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Burnham recommends a classroom session


on road safety, followed by a one-hour ride, followed by an aſt er-ride safety discussion. “I repeat this process for a number of our 10-mile rides and also for our 50-mile ride,” he says. In the world of mountain biking, essential


skills are balance, dexterity and focus. McNeil recommends spending time in a parking lot working on “skills and drills.” For example, you could create a slalom course out of traffi c cones or build a small obstacle with 2-by-8 boards that riders must bunny-hop over. He also likes to have riders pick up water bottles from the ground or limbo under a rope hanging loosely across their path. Skills and drills can continue once you get


on the trail. McNeil suggests fi nding spots to practice water-bottle pickups or climbing hills in your lowest gear without stopping.


Where to Ride Road cyclists can ride just about anywhere except controlled-access highways, but some routes are better than others. “With inexperi- enced Scouts, you’ll want to have big shoulders and low traffi c volumes,” Burnham says. He suggests using Google Maps in bike mode or asking an experienced cyclist to design some routes based on your Scouts’ skill level. For mountain-biking trails, McNeil rec-


ommends starting with the International Mountain Bicycling Association website (imba.com) or simply doing a Web search for trails in your area. “I don’t care where you live — Kentucky, Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma — there are plenty of places you can go and get eleva- tion gains,” he says. As with road biking, there are also places to


avoid off -road. “You can fi nd some really mild and easy stuff , and you can fi nd other stuff that’s downright gnarly,” McNeil says. “We try to avoid that at all costs.” Of course, Scouts can graduate to gnarly


trails as they develop better skills, just as they can progress from 50-mile rides to cross- country trips. And the fun doesn’t have to end once they earn the merit badge. Several of Burnham’s cross-country riders like to schedule impromptu rides via Facebook. “It has become a social thing for them,” he says. “Instead of just sitting around, they go out and ride.” ¿


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