Groms – AKA: Kids who rip around on mountain bikes.
Words | Cara Williams. Photos | Marc Landry Photography
The thrill of riding a bike is a fundamental and healthy part of growing up. With mountain biking programs popping up around the Escarpment, the groms who ride here have a genuine leg up on other vertically challenged mountain biking locales. Blue Mountain Resort has some of Ontario’s best downhill bike trails, with features engineered to introduce young riders to mountain biking and progress safely in a welcoming, safe and family-friendly environment. Kids are resilient, but if they don’t have a good experience, they may not be as quick to engage in your favourite activity the next time you go riding – good thing Blue provides gondola access to the top of the trailheads, where together you can enjoy the magnificent views of Georgian Bay, without having to coax your youngster into climbing 720 vertical feet.
“With the addition of machine-built trails which are wider and less intimidating, as well as ongoing improvements and maintenance of our original network of trails, getting into gravity biking is more accessible than ever,” explains Luc Belanger, Manager of Recreation Programs at Blue Mountain Resort.
Part of the fun of mountain biking is the effort and tactics involved. Each ride presents new challenges and kids have to work out how to best handle them. After completing a skills assessment, kids ages 8 to 12 can now ride with an adult 25 or older or with a Blue Mountain guide. Mountain biking lessons give riders an opportunity to develop greater confidence and new skills in a supportive and safe environment. Varied terrain and a variety of exercises will make your groms better riders while greater familiarity with their mountain bikes will reveal a better experience while they navigate some of Ontario’s best trails.
“We have made great improvements in reducing the barriers of entry into the bike park for young riders, especially with the equipment available to rent,” explains Luc. “Nothing is worse as a first experience than to be stuck on the wrong bike; something we see too often. Blue now has an extensive fleet of full suspension bikes for smaller riders; 24-inch wheels, big tires, hydraulic disc brakes and suspension tuned for lighter riders. To go along with that, specific kids sizing for protections items and most important, proper fitting helmets.”
Think you’re ready to head out with your grom? Start off on the flowing single-track and work your way up to the technical downhill descents. Groove and Gulch are wide, well maintained trails that allow kids to find their balance. Blue has made some adjustments to their General Rider Assessments, introducing a Youth Rider Assessment. When successful, riders will earn access to a limited number of trails where they can safely develop their skills while riding with a parent or guardian while working up to the General Assessment, which riders must pass in order to gain access to all trails.
Riders age 7 and under: Not allowed on the downhill trails
Riders age 8 to 12 years:
FOR CROSS COUNTRY TRAILS — must ride with a guide or an adult who is at least 25 years of age
FOR DOWNHILL TRAILS — must complete the Youth Rider Assessment* or General Rider Assessment. Must ride with a guide or a parent/guardian who is at least 25 years of age. *Riders who have only completed the Youth Rider Assessment will have restricted trail access.
Riders age 13 to 17 years:
FOR DOWNHILL TRAILS — must complete the General Rider Assessment.
All downhill riders 17 years of age and under are required to wear full face helmets, elbow, forearm, shin, knee, chest and back protection (backpacks with integrated back protection are acceptable) at all times while on any downhill trail on resort. |E|