Kids Bike Rally Sunday
The Boone Area Cyclist's Kids Bike Rally is like a three-hour bike camp for kids.
Eric Marland, one of the event's organizers, compares the bike rally to an athletic camp, where there are different stations for the kids to run through as they learn a variety of bicycling skills.
"The basic idea is to get kids out on their bikes and have fun, and hopefully teach them a little bit," Marland said.
The age groups vary from youngsters ready to lose those training wheels to early teenagers eager to learn more advanced skills. This year, there will be a number of stations on topics, such as group riding, road courses, jumping, and trail building.
The road course station is led by Capt. Andy LaBeau of the Boone Police Department. He will set up a course similar to the one on which he trains his bike patrol staff. This course will deal with handling skills and control, such as stopping quickly.
Kristian Jackson of Boone Area Cyclists will teach kids the fundamentals of trail building, such as building water crosses. The jump station, though, is by far the kids' favorite. There will be a six-inch seesaw for the younger kids to ride over.
"Last year, we had 3- and 4-year-olds riding over it, and they had a blast," Marland said.
Weaning kids off training wheels is another station in the Kids Bike Rally. In less than hour and half, kids can go from riding with training wheels to riding on their own. This station is in a grassy field - just in case.
"We had a huge amount of success getting kids off of training wheels, so if they want to do it, they can," Marland said. "I think we had 10 to 12 kids last year get off of training wheels, and there was only one crash."
There will be challenges for the older kids, as well.
"If we have some advanced riders, we can send them off to some of the more challenging trails," Marland said. "We'll be flexible. We'll find something for them to learn."
Adults will have some bike games to play, as well. If they are interested and have some leftover energy, there will be games, such as Last Bike Standing and Blind Fold Biking.
About 70 kids and at least that many adults showed up and participated in last year's rally, which is sometimes called a rodeo.
"I saw all happy faces, though there were some intermediate stages, where kids learning to ride without training wheels were a little frustrated," Marland said. "Hopefully, we can provide a little patience, encourage them and ease the tension a little bit."
Safety will be a key component during the course of the day. The local chapter of Safe Kids will be handing out helmets for those who don't have adequate head protection, and the Boone Fire Department will be on hand to properly fit the helmets.
The Kids Bike Rally will be followed up with an event in the fall called Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day.
"We are hoping to get kids off training wheels and riding right now, so by the end of the summer, they will be ready to ride on the trails at Rocky Knob (Mountain Bike Park)," Marland said.
The event is free of charge. There will be T-shirts, as long as they last. Food and drink will be provided by local restaurants. Also, live music is rumored to be playing.
The Kids Bike Rally takes place Sunday, April 10, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Watauga Swim Complex parking lot and the Greenway Trail.
For more information click to http://www.booneareacyclists.com.