By Jade Glen
The weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer – it’s time to bust out the bike and explore some of the great trails the Yarra Valley has to offer.
Cycling is something the whole family can enjoy together, and kids can get a taste for bikes almost as soon as they start walking, said co-owner of Yarra Valley Cycles, Alex Swann.
“Generally, once they start walking they can use a balance bike – so quite often at the 12-18 month mark,” he said.
Balance bikes range in size from the very small, for the tiny tots, to the bigger 14-inch wheels suited for three to four-year-olds.
“Once they are confident, once they’ve been on a balance bike for 12 months or so, they can get on a pedal bike around two-and-a-half.
“If they have been pretty confident on the balance bike they might be able to jump on without training wheels.”
Spring is a great time to teach kids to ride and Mr Swann said that, for most, it was a pretty simple exercise.
“It’s best to get them on to a grassy kind of area with a really gentle downward slope – they can roll a little easier.
“Just give them a little push, run along behind them and they normally just take off,” he said.
Once they’ve got the hang of it, some daredevil pre-schoolers can even dip their toes in to the world of BMX racing, with full-face helmets, protective gear and bikes available for kids as young as three-years-old.
Bikes are designed to accommodate quick-growing kids, with adjustable seats that can be lifted as the rider grows taller.
Mr Swann said it was time to look at upsizing once the seat was at its highest setting.
Families with very young children can also look at seats that attach to an adult bike or trailers that are towed behind.
Yarra Valley Cycles offers a hire service for those who want to try before they buy and a service department if customers need someone to tinker with that bike that’s been collecting dust in the shed.
Mr Swann said cycling was a great family activity for getting everyone outside and active.
“The Warburton Trail, in particular, is fairly accessible; it’s a really safe place to ride.
“There’s plenty of places to stop and have lunch on the way, so it’s a great half-day or full-day outing.”