As soon as the kids can walk, they already sit at the wheel and race through the house and garden at a hell of a pace. It goes without saying that the next step on the bike is just a small one. It’s no wonder that more and more children and teenagers are daring to come to the front door and find their new passion while biking in the Bike Park. Jumps, banks, steep bends and trails make this sport an adventure. But what about safety, is it healthy to sit in the saddle (too) early and how do parents manage to reduce the fear for their own child and build trust? Questions to which you can get answers at the Riders Playground in the Bike Park Leogang.
Kids love biking. You can see and hear that when you watch them taking their first steps and kicking in the Riders Playground in the Bike Park Leogang. Here, in the largest beginner’s park in Europe, is the realm of Sabine Enzinger and the guides of her bike school Elements Outdoorsports. Even passionate bikers, they have been passing on their passion to beginners and advanced bikers for many years and pay meticulous attention to ensuring that the start is safe. “The Bikepark here in Saalfelden gives us the tools to approach the material gently and prudently with the beginners, the rookies. Step by step you increase without ever being overwhelmed,” says the native of Saalfelden.
Step by step
Cycling is a natural movement for today’s children. On average, they get their first run or bike at the age of three and from then on they spend a lot of time on two tires. This natural approach can also be observed during the first steps in the Bike Park. From the age of four, kids can take their first steps here. The earlier, the better the motto, because what you learn early, you certainly won’t forget later. In contrast to adults, children are not afraid at all and approach things with fun and enthusiasm. The thing looks different with the parents. Very often the mums and dads build up fears when the little ones get on their bikes for the first time.
© SalzburgerLand Tourism, Bikepark
For this reason, it is particularly important for the Elements Outdoorsports team that parents are involved from the very beginning and watch their little ones drive. “We then explain step by step how to approach the matter. That everything is on the safe side and that the children are not overtaxed. At the beginning it is really about the technique. Not just about speed and high jumps,” Sabine Enzinger explains her proven method. This method sometimes works so well that mothers or fathers often get on their bikes themselves and complete the course together with their children.
Safety first – and then comes the fun
Safety is always the top priority. After all, every sport you practise outdoors in the great outdoors entails risks. Even if you can minimize the dangers of skills and the right equipment. “The equipment must fit. Especially for children, but of course also for adults. Helmet, protectors and the bike itself – there are really better places to save money. Please don’t do that here”. In addition to protecting the head, spine, arms, legs and joints, the equipment must also guarantee absolute freedom of movement.
© SalzburgerLand Tourism, Bikepark
Good for body and mind
“Biking under professional guidance is the perfect sport for children and teenagers”, doctors and physiotherapists are sure. “Reactivity and spacious vision of the eyes are trained and increased as well as agility and coordination between legs, arms and the rest of the body”. Something that Sabine Enzinger can only confirm. At this point, parents with whom she talks can only advise her to send her children out into nature and for biking. “On one side there is physicality. A training for the whole body that can be practiced in any weather. On the other hand, it has been proven that children and young people who do outdoor sports develop mentally differently, even better. In addition there is balance and coordination”.
Skills that you need every day of your life, but which, unfortunately, are increasingly in decline in this day and age. Studies show that children used to tend to be fitter and spend more time outdoors. This is precisely why parents should send their children actively back to sport. “I think there is a need to catch up here. But even if you might think that coordination and fitness are the biggest deficits of children at the moment, it’s actually the lack of concentration,” said Enzinger.
Just don’t let them distract you!
At a time when external influences are increasing more and more, this is no wonder. After all, as a child and teenager, you have to fend off distractions all the time. “You can also tell that in the beginning when biking. The sport demands so much that the kids often don’t follow in the beginning. Lots of looking, focus on the next few metres, plus physical exertion. For a child who is not used to the combined strain of body and mind, this is an almost unsolvable task.” But this is exactly why biking is so healthy and the ideal sport to give the kids a full tool belt of different abilities on their way. Spiritual existence in the moment of physical exertion is a skill that will be needed again and again in life.
“The change that can be seen in children who have started biking is incredibly great,” says Sabine Enzinger, who is pleased with the noticeable progress. “Biking is balm for the soul, especially for self-confidence and mental strength. And when this effect starts, the kids become just as addicted to biking as we are.” If it says so, the helmet moves straight again and plunges onto the next trail. Pure passion.