Kids will no doubt be counting the days until the summer holidays arrive, looking forward to the long six-week break from the classroom. Many parents, on the other hand, are likely to be busy counting their pennies to make sure they have enough to fund activities and excursions during the holidays.
The Sun revealed that parents spend an average of £502 over the six-week break buying video games and magazines, taking kids on day trips and covering the cost of extra childcare. When you add that to the average £335 they spend on food and drink for their youngsters as well as the £422.61 per teenager to go on a summer holiday, the costs mount up to over £1,000.
But do the school holidays need to be so expensive for mum and dad? With more than 40 per cent of parents admitting that they’re worried about affording the school break, there is a need for people to look for other options to entertain their children.
Chris Brown, from the National Citizen Service (NCS), said that the organisation could help give teenagers a productive way to spend their time, and alleviate the costs for parents.
“With the long break fast approaching, parents want to ensure that their teens are spending their time productively, without breaking the bank,” he told the newspaper.
An NCS summer programme lasts three to four weeks and is designed for 16 and 17 year olds. The aim is to help them develop life skills, gain confidence and become more active members of their community.
The Belfast Telegraph recently explained what’s included in an NCS programme, with one of the components being adventure. This involves youngsters trying a range of outdoor activities. Rock climbing, canoeing and archery were the ones suggested by the news provider.
But getting them started on mountain biking could be another option. The newspaper noted that the NCS isn’t the only way to get your teenagers involved in organised outdoor sessions. Encouraging them to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) award is another option.
Part of the DofE involves planning and undertaking an expedition. This can be on foot, or on bikes, boats or even horses.
With either option, there’s a lot of scope for your teenagers to get active and do something productive with their summer break, without putting too big of a dent in their parents’ bank balance.
If your kids are interested in getting more out of their bikes, sending them on a beginner’s mountain bike course during the summer holidays could be the ideal way to keep them amused and tire them out.
The great thing is that there are mountain biking courses all over the country, so it’s an option almost no matter where you live.
Last summer, Red Bull described Wales as “one of the best mountain bike destinations in the UK”, so if you also love getting out and about on two wheels, this could be the ideal choice for a summer holiday.
The organisation picked out some of the best places for mountain biking in Wales, which included Antur Stiniog, near Snowdonia, BikePark Wales near Merthyr and Coed Llandegla near Wrexham.
If you’re looking for something for your children to do in Hampshire, Surrey or West Sussex look no further than a mountain bike course at Queen Elizabeth Country Park. options for all abilities and age range from 5 to 14 years.
If you feel as though your fitness for mountain biking could use some work but you’re not sure where to begin, you could certainly do a lot worse than following some of the advice offered by Rachel Atherton.
Speaking to GQ magazine, she recently revealed some of her training tips and explained that her training schedule is quite fluid which keeps it interesting and means she can work around any big events or races.
Monday is typically a recovery day, however, if she’s had a race over the weekend. Tuesday is the main training day and the one that includes a host of exercises that will be useful for aspiring mountain bike racers too.
She always begins her session with activation, which are exercises targeted at keeping her on her bike and dealing with existing injuries. This is followed by two strengthening exercises – one for strength and one for power – six conditioning exercises and finishes with work for her energy systems, usually a Wattbike session or ride on her XC bike.
Rachel also fits in yoga, massages and does other exercise like stand-up paddleboarding, and swimming during her week. Nutrition is key as well, and she offered lots of insight into her diet throughout the week too.
If you’re looking to boost your general fitness to help you improve on your mountain bike, then take a look at our range of group Pilates classes available across Hampshire, to help build your core strength.
Take a look at why Pilates is such a good choice for all kinds of cyclists, not just mountain bike riders.
We all know that modern life can be stressful. The feeling of always being connected and the amount of time we spend looking at screens each day doesn’t do our mental health much good.
But there are ways to improve our lives, and we think that mountain biking is a great place to start. As a video on Single Tracks recently pointed out, hitting the trails can be great for stress relief.
First up, it’s a great way to get out into nature and just enjoy the beauty of the world around us. But more than that it is a brilliant way to exercise. Climbing trails on a mountain bike is intense exercise, which causes your body to release endorphins. These are known to relieve stress.
Every climb is followed by a descent, which, as the video notes, provides an instant reward and means your body releases adrenaline. This gives you the incentive to make the next climb and continue with your mountain biking adventure.
Finally, the act of mountain biking requires a great deal of concentration, which helps you shut out all the worries and stresses that fill your mind during everyday life.
The Mental Health Foundation also advocates exercise to help improve our mental health. The organisation points out that there are lots of ways to be active beyond going to the gym or taking a jog.
But the key to becoming more active is to find something that you love doing, so that you make time for it and value its “positive benefits”.
If you want to try mountain biking but haven’t got much experience, take a beginner’s mountain bike course to get you off to a flying start.
Parents who are cycling enthusiasts and are keen on going on mountain bike holidays with their children will have to first teach their little ones how to ride a bike. However, as many mums and dads know, this is easier said than done.
Lots of children are nervous about riding without stabilisers for the first time as they are scared they will fall off, which is why encouraging them to trust their balance can be extremely difficult. Here are some tips on teaching your child how to ride, so the whole family can enjoy bike trips in no time.
While stabilisers offer children the feeling of security as they stop the bike from tipping, they prevent the child from balancing on the bike.
Former British national championships medial holder Isla Rowntree told Bike Radar: “[Stabilisers] hold the bike in a rigid upright position, so they don’t lean the bike in order to balance and steer.”
To provide the right conditions for your child to learn quickly and confidently, it is important the bike is appropriate for them. Get a bike that is not too big or heavy; and position the saddle so the balls of their feet are on the ground to get their balance, but they cannot place their feet flat, as this makes pedalling and steering difficult.
We work with children’s bike brand Frog who develop children’s bikes with sports scientists at Brunel University. Every detail of the Frog bike is designed to instil confidence from day 1. Lightweight bikes mean riders can balance, pedal, and stop with more control. Plus easy to reach brake levers make controlling speed a breeze.
One of the easiest ways to learn how to ride is to do so without pedals first. This will teach your youngster to scoot along on the bike using their feet. While they will still need to learn to pedal later, encouraging them to ride and lift their legs every ten metres or so will improve their confidence with balance.
When getting them to pedal for the first time, hold the child’s body, not the bike. After they release the brakes, get them to look up and pedal, while you continue to walk alongside them holding on to their back. After a few metres, let go and show your youngster how far they have travelled by themselves.
We’re always on the lookout for new spots where we can put our mountain bikes through their paces and it seems that Scotland could be the next place to head to if you’re keen to hit some tracks amid stunning scenery.
Given that Scotland is one of the few parts of the UK with proper mountains, it would make sense for the sport to gain more traction here, and it seems the Scottish government is keen to support that.
It has just provided a grant of £185,000 to help develop the sport in the country, after already investing £1 million in the sport alongside Forestry and Land Scotland.
Fiona Hyslop, Scotland’s tourism minister, unveiled the additional funding ahead of a new publication outlining a new national mountain biking strategy.
“By using our natural terrain and the expertise of organisations such as the Mountain Bike Consortium, we can further develop mountain biking opportunities to grow the sector and attract even more visitors,” she stated.
If exploring Scotland’s mountain bike trails sounds like your kind of break, get some mtb coaching before you head off to make sure you’re prepared for what’s on offer.
Looking for some inspiration on where to go mountain biking north of the border? Take some inspiration from Red Bull. The organisation that’s known for its extreme sports, as well as its energy drinks, picked out some of the top spots for mtb fun.
Among them are the Tweed Valley, Fort William and Dunkeld. Tweed Valley was picked as the number one place to visit because it’s the “home of the original man-made trails in Scotland”.