Last Updated on June 2, 2023 by Suzy
My son at the ripe old age of 8 had still not learnt how to ride a bike. He’d had a balance bike when he was a toddler but rarely used it. We then bought him a bike with stabilisers which he hated so he rarely rode it. We then bought him a bigger bike with stabilisers and ended up taking them off to help him learn, he is so stubborn as he refused our help.
I was determined he was going to learn though so when I felt he was old and confident enough I asked around for ideas of places where kids can learn how to ride a bike without the help of their parents or carers. I was recommended the learn-to-ride bike sessions at Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire.
The sessions mostly take place during school holidays so keep your eye on their website for new sessions.
I didn’t tell him about booking him on a session until 2 days before. I didn’t want him overthinking or overworrying about it. He seemed quite keen though and didn’t seem nervous about the prospect. Luckily by the time he got there, he was ready to get going.
The Cycle Hub at Dalby Forest offers a range of courses with small groups. If you don’t own a bike or can’t bring one with you they also allow you to hire one at a discounted price, I think we paid just £10 for hire. You also need to bring your own helmet and helmets are mandatory.
I have since learnt that you also don’t need to pay £9 for parking if you are taking part in a course (we paid £9). Instead, you can pay just £3 for parking. At the end of your training course please ask for a barrier exit code from one of their team.
I had booked him on the 1.5-hour-long learn-to-ride course for £230. They learn how to mount and dismount the bike, balance, steer and brake. They also have learn to ride improver courses, mountain bike fundamentals, introduction to mountain biking for women only, young riders courses and more.
There were just two other boys in his group and they had both learnt the basic skills in a previous lesson. They were a little nervous starting off but they were soon getting back into the swing of things.
As a completely new ‘rider’ my son was taught from the very beginning of learning how to ride a bike. The 3 kids had 1 instructor each and they kept swapping them around which seemed to work well. He started by learning how to balance on his bike with the pedals removed. They seemed to have a set distance they were working towards with him and the pedals didn’t go back on until he’d achieved that.
Once he was confident balancing they put the peddles on and taught him where to place them ready to set off. He was a bit wobbly for the first few attempts. They hold onto their clothing at the back to help balance them and then let go when they feel they have the right balance. All the instructors were fantastic and so patient with the kids. They were also great at giving them praise and encouragement.
He was struggling a bit so they took the peddles off again and practiced his balance a bit more. Once the peddles went back on he was off. This was about 1 hour into the 1.5-hour lesson. I was absolutely amazed at how quickly they’d helped him master the skills of riding a bike.
They then ran alongside him for half an hour while he practised cycling and breaking and also turning. They suggested he try riding again as soon as possible so for some encouragement we bought him a new bike as he’d outgrown his old one. I took him to an empty car park and he was riding again straight away, we haven’t looked back since.
They also give them a laminated certificate at the end of their session which is a really nice touch. We have it framed on the wall! I was super proud of him and so so glad he can now ride a bike. It’s such a big thing to be able to do and so rewarding once you know how.
Here’s a video of him riding his bike after just 1 hour. The instructors follow them at all times and are there to help try and stop them from falling. Or pick them up if they do fall, luckily my son never did as they taught him so well how to stop themselves from coming off their bike.
If you have a reluctant learner or need to improve your cycling skills then I honestly couldn’t recommend the Dalby Cycle Hub enough. Luckily we don’t need a refresher course as he seems to be doing pretty well after just a few rides near home.
Dalby Forest FAQ & Further Information
Address: The Courtyard, Dalby Forest Dr, Thornton Dale, Pickering YO18 7LT, North Yorkshire. Phone: 01751 460585
Category – Sports/learning – Outdoors – Suitable for all ages.
What are the ticket prices?
The learn to ride 1.5-hour session costs £30, bike hire is an additional cost if needed
When are they open?
The sessions run in most school holidays from Easter to October.
Is there food available?
There is a cafe serving hot and cold food and drinks. You can also take a picnic.
Is there parking?
There is parking and charges apply. Please ask for a code for a reduction in the cost.
Are they dog-friendly?
Dogs are welcome but must not enter the cycling area.