Thursday, November 13, 2008

Herding Cats

One of my favorite things to do is volunteer for the annual Trailnet Bike Rodeo held at my sons elementary school. Its a fun way to teach kids about bicycle safety and help them practice some basic handling skills.

The format is simple: split the kids up in to groups of four or five and get them to tell you what they know about riding their bikes. After some adjustments and a quick Q & A, its on to the handling course.

I spend the first 30 minutes with any group just fitting helmets to heads, inflating tires, oiling chains, and raising seats. Most of the bikes need a little extra TLC. Children's Hospital donates a box of kids helmets so I can replace damaged ones on the spot.

The handling course has five sections that cover the basic skills: balance, agility, awareness, and patience. The overwhelming favorite section is The Slow Race. The object is to 'race' from one end of the tarmac to the other, moving as slowly as possible, without letting the feet touch the ground or running in to one another. After that I turn 'em loose on the 'cross course set up on the playing field.

I also get a chance to talk to parents about keeping up with the equipment because some of the bikes I see are in remarkably bad shape. I always get lots of questions and do lots of demonstrations, and some of the moms are pretty handy with a wrench with a little encouragement.

By the way, if you have a kids bike between 14 and 18 inches in reasonable condition just laying around, and you think you can part with it as a kind gesture, drop me a note and I'll find it a home. I know some kids who can use a new bike.

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