4 individual sports to get kids moving and more confident

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Mountain biking

When Will McNeely, 11, began mountain biking with his father six years ago, he was instantly hooked.

"It's a lot of fun, and I like that in mountain biking, I can choose how hard I want to push myself," he says.

The Crofton resident began riding with his father, an avid biker, on the trails at Rosaryville State Park in Upper Marlboro.

"It's a family activity we can do together and a good time out in the woods," says his dad, James McNeely. "He has gained more confidence and it's good for leg strength and physical fitness. But it also helps a kid learn how to manage risk."

Mountain biking offers an intense workout that is easier on the joints than running or team sports, says local biking expert Jonathan Seibold, owner of Family Bike Shop in Crofton.

"In mountain biking, there is always room for improvement," Seibold says. "It's relatively safe because it's off the roads, and physically, mountain biking promotes body awareness and balance. It's an excellent cardio workout."Mounting Biking Villiards2 WThe Villard kids mountain biking.

Experienced mountain bikers can ultimately compete in races sponsored by USA Cycling, but Seibold recommends beginners visit a local bike park like Rockburn Skills Park in Elkridge where they can test their skills on the pump track or the trails ranging from beginner to difficult.

Other local parks like Patapsco Valley State Park and Rosaryville offer miles of trails for practicing. Organizations like Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE) sponsor kid-oriented rides led by adults at several local parks.

Where to get started

Rockburn Skills Park
East Entrance, 5400 Landing Rd., Elkridge
410-313-4455, rockburnskillspark.org

Patapsco Valley State Park (Avalon area)
5254 South St., Halethorpe
dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands and click on Find a State Park and Patapsco.

Rosaryville State Park
7805 W. Marlton Ave., Upper Marlboro
dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands and click on Find a State Park and Rosaryville.

Family Bike Shop
1286 MD-3 South, Suite 13, Crofton
410-721-8244, familybikeshop.com

Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE)

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