Meet A Daughter-Father Mountain Biking Duo from Pisgah Forest

Hannah mountain biking in the woods

Mountain Biking Duo from Pisgah Forest – Hannah Dickson used to pogo stick all the time. And according her father, Wes – owner of Sycamore Cycles in North Carolina, pogo sticking was a foray into his daughter’s love of mountain biking.

He recalls one day she was in the driveway for two hours on her pogo stick. He went go out and ask her if she was interested in going on a mountain bike ride with him. The balance and conditioning she had gained from being on her pogo stick really served her well for mountain biking. Wes says, “It made it fun for her to mountain bike with me because she was not struggling as much when it came to steep inclines and tougher trails.”

Now a teenager, Hannah and her dad have been riding together for several years now and have even done some races. Hannah explains, “I race to push myself and become better”.

Starting Small 

When Hannah started out on a bike, Striders were not very popular. She started with training wheels and rode local trails and parks. The training wheels came off when she was offered ice cream if she could ride from one end of the local park to the other without them.

Another factor that made riding fun for Hannah was that she always got to pick where they would ride. Wes tells us, “It allowed her to take ownership of the ride and really enjoy it. She often chose the same trails and if there were parts she could not ride, she would walk her bike.”

Building Trails Together 

The Bracken Mountain Preserve is a city park with a great mountain biking trail. When Hannah was just getting into mountain biking they were working on the trail. This provided with Hannah opportunities to help out with parts of the project. On volunteer days and Hannah and Wes were able to go and help move brush and do turf work to get the trail ready.

They always say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This appears to be true in the case of the Dickson family. Wes’s dad was also a bike enthusiast and Wes had started riding with him and also helping maintain trails when he was a teenager. Wes feels lucky to be able to share a similar journey daughter. The Dicksons are proud of giving back to the trails and being able to do it as a family.

Hannah leads the way on a mountain bike ride with her father and others in North Carolina

Traveling Together And Sharing Great Times On The Mountain Bikes 

Wes and Hannah have taken daddy-daughter mountain biking trips together as well. Last year, they did a British Columbia trip that was 10 days in length and they were able to ride in different areas. They rode at Powell River and Squamish. The Powell River trip included trails called Death Rattle and Little Dipper. After two and a half days of mountain biking at Powell River they went to Squamish for a few days. When she was asked about her favorite trail in Squamish, Hannah quickly replied “Rupert! I though it was technically challenging but super fun.”

Hannah enjoyed the trip and was always ready for exploration and up for adventure – and up early at that. She would be up before 6am and ready to start the day. Hannah still chooses the trails a lot of the time and will ride the same trail over and over if it’s one she enjoys.

About Sycamore Cycles

Sycamore Cycles has two locations in North Carolina; one is in Pisgah Forest and the other in Hendersonville. The first one opened in 2000 and it is predominantly a mountain bike store.

The store carries a lot of riding gear and bikes for kids. Parents seem to be putting more money into good quality bikes for their children and the store makes it possible with a special program they run.

The store will buy back used bikes that were purchased there at half the retail value. That money goes toward the purchase of a new bike. So if you buy a 12 inch bike for $200 and your child outgrows it, you can upgrade to a 16 inch bike and receive $100 toward the purchase of the new bike.

Sycamore Cycles also supports Trip for Kids. This non-profit organization provides mountain bike outings and environmental education for youth in the Transylvania, Henderson, and Buncombe counties.

The returned bikes may also be sold at a consignment store with the money going back into the Trip for Kids program. This is a great way for the shop to give back to the community.  Dicksons hope that children who may not otherwise be able to afford a bike are afforded the opportunity to ride.

Photo Of The Week – Kids At Sea Otter With Danny MacAskill


One of the best things about mountain biking with kids is meeting the professional athletes. More often than not, kids’ real life heroes make themselves accessible to say hi and take a photo or two.

Here is Danny MacAskill hanging out at the 2017 Sea Otter Classic with a few young rippers.

Photo is courtesy of Jeremy VanSchoonhoven. Follow Jeremy on Instagram @jeremyvanschoonhoven.

Sea Otter Classic with Kids

Sea Otter Classic 2017 - Mallen Family

Looking for a fun experience for your mountain biking kids? The Mallen family recently traveled to the Sea Otter Classic with kids. The young Mallen boys participated in the events and festivities and loved every minute of it.

Sea Otter Overview

California has always been known as a hotspot for outdoor sports – biking foremost among them – and the Sea Otter Classic is no exception. Sea Otter had humble beginnings in the early 90’s with 350 racers. Since then it has rapidly grown in popularity and prestige, and this year boasted nearly 10,000 athletes and over 71,000 fans.

Sea Otter Classic 2017 - Mallen Family

One of the Mallen twins rushes down the dual slalom track at the 2017 Sea Otter Classic. Photo courtesy of Jeremy VanSchoonhaven.

A whole slew of different events and competitions make up the long weekend. Events include include everything from mountain bike racing to slalom and short track racing. Hosted in Monterey County, Sea Otter is a hub for cyclists across a diversity of ages and skill-levels, with everyone from former national and Olympic finalists to some of the more inspiring up-and-coming youngsters in the sport. Most of the events take place on BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) and near Laguna Seca. This area offers some profound vistas that are iconic of California in particular.

  • The Mallen twins are ready for action at the Sea Otter Classic
  • A young rider on a youth sized e-bike at the Sea Otter Classic
  • Cam Zink taking time for a groupie photo at the Sea Otter Classic

From left-to-right: (1) The Mallen twins are geared up and ready to roll. (2) One of the twins takes a youth-sized eBike through its paces. (3) Cam Zink, a fan favorite for all ages was at the event at the YT Industries booth.

Meet the Mallens

This was certainly the case for the Mallens. As far as outdoorsy families go, Liz, Tony, Luke, and Alex are a quintessential example of the active lifestyle, and whether it’s Tony acting as inspiration or Liz holding everything together the way only mothers can, their first excursion to the Sea Otter Classic was an adventure in itself.

The twin boys, age nine, have taken naturally to biking, and along with a cohort of friends are part of the Utah Gravity Series. Nevertheless, in their home state the competitive mountain biking is still in its infancy, so when a friend offhandedly suggested the family consider the Sea Otter Classic, it was all the incentive Tony needed. As Liz recalls, she got a text one day from her husband who said he’d signed the boys up for the downhill race. “I thought ‘Wow, okay, we’re going’,” she laughs.

Getting acclimated at the Sea Otter Classic

For these skilled young Utah riders, getting “acclimated” to the sea level air of central California was easy-peasy.

Bumps in the road

Under the tutelage and sponsorship of coaches Tyson Henry from Outlaw Mountain Bike and Mark Kugel from Kugel’s Gravity School, the family set their sights on California. However, shortly before the competition Tony (an avid downhill enthusiast himself) ended up crashing his dirt jumper and suffering a third degree AC separation in his shoulder and a concussion to top things off. Suddenly on her own Liz found herself in the driver’s seat – literally. She became responsible for everything from finding their camping site to registering them in the different events.

One little debacle included getting stuck in a mud bog. Liz was amazed at how helpful everyone was in getting her back on the road, a heavy effort that took them well into the night. “The people here were just so awesome and amazing and friendly and helpful,” she exclaims, recalling the events. Nevertheless it was a huge success overall, and definitely one that sticks in her mind.

Danny MacAskill and the Mallen twins.

The party isn’t bonafide until this guy shows up. Danny MacAskill takes the time to ‘do it for the children’.

Sea Otter Competition for Kids

For the boys themselves the weekend held a lot of challenges and competition. Even in the youth division, practice begins bright and early at 8 in the morning, and with the growing success of the Sea Otter Classic one thing that unexpected visitors might not count on is the lines. This was definitely the case for Alex and Luke, and a lesson they learned very quickly – being there 45 minutes early was essential to make sure you weren’t waiting in the morning sun to get in. Their routine involved waking up at 6:30 and being fully geared up by 6:45. And even then, there was already a line up.

Right off the bat the Utah boys had stiff competition – especially from a hardcore group of ‘Shredder kids’ from Whistler, British Columbia.  Whistler has spawned many world champion contenders, including Jackson Goldstone. But despite the high standards, the Mallens were able to hold their own in both the Dual Slalom and Downhill events against the Canadians. For Saturday’s Dual Slalom, Alex earned a silver medal in the B Group. His brother, Luke almost made the medal round for the A Group. In the Downhill Race, the kids finished 9th and 16th out of a field of 39 riders. This is a testament to the growing talent in Utah. In fact, as Liz can’t help but expound, more than a few brands (from bike companies to gear outfitters) showed some serious interest in the kids.

  • Ready to rock the junior DH race at the Sea Otter Classic
  • Medal winners at the Sea Otter Classic
  • The DH practice line up at the Sea Otter Classic

From left-to-right: (1) The big day in queue for the downhill races. (2) One of the Mallen boys earned a silver in the Dual Slalom B Group. (3) The line-up during a practice session.

You won’t get bored!

At the end of the day though, it’s the diversity that really stood out in Liz’s mind. If you’re at all bike-inclined, it’s impossible to be bored, with daily street races that begin at 11 sharp, an Easter egg hunt (or Sea Otter Egg Hunt, as it were), and a variety of spectator matches. In her own words it’s a “whole experience for anyone who is involved with bikes … road, cycle, mountain cross country, BMX, I mean any type of bike you can imagine is here. If you are in love with bikes in general you need to come to Sea Otter.”

Tips for planning your trip

Of course, for those newcomers who are seriously considering the Sea Otter Classic it’s always a good idea to plan ahead – ideally, at least a month. With so much activity going on, being well prepared in terms of organizing your own schedule around what you want to see and – in the Mallen’s case – what you want to participate in is crucial.

The one solid piece of advice that seems to bridge all visitors to Monterey is the absolute necessity of camping. Although there are a number of hotel and accommodation choices available, camping is where it’s at. You can camp right on-site (either in a camper van or tents) to really bring the experience full circle and add a level of immersion you wouldn’t otherwise get. “The one thing I do recommend for families of kids who are racing is to camp,” Liz says wistfully – and on top of the convenience of being able to make it to events on time, camping is also a great opportunity to get to know other families and racers and to become a part of the Sea Otter Classic community. More than that, a participant in the biker culture itself. “It is like Disneyland! Literally! It’s overwhelming!” she adds excitedly.


For more ideas about mountain biking adventures with kids, check out our Destinations and Trails page and follow MTBwithKids on Instagram or Facebook

Story Contributors

The Mallen family believes in mountain biking with kidsThe Mallens hail from the outskirts of Salt Lake City. And, they’re eagerly anticipating 2017’s Colorado Freeride Festival. Follow them on Instagram @thosemallentwins. They are bubble-wrapped from head-to-shin with protective gear from Demon United.


Jeremy VanSchoonhoven likes taking pictures and riding mountain bikesJeremy VanSchoonhoven is a former competitive trials rider who has traveled the globe. He now focuses on taking photos instead of making paper thin, above the ground moves. Give him an Instagram follow @jeremyvanschoonhoven.

Hartland Road, Mount Work – Victoria, BC

Pooh Corner at "The Dump". Victoria BC

Mountain Biking Hartland Road: This area was a stop during our 2013 trip to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. At the time, we had no idea that Comox and Cumberland were highly regarded as mountain biking destinations as well. Hartland Road was plenty of fun with a 6 year old and a 9 year old. The area is nicknamed the “The Dump” because of its immediate proximity to the local landfill. You can smell the the landfill in all its glory at certain areas of the riding zone. Hence, “Pooh Corner”.

Pooh Corner - Hartland Road, Victoria BC


This area is located around 20 minutes, 10 miles from downtown Victoria. You literally park just outside of the Hartland Landfill at the end of Hartland Road. One of our favorite features of the area, like the rest of BC, was the abundance of wild blackberries growing all over the place. If you can, plan your visit in late July or early August to take advantage of this.

  • Hartland Road BC - covering sign
  • Hartland Road BC - map detail
  • Hartland Road BC - blackberries
  • Hartland Road BC - sign post

The riding is a great mix of cross-country and downhill trails. A decent all-mountain bike or a full-suspension XC rig would be great for your adventures in the area. You can link up trails and really get around as the trails are in close proximity to one another and intersect frequently. The landscape isn’t as stunning as other riding venues on the island. However, we really liked these trails because they were so close to Victoria.

To check out where we’re riding now, follow MTBwithKids on Instagram or Facebook

How To Ride Better: Choose The Right Mountain Bike

Cecelia Potts mountain biking

Choose the Right Mountain Bike – A mountain bike ride used to be your favorite way to relax after an exhausting work week. A ribbon of Saturday single track erased the week’s face palm moments. On the weekend, you were the trail boss, and cleaned rock gardens and bunny hopped anything in your path.

Then the magic fell out.

Now, meeting friends at the trailhead to go mountain biking is more frustrating than fun. Everyone around you is getting faster and advancing their skills (and posting their epic GoPro proof to YouTube). Meanwhile, you’re off the pace pushing your bike up climbs…what gives?

The answer can be found in what you’re riding and where you’re riding it.

Cecilia Potts mountain biking

No problem, here. Cecilia Potts rides the North Creek flow trail at Alafia River State Park, Florida. Photo credit: Mike Lawrence

Let me explain because recently I was the one pushing my bike through sections I should have cleaned. As a retired professional rider with a 25-year love affair with this sport, I had to figure out how to put the magic back. In order to choose the best mountain bike, you’ll want to look at a few items.

Step 1: Evaluate your current bike

First, look at what you’re riding. Massive improvements have been made in bicycle suspension and frame geometry in the past 20 years. The red Pro-Flex we all coveted in 1990s now rides like a $150-bike from a big-box store. If you’re a female rider, all the big brands—Specialized, Liv (a Giant spinoff), Trek, Jamis, Cannondale—and some of the niche brands—Juliana, Yeti, Scott, and Kona—offer women’s specific geometry. Riding a bike with angles considerate of female physiology (i.e., narrower shoulders) makes a big difference on the trail.

Step 2: What kind of Trails do you Ride Most?

The next step is considering where you ride most. Bicycle industry marketing gurus want us to see images of riders leaned into perfectly banked corners and pieces of dirt flying from tire-tread patterns tailored for specific conditions. They hook us with the Zen moment we wish for on every ride. It urges us to rush out and buy that bike… never mind it might not be the best choice for our local trails.

Cecilia Potts riding a Santa Cruz Blur

Cecilia Potts rips a downhill in Trabuco Canyon, Orange County, California. Photo credit: Darin “Crash” Maxwell

Is there a mismatch?

I adored the two Santa Cruz Blur LTs I’ve owned, then I moved to Florida. The Blur LT was designed for going up climbs and bombing rough descents. There’s a lot of flowing, tight single track in Florida, not so many climbs and downhills. For a while the Blur LT worked, but my riding skills weren’t progressing. I had the wrong tool for the job.

It may be time to upgrade

It’s hard to admit your bike has lost its luster, but finding the right mountain bike isn’t difficult. Many bicycle companies partner with the retailers to host demo ride events at local trails. I found three demo events at trails I regularly rode. For the bike models I wanted to try that weren’t scheduled for a demo, a local shop was able to rent the bike for an extended test ride.

Within weeks I was used to the swept back angles of my new Santa Cruz 5010c, and was adding whips when launching over drops and lips I previously would ride with caution. I didn’t realize how much my old bike was holding me back.

To choose the right mountain bike, match the bike to the conditions you regularly ride. Doing that brought the fun back. Now I just need a GoPro to post my improved skills and new tricks to YouTube like everyone else.

Cecilia Potts likes mountain biking and sailingAbout the author: Cecilia ‘Ceal’ Potts was the 1997 Junior Women’s Cross Country Mountain Bike World Champion, and raced professionally in 1998-99. She now enjoys trails without a bib number, and lives and works in Florida. Follow her on Twitter at @cealpotts and on Facebook at cecilia.potts.

These Bikes Don’t Get Put Out To Pasture – They Just Get New Wranglers

An old 24" Kona Stinky

Bike of the week - circle photo

Show Us Your Kid’s Bike!Do you have a kid’s bike you’d like featured as Bike Of The Week? Go to this page and upload your candidate. Tell us if you’ve done any modifications or upgrades that make it unique!

If I had a dollar for every older mountain biker who said “I started out on one of those!” I’ll bet I’d be able to get a pretty schmancy shrimp dinner somewhere.

This is a 2006 Kona Stinky 2-4. It’s called a “2-4” because it features 24-inch wheels. Back in the day, I think this was the only ride in town [from a high-end manufacturer] for kids who liked to get gnarly. The bike’s suspension package is composed of a 100mm travel Marzocchi fork and 4-inch travel Fox Vanilla rear shock. Its 13-inch frame is still the perfect size for groms who are moving up in size and skills.

  • Bike of the week 01 p1 - 040815
  • Bike of the week 01 p3 - 040815

The brakes on the Kona Stinky 2-4 have been upgraded to Shimano Deore calipers and levers from the original stock Hayes Sole package. Beefy 2.1-inch wide Kenda tires and a SRAM x7 rear derailleur are the only other parts that differ from the original build.

It’s not a trail or XC bike. This is a tank intended for lift-served riding and/or shuttling. Using the tried-and-true internationally accredited bathroom scale weighing technology and protocol, this beast weighed in at just over 36 lbs.

Survey – How Does Your Family Roll?

Survey - How Does Your Family Roll?

We will do other surveys and polls as the site grows. By letting us know your interests, you will help determine the content and direction of the site.


Crankworx Rotorua 2017 – Keeping Up With The Griffins

Crankworx Rotorua 2017 and mountain biking with kids

Crankworx Rotorua with Kids – Crankworx is mountain biking’s version of the Olympics, Superbowl, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest… the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the FIFA and/or Quidditch World Cup. The best thing is that it now happens four-times-a-year from locations around the world. Have you thought about how cool it would be to visit Crankworx Rotorua with kids?

We’re fortunate enough to have a family share their first-hand story from Rotorua, New Zealand – the first stop on the 2017 Crankworx World Tour. Events just a stone’s throw away from the Shire took place from March 24th through April 2nd.

When we reached out to Kidsworx Rotorua to see if there was a family willing to share their story with us, Marcello Ojerio, Kidsworx Activities Manager, replied almost immediately. “I’ve found a family who will help you out… they are all mad keen [mountain] bikers and really embody the Crankworx spirit!”

Meet the Griffins

The Griffin family and furry friend at the Dodzy Skills Park in Rotorua, New Zealand.

The Griffin family with furry friend pose for a photo at the always active Dodzy Skills Park in Rotorua, New Zealand.

Claire and James Griffin are the proud parents of 3 young groms ranging in age from 5-8. They made the 4 hour drive from their home south of Rotorua the day before the event started. I was quick to ask Claire how they keep their 3 kids in check during road trips. She said, “We usually drive in the evening and pack an easy dinner like bacon and egg slices as there are no good places with healthy food options between Palmerston North and Rotorua. We leave at about 5pm and eat around 6. Then, the kids usually fall asleep by 7.” When asked if they have movies in the car for this kids, she replied, “Sometimes we get out talking Roald Dahl stories from library… oh and we don’t have devices or a TV for that fact.”

Can you see how this family rolls? Mountain biking together, eating healthy during road trips, books on tape. Many of us are striving to keep up with the Griffins in more ways than one.

Claire told us the main reasons why they come to Crankworx Rotorua with kids. “Our family goes every year because of the [mountain bike] riding with friends we make and reconnect with… racing… and being spectators at the center of mountain biking’s big show.”

The Dodzy Skills Park

At the southwest end of Long Mile road on the edge of the Whakarewarewa Forest – you’ll find the Dodzy Skills Park. This area was built in memory of James “Dodzy” Dodds, a mountain bike enthusiast who was a trail builder and pillar of the Rotorua outdoors community.

  • Dodzy Skills Park - sign
  • Dodzy Skills Park - see saw

The park features intermediate and advanced jump lines, a see-saw, and other features. The Griffins spent a good deal of time here during the week as it’s a wonderful venue for riders of all abilities to build their skills. The skills park also hosts the widely enjoyed but greatly under-publicized 16″ Dual Slalom World Championships. This event is where professionals and amateurs alike test their talents at the park’s DS track on kid bikes with 16-inch wheels.

The Week’s Photos from Crankworx Rotorua with Kids…


The Griffin kids watching the

On the first Saturday of the festival, the Griffins hiked up a trail to watch the Toa Enduro race.

Claire and Cecile Ravanel

Claire attended a wheelie workshop for women led by the prior day’s EWS winner Cecile Ravanel. Cecile won the race in very wet and muddy conditions by over three minutes. And, Claire proudly admitted she rode a wheelie for three revolutions. Year after year, everyone wins at Crankworx.

The Griffin boys and Cedric Gracia at Crankworx Rotorua

The Rotorua Mountain Bike Club hosted a “low key” Super D race one evening. Over a 100 riders turned up and they had a Santa Cruz 5010 frame to give away. The Santa Cruz Team showed up for the race and Cedric warmed towards the boys.

Watching the RockShox Pump Track Challenge

The Griffin family was rooting for local rider Keegan Wright to do well at the RockShox Pump Track Challenge. They got what they wanted as Keegen beat perennial favorite, Adrien Loron.

Kids racing at Crankworx Rotorua 2017

Race day! Crankworx Rotorua with kids is amazing.

MTB race at Crankworx Rotorua 2017

Kidsworx Rotorua 2017








If New Zealand is a bit too far fo you to travel – maybe you’d be up for visiting the Whistler stop of the Crankworx World Tour. Check out Eight Reasons to Visit Whistler During Crankworx.

To see more mountain biking families like this and share your family’s adventures on two wheels, follow MTBwithKids on Instagram or Facebook

About Mountain Biking With Kids

About Mountain Biking With Kids

Starting The Next Family Adventure

If you have taught young kids to ride bikes with you, I believe that you’ve helped build a foundation of fun, health and citizenship which will last a lifetime. Growing older sucks, but mountain biking with my kids makes it a lot more tolerable. I can recall several rides with my family where I’m simply reveling in the moment as we flat-out romp through the woods. Even though I’m the adult – I have the exact same feelings of hard work and exhilaration my kids do when we’re on the bikes together.

  • Family mountain bike ride
  • Sandstone riding mountain bikes
  • Balance bike skills park
  • Old Red Bull Rampage Site
  • Mountain biking with kids in the desert
  • Blue Velvet - Whistler Bike Park
  • Mountain biking with kids at Little Creek Mesa

The more I have thought about the site, the more excited I get. Not only does it allow my family to document our experiences doing something we love – it’s also going to be available to people like you, from around the world, so you can share your stories and spread the word about mountain biking, trail building and maintenance, land stewardship, trail etiquette, and why our passion for this wonderful activity matters.

About Our Mountain Biking Family

My Name is Brett and I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. I’m married to a wonderful woman named Traci and we have two sons, ages 13 and 10. We are not professional mountain bikers but we have been able get around on the bikes quite a bit over the last 9 years or so.

In the dead of winter last year, we were going through all the images from our family adventures. Traci said “You’d better build us a website”. Well, my wife isn’t just the good looking one, she’s also the smart one. I’m a freelance graphic designer who works with a couple of really good developers, so I figured – what the heck, let’s do it. After hundreds of hours of work and a pretty big chunk of change, we’re almost done with step one.