One week until summer break officially starts for our kids here in Steamboat Springs. Remember those times when you couldn’t wait to run wild in the neighborhood with your friends-Jump on your bike and peel out of the driveway for some adventure, cuts and some bruises? Well, this last week or so of school in Steamboat has been a whooper. Two bike rodeos, one each at the elementary schools. Teaching kids to be safe, use their helmet, watch for traffic. Moots was present at each one, helping with basic things like air in tires, brakes that work and chains that needed lubing. Those are the simple things…but let’s teach some to ride for the first time ever. So we did.
We found ourselves at the schools and our assignment was to teach the Never-Evers. These are kids that had never ridden a bike without training wheels or never had the chance to throw a leg over a two wheeler. Can you think back to that time? The first time. The time you pedaled under your own power. After hours of trying, crying, getting scrapes on every corner of your body? ….Then that magical moment when you pushed away and “ran on the pedals”…..I close my eyes and remember it….I remember when my two kids did it. I stood in the parking lot and cried as I watched them pedal away and smile. To a self admitted bike geek, what could be better?
So we took to the task and saw some of those smiles on Wednesday and again on Friday of last week. Kids that didn’t have a bike of their own, kids that live on a steep hill and don’t have a safe place to ride……kids that just needed someone to make it “click” for them. I’m not saying we performed miracles, but damn….it sure felt like those kids were walking on water to me.
What did we do?
Throw away the training wheels (or atleast take them off) and take off the pedals and teach them to “RUN” bike…..or balance bike. Both of my kids learned this way and rode on their own within days of riding the “RUN” bike. Did you know that training wheels teach kids just the opposite of what needs to be learned on a bike? It’s counterproductive in teaching balance and “lean” on the bike.
There are loads of “Run bikes” on the market that teach kids to balance and use their feet. All that is left is putting the pedals back on the bike and teaching them to “Run” on the pedals. It’s amazing to see how quickly they pick it up. I think at first the teachers at the school looked at me and thought I was a bit weird…no pedals? Then towards the end of the session they saw their students, our students ride for the first time ever. Even as I write this I get choked up thinking about them….summertime, freedom and pulling them into our world of two wheels. I could care less if they ever bought a Moots or entered a race…just getting them onto a bike and pedaling is the payoff.
I may be getting a little wacky here but really I’m pretty fired up with what happened on those days. To see little kids progress and say “I can do this” and then do it was as rewarding as it gets.
If you ever get the chance to participate in something as special as teaching a kid anything, I highly recommend it. Not only did they feel pretty empowered, but I personally left there feeling like I made a difference.
In addition to the never-evers the Bicycle Rodeo had several other stations that taught a wide array of skills from Street Smarts, Trail Skills & Balance Skills. From kindergarten to 5th grade, over each day we had just over 500 students getting to know a bike just a little bit better. Rad.
You can view photos from both days here: STEAMBOAT BIKE RODEOS
There is a quote I once read and to me it goes a long way:
One hundred years from now
It will not matter what kind of car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much money I had in my bank account,
Nor what my clothes looked like.
But one hundred years from now
The world may be a little better
Because I was important
In the life of a child.