Feeling two-tired? Need to get the kids outside? Grab a bike, a helmet and get outdoors. The Tennessee Valley is known for its beautiful landscape and there are well-known trails available for mountain biking. We hope to give you a quick introduction to the sport and get you on your way; as some of our area moms share their experience.
Where to Find a Trail
RCM consulted with Melinda Cargile and Erin Hyser, both area moms and mountain bike enthusiasts, and they suggested the following trails for beginners:
- Monte Sano’s Bucca Family Trail *
- Sherwood Space and Rocket Center (SRC) Trail
- South Plateau at Monte Sano
- North Plateau at Monte Sano
Also, Melinda says, there are some great paved park trails/greenways to build confidence and endurance when it’s too wet to ride on trails – Indian Creek and Aldridge Creek are two of her favorites.
Keep in mind, as you plan, some trails will have fees and facilities and some won’t. Greenways don’t typically have restrooms and neither does the SRC. However, Monte Sano has restroom facilities in their new bikers’ lot and in the main playground area. (Of course, a trail fee goes a long way to maintain those loo luxuries!)
* Monte Sano Daily Use Fees
$5 for Adult (12+); $2 for Kids ages 4-11; $2 for Active Military and Seniors (62+)
How to Research Trails?
Melinda’s family was introduced to the sport by their Mountain Biking Team and Coaches. Melinda shared, “We’ve since learned to use State Park maps, websites, several apps when we travel to find trails. They aren’t always up to date, but it’s a good starting point for exploring.”
Melinda goes on to say that “Trails are rated slightly differently depending on region, but in general there are beginner (family friendly), intermediate (some obstacles, roots, rocks, and effort required) and advanced (significant obstacles and fitness required).”
What to Pack When Mountain Biking
A day on the trails requires some planning. Erin says to be prepared with:
– Basic first aid kit
– Basic bicycle repair kit
Group Biking – How to Get Involved?
There are multiple ways to get involved in the Tennessee Valley. Our moms both recommended getting plugged in with HAMR and checking to see if your school has a team. The Huntsville Area Mountain bike Riders (HAMR) is the Southern Off-road Bicycling Association (SORBA) Chapter in Huntsville. “They even offer kids’ rides in the summer to teach them how to take on their first trail,” Melinda shared.
HAMRs has an upcoming social event if you decide to join their organization; check-out their Facebook page! In addition to HAMR, find out if your school has a team at the National Interscholastic Alabama Cycling League’s website: NICA TEAMS 411
– Erin’s Pro-Tip: “Keep it fun. Keep it basic. Ask for help if they want more adventure than you are ready for.”
– Melinda’s Pro-Tip: “It’s ok if you don’t know anything about the sport! The mountain biking community is very kind and inclusive. We were pleased to find the coaches and other parents were very helpful to newcomers.”
What are You Waiting For?
Don’t stay home this year, mountain biking gets your family the fresh air and exercise they need. Plus, you can get started with the bicycles and helmets that your children already have! If your kids get hooked on the sport, then you might want to consider leveling up.
“We didn’t invest in better bikes and equipment until we knew our kids were sticking with it. But there is a major difference in how much you enjoy the ride based on the quality of the bike you have. Some local bike shops may have demo models they can rent if you’re in the market to buy.” – Good advice from Melinda
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Allis Jordan is almost a native of Huntsville, AL. Moving here before she was one, she grew up in town and has made the Tennessee Valley home. She primarily spends her time engineering and parenting her singleton. She also enjoys the outdoors, gaming, cooking and spending time with loved ones.