A Bike-Minded Family Heads Norte

Norte is a youth cycling group based in Traverse City, Michigan
Norte youth bike club – Traverse City, Michigan

Words by Becky Parker | Photos used with permission from Ty Schmidt | Published on 11/18/17

Inspiring a City of Kids on Bikes

The non-profit organization Norte began shortly after founding members Ty and Johanna Schmidt moved to the Traverse City, Michigan area from southern Arizona. They became motivated when they saw a lot of traffic at school gates, and so few kids on bikes. In a bid to help, they started offering neighborhood families another option – “Drop your kids at our place and they can join us cycling to school.” In no time at all the numbers began to grow. Inspired by the fun they saw the kids having, Johanna and Ty reached out to friends to set up similar bike trains in other neighborhoods. From this, Norte was born.

What Norte Offers

Norte is governed by a 9-member board and dedicated support team. Between them, they organize 18 bike trains connecting 9 different neighborhoods to 12 Traverse City schools. Expanding far beyond their original plans, Norte now run several different programs: Safe Routes to School, Pro Walk/Pro Bike Advocacy, Youth Empowerment, Mountain Bike Clubs and Coaching, plus events throughout the winter to keep the town cycling year round.

Highlights of These Programs Include

  • Community events promoting cycling
  • Group rides for kids of all ages and experience levels
  • A mountain bike race team with kit, coaching and race day support
  • A bike library bringing access to bikes for everyone
  • Urban bike education – teaching kids to be safe and courteous on the roads
  • Snack themed rides. Kids love bikes but kids REALLY love snacks!
  • Girls only rides

When I moved to Traverse City I noticed that despite there being an incredible network of trails and many race teams, there was nothing really around for kids. I wanted to get kids away from the computer screen and outside exploring.

Ty Schmidt – Norte

What Does Norte Aim to Achieve?

The core goal the non-profit is to get more kids on bikes. The combined efforts of Norte cover all ages and aspects of bike life in order to appeal to, motivate and educate as many people as possible. From teaching the youngsters starting out to ride with the ‘Estrella’ group on balance bikes, to teaching the older kids how to wield a spanner and fix their own set of wheels with ‘The Solucion’ classes.

Norte - girls only ride, heading out
Norte mountain bike club - girls only ride
A young mountain biker races on the Norte club

The formula is to get kids hooked by showing them what they will gain for themselves thorough riding bikes. The independence, freedom, and above all fun of being active and playing outdoors with friends. Ty spoke about how through running the clubs, he has seen the way bikes build youths confidence and teach them a grittiness to persevere when they fall or become tired on a longer ride. Since the start of Norte, many kids have progressed from barely being able to ride 4 miles – to now competing in cross-country races of up to 30 miles.

In the town’s recent ‘Iceman’ race which saw 5,000 people competing from all round the country, Norte had 60 kids from their teams racing. 15 of which were taking part in the 30-mile race.

Norte encourages young riders to bike to school

Ty’s Top Tips for Starting a Venture Like Norte

Though Norte has grown into a thriving club now, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. Ty wasn’t shy to mention that with what they know now there are many things they would have done differently. He believes that a strong factor in their success has been the way they have branched out to offer many things. With the benefit of hindsight, here are Ty’s 3 top tips to anyone wishing to start a similar venture.

  1. Make friends with like-minded awesome people in your community – You can’t do it all on your own.
  2. Be consistent – set a time that rides will take place and stick to it no matter what. Build a reputation of reliability.
  3. Make the rides all about family time – families are more likely to commit to becoming part of something if it’s an activity everyone gets involved with and enjoys.

Ty’s Top Tips for Starting a Venture Like Norte

Though Norte has grown into a thriving club now, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. Ty wasn’t shy to mention that with what they know now there are many things they would have done differently. He believes that a strong factor in their success has been the way they have branched out to offer many things. With the benefit of hindsight, here are Ty’s 3 top tips to anyone wishing to start a similar venture.

  1. Make friends with like-minded awesome people in your community – You can’t do it all on your own.
  2. Be consistent – set a time that rides will take place and stick to it no matter what. Build a reputation of reliability.
  3. Make the rides all about family time – families are more likely to commit to becoming part of something if it’s an activity everyone gets involved with and enjoys.

The Future for Norte

While Norte are already seeing impressive numbers of kids at their rides, with up to 100 riders on a Sunday and 30/35 at the after school clubs, Ty aims to see this figure double in the future. He is also always keen to help other communities build their own cycling programs and is looking to produce material that can help with this. There were mentions of a ’10 Ways You Can Do What We Have’ type guide.

In the meantime, if you would like any advice from Ty he is more than happy to help in any way he can. The best way to get involved is through the contact page on their website.

Norte Would Like to Thank Traverse City for Their Continued Support

Despite only being a small town, Traverse City is a thriving community of outdoorsy people who really embrace the enjoyment of an active life all year round. Ty was full of praise for the way the town has believed in the project from the beginning, rallying behind every new campaign and getting involved in all the events they held. Ty felt confident that given the chance many other cities would also do the same.

Despite Ty’s constant claims during our chat that ‘They aren’t anything special’ it’s quite clear that his enthusiasm for what he does has played a large part in getting this project off the ground. The enjoyment and reward he gets from seeing the kids improve and grow as people is genuine. His sense of pride in what they have achieved is tangible and rightly so. What Norte have done for the kids of, and Traverse city itself, is impressive. I hope other people can see what they’ve done and feel inspired to follow their lead building a healthier future for the next generation.

Becky Parker

Meet the Author

Becky Parker is a Freelance Writer based in the valleys of South Wales, UK. She enjoys all things trail based be it walking, trail running or mountain biking, as long as it involves exploring the mountains, she’s happy. Over the last summer she has dabbled in a touch of enduro racing and has discovered the competitive streak is strong in this one, provided the race tape is leading purely down the hill! Visit Becky’s blog at www.runridewrite.com.

The 2017 Red Bull Rampage Weekend

The 2017 Red Bull Rampage Weekend with Kids


Mountain biking groms and their families spend a weekend at 2017’s Red Bull Rampage

Written by Liz Mallen. Photos by Ted Bell, Dan LaRiviere, Steven Lloyd, Liz Mallen. Published on November 12, 2017. Read all the shout-outs here.
Cam Zink, freeride mountain biker at the 2017 Red Bull Rampage
Freeride mountain biker Cam Zink, one the the many fan-favorites, backflips his bike at the 2017 Red Bull Rampage near Virgin, Utah. Photo by Liz Mallen.


Red Bull Rampage is an invitation-only freeride mountain bike event hosted just outside of Virgin, Utah. This year, riders on Finals Day consisted of 18 incredibly talented athletes from around the world. Red Bull Rampage is THE mountain biking event to watch. It is the “Superbowl” of freeride mountain bike events.

There are many kids who attend the event with their families, dreaming of some day receiving the same invitation to ride with the best. The kids, who at home pour over YouTube videos and Instagram, looking at great ones like Cam Zink, Andreu Lecondeguy, Kurt Sorge and Graham Agassiz for inspiration. What new trick or air are their role models are coming up with? And, will the kids be able to copy it someday?



We pulled into the Zion River RV Resort at midnight, Wednesday before the event. With all intentions to have arrived about 8 hours earlier, the whole “I have to work” thing got in the way. So there we were, setting up in the dark…shusshing each other, as to not wake the other campers. I look at my husband and ask, “Do you think they turned the sprinklers off yet?”. Twenty seconds later we hear the familiar “poppshhhhhh” of water. So there we were, setting up in the dark, in the sprinklers.

If you choose to stay at the resort, make your reservations (even without tickets), the minute they release the dates of Rampage, as their spaces reserve quickly. We have stayed here for the past few years as they have a pool, beautiful clean amenities, and just made it easier to be hooked up in the RV with the kids – especially when they were smaller.

They also have a list of fun events happening in the evenings, such as movies, Halloween Bingo and other fun contests for the kids in the clubhouse. A word of warning however, they are very strict on their rules, and asked that the kids not ride their bikes after dark or go in the hot tub if they are under 18. If you, or your kids choose not to abide by the rules, they will ask you to leave.

Testing the Bob trailer. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Carving pumpkins at the Virgin, Utah RV park
A little camp fun! Rampage usually falls around Halloween making it extra special for these kids. Photo by Liz Mallen.



This is always a small source of anxiety, as in years passed, they sold out online in 5 minutes. The key is to follow all of Red Bull Bike social media channels, and then be poised and ready the minute (or before the minute) they are released to buy on the chosen date and time. You will only be able to purchase two tickets at a time, and must match each ticket by name to each family member.

Once you have your ticket confirmation, it is a good idea to actually print them out in case anything were to go awry. A few days before Rampage, the actual tickets are released. Again, be sure to print them and have them in hand, as there is no cell service at the gate.


When you finally arrive in Virgin, it is a good idea to pick up your wristbands and any swag you want to purchase the day before the event. This way you are not scrambling at the last minute at 7 am in the morning to get your proverbial stuff together, and out to the venue. Some of the coolest swag sold out this year by Thursday evening!

We were lucky to pull in right as the ticket checker station opened. The kids do miss a few days of school, but as they have become older, we find that Rampage is a good motivation for them.

The kids and parents showing off their wrist bands and Rampage swag. Photo by Liz Mallen.


Actual preparation for the day, does wind up taking a little time and forethought. It is an extremely primitive site for an event, they actually state in an email with the tickets “NON-ADULT SPECTATORS ARE NOT RECOMMENDED.”

With all of this in mind, here are suggestions which may make your family’s experience better:

A little shade at the Red Bull Rampage
Grateful for some shade in the desert! Love our Manta pop-up tent!. Photo by Liz Mallen.
  • Shade (the designated spectators’ areas are exposed and it can be windy)
  • Sunscreen
  • Drinks and water (Camelback provides drinking water refill stations)
  • Lunch and snacks
  • A buff for the moon dust
  • Hats
  • Binoculars
  • Solid shoes for riding/climbing
  • Blanket or easy to ride a bike with or carry chairs
  • Wet wipes
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Extra layers of clothing/rain slicker
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Drybag with ice (hard case coolers are not allowed)


Unlike a lot professional sports and events, the athletes strive to be accessible. Bring a marker and items for them to sign. In the past, we have brought: hats, posters, race plates, helmets, photos, and magazines. We put a Sharpie marker on a lanyard so they don’t have to worry about holding on to one more thing as they are billy-goating around the site. If you really want to get into the event – accessorize and bring bells, noisemakers, glitter and costumes! My friend and I remarked one year, as we were perched on the edge of a cliff surveying the madness, that this was the closest to Burning Man we would ever get.


It is a looonnngg hot day. The ride out us about 3.5 – 4 miles on a very moon-dusty road, one way. It is a gentle pedal up out there with a few tricky spots here and there. My husband attaches a Bob trailer to his bike and we load in all of our gear, including a small bbq and brats, our drinks, chairs and shade and of course a trash bag. With all the kids, it takes between thirty minutes, and an hour. We usually have someone speedy in the group, they cruise out ahead, and stake down some land for the rest of us.

A group of spectators heads out to the Red Bull Rampage
Riding out to the Red Bull Rampage
Wearing a buff to keep out the dust
Headed to to the bike valet at Red Bull Rampage
Photos by Liz Mallen.



With a collective deep breath, the first rider of the day, Brett Rheeder took his first run at 10:00 am. I don’t think a person can really understand the physics of what happens in this little area of the desert on this particular day. Until you are able to see it for yourself – it is something to put on the bucket list.

These men are some of the most incredible athletes in the world. The pure physical and mental strength it takes to perform these maneuvers is mind-blowing. The fact that just after these guys come down, from literally risking their lives, they make it a point to sign and take pics with their smallest of freeride fans, proves their dedication and love for this sport.

Can you name all the pros shown below? Click on each image to show the rider’s name.

Photos by Liz Mallen.

These professional athletes are some of the nicest guys in any sport. I think all the kids were levitating (and maybe some of the dads). This year was the largest year for the kids, with most of the Outlaw Bike Team present, as well as a ton of other groms running around, for the sport of freeride mountain biking, it looks like a promising future. The moms had just as much fun, although as we were watching all of this unfold, we could not help think that maybe our kids some day will be the ones in the start gate.

Liz and her twin boys
Liz Mallen and her twin boys - Luke and Alex.
More moms at the Red Bull Rampage
Tricia Kirschenmann (Finley's Mom) and Sarah Flinders (Dillon's mom) are all smiles at Rampage!


I have had the chance to chat with some of the athletes about how their mom’s feel. It seems a lot of them choose not to watch. This year however, Brett Rheeder’s mom was in the audience for the first time. Apparently she had a hard time even watching it live on tv! A few years ago, I had the chance to talk with Graham Agassiz about how his mom felt. He said she wanted to watch, but he felt better, and less nervous when his family were not there in person. As a mom of kids who are interested in pursuing this sport, I can begin to understand what it is like to watch your child drop backwards and upside-down and over the edge of a 50-foot cliff… on a bike. We are already beginning to experience that feeling, on a smaller scale, for now.

Logan Binggeli at the Red Bull Rampaage
Utah local Logan Binggeli sending it in the middle section of the venue. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Lay of the land at the Red Bull Rampage
Drops for days... where the big kids come to play. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Spectators at the Red Bull Rampage take it all in
The kids watching it all unfold. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Big crowds at the Red Bull Rampage
Spectators line the edges of the freeriders' lines. Photo by Liz Mallen.


As the event played out, you could see that the gloves were off between these heavy hitters in the freeride mountain biking world. The main competitor in the past being the wind, this year, luckily it did not make an appearance allowing the guys to send all of the massive tricks they had planned out for their runs. This was also the first year there were no catastrophic crashes or injuries. Everyone was happy about that.

Kurt Sorge wound up on the podium in first place for the third time. Throwing down some massive flips, and a smooth run, he earned the top spot with a total score of 92.66 . Proving to the world that he is the one of the best, and can still hold his own after fathering two kids, family man Cam Zink stomped into Second place with a hair raising run down one of the steepest chutes in Rampage history named “The Scar” He then proceeded to back flip off his drop, before the road in the same steep upper section.

An emotional Cam was seen blasting through the finish of his first run into his wife’s arms. Cam’s bike unfortunately got away from him on the second run as he attempted a front flip in the bottom section, leaving that top spot just out of reach and in the hands of Kurt Sorge. Local Utah resident Ethan Nell, threw down and claimed his stake on Rampage 2017, and wound up in third place, solidifying him as a new force, and someone to be reckoned with in the years to come.

Antoine Bizet earned the People’s Choice Award with one of the “flowiest” runs of the day. Commencal team rider Pierre Edouard Ferry earned the McGazza Award for channeling the late Kelly McGarry’s enthusiastic and aggressive style.



Kurt Sorge wins the 2017 Red Bull Rampage
Winner, winner chicken dinner! Kurt Sorge in the top spot on the podium.. Photo by Ted Bell.
Luke Mallen gets his podium moment
Luke on the podium... some day? Photo by Liz Mallen.


In the end, it was one of the most successful Red Bull Rampage events to date. You can watch the live replay on Red Bull TV, and see what all the insanity of the biggest event in the sport of freeride mountain biking has to offer. Rampage is part of the Red Bull Signature Series, and will air a highlighted program on NBC Sunday, December 24th. Happy Holidays!


01 Kurt Sorge 92.66
02 Cam Zink 90.33
03 Ethan Nell 90.00
04 Brandon Semenuk 89.66
05 Brett Rheeder 89.33
06 Thomas Genon 89.00
07 Carson Storch 87.66
08 Kyle Strait 87.33
09 Tyler McCaul 87.00
10 Tom van Steenbergen 84.33
11 Andreu Lacondeguy 83.00
12 Antoine Bizet 81.66
13 Darren Berrecloth 81.00
14 Vincent Tupin 78.00
15 Pierre Edouard Ferry 76.33
16 Logan Binggeli 69.66
17 Bas Van Steenbergen 68.66
18 Ryan Howard 67.66



The day after Rampage, there’s a lot of excitement and buzz in the air. The kids, fueled by the big show the day before are ready for the chance to go out and mimic their idols at the original Red Bull Rampage site. MtnRanks, a lifestyle clothing company based in Park City, Utah, puts on an event every year called MtnRanks Fanpage. It’s “Freeride for the People!” They bring music, give-aways and cold hard cash for the sick tricks performed by the fans of Red Bull Rampage.

Alex Mallen at the MtnRanks Grompage - photo by Steve Lloyd
Alex Mallen boosting at the MTN Ranks Whipoff 2016. Photo by Steven Lloyd. Follow Steven on Instagram at @stevelloydphoto and his website at www.stevelloydphoto.com/.

Our friends from Worldbikeparks.com wanted to get some shots of the groms, so to gather them all together (as it is like herding cats), we decided to initiate an “Unofficial Grompage Ice Cream Social”, which took place just before the main event. Grabbing some ice cream and bowls, we were able to get the kids to sit still for a hot minute before they sent it on the dirt jumps showing some of the heavy hitters in the industry what they were capable of. Needless to say, they turned some heads. People such as professional adventure photographer Steven Lloyd captured some amazing shots. Steve, a father of two sons in this “grom army”, is right on point with photos. This year we were able to bring it together again, and have the kids and the adults show off their stuff at the same time.

This year, we also had some of the companies that sponsor the kids donate some awesome gear for the multitude of groms that show up and strut their stuff. A big thanks to Demon United and Zoic Clothing for the grom-sized swag additions! Some sweet body armor was presented to some of the smaller kiddos, who were really stoked! Just before the event, continuing on the tradition started last year by our friends Natty and Trey from Worldbikeparks.com, we decided to have an ice cream social. Celebrating all the groms who want to get into the sport of freeride mountain biking, and get them all together (and give them a little sugar boost).

Some Of The Pros Showed Up To Cheer On The Groms

Andreu Lacondeguy and his crew at the MtnRanks Grompage
Andreu Lacondeguy watching grom talent from above, wondering who will be nipping at his heels in a few years!. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Nico Vink hanging out with freeride mountain biking kids
Nico Vink hanging out after the boys finish a session. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Pro mountain biker Aaron Chase with a couple of kids
Aaron Chase with the groms. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Aaron Chase at the MtnRanks Fanpage
Aaron Chase about to enjoy a little ice cream in the desert. Photo by Liz Mallen.

The Groms Were On Fire This Year!

The young shredders are earning their places in the desert among the MTN Ranks Fanpage fans. It was full-on entertainment.

Grom freeride mountain biker
Lots of tricks happening. Photo by Dan LaRiviere.
Grompage venue
Pushing bikes to the top of the kickers at the old Rampage site. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Getting advice from dad at the Grompage
Getting a little fatherly advice. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Getting a neck brace adjustment
Adjusting a grom's neck brace. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Andreu Lacondeguy in the queue at the MtnRanks Fanpage
Andreu Lacondeguy waiting in line for his turn to rally with the kids. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Andreu Lacondeguy with the kids
Andreu poses for a photo with some of his youngest fans. Photo by Ted Bell.
Step-up no hander at the MtnRanks Fanpage
Learning to fly. Photo by Fred LaRiviere.
Getting up there
The groms are setting the bar high. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Whipped out at the MtnRanks Grompage
Whip it – whip it good. Photo by Liz Mallen.
MtnRanks Fanpage 2017 - money talks
Money talks! Photo by Liz Mallen.
Dillon at the old Red Bull Rampage site
Commencal Development Team rider Dillon Flinders finding some vertical terrain. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Signing the waiver for the MtnRanks Grompage
No sign – no ride. Tricia signing the Fanpage waiver. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Young freerider, Fred Lariviere one-footer
Fred Lariviere showing off one of his signature one-footed moves. Photo by Dan LaRiviere.
A young freeride mountain biker at the 2017 MtnRanks Fanpage
"Yeah- I can do that." Photo by Liz Mallen
Two of the youngest mountain bikers at the event
Two of the youngest shredders in the group, but don't let their size fool you! River and Sam send it!. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Young mountain biker at the old Red Bull Rampage site
Clearing the big step-up like a pro! Photo by Liz Mallen.
A young mountain biker doing a large step-down
Finley Kirschenmann channeling his inner Kurt Sorge. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Base camp at the MtnRanks Fanpage
Basecamp at the MTN Ranks Fanpage Whipoff. Photo by Liz Mallen
Look out below - MtbRanks Grompage
Luke Mallen spotting his landing on one of his favorite drops at the old site. Photo by Liz Mallen.
Alex Mallen drops Canadian Bacon at the old Red Bull Rampage site
Alex Mallen drops “Canadian Bacon” Photo by Dan LaRiviere.

These Young Mountain Bikers Are Getting Noticed

With all of the media surrounding these kids, it is no surprise these kids have caught the eye of a few companies. Under the watchful eye of coach Tyson Henrie, leader of the Outlaw Bike Team, these kids have been invited to be a part of Commencal USA bike Rider Development Team. They have also caught the eye of several other companies who have shown interest in working with the kids. Demon United, Poc, Magura USA brakes, Kenda Tires, Zoic Clothing, Level 9 and Leatt Protectives to name a few.

Exciting things are ahead for all of them and with the guidance and support from family, friends, coaches and companies, this next generation of grom freeriders are ones to watch.

A group of the Commencal development group at the MtnRanks Fanpage
Part of the Commencal USA Development Team. Photo by Liz Mallen.

About the Author

Liz MallenLiz McDonald-Mallen hails from the outskirts of Salt Lake City. Liz, husband Tony and her twin boys - Luke and Alex are looking forward to spending the winter on skis and bikes. Follow them on Instagram @thosemallentwins.

5 Mountain Biking Shorts For Kids

5 Mountain Biking Shorts for Kids

Mountain biking shorts for kids need to be functional and comfortable. The five pairs listed here fit both of those categories, as they are made from fabric that stretches and breathes, feature useful pockets and reflective patches, and are even designed to grow with your child (within reason, of course.) These are some of our choices. No lycra for this round. Maybe one of these will end up as your child’s new favorite pair of mountain bike shorts, as well.

Fox youth Ranger mountain biking shorts for kids

Fox Racing Ranger Mountain Biking Shorts For Kids | 59.95 USD

These sturdy shorts have withstood several months of summer riding including a slide-out crash that removed a few layers of skin under the shorts – which did not rip.

The shorts are made up of 2-way stretch polyester that (as we have tested) is durable and abrasion resistant. Fox designed the shorts with their “trail fit” system which is basically just an adjustable waistband that keeps the shorts in place when doing all different types of riding. The liner is detachable which is nice for times where you don’t need it such as when riding downhill. The leg holes are also well sized so knee pads don’t get snagged. The liner’s chamois is not too thick which is preferred by a lot of trail riders.

The freedom of movement in these shorts is another benefit. Unlike regular everyday shorts, these won’t hinder legs from spinning at all! You will also be no doubt happy to hear that the shorts feature pockets to safely hold cards, keys, or whatever else you or your little one may need on the trail. There are two hand pockets, and two cargo pockets. The left pocket has a zip closure (perfect for a lift pass), where the right has a Velcro closure. 

Troy Lee Designs Youth Skyline shorts

Youth Troy Lee Design Skyline Shorts | $65.00 USD

Spending quite a bit of time on a mountain bike requires a comfortable pair of shorts. Between the lightweight, stretchy fabric, adjustable waist tabs, and pockets, the Troy Lee Designs Skyline shorts are both comfortable and practical – just what your child needs for your next family mountain biking excursion. These shorts are available in sizes 24 through 28. They boast reflective logo sections, making it easy for motorists and other mountain bikers to spot your daughter while she’s pedaling away.

The fabric is a breathable polyester blend, so it won’t collect sweat and make the ride miserable. These shorts come with a stretchy, spandex back panel, ensuring an extra bit of comfort where it’s needed the most. On top of that, the side pockets zip shut, so your young one won’t lose anything while on the trail.

Dakine Pace mountain biking shorts - youth sized

Dakine Pace Youth Mountain Biking Shorts | $59.95 USD

Our camouflage patterned shorts are designed to fit comfortably, thanks to their adjustable waist and incredibly stretchy, yet breathable fabric. The waist adjusts in several different ways, including a closure at the front that features a hook and a loop. There are also gussets on the interior to give your child a little room to grow. If all of that fails, the shorts also have belt loops, so if you have to buy a pair that’s a little big, they won’t fall down while on your next trail ride.

These Dakine Pace shorts come in various sizes, all unlined and made of a polyester and spandex blend. The front pockets are comfortably aligned, ready to hold important things (like bags of trail mix) or keep your child’s hands warm on chilly morning or evening rides. As if that weren’t enough, the shorts come with a limited lifetime warranty that protects against manufacturing defects.

$60.00 USD

Louis Garneau Youth Range MTB shorts

Louis Garneau Range JR Shorts | $44.99 USD

Thanks to the sewn in, cushiony chamois at the waist, this pair of mountain biking shorts, made by Louis Garneau, boasts extra comfort. When combined with their patented Rhino stretch fabric, these shorts are as durable as they are comfortable. The fabric liner wicks away moisture, adding yet another layer of greatness to these simple shorts.

On the outside, the exterior has some reflective panels for additional protection, which makes sense given that the shorts only come in the color black. These are available in sizes ranging from large to extra large, although the elastic back waist has some give to it. As far as pockets are concerned, the only one is on the back, and it has a zippered closure. While your child can’t store too much in the pocket, whatever does end up in there will stay put.

Zoic Ether JR mountain biking shorts

Zoic Ether JR Bike Shorts | $49.95 USD

ZOIC designed this pair of shorts – the Ether Jr. –  to be a smaller version of their popular adult style. In essence, these shorts have all of the bells and whistles, just in different dimensions. Their exterior is made of dobby nylon, while the full lining consists of polyester and spandex, for a combination of comfort (on the interior) and stylish function (on the exterior.) The fabric is designed to wick away moisture as well.

The shorts have an amazing five pockets, and one is a media pocket designed specifically to hold an MP3 player or phone. They come in sizes ranging from small to extra-extra-large. Between the loose fit, the adjustable waist, and the flat fronted waistband, these shorts might just be the pair that your child doesn’t want to take off.

Leatt DBX 5.5 Junior Neck Brace Review

Leatt DBX Youth 5.5 Neck Brace Review

We initially purchased Leatt DBX 3 neck braces for our kids when they were racing BMX a few years ago. This is because we saw a lot of crashes in those days and wanted to provide as much protection as we could for our boys. The concept behind a neck brace is to redirect some of the force from the neck to the body and limit extreme range of motion of the neck in the event of a crash.

Leatt neck braces for kids
Leatt neck braces for kids

Early in the summer of 2017, we noticed the DBX 3 brace was not fitting our oldest as well as it used to and decided he needed to move up to a larger size. We upgraded both kids to the DBX 5.5 (one junior and one adult S/M). The Leatt DBX 5.5 is a total re-deisgn when compared to the design DBX 3.

Features of the Leatt DBX 5.5 Junior Neck Brace:

  • Retails for $299.99 USD.
  • Improved adjustability and fit – will grow with growing kids
  • Improved comfort – due to better fit and lower rise from shoulders
  • Easier to get on and off (push button release)
  • Sits lower on shoulders – allows better movement to look around while riding
  • Easier transport and storage – the rear strut folds inward making the brace almost flat
Close up (sorta) of the the Leatt 5.5 DBX Junior neck brace

We’ve had just one minor issue. The brace slightly rubs at contact points of the user’s chest and back. When used for several days in a row this can cause moderate discomfort. We were able to fix this with some well-placed band aids – some people even use tape. This issue should not be regarded as deal-breaker by any means with this product. It’s a very acceptable trade-off for the additional protection the Leatt DBX 5.5 offers your young mountain bikers.

Rear view of Leatt DBX 5.5 junior
Kids wearing Leatt neck braces
Young mountain biker wearing the Leatt DBX 5.5 Junior neck brace with hydration pack
Strut folded in on the Leatt neck brace

Get Your Kid’s Neck Brace Configured Properly

Setting up Leatt neck braces takes some time. Our local bike shop was happy to help us get the braces set-up to fit appropriately. This process took about 5-10 minutes. It’s important that the braces are adjusted and checked for fit while sitting on a bike. If you have to do it on your own, the braces come with well-illustrated instructions.

When it comes to the function and design of a neck brace for mountain biking, every company seems to have their own perspective on how it should be made. Leatt is one of the most popular brands and for good reason. The DBX 5.5 Junior is CE certified while still offering comfort and freedom of moment for the rider. The chassis of the brace has a small amount of flex to it in order to fit different body types. However, it remains rigid enough to still transfer harsh forces away for the spine and disperse it across the body. The CoreFlex rear strut has been designed to break away under sever impacts to ensure the best protection possible. Overall, the DMX 5.5 junior is a great buy for anyone who want their children to have more protection.

Yeah – Our Kids Have Crashed While Wearing Their Neck Braces

Both of our kids have crashed while wearing their neck braces. Our oldest took a pretty good tumble off a step-down and went over the bars. Our youngest has taken several smaller falls when wearing his neck brace. His latest was when he plowed over a berm with speed at a bike park last summer. In our opinion, we believe the neck braces functioned and performed how they should have. The (neck) range of motion in our kids’ falls was limited by the neck braces. Will this always be the case? We have no idea. There are several factors that make each crash unique.

While we obviously hope neither of our kids experiences the type of crash that demonstrates the true value of the Leatt brace, we are happy to have the peace of mind that the extra protection provides.

Lastly, our kids know that it’s their responsibility to wear their neck braces when conditions dictate the need. It’s just like wearing a seatbelt in the car. After a few days getting used to them, it’s just a regular habit. The neck braces go on just like knee pads and elbow pads when the situation is warranted.

5 Tips For Mountain Biking With Kids In Colder Weather

Mountain biking with kids in colder weather

Natural born dare devils make their “worry-wart” mom a nervous wreck but also a very proud one. Jordan Soley and Jason Soley are twin 5 year old boys. Since day one, both boys have been obsessed with wheels. Tonka trucks, wagons, tractors and lawn mowers – you name it/ When they discovered a bike, it was love at first sight. And once their legs grew long enough, they were off pedaling.

Allowed to ride in the house in the cold winter of Pennsylvania is where they learned to pop their first wheelies – training wheels and all. They were even hitting ramps with those things on. The next winter the training wheels came off. Winter is a great time for riding even when your too big to ride in a house.

Soley twins riding a ferry with their mountain biking family
Hitting the dirt jumps
Jordan and Jason - mountain biking brothers

Here Are 5 Tips For Mountain Biking With Kids In Colder Weather

Plan Shorter Rides

Although riding can break a sweat, we need to take note of our colder outdoor temperatures winter brings. Try keeping the rides high activity, but shorter in duration.

Layer, Layer, Layer

Sounds easy enough. Your first layer should be something that wicks away moisture, the mid layer being thermal to keep warm and the outer layer is our wind stopping layer. So go ahead and pick up that windbreaker for the holidays.

Consider A Winter Helmet

As 30 percent of body heat is lost through the head, less vents are best for winter riding. If two helmets aren’t an option especially for our growing riders you could use a helmet cover which simply goes on over the helmet. Or, try a ski cap under your helmet.

Use Running Gloves or Cold Weather Bike Gloves Instead of Regular Bike Gloves

If your kids’ hands are big enough, try cold weather running gloves instead of your biking gloves. Running gloves work great because they’re made of thicker, warmer fabrics. Many of them even have textured material such as a thin coat patterned rubber to help grip the handlebars.

Keep The Warm On The Inside

My best tip yet if the kiddos will allow is a thermos filled with warm water or better yet delicious tea for a warm hydration break.

One of the mountain biking Soley boys
Mountain biking with kids in colder weather

As for now the boys are hitting trails across America as they travel in an RV with their parents. They have noticed riding is a bit more popular in Colorado, Washington and such and are loving it. It provides the boys with a bike friendly atmosphere and more diverse riding.

Jeanette Soley - Nomadic by NatureThanks to Jeanette Soley and her family for contributing this article. Follow the boys and their adventures on Facebook at Nomadic By Nature and let them know your favorite season to ride and how you stay warm. Hey maybe they might swing by and go for a ride with you!

Scott Scale RC JR 24 Mountain Bike Review

Scott Scale RC JR 24 bike review

When you’re looking for a new cross country mountain bike for your kid, chances are you want something that is lightweight, stiff, and spec’d with a great drivetrain. That is the exact thought that went into the Scott Scale RC JR 24 mountain bike. This is a “race ready” children’s mountain bike that can have your little rider flowing along the trails like never before.

The Scott Scale RC JR at Thunder Mountain
The Scott Scale RC JR 24 cruising along the scenic Thunder Mountain trail near Bryce Canyon.
Scott Scale RC JR mountain bike for kids

The Words That Matter The Most

Our kid says…

“This bike is good to pedal uphill because of the weight. It’s a lot lighter than my downhill bike. I like the brakes too. My hands don’t get as tired using my brakes like my last bike.”


Standover: About 23"

Stock Weight: 23.0 lbs. We’ve added a Suntour XCR air fork and converted the tires to D-I-Y tubeless.

Retail Price: $999.99 USD

Our First Look At The Scott Scale RC JR 24 

Race ready is a strong way to describe any bike, but for the most part, this Scott bike lives up to the expectations. There are a couple of things that you may need to change depending on your child. For example, the pedals are the typical inexpensive plastic pair that comes with most bikes. The other thing that might need changed is the fork. For smooth paths the rigid fork will be fine. However, our little mountain biker needed a fork with suspension to help absorb some of the nastier terrain found on trail rides. Overall the bike is a solid build that will encourage natural progression.

Brian Head - on the Scott Scale RC JR 24
Profile view of the Scott Scale RC JR 24

Let’s start off with the frame. It is constructed out of 6061 aluminum that is double butted to increase strength around high stress areas. As a result, the frame is super light and a great platform for the build. Another nice thing about this frame is the curved top tube. You will notice that when looking at the bike, the tube has a flat spot in front of the seat before bending upwards to the head tube. This makes it easy for little riders to swing their leg over the bike when getting on and off.

Next is the drivetrain. It is a simple yet efficient 1×10 speed set up. This means that there is only one chain ring at the front and 10 gears at the back. Our rider loved the simplicity of only having one shifter to worry about. The shifter itself is a SRAM X5 trigger shifter which seems to work quite well with the SRAM GX rear derailleur. The wide range cassette offers quite a good array of gears enabling your child to ride at a fair pace, and climb and descend hills with ease.

Quick release seat post collar on the Scott Scale RC JR 24 in wheel mountain bike for kids
SRAM GX derailleur on the 24 inch Scott Scale RC JR
Tektro hydraulic brakes on the Scott Scale RC JR 24

A bike encouraging your child to pick up their pace can be nice. However, without good brakes, it could get a little bit scary for us parents. Thankfully Scott took this into consideration and gave the bike Tektro hydraulic disk brakes and 60mm rotors to make sure there would never be a problem slowing down. It is especially nice that they used hydraulic brakes over cable as it gives the young ones a chance to control the braking power rather than just being on and off like most cables brakes.

This bike has been designed to fit riders from ages 8 to 10 and is offered in one frame size. It is based around 24” diameter wheels. These work well for short riders because they don’t raise the height of the bike too much. Another great feature about this Scott is that it only weighs about 23 pounds. Most children’s bikes are a fair amount too heavy for them. And, they can tire your kid out quite quickly. This bike on the other hand can be tossed around easily by children on a ride. You’ll immediately notice that they can ride for longer when on the Scott compared to many other bikes.

Kids don’t want boring looking bikes. They want color and a design that will make others double take. This Scott is surely a looker (even from an adult’s perspective). It has clean lines, and a head turning black and neon yellow paint job. It just looks fast, and our rider loves that. Even the Syncros components have been color matched to the frame. This bike gets two thumbs up in the style department.

Riding the Scott Scale RC JR 24 at Bootleg Canyon, Nevada
The Scott Scale RC JR 24 does great across moderately technical terrain. We added an air fork so our kiddo could challenge the chunk of Bootleg Canyon's SD trails.

Our Upgrade – SR Suntour XCR Air Fork

We chose to put front suspension for on our rider’s bike as he is no stranger to rough terrain. In fact, he tends to gravitate towards it. Unlike most kids’ forks, this Suntour is something that really works well for lightweight riders. Since it is air sprung you have the ability to adjust the air pressure for their weight. Once the air pressure is set, you can easily make smaller adjustments to the preload via a knob on top of the right fork leg. Fully extended, the fork offers 80mm of travel but is internally adjustable via spacers to offer as little as 63mm. The XCR children’s air fork turned out to be the perfect complement to the already capable Scott Scale RC JR 24.

We review the Scott Scale RC JR 24
Confident and comfy bike control is exhibited on the Scott Scale RC JR 24.
Scott Scale RC JR with 24 inch wheels and disc brakes

Final Thoughts On This Kids’ 24 Inch Wheel Mountain Bike

The Scott Scale RC JR 24 is a true cross country bike. It looks fast, and rides extremely efficiently under the power of little legs. Depending on your child, upgrading the fork might be a good option for you. However, this is personal preference and many kids will not need it. Our rider loves the bike and always has a good time on it.  If spending a little more than average money makes every trail ride that much more enjoyable, then it is worth it in our minds.

October Audiobook Selections for Family Mountain Biking Road Trips

October audiobook suggestions for family mountain biking road trips

Being in the car with the entire family is one of my favorites parts of going on mountain bike trips. The kids hardly ever ask “Are we there yet?” if a good story is with us. Most of the time they’re eager to get in the car and drive for hours. If you have not already heard these three suggested audiobooks, we hope you listen to the samples and give them a shot on your next adventure.

Coraline - audiobook for kids on road trip

Coraline – Written and read by Neil Gaiman


Neil Gaiman creates a shadowy adventure in Coraline, a story of a young girl who is tired of her dreary existence. Guided by her feline friend, her sarcastic mentor, Coraline travels through a mysterious door to a flat that appears strangely like her own. She falls in love with this world and is taken in by her other mother. In place of eyes she has black buttons and despite her otherworldly appearance Coraline is taken in by it all.

After her parents are kidnapped, Coralline travels back through the door to save them. She is confronted by new friends and stranger truths before she strikes a deal to save herself, her parents and her new ghostly friends. Coraline uses her wits and bravery to find her way out of the other world and she succeeds in dismantling the nightmarish place created by the other mother.

Listen to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on your next mountain biking road trip with kids.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – written by J.K. Rowling and read by Jim Dale


Jim Dale’s soft and commanding voice brings the world of J.K Rowling’s creation to life in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This is the first story in a series of 7.

Harry Potter is the boy who lived – and is currently under the stairs in his aunt’s home. Treated like a servant, bearing the brunt of his cousin’s bullying, Potter is unaware of his magical heritage. After ten years of living at Four Privet Drive, Harry receives a letter delivered by a gentle giant of a man named Hagrid. Harry learns that he is a Wizard and has been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Guided by Hagrid, Harry prepares for his new life away from his relative’s home. He learns of his fame, retrieves his inheritance, boards the Hogwarts Express and meets Hermione and Ron. Harry’s time in Hogwarts is met with excitement and danger as he is confronted by the villain who tried to kill him as a baby.

The Witches - enjoy it on your next family road trip.

The Witches – written by Roald Dahl


In The Witches, Roald Dahl takes us to a place where witches are real and they hate little children. The narrator is a young boy and his grandmother tells him about the wicked oculists. He learns what they look like and that they can be anyone he encounters.

The narrator travels with his grandmother and when accidentally spying on the withches’ convention at a hotel, he learns that they have a dastardly plan.

Video – Horsethief Bench Drop-In, Mountain Biking With Kids

Horsethief Bench Drop-In, Video

The Horsethief Bench Drop-In Is Still A Bad Hoss

With the continuing rapid growth of mountain biking, a lot of new trails are being built that encourage new and younger riders to get started in the sport. And, in my neck of the woods – existing trails have even been modified in the last couple of months to accommodate novice through intermediate mountain bikers as well as more hikers and horseback riders. I suppose this is fine in some areas because a growing population of enthusiasts want access to trails close to home that their entire family can enjoy. On the flip side, this is really upsetting to some advanced riders who desire new trails that favor a higher set of skills. And, trail organizations are put in the difficult position of doing their best to make sure everyone is happy.

Taking all of this into account, it’s wonderful that the Horsethief Bench Drop-In is still in tact. When I saw someone clean this for the first time a few years ago, it was one of the most amazing feats on a mountain bike I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness in-person. If you’ve seen this stretch of “trail”, you know what I mean.

The drop-in composed of several steep rolls and drops with a couple of hard turns thrown in for even more danger. Those who want their wrists, noses, collarbones and bikes to remain in tact just walk it. Some can make it about two-thirds of the way down until they get to the first gnarly step which is the first real crux.

Horsethief Bench Drop In

Just like his 10 year-old brother, our oldest kid, Wyatt – has had a fantastic season on his mountain bike. With the help friends like Steve Goodman of Hyland Cylclery; Courtney Nash and Eric Brown of WMBC – he has increased his skills exponentially this year. When we recently visited Fruita, one of Wyatt’s goals was to get the Horsethief Bench Drop-In off the list.

After he marked his line with a few placeholder rocks and some sweeping, he got it on the first try.

5 Family Friendly Mountain Bike Rides In Colorado

Five family friendly mountain bike rides in Colorado

Colorado Has Some Of The World’s Best Mountain Bike Trails

From the Western Slope to the central Rocky Mountains to the Denver foothills, mountain bikers have their choice of thousands of miles of beautifully crafted trails and trail systems to savor. In the following article we will explore five family friendly mountain bike rides in Colorado. For a more advanced bike ride for kids in Colorado, check out the write-up on Prospect Trail in Telluride.

Mountain biking with kids in Fruita, Colorado – 18 Road

Fruita – 18 Road

About 20 miles east of the Utah state line is the Western Slope’s mountain biking mecca of Fruita. There are a few great trail systems in the area but be sure to stop for some laps along the Bookcliffs at 18 Road.

With trail names like Chutes-and-Ladders, Zippity-Do-Da, MoJoe, and PBR (pumps, bumps, and rollers), the singletrack fun is endless. Prime Cut offers an easy 2 mile ascent to most of the downhill goodness. Warm up with the sweeping turns of Kessel Run and then progress to the berms and tabletops of PBR. More advanced riders will enjoy the thrills of the Zippity Loop and the ridge descents.

Parking at the upper and lower lots is free so let the bike loose and enjoy the singletrack of the North Fruita Desert.

Phil’s World

Just east of Cortez in unique Southwest Colorado, nearly 30 miles of pristine singletrack squiggles its way through the arid, high desert. The trails are fast and flowy and will put a smile on the faces of kids and adults alike. There are a handful of loops to choose from, each well marked and ridden in a clockwise direction, so the ride can be as long or as short as desired. Views of the Wilson group mountains abound as riders weave their way through scented Juniper trees and the rollercoaster of undulating buff singletrack. Rib Cage is a must-ride downhill trail with table tops and banked berms that will leave riders wanting more.

Parking is spacious and free but be kind and drop a suggested $3/person in the pay box to support the Southwest Colorado Cycling Association’s (formerly the Kokopelli Bike Club) continued and appreciated maintenance of the trail system.

Mountain biking with kids at the Pueblo Reservoir

Pueblo Reservoir

Just off the I-25 corridor in Southern Colorado are 30 miles of singletrack that snake their way in and out of the Pueblo Reservoir coves. Typically an area that doesn’t see much snowfall, this network is usually rideable year round. Most of the trails skirt the mesa overlooking the lake but there are a few slot canyons to explore to test the technical skills. Elevation gain is minimal but the quick ups and downs coupled with miles of twists and turns make this clay shale dirt ride fast and fun. Tiptoeing the bluffs above the water, the tame trails are excellent for beginners and the trail system can be interconnected to create a unique ride every time.

Although free parking can be found on the outskirts of the trail system, support the State Park and snag a day use pass at the main trailhead.

Mountain biking with kids in Waterton Canyon

Waterton Canyon

The foothills Southwest of Denver is home to Waterton Canyon, a truly scenic gorge graced with the South Platte River flowing steadily throughout. Although more of a service road than a trail, a 12.5 mile out and back ride through the canyon yields itself to the sight of big horn sheep scaling the canyon walls, fly fishermen searching for trout, and water cascading through Strontia Springs dam. This segment is the gateway to the Colorado Trail, a nearly 500 mile stretch of trail threaded from Denver to Durango.

A fantastic introduction to mountain biking, this section welcomes all skill levels as the technical and physical aspects are minimal. The ride gradually climbs 1000 ft in the course of 6.25 miles to the dam. Enjoy an easy pedal back to the parking lot!

The trailhead parking lot is free and restrooms are nearby.

Phillip S. Miller/Ridgeline Open Space map

Phillip S. Miller/Ridgeline Open Space

South of Denver is a fairly new trail system just west of Castle Rock. Phillip S. Miller (PSM) and Ridgeline Open Space boast a combined 17 miles of singletrack to enjoy.

PSM offers 4 color-coded loops full of quick grunt climbs and short, rippling descents. Although only a moderate amount of elevation is gained, the views from the top of the park display the beauty of Castle Rock’s buttes.

A bridge over Wolfensberger Road connects PSM to Ridgeline Open Space where riders can floss the rollercoaster of trails, navigate switchbacks, and let loose on the fun descents. Cresting the ridge offers views of Pikes Peak to the south and Mt. Evans to the north. The network is sign-posted alphabetically at every intersection so it is easy to ride the entire outer loop or bypass letters for a shorter ride.

Parking is free at the Coachline Trailhead or the Miller Activity Center.

Amy BaumgartnerAmy Baumgartner is the creator of The Single Track Beat, a blog devoted to her love of mountain biking. Amy has lived in Colorado for 7 years and has dedicated her free time to exploring the state’s singletrack. She and her husband are travelers and adventure internationally in search of the best mountain biking in the world.

Video – Evolution, Mountain Biking With Kids

Evolution - Video. Mountain Biking with Kids

Your Entire Family’s Biking Skills Will Evolve After A Visit To Galbraith Mountain

Evolution is an expert rated/black diamond trail in the Galbraith Mountain zone near Bellingham, Washington. Its signature feature is a long, elevated ladder built on a gigantic fallen tree.

The local trail organization, WMBC or Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, has developed this mountain biking area into one of the “must-ride” destinations of the Pacific Northwest. If you find yourself booking a trip to Whistler from the western United States, do not skip on visiting Bellingham. The mountain does not allow shuttles so be sure to bring your full-suspension trail bike because you get to earn your descents.

There are several trails suitable for kids who are learning how to mountain bike. Climbing can be done on the old service roads and we recommend descending the Three Pigs – 3 individual trails strung together called “Bricks”, “Sticks”, and “Straw”.