Demand for mountain bike skills training in Canberra is skyrocketing, with plans in place to build a new network of trails at Mount Stromlo to prevent the main ones being clogged up.
One riding school is experiencing such strong growth in numbers that it is having to turn kids away, while cycling proponents have also applied to the ACT government for funding that will allow them to build bike trails in territory schools.
Dynamic Motivation chief executive Mic Longhurst said the number of children in his classes at Mount Stromlo had started doubling every year.
He said he usually had about 120 kids per week, with about 80 of those on Wednesday nights alone.
In the school holidays, demand surged even further.
"I'm turning kids away at the moment," Mr Longhurst said.
"We've got more demand than we can deal with. We started out pretty small nine years ago but we've been slowly building it up and the growth in the last few years is crazy."
He said it was difficult to pinpoint a specific reason for the surge in numbers, but the sport was growing and cycling was now the fifth most popular sport or physical activity in Australia.
"It's just really fun and a lot of [the growth] has just been through word of mouth," Mr Longhurst said.
Ride Technics director and head coach Dylan Cooper said his school had experienced about a 400 per cent growth in the number of children coming for lessons in the past 18 months, as well as adult growth of about 300 per cent.
"Often, we get kids whose parents are doing the adult classes and getting into mountain biking," Mr Cooper said.
Darren Stewart, the director of trail-building company Makin' Trax, said a new network of four beginner trails would be built at Stromlo this financial year.
Mr Longhurst welcomed the introduction of new trails.
"Most of the trails [at Mount Stromlo] aren't designed for learning and obviously you run the risk of clogging them up if you're trying to teach beginners," he said.
"More trails is always good."
While Mount Stromlo is an obvious venue for new trails, some could also be built in ACT schools as part of a push to promote physical activity and active travel to children.
The Physical Activity Foundation has applied to the ACT government for $623,415 to run the Riding Skills for Life program, which would include helping participating schools to fund, design, build and maintain a bike track on school grounds.
The foundation aims to reach 11,000 students and 60 teachers across 30 schools in three years. Its funding application includes letters of support from Amaroo, Mount Rogers and Mount Stromlo schools, cycling advocacy groups including Pedal Power and Canberra Off Road Cyclists, and businesses like Makin' Trax.
Physical Activity Foundation chief executive Lucille Bailie said the program would expand on the work the charity had done in recent years with initiatives like the Ride or Walk to School program. That initiative resulted in rates of active travel increasing at participating schools despite a decline in active travel across the general ACT school population.
"There's no downside to being physically active," Ms Bailie said.
"Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for being overweight or obese, which can lead to diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. That's a pretty awful health outlook.
"Infrastructure like bike tracks within school grounds, particularly if active travel is already becoming embedded in that school's culture, gives kids the choice to jump on their bike again at recess and lunchtime. That's music to our ears."