Riding up and down hills

Riding up and down hills can be challenging and hard work, but it can also be exciting and help to improve your fitness and the fitness and strength of your child. Remember that it is important to practise regularly so that they can learn and adapt to this style of riding.

The Ascent

Riding up hills will require a lot of energy and it is important to prepare your child for what is ahead. It is important to be realistic about what to expect from your child, knowing that they won’t be travelling fast and that they are going to probably find it fairly difficult, especially to start with. Try to avoid working them too hard, too early with too steep an incline. Stick to a pace which is comfortable for your child.

When first approaching a hill, encourage your child to remain seated with their weight back and hold the handle bars over the top and close to the centre. This position will open their chest and keep their shoulders back allowing for maximum breathing. Although it may be tempting to look down in order to concentrate, try to get them to look ahead at where you are going to avoid any obstacles.

Moving up the hill, talk to them about crouching down, keeping their body relaxed and their elbows low to aid with breathing. When going around a bend uphill, make sure they travel on the outer side of the road as they will lose less momentum. Ensure they a rest once you reach the top, especially if it has been a hard climb.

The Descent

The most important element of descending is care and control. It is particularly important for children to understand that they need to regulate their speed and not travel too fast when riding downhill. It can be very easy to lose control, especially on a steep descent or if there are bends in the road. This is particularly the case for some children with additional needs who may not be able to regulate sensory inputs as well as other children.

Encourage them to sit upright and use the brakes as required they needs to, but make sure they don’t use them constantly as it can cause the rims to overheat resulting in a blowout of the tyre. Instead, talk to them about using their gears to control your speed or squeeze on both brake levers for two to three seconds at a time.

It is important that they also keep watchful for loose gravel or unexpected obstacles. It is imperative that they know to watch the road ahead so they can anticipate the need to slow down or steer to avoid an obstacle. Dependent on your child’s particular needs they may struggle with separating their attention amongst all of these considerations, particularly until riding become comfortable for them. If this is the case provide as much support as you can, and ride along-side if possible.