Spoke Talk: Take a kid mountain biking
Mark the date: The U.S. Congress has designated the first Saturday in October — Oct. 3, this year — as “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day.” On this day, the International Mountain Bicycling Association encourages communities throughout the U.S. and around the world to unite and ride mountain bikes with kids.
Bicycling is good, healthy fun and serves as a gateway to healthy lifestyles. By celebrating this day, IMBA strives to develop a connection between kids, bikes and the natural world around them.
The congressional resolution was adopted in 2005. It was created to recognize the spirit of North Carolina youth Jacob Mock Doub and his contribution to encouraging youth to be physically active and fit. Doub began mountain biking at the age of 11, and between the ages of 14 and 17, he became a top national-level downhill and slalom competitor.
His greatest passion, however, was encouraging other young people to take up the sport, and he would often skip chances to spend time with his friends in order to teach other kids to ride. He died in 2002 from complications related to a bicycle injury.
The resolution also recognizes the health risks associated with childhood obesity and encourages parents, schools, civic organizations and students to promote increased physical activity among youth in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in preteens and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults, and adult obesity is associated with a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
All seriousness aside, mountain biking is fun, and fall is a great time to get out and explore with kids on bikes. Summer activity schedules and jam-packed, event-filled weekends are loosening up. An afterschool ride can be invigorating, stretch the muscles and clear the mind after sitting in a classroom all day. The weather is cooler, and roads, trails and pathways are not quite as crowded.
In 2014, more than 15,000 kids and family members participated in nearly 150 community events throughout the U.S., as well as a handful of international destinations, including Italy, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Malaysia and Mexico.
Last year on Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, Routt County Riders joined forces with Partners in Routt County to offer a mountain-biking opportunity to several “Junior Partners” in the youth mentoring program. Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare donated rental bikes sized according to each youth’s height and age, and Routt County Riders volunteers taught the kids the ins and outs of riding at the Bear River Bike Park. The day was an overwhelming success, with ride leaders having as much fun as the kids. Plans are underway for a second annual event.
Many of us earned our love for cycling at a young age, and most of us still consider ourselves kids at heart when riding. Consider sharing your passion for pedaling with your own kids or neighbor kids Oct. 3 or volunteer with Routt County Riders. Those interested in helping are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wendy Tucciarone is a Routt County Riders member, volunteer and the club’s administrator.
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