Saturday, December 29, 2007

Kids on Bikes!

Those of you who have taken a camp with me or simply been riding with me when we pass a group of kids or a family out riding know how happy I am when I see "kids on bikes" as I usually shout with glee, "Kids on bikes!" Ever since my first my first purple bike with big banana seat and ape hanger handle bars I have loved riding bikes. My bike was my ticket to adventure. It exponentially expanded my universe my allowing me to leave my block and explore unknown territory and gave me an out let for my boundless energy. As our country has gotten more in to consuming and spectating than actually doing anything (shopping is not a hobby, neither is watching other people play sports) it has really saddened me to see so many kids who have never discovered the freedom and adventure of riding a bike. Seeing kids on bikes gives me hope, makes me smile and brings back great memories. The kids on bikes are always smiling too, what a great toy!

After a fun (but way to short) stay with my family for Christmas I had to rush back to Tempe to coach the NOVA junior mountain bike team. I was looking forward to coaching the kids but mad at myself for volunteering to coach so close to Christmas. I was also honestly feeling a little resentful that I was sacrificing family time to coach a clinic (how is that for Christmas spirit! hopefully I won't feel like such a scrooge next year). Well I woke up Thursday and rushed to get to South Mountain on time and was further upset that there was some confusion as to when the clinic was going to start. I was thinking, "I left my family so I could coach some late, ungrateful kids?". Well the crew arrived not long after that and we got started. My attitude quickly changed as any time you get "kids on bikes" it is a good thing and this was no exception. The kids were fun, smart and good riders. We all learned a lot and had a lot of fun despite a chilly and breezy day. The kids were grateful too, the all thanked me and said that they were looking forward to next week's clinic.

On Friday I was lucky enough to teach a younger group of kids than on Thursday and really relearned/remembered the differences in teaching younger kids and how much fun it is. Three 11-13 year old girls learned how to do wheelies! Like the older kids we had a lot of fun and they thanked me at the end of the day.

After the camp I had a little energy left so I went out for a ride. I was hoping to go up Mormon loop and down National trail but ran out of energy near the top of Mormon and turned around. Not long after turning around I ran into more kids on bikes! From the size of their smiles they were clearly excited to be out riding. I stopped to chat with them and they were pressing me to turn around and do National with them. Turns out that they are from Golden, Colorado and we ride a lot of the same trails at home. Their enthusiasm for descending National almost got me to turn around climb back up with them but I was just too tired. I did my best to focus on what I was doing on they way back to the car but I kept thinking about those two kids. What a grand adventure they were on! Unlike a lot of kids I see today they were in excellent shape, had great self-esteem and were quite happy.

For years I have thought if we could just get more kids on bikes we end so many problems. A kid with a skinned knee or even a broken arm has a story to tell and will heal stronger and even more confident of himself. A kid that is 30 pounds over weight by the time he/she is 13 years old and has never accomplished and/or failed anything isn't really prepared for what life is going to throw at him/her. Life involves stress, physical, mental and emotional and riding a bike is similar to life in this matter. Riding a bike can teach a child a lot: that they can do more than they thought, that they have some control over their life, that exercise is fun, how to handle failure and through all of this increase their self esteem. I am doing what I can to encourage kids to start riding and I hope you will do the same. Stay tuned for more information on "kids on bikes".


Dr. Kim Perry, Life Coach, Founder Envisage Life LLC said...

Your comments are so true Gene. In working with Kids though Mountain Bike Kids (A Richmond, Virginia organization) and other cycling activities I have witnessed the amazing changes that cycling can bring to people's lives.

The things that stands out to me most is that Cycling creates confidence for so many other aspects of life.

I also love the way getting on the bike takes me back to the elemental joys that we know so well in childhood, that pure in the moment existence. There is nothing so cleansing and enjoyable as that sensation.

Happy riding. Keep up the great work.

gwadzilla said...

I like the way you think...

society tears down the jumps and kickers the kids make in the woods

protecting us from our selves

if they really wanted to protect people

they would slow down traffic
and put mandatory gym classes back in school