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”.

Check out our Destinations and Trails page for more fun places to ride!

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Five Ten Freerider Mountain Bike Shoes for Kids – Review

Five Ten Freerider Mountain Bike Shoe for Kids - Review
Five Ten Freerider Contact mountain biking shoes for kids

New Kids’ Bike Shoe Review Available!

Our 11 year old grew out of the Five Ten Freeriders shown on this page so we had to get him a new pair of mountain biking shoes. Follow the link to learn about the Five Ten Freerider Contact shoes he has been wearing for the 2018 season. Over the course of two weeks, he rode ’em hard every day and never complained about them being uncomfortable.

Mountain Bike Shoes for Kids That Don’t Cut Corners

Do your little ones need to have specialized shoes for mountain biking? Probably not. Can shoes like the Five Ten Freerider Mountain Bike Shoes for kids make a positive difference in the experience of riding a mountain bike? Absolutely!

Brett purchased his initial pair of Five Tens several years ago. After he got them, he kept recommending that I should get some too. After some time, I gave in and bought the women’s Freerider shoes. It was amazing to feel the difference that the shoes made to my riding. The stiff, flat soles on the shoes make full contact with the pedals helping to achieve a planted feeling. Five Ten has been making rock climbing shoes since 1985 and they’re famous for producing shoes that feature their high-frication Stealth rubber on the soles. Their mountain biking shoes have amazing grip as well, while the shallow tread allows for easy foot repositioning when needed.

We decided to purchase Five Ten Freerider Kids mountain biking shoes for our children early last year. Our youngest currently wears the size 2.5 US and our oldest wears 9.5 US. After two seasons of riding in them, the shoes have become an essential part of their cycling gear. Both kids appreciate the “grippiness” of the soles, which have decreased the number of times they slip off the pedals. In our opinion, the toe boxes of the shoes seem to be wider than most. For our kids’ duck-shaped feet, this makes the shoes more comfortable. They still do slip a pedal now-and-then, and the result can look like a scene out of a horror film. Immediately following a gory mauling of the shin, we ask if they want to start wearing shin pads. They always refuse.

5-10 Freerider Mountain Bike Shoe for Kids

Five Ten Freeriders Kids Mountain Bike Shoes

  • Multiple sizes and colors
  • One-piece sole
Suede leather and mesh uppers
  • DottyTM tread on the sole
  • Visit for more information
mountain bike shoes for kids

Five Ten Freerider Contact available in women’s sizes 5-11 at Adidas Outdoor.

Five Ten Freerider VCS - a mountain biking shoe for kids

Five Ten Freerider VCS available in kids’s sizes 2-10.5k at Adidas Outdoor.

Deity Components Compound Pedal

Deity Components Compound Pedal available at Backcountry.

Race Face Chester Pedal

Race Face Chester Pedal available at Backcountry.

The links above are for affiliate partners. That means if you click on them and make a purchase, we earn a small commission. Read more here.

Five Ten Freerider Kids shoe review, mountain bike
Five Ten Freerider Shoes for Kids
Five Ten Freerider Mountain Bike Shoes for Kids
What our kids say about their 5-10 Freerider mountain bike shoes

What Our Boys Say About Their Five Ten Freerider Mountain Bike Shoes for Kids..

“If you have good pedals (with pins) it almost feels like you’re clipped in.”
“They’re comfortable and I like how my foot doesn’t shift in the shoe. They fit me very well.”
“They last a really long time. They’re the only shoes I haven’t worn out.”

The Pedals You Use With These Shoes Make A Difference

Flat mountain biking pedals with metal pins are also a necessity for these shoes to perform their best. Standard metal “rat-trap” or thick plastic plastic molded pedals with the orange reflectors on them will not take full advantage of the tacky Stealth rubber on the soles of the Five Tens. We currently use flat pedals with pins on our younger son’s bike, a Trek Fuel Ex Jr.

Our boys can be hard on shoes – so much so that we have burned through skate shoes in the span of a few months. However, since we opted to buy big, we are on the second year of use of these shoes (pictured) and they barely look worn. All of us are careful to only wear our mountain biking shoes only for biking so the soles don’t get unnecessary wear-and-tear. The uppers are made with suede leather and mesh.

The shoes perform well off the bike providing decent traction on dirt. And of course, excellent grip on rock and pavement.

If your family rides several times per month, the Five Ten Freerider Mountain Bike Shoes for Kids shoes may make riding even more fun.

The only issue we have had with these mountain biking shoes is that the long laces don’t seem to stay tucked in the shoes well for our younger rider. The laces loose laces have gotten caught on the bike/other objects a few times. If I were purchasing new, I’d buy the Velcro closure shoes for him.

These are not cheap for growing kids. Like other youth mountain biking gear – you can clean them up and try to re-sell them. We have seen used kids’ MTB shoes like these for sale on our local online buy/sell websites and Facebook groups.

Whistler’s Summer Gravity Camps – Mountain Biking With Kids

Mountain Biking with Kids experiences Whistler's SGC (Summer Gravity Camps)

Summer Gravity Camp (SGC) at Whistler Bike Park – Whistler has long been known as a mecca for mountain bikers of all skills and riding styles. And, while part of the appeal is undeniably the beautiful and rugged terrain that makes up British Columbia – to an even greater degree it’s the culture around biking that’s developed here. Some of the top professional mountain bikers call the area home. It also boasts one of the more acclaimed bike camps available. Having started out 15 years ago, SGC – or Summer Gravity Camps, was the brainchild of Andrew Shandro. He wanted to create an opportunity for young mountain bikers to challenge themselves and progress their skills.

When things start to go sideways at SGC, it's always a good thing!

Summer Gravity Camps in Whistler, BC

  • Each session is 7 days long and camps usually begin in July
  • Clinics are led by professional mountain bikers from around the world 
  • A full-suspension DH bike is recommended. Full-face helmet is mandatory.
  • Get more details and register at

Excitement and Nerves

For people like Wyatt, our young teen rider, it also offers the opportunity to learn at a world-class venue. When his mom told him he had the opportunity to sign up for a week-long SGC youth session in July of 2017, he was one hundred percent on board. After finding out he’d formally been registered he recalls that “it felt like my birthday”. But after the initial excitement soaked in, Wyatt told us he was a little nervous. He wanted to be able to get placed in a group where he could demonstrate what he could do on a mountain bike, and then learn more.

What to Ride?

Wyatt doesn’t have his own downhill mountain bike and we needed to make sure he’d be able to keep up from a technical standpoint. Instead of renting a bike for the week, I took care of this by making some changes to my “park” bike. I own a 2011 Specialized SX Trail II. Wyatt only weighs about 110 lbs, but with help from my local bike shop, we were able to set it up properly for Wyatt’s weight. We purchased a different spring for the fork and we switched out the coil on the rear shock.

In addition to riding in the Whistler Bike Park for a week, another part of the curriculum for SGC is riding  at the Whistler River Dirt Jumps or at the Air Dome. Wyatt already owned a decent dirt jumper, and we were sure to bring that along. He also had his trail/enduro bike so we could mountain bike with the kids outside of the park.

Packing list

He packed the following gear for the camp: a full-face helmet, neck brace, gloves, elbow pads, knee pads, MTB shoes, goggles, mountain biking jerseys and shorts, a rain jacket, and a hydration pack.

2011 Specialized SX Trail 2
26 ain't dead. Our son rode my 2011 Specialized SX Trail 2 during his SGC tenure. After adjusting the bike's suspension for a lighter rider, the bike performed great and handled everything the Whistler Bike Park threw at him.

Our Kid’s Week At Summer Gravity Camps

Most of the SGC participants stay in the host hotel. However, as this was a family trip, Wyatt had to stay with mom, dad, and his little brother. Our family rented a condo near the Whistler base village.

Once we got settled at the condo, Wyatt and I headed up to the host hotel located on the BlackComb side of the resort to finalize registration. There we met Mel(lissa) and Trish. Mel and Trish act as surrogate “camp moms” by greeting SGC campers and getting them settled before the actual training week begins. I signed waivers and a media release and filled out emergency contact information for Wyatt. Then, Wyatt was given a jersey, a pair of new grips, and his bike park pass for the week. A welcome dinner for the riders at the hotel was scheduled next, so I left Wyatt and went back to the condo.

Welcome dinner

Andrew Shandro got things underway by telling the group of teenagers to be on their best behavior at the hotel and pay attention to the curfew. Riders will be split up into smaller groups based on their experience and abilities. Dinner was pizza. Wyatt asked the coaches if he should ride his newer trail bike or the SX Trail during the camp. He was told “Bring whatever has more suspension.”  After dinner, Shandro said “Be at the GLC by 9 tomorrow morning. See you later. Take care.”

The first day

The next morning, the riders met up again and become more acquainted with one another over a buffet style breakfast at the Garibaldi Lift Co. Pancakes, waffles, French toast, sausage, potatoes, and other items were available through the week. Following breakfast on Sunday, SGC riders received their daily voucher for lunch at the Garbanzo Bike & Bean. Finally, it was out to the bike park for the first day.

In the winter, Whistler-Blackcomb is the name when it comes to ski hills, but during the summer months the lifts and runs do double duty. As part of their deal, SGC riders get priority when it comes to lift lines, so there’s never a huge wait when it comes to getting to the top of the hill. To start, the riders had to be separated into smaller groups based on their skill level.

Forming ability groups

SGC is able to cater to mountain bikers’ different levels of skill. Shandro and his colleagues do their best to assess the riders’ abilities and make sure they ride with different coaches. Wyatt said they rode Crank-It-Up and B Line so the coaches could determine how to divide everyone up into groups of about 6-7 riders. This way everyone gets to ride at a level where they’re comfortable. Those who are really hardcore can get on more advanced trails right away. Those who are more intermediate can work on their skills and not feel like they’re getting left behind. A big part of Shandro’s conceptual framework for the training is having a small ratio for coaches-to-students in order to maximize one-on-one time and ensure everyone has fun.

Doing the Fade To Black road gap at Summer Gravity Camps
Doing the Fade To Black road gap in the Whistler Bike Park was one of our son's goals for the week. He sent it on the first day!

Riding with Jordie Lunn = amazing!

Wyatt ended up with Jordie Lunn as his group’s coach for the first day. Like so many other Whistler riders, Jordie is a local from Vancouver Island who calls Whistler home. Jordie wasn’t at all shy about exposing his group to everything it had to offer. Some of the trails the group rode included: Crank-It-Up, B Line, A Line, and Fade To Black. One of Wyatt’s goals for the trip was to do the Fade To Black road gap. Luckily enough, when the opportunity presented itself, Jordie told Wyatt, “Just give it a couple of pedals going into it. You got this.” Mission accomplished on Day One.

Riding with Micayla Gatto and Casey Brown = amazing x 2!

On Monday, Wyatt rode with Micayla Gatto and Casey Brown, two downhill racers that prove gender doesn’t have anything to do with speed or style. When asked about what he learned on Monday, Wyatt told us, “Micayla taught us how to corner better.” She said, “You point your belly button where you want to go and pretend you’re mooning the people on the outside of the berm.”

Casey was just as fluent in her instruction, and focused on how to properly whip. “It was like rotating your body and your bike. So, you twist your bars a little. Just look where you want to go. Rotating your body and your bike so it moves to whichever side of the trail is most comfortable to you. And always be looking where you want to go while you’re doing that motion and bringing it back,” Wyatt told us.

Air Dome and Dirt Jumps

Monday also marked the first time Wyatt was able to try out the dirt jumps and Air Dome with his SGC group. These are specialized facilities where riders work on jumping. Another benefit of attending SGC is that from 3:00pm-5:00pm throughout the entire week, SGC members get singular access to the Air Dome. Wyatt recalls watching skilled locals pull backflips, Cork 720’s and tailwhips. During this session, he learned how to improve the style of his tabletop jumps.

More skills = more fun!

Come Tuesday and Wednesday the coaches were Duncan and Dave. These two days of riding were spent working on the things they’d learned the day before. Wyatt mentioned that SGC is a great forum for coaches to show off some of their own skills. Duncan managed to pull a stoppie at the top of a rock roll on Original Sin. Wyatt said, “I never thought anyone could do anything like that,” I asked him how he did it and he just said ‘Insane brake control’.”

Clowning around on the trail EZ Does It with SGC
Clowning around during your week at SGC is just as much fun as ripping the expert technical lines.

According to Wyatt, Dave was just as fun. This is an example of the atmosphere Shando and the staff are trying to create for the kids. SGC is a place to learn and push yourself, but it’s also meant to be fun every step of the way. Wyatt recounts one of Dave’s funnier antics. “He put coins in one kid’s bike through the seat tube, so whenever he went over brake bumps, or did a jump, or ran over anything; it would just be ‘tinkle, tinkle, tinkle’. The kid new right away. He was like, ‘Oh, I know who did this!’”

Building confidence and making friends

What seems to come out as a recurring theme in Wyatt’s experience is the dedication of the coaches. Each coach made sure the kids felt safe and confident at the same time. It’s a difficult balancing act, but they strive to achieve this each and every time. “If you’re in the front, you just hear them holler at the person who they were behind. You just hear ‘Good job! Faster! Faster! Faster!’”

Besides having a great complement of coaches and the ability to ride with almost the entire staff during the course of the week, Wyatt said it was also cool to learn about where the other riders were from. Wyatt remembers riding with other boys his age from Bellingham, Washington and other parts of the United States. There was even a kid who had come over all the way from London.

A classic "family photo" moment from SGC at Whistler
It's family photo time! Everyone look at the camera and say "poutine".

Jumps and Drops with Kyle Norbraten

The coach was Kyle Norbraten on Thursday, and the weather classic “BC summer”. The West Coast is famous for its rain. During the whole day – from riding the gondola to blitzing down Una Moss to Freight Train the whole mountain was decked in fog and a light rain. But from Wyatt’s perspective, this was perfect.

Push ups brought to you by Graham Aggasiz

On the final day, Wyatt’s coach was Graham Aggasiz and the group tended to stick mostly to Dirt Merchant. For Aggy, it was time to put the kids to the test. This meant enforcing a couple of casual rules: every time you either did a pedal stroke, you had to do a push-up. If you cased a jump – you had to 10 push-ups. “Dirt Merchant to A-Line. No pedals or no stops? A-Line? Yeah, it was interesting,” Wyatt said. “In total, I only had to twenty push-ups, but there were some other kids there who had to do thirty after every lap”. But because it was the last day, Aggy wanted to make sure the kids got the full Whistler Experience. That meant knocking off as many different runs as possible, including Fatcrobat, In Deep, Original Sin, Schleyer, Whistler Downhill, and more of Fade To Black.

Swag galore

Of course, the SGC – and their coaches – couldn’t hold these kinds of camps without a lot of support from their sponsors and from local community. At the end of the week Wyatt and the other riders also got entered into a raffle which featured a ton of donated swag. Some of the prizes were a dirt jump fork, bluetooth portable speaker, energy bars, bike cleaning products, a new brakeset, water bottles, and other items.

SGC for the win!

When asked if he’d suggest the SGC to other kids his age with an interest in downhill or mountain biking he practically beams. “If there’s any worries you have about it, just realize that you’re just biking with people who will give you tips. They know how to coach you. You’ll do good and have the time of your life no matter what group you’re in,” he says assuredly.

Can Summer Gravity Camps be challenging? Yes. Is it exciting to learn new skills with the best mountain bikers? Yes. But is it worth it? “Absolutely. You’ll want to come back year-after-year.” Wyatt replies.

Video – Dirt Merchant, Whistler Bike Park With Kids

Whistler Bike Park with kids. Dirt Merchant.

Mountain Biking With Kids, Dirt Merchant

Dirt Merchant in Whistler Bike Park is one our oldest son’s favorite trails. This machine-built trail is rated as experts only. Dirt Merchant features table jumps, step-ups, step-downs, smooth berms, and a creek gap. This trail is one of the best tracks in the park. He shot this video during his week-long session at Summer Gravity Camps in July of 2017.

For more videos like this, follow MTBwithKids on Instagram or Facebook

Dirt Merchant overview:

Dirt Merchant is an extremely difficult double black diamond trail in Whistler Bike Park. This trail is a machine build, experts only trail with loads of table tops, step-ups, and big drops.

Whistler Bike Park with Kids:

We love visiting Whistler bike park with kids. Whistler is an amazing location for family vacations!  There are lots of beginner trails that are family friendly. Additionally, you can enroll your kiddo in DFX lessons so they can learn skills form some cool coaches (See our Planada article for more details!). Meanwhile, mom and dad can take lessons on their own OR hit some epic rides including one of our favorites: Lord of the Squirrels.

Check out our Destinations and Trails page for more fun places to ride!

For more videos like this, follow MTBwithKids on Instagram or Facebook

Three Audiobooks You May Enjoy On Your Next Mountain Biking Trip With Kids

Scat, Star Girl, The Strange Case Of Origami Yoda

We’re true believers in audiobooks for road trips with kids. Mountain biking with kids means a lot time in the car. Sometimes, it’s several hours. As I’m writing this, we are on our way to St. George, Utah. My wife is driving and we are on southbound I-15. I affectionately call this route the “S-Z-C”, or Southern Zion Current. This drive is about 320 miles and it takes us 5 hours. Some drives are shorter for us. Park City is only 30 minutes away from our house. And, some of our trips are much longer. Earlier this year, we drove from Salt Lake City, Utah to Bellingham, Washington in one day.

Less screen time is a good thing

Like most families, we try to limit our kids’ screen time. We got rid of cable/satellite TV around 7 years ago and never looked back. Accessing movies on iTunes or RedBox works fine for us. And, one of my guilty pleasures is watching 70’s and 80’s bands perform live on YouTube. Look up The Midnight Special on YouTube and you’ll see fantastic live performances by Blondie, KC And The Sunshine Band, ABBA, and Billy Joel – just to name a few.

We used to have a portable DVD player with two screens in the car, but as our youngest got to be around three years old, we just stopped bringing it on trips and started listening to books on CD. When our youngest was around four years old, he was old enough to complain about listening to books on CD. The conversation went something like this, “Uggggg. Not another story.” About ten minutes later, this was followed shortly by peaceful snoozing for an hour or so at a time. Our complainer’s older brother would always accept that time in the car meant listening to stories.

As a trip nears, we’re always on the prowl for the next book on CD or series of audio books that will make the upcoming drive an atraumatic experience for all four of us.

Without further ado… here are some of the winners we have found so far. If you have some favorites your family has enjoyed, please tell us in the comments below. Why do all these titles begin with the letter “S”? I have no idea. It’s just coincidence.

Scat - by Carl Hiassen


Comedy and mystery are entwined in Carl Hiaasen’s, Scat. The story is narrated by Ed Asner – the actor mostly known for the voice of Carl from Pixar’s UP and the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Bunny Starch is a biology teacher feared by her students. She disappears after a school trip to Black Vine Swamp.

The children are relieved and when the Principal tells the students that Mrs. Starch left due to a family emergency, Nick and Marta aren’t buying it. The pair of amateur sleuths team up and trust that the classes delinquent, Smoke is involved. On their journey of discovery, Nick and Marta find that a lot of bad things are happening at Black Vine Swamp. They meet Twilly an eco-avenger claiming to be the nephew of Mrs. Scratch. They learn that there are panthers in the swamp and the Red Diamond Energy Company are drilling in the area. Nick and Marta pair up with Smoke, Twilly and Marta to save the panthers and the swamp from the company proving that very different people can come together for a common goal. Books by Hiaasen are definitely some of our audiobooks for road trips with kids.




Protagonist Leo Borlock becomes intrigued by the mystery of Stargirl in Jerry Spinelli’s narrative of teenage nonconformity. Stargirl Caraway is the new girl dressed in odd clothing from different eras. She sings Happy Birthday to every student and is perceived as fake by the most popular girl in school. As time passes Stargirl is embraced by her classmate’s thanks to her place on the cheerleading squad but this is short lived and she is once again shunned due to her differences.

When Leo begins dating Stargirl he realizes that he too is being shunned and tries to change her. Stargirl begins going by her real name Susan and even as she tries to conform she realizes that fitting in doesn’t matter. That her efforts to be “normal” are in vain and that she has betrayed herself by not being Stargirl. When she returns to her usual self Leo breaks things off with her unable to deal with the shunning. During a school dance, Stargirl is once again a star in the school but her time at Mica Area High School has come to an end and she moves away without saying goodbye. Instantly recognizable, John Ritter reads Stargirl like a father putting his daughter to bed.


The Strange Case Of Origami Yoda

The Strange Case Of Origami Yoda

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is a clever story of a young boy that brings his imagination to life for others. Great things come in small packages and sixth grader Dwight is a small package with a big personality. He is an odd boy at McQuarrie Middle School who creates an Origami Yoda and proceeds to give advice to his classmates. Many students are convinced that Origami Yoda is real and fellow sixth grader Tommy sets out to prove this with the help of his friend Kellen who illustrates the project.

Bully Harvey is not convinced of Yoda’s existence and attempts to disprove Origami Yoda’s connection to the force. Inspired by a real life Origami Yoda and the unique writing associated with Star Wars, Author Tom Angleberger tells his own unique tale about a young outcast you intrigue the mind of students with his Origami Yoda. The story is narrated by Mark Turetsky, Greg Steinbruner, Jonathan Ross, Julia Gibson, and Charlotte Parry.


Need more suggestions on audiobooks for road trips with kids? Take a look at MTB with Kids Summer 2018 Audiobook Suggestions