. Now that we have the pack covered lets hit on the essentials everyone should have. Each rider should always wear a good fitting helmet, gloves, and sunglasses. Helmets will protect that precious head, the gloves will protect the first thing that usually hits the ground, and the sunglasses will not only protect from the intense high altitude sun but will also deflect the occasional rock that gets kicked up.
Best Trails for KidsAll right, lets pick a ride. How do we choose where to go? Well good news is we have no shortage of trails. My suggestion is to start early to avoid those afternoon thunderstorms and if possible take a break next to a stream or lake. Gunnison’s greatest area to take kids is Hartman Rocks. It has an array of super flowy trails that will provide tons of fun for everyone in your group. Some Hartman’s kid friendly trails are Sea of Sage, Broken Shovel, & The Luge. Crested Butte has a number of kid friendly options too. Starting in town riders can venture onto the Woods Walk and ride out to Gunsight Pass Bridge via the Lower Loop. Another great option is Deli Trail to Skyland’s Divine Trail to Tony’s Trail. If your group wants a little bit more demanding of a ride try the Lupine Trail or for an adventure outside of CB drive out Cement Creek Road and ride the Upper Cement Creek Trail out and back from Deadman’s Trail Head.
MTB Essentials Detailed List:
- Pack: Durango based company Osprey make’s great bike specific packs that ride well and carry a lot.
- Basic Tools: Grab a Hero Kit. They’re a local company that has created bike specific kits that have all the basic tools in an easy to carry condensed kit.
- Med Kit: Non-stick gauze, vet wrap, burn gel, Benadryl, and a variety of Band-Aids is probably all you will need for a short outing.
- Map: In CB I like to use the purple Latitude 40 map. In Gunnison all of the bike shops carry a free Hartman’s map. Or go to CBGTrails.com on your phone and download the map for the trails you will be riding.
- Snacks: I always like Clif Shot Bloks, some kind of healthy bar, and a good ole sandwich. A great addition would be an electrolyte drink mix from local company Acli-mate.
- Kid Friendly Bike Shops: Double Shot Cyclery in Gunnison, Big Al’s, and Handlebar Bike Shop in CB all carry great kid-specific bikes and gear.
Jason Lakeyis the Head Coach / Program Director for the Crested Butte Development Team (CB Devo). He has been a kids' mountain bike coach since 2007 and has ridden thousands of miles with children of all ages. CB Devo is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to giving kids a fun and safe outlet to explore the amazing mountains of the Gunnison Valley while simultaneously teaching superior bike handling skills. Follow them on Facebook at Crested Butte Development Team for more great photos and stories of mountain biking with kiddos in the Gunnison Valley!