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Mountain Bike Champion and ByK Dad, Damien Enderby tells us what he loves about bikes

Damien Enderby is a ByK Dad who loves to ride. From the age of 12 when he got his first mountain bike, his passion for riding led him to race and he has competed at countless State and, National Mountain Bike events with success at the National level, and has also competed at the International level for Off-Road Triathlon and Duathlon.

We know Damien because he and his wife, Jenny, have turned their passion for cycling and fitness into a business that teaches kids to ride and they use ByK bikes exclusively to teach kids in school programs and private lessons.

Damien is a qualified Cycling Australia and AustCycle coach and next month will be competing in the Australian National Mountain Bike Championships in Bright.

Damien Enderby Mountain Bike Racing

What do you do?
Since May 2014 my wife, Jenny, and I have been running our own business, Bike AND Fitness, which specialises in teaching school-age children how to ride through after-school during-school sports programs. We are now branching out to running private personal training and bicycle skills courses, as well as MTB skills courses for adults and kids.

How many children do you have?
Two daughters, 10-year-old Mikayla and 8-year-old Erika. Erika has just won the Oceania Orienteering Championships for Under-10s. Both girls are into competition orienteering and have racked up a few achievements between them. They also do Little Athletics and Nippers as extra-curricular activities.

What do you do in your spare time (pre-kids and post-kids!)
Ride a mountain bike or go for a run. Training for me is fun, its a passion and something I enjoy to do. I'm also really into building our business right now so my spare time can often involve working on that.

Otherwise, reading bicycle magazines has been my favourite thing to do since I was a kid and I still relax with a magazine in my spare time. My favourites are Mountain Biking Australia Magazine, AMB (Australian Mountain Bike), Bicycling Australia Magazine and Enduro Mag. Even when I was a kid, I was probably supposed to be in my room studying but I would usually be reading a bike magazine instead...!

How many bikes live at your house?
There are 12 bikes in the shed. I personally own 1 road bike and 4 mountain bikes - including a treasured old-school 1980s MTB I found on a roadside pickup (pictured below).

What bikes do your kids own?
Erika owns a standard E-450 ByK kids bike and a 450MTB ByK kids mountain bike. Mikayla uses one of Jen's old road bikes - a Canondale - and has a 24 inch MTB but is starting to share one of Jen's smaller 29er MTB now she is getting bigger.

How do you and your kids use your bikes in daily life?
After school the kids might often get out and ride around our street, riding up and down gutters, and just having fun without going far. Its often where you learn the most skills, just right outside your own house.

On weekends, we sometimes combine our (parents') run with the kids riding alongside us. Its a win-win situation where we get our fitness and they get a fairly leisurely and not too long ride.

Some might think that our kids are out riding bikes at any chance they've got but our philosophy is very much one of not pushing our kids to do stuff they don't want to. There's also a feeling that when you're young, if you go too hard at one thing, you might burn out or even do damage to your growing body so we just let them take it at their own pace. We have said that if they're still keen on a particular sport when they're 12 or 13, its at that time that we'll support them if they want to step it up a notch. But for now, its all about having fun.

Because my wife and I compete at events around Australia, the kids often get involved too if there are kids-specific races as part of the event. And even if they're not competing, we usually bring their bikes along so they can ride and have fun over the period of the event as well.

Do your kids ride to school?
Once or twice a month. Riding to school is totally up to the kids. Often, with school and a few after-school activities, the weekdays are a chance to recover from the fun and activities of the weekend.

At what age do you think they would ride to school alone?
Our eldest is certainly mature and capable of riding to school on her own but the route is too high risk for her to be allowed to. We're not about cotton-woolling our kids but as a parent you've always got to weigh up the pros and cons - risks and safety - and every situation is different.

Kids riding ByK Bikes Daughters, Mikayla and Erika, riding theirr ByK Kids Bikes

8 year old Erika mountain biking in Tasmaina, and 10 year old Mikayla riding a bicycle skills course

Would you consider a bicycle bus to share the parenting supervision with other local families?
We're quite keen on trying to organise a 'bicycle bus' for a few local kids to ride together with one or more parents. The upcoming Ride2School day in March has got us thinking about it.

What do you think would make your ride to school route safer for kids?
A wide footpath that runs the entire route to school. For us, there's a footpath that takes us about half way and then it just stops and you are forced to ride on the road. That is just a no-go for our primary school kids. It would be good if local Councils could work more closely with schools to make sure those routes are in place. I think the other aspect that would encourage more parents to let their kids ride to school would be better policing of the speed limit.

Where's your favourite family ride?
Warners Bay Foreshore Shared Pathway - its 9km each way and follows the lake - its all flat with lots of amenities on the way and even boasts one of the biggest playgrounds in NSW on the way. The other we do regularly is the Fernleigh old railway track - it's about 16km one way in a nice bush setting. There is a gradual climb for 6-7 kms but both of our kids manage it just fine. It takes around 1½ hours to complete as a family.

Do you take your bikes when you go away with the kids?
Yes, because many of our family trips revolve around events, we take the bikes with us a lot! My wife and I are lucky enough to be sponsored by Thule (pronounced 'too-lay') so we have the right racks for the job every time. I've managed to get a total of 8 ByK Bikes on our Subaru Outback... We've used a THULE G6 on the back, 3 Pro-Rides and 1 Outride on the roof. A set of Slide Bars make it even easier to mount the bikes on the roof. These bars slide out 600mm either side of the car to enable easier access to racks.

How to attach kids bikes to cars - all 8 of them! Attaching 8 ByK kids bikes to the car!

What bike gear could you not live without?
I would have to say the Thule G6 car bicycle rack (I know I'm biased but it really is a great product for families!). For the kids, the best bike gear would have to be their Camelback kids hydration backpacks. Fitting water bottles to kids bikes can often be a pain and this means they can drink as they ride.

What's your most endearing memory of riding bikes as a kid?
When I was 12 my Mum and Dad bought me my first mountain bike and not long after my Uncle took me to my first race. He was only about 10 or so years older than me so he absolutely loved it as well and mountain bike racing quickly became a passion - something that I loved to do and was really good at it.

1980s Scott Canyon Mountain Bike Damien's treasured 1980s Scott Canyon mountain bike

What one piece of advice would you give to other parents who want to get their kids started in riding bikes?
Encourage kids but don't push them. You can't force a kid to do anything - if you do you might risk them hating it altogether. Giving them the opportunity to try things out and let them find out if they love it or not.
And if they want to get into mountain biking, buy them the gift of learning new skills with lessons. Find your local Mountain Bike club or local bicycle and fitness training company, such as Bike and Fitness.

What teaching tips do you have for mums and dads helping teach their kids to ride?

  1. Have the right size bike
  2. Ensure the bike is setup properly - for a kid this really means the seat is at the right height. Having this done at the bike shop where you bought it is important.
  3. Learn to brake before you learn to ride. Its a pretty scary thing for a kid to be moving and not know how to stop so having that skill first is important. I prefer hand-brakes to foot-brakes as they have more control over the bike in general but by disabling the foot brakes on a bike (and relying solely on the hand-brake), the kid is able to pedal backwards, whilst stationary, to enable them to get their pedals into the right position for taking off (correct take off position is having your left foot on the ground and your right foot on the pedal at about the 2 o'clock position.)
  4. Kids often learn faster and better when they are taught by someone else or in groups.