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Children are the foundation of Finnish cycling culture. Children who enjoy cycling will probably use a bike later. Photo: Joensuu Pyöräilijät ry


Mountain biking inspires children and young people - tips for starting the hobby

Sports clubs' courses bring new people to the sport. You can also try the sport without your own mountain bike.

The greater popularity of mountain biking among children and young people can be seen in the activity of cycling clubs. For example, of the 250 members of Oulu Triathlon & Cycling ry, which started junior activities in 2018, already every fourth is an active junior.

On the other hand, at the Jyväskylä Cycling Association JYPS ry, one of the largest cycling clubs in Finland, a significant part of this year's 26 different courses, camps or group meetings for children and young people is connected to mountain biking.

Demand launches MTB school

In May, Joensuu Pyöräilijät ry will start a MTB school aimed at 8-14 year olds, consisting of ten meetings. During the meetings, we get to know the basics of the sport, from bike handling to mountain biking etiquette.

"Young enthusiasts have been seen on the club's cross-country runs in recent years, and we have received inquiries about expanding the activity to children and young people. Now is a good opportunity for that, when there is demand and we have trained four beginner mountain biking instructors", says chairman Leo Juvonen.

Juvonen wants the participants to have a smile on their face.

"The goal is for everyone to have a good time and at the same time develop their cycling skills."

Own mountain bike not mandatory

It is not necessary to buy a mountain bike for the child right away for the first experiments. On an easy trail, you can also try a basic bike, says Kimmo Turunen of Kontiolahti Outdoor, which rents mountain bikes in North Karelia.

“For example, bicycle rental companies at holiday destinations have better models for children as well. If the child's enthusiasm continues, you can safely consider buying your own bike," says Turunen.

Bicycles are classified for children of different ages according to tire size. However, Turunen reminds that the dimensions of the bike should be verified as suitable either by trying the bike on or by measuring the length of the child's legs.

“The younger the child, the easier it is for the feet to reach the ground. A bike of suitable size helps in finding balance and a good riding position. A bike that is too big is difficult to control and can easily dampen initial enthusiasm."



Tips are given by Suomen Latu ry's mountain biking sport manager Tanja Kyrönlahti.

Start with familiar and short nearby trails. You don't need a special mountain bike to ride on the trail, even a basic bike can ride on flat and easy trails. Although a 15-minute pause on the path is good - the enthusiasm is better maintained when doing is not forced to do.

Correctly sized equipment is a must! The right size is important not only for the bike, but also for the helmet. Make sure you know how to fasten the helmet correctly! The pressure of wide off-road tires should be lower than when driving on hard roads.

One step at a time. When you start on a familiar path, the child learns through repetition how it is good to drive on any part of the terrain. When your skills and self-confidence develop, you can head to new terrains and small excursions.

Play is for children. You can practice cycling skills even with soap bubbles! Cycling can be combined with games where driving skills are developed during a fun holiday. You can find tips, e.g.

Get excited together. Ask your local cycling clubs what kind of activities they offer for children and young people. If there is no activity yet, with the demand, the clubs may be inspired to organize one.