There are hundreds of reasons for a little one to learn to cycle, not to mention fun and freedom. Cycling builds confidence, keeps them fit and widens social horizons. With Center Parcs’ vehicle-light roads, top-notch Cycle Centres and clean air, it’s the ideal spot to get them started.
Julie Rand, Volunteer Communications Officer at Cycling UK, and a National Standard Cycle Instructor shares her top tips…
1. All you need is basic prep
Dress kids in comfy clothing that are not going to get caught in the chain or cogs. Gloves or mitts are a good idea as their hands can get sore. Find a hard surface to start on, ideally on a gentle downward slope.
2. Swerve stabilisers
Start with a balance cycle, or simply take the pedals off a regular cycle. Stabilisers might get them pedalling, but pedalling is relatively easy; balancing the cycle using their body weight is the main skill.
3. Explain the brakes
Start off by teaching them to use the brake levers properly. Make sure they’re using them both at the same time so they’re not likely to go over the bars.
4. It’s OK to give them a bit of a hand
Get them walking the cycle along with their feet on the ground, then, once they get momentum, get them to pick their feet off the ground. They might need a little push sometimes if they’re not very good at pushing along.
5. Don’t be nervous
That’s you, not them! Children can take on your fear. If you are nervous or your child is reluctant to take instructions from you, you might want to bring in a professional cycling instructor – you don’t want it to become a fraught process.
6. Avoid going OTT on the cycle
They might want a fashionable mini mountain bike, but these types can be too heavy. Buy the right size – it’s safer. If they are riding a cycle that’s too big for them they’re going to find it harder to control.
7. Use short sessions
How long it takes to learn to cycle depends on the child, but the main thing is to go at their pace. Sessions of 15-20 minutes at a time, half an hour even, are probably enough. Small amounts of progress will lead to long-term success!
8. Give pointers
Get them to look ahead instead of at the ground, and keep reminding them to keep their back straight. The further back on the saddle and the more upright they are, the more balanced they’re going to be.
9. Jump back on
If you follow the above methods learners shouldn’t crash or fall that often. If they do have a tumble, wait, give them the time to recover, then persist with it.
10. Make it fun
Introduce little games to improve control skills: to improve steering, have a go at cycling around obstacles like sticks or cones; to help with balancing, see how slowly they can pedal.
Get little ones off to a flying start with our Teach Me Balance Bike activity.
Visit your village’s Cycle Centre and our knowledgeable staff will make sure you get exactly the right cycle. You can hire cycles for the duration of your stay or just a day. We also stock a range of accessories, such as helmets, to buy or hire, as well as route maps.
Book your next Center Parcs break here.