Pedal Progression 'Little Rippers' - Mountain Biking for Kids in Bristol. - Pedal Progression


20 January 2017

Pedal Progression ‘Little Rippers’ – Mountain Biking for Kids in Bristol.

Our ‘Little Rippers’ rides are designed to get kids out on their bikes in the woods. To give them a taste of mountain biking and hopefully to plant the seed of a lifelong passion for the sport. We aim to coach young riders to become more confident and get maximum enjoyment from their experience. We also have young riders who want to take it to the next level, riding faster, jumping higher and maybe even getting prepared for competitions. Your child can join us for an open session or for a structured course, or even mix and match the two. Some kids may benefit from trying an open session before committing to a course, or vice versa, coming back to the open sessions once they have done a course to continue to practice their new skills.

Scroll through for FAQs…

Open Sessions

The open sessions are sessions open to all. Whether your child wants to come to one just to see what mountain biking is all about or come regularly to improve their skills and ride with their peers.  If you are unsure whether your child is ready, refer to the section FAQs below. Every session follows the same format, sessions are designed to be enjoyed by mountain bike beginners while also being challenging for more experienced riders.

We always start with a bike check and safety briefing. This gives the instructor a chance to make sure all participants have suitable, safe bikes and also gets the kids into good habits for the future. It also helps to reduce the risk of any accidents that can be caused by poor maintenance or mechanical malfunction.

Following this, we will get the riding underway on a flat, wide, soft trail which helps the kids to warm up, get to know each other and gives time for the instructor to begin to assess the ability of the individuals in the group. We will be looking for how well they are able to control the speed and direction of their bike – this isn’t a test, this about making sure we take the group on appropriate trails and work on the right skills.

We then progress to work on technique. The skills we work on differ in each session depending on what the instructor thinks will suit best. Working on mountain bike technique is just like any other sport – to get better takes practice, we often do this practice on grass, or easier, wider sections of fire road to perfect technique in a safe and controlled way before taking it to the trails. Working with mixed ability groups means that those who are less experienced can learn from the more experienced riders as well as the instructor. The more experienced riders can benefit from continued practice and feedback from the instructor whilst helping the others to learn by demonstrating good technique. Our key aim here is to create a positive group working environment where all participants are supported in their learning at the correct level. Because we keep the group deliberately small this can be done very effectively.

Finally, we will ride a fun section of trail. This gives a chance for the kids to apply their new technique and see how much of a difference their learning and practice has made.

If you like the sound of this and think your kids will too, for dates and booking  – Click Here

Courses and Advanced Coaching

We are now offering our courses and advanced sessions throughout the school holidays. We have the ‘Fundamentals’ syllabus (2 parts) for 7-10’s, ‘Jumps and Drops’ (2 Parts) for 11-14’s and a one day ‘Advanced trail tech’ session for riders who want to take their bike handling skills to the next level. If your child completes a full 2 day course they will receive a certificate and a goody bag! Any of the sessions that make up part of a course can also be attended as an open session – so you don’t have to do both parts if you can’t for any reason.

Fundamentals Course:

We will teach the same skills in our Fundamentals syllabus as we do to the adults but in a way that is more easily learnt by this age group. Core skills are – body position for faster more confident trail flow, cornering and wheel lifts. If you want them to complete the course you need to book them onto a fundamentals part one and part 2. Your child does not need to have attended one of our 3 hour open session prior to attending one of both of these, however we do recommend they have enjoyed at least a 40-60 min bike ride and are able to confidently ride their bike across grass and along gravel tracks whilst control speed and direction. If you have any questions about your child’s suitability just give us a call! 

Jumps and Drops:

We tend to find the 11-14 year old’s are slightly stronger riders and have aspirations to learn more advanced technique so we will be offering our jumps and drops syllabus, again in 2 parts. This will help them to learn and understand in great depth the forces at play when they want to get their wheels off the ground, or hit a bigger more technical drop feature than you wouldn’t normally find on a blue or red trail. If your child is in this age group and keen to have a go but you unsure if they have enough experience just give us a call, or drop me an email

The longer sessions for the older age groups gives us more time to cover some other new stuff. Over the last 2 years of running Little Rippers courses, we have found the kids often have a keen interest in how their bikes work. To reflect this we will be adding a short session on maintenance to the usual safety check and also a specific mechanical lesson. This will be either a lesson on puncture repair or a lesson on repairing and replacing a broken chain. Our aim here is to add variety to the session and also to start to prepare the next generation of riders to be able to be self-sufficient on the trail. It won’t be long before these kids are going to want to get out on their own and now is a great time to start to teach them the skills they need to repair their own bikes should the inevitable, broken bike a long way from home scenario eventually happen! We want to equip them with the skills to get home safely and quickly in this situation.

New Session for 2018 – ‘Advanced Trail Tech’ – This session was created as we have found an increasing number of riders in both older age groups who are pushing hard to ride faster and practice their skills on more challenging sections. The session will continue to build on core techniques that we teach across all our sessions whilst giving riders the opportunity to develop this on steeper terrain and over more advanced features (jumps, drops, roots, rock gardens, steeper turns!). For the 11-14’s this will have a similar feel and challenge to the current open sessions. For the 7-10s this will represent a step up in terms of pace and challenge from what you would normally expect in an open session or fundamentals course. We would recommend that your child has been to one of our open sessions or courses before so you and they are happy that this is an appropriate session for them. Any questions about suitability for this…Call Ollie – 01179731298 before booking!

A few F.A.Qs

How much experience of off road riding does my child need? – They do not need to have been mountain biking before but they should be able to ride confidently across grass and gravel without stabilisers, they should be able to sustain the momentum of their bike and feel in control of the speed. The most important thing is that they should have some understanding of what off-road riding is and have a desire to take part!

What kit do they need? – They will need their own bike which is functioning well. In the youngest age group the kids will have usually have single speed bikes. For the older age groups 7+, we recommend a bike with gears. Their bike does not need to be a mountain bike but should have some grip on the tires. A helmet is compulsory, gloves are highly recommended. Other pads (knee, elbow) can be used and will minimise injury if your child has an accident. We do have a small number of kids bikes and helmets available for hire – If you require hire please let us know at time of booking the sessions.

Can parents come along? – We do not have a strict policy on this. Although parents do not usually join us we are open to having them along if a child is too nervous to go alone – we would definitely rather they come with a parent than not at all! Most kids will be a bit nervous, especially the first time, but once we have done intro’s and warmed up they relax and enjoy the session. If you do want to join us please call to let us know before you book as we have limited sessions spaces to have parents along.

How do the age groups work? – We recognise that all kids are different. We have created age groups as a guide and to help us create appropriate length sessions. If your child has a lot of experience mountain biking it may be that they can ride with the older age group. If this is the first time for your child and they are at the lower end of the age group it may be worth signing them up for the younger group. If you have any questions on this and want to make a booking outside of the age guide please contact us first and we can give our recommendation.

Is mountain biking dangerous? – Like any cycling there is a risk of injury – we do everything we can to minimise the risk by ensuring that we keep the groups small, assess the ability of all riders in the group before taking them on mountain bike trails. We ensure that no pressure is put on any child by the instructor or other participants to try something they are not ready for. Our instructors are fully trained trail cycle leaders, have outdoor first aid qualifications and are enhanced DBS checked.

If you have ANY other question please drop us a line, or drop me an email:


Written by:

Ollie Cain