Switching gears.[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
CALLING ALL BIKERS!
Have you ever ridden over huge boulders or pedaled through grass as tall as a third grader? The mountain bikers from the Denver/Boulder chapter of Trips for Kids, an international biking adventure group, sure have! Ricky caught up with three of them--18-year-old Michael Castellanos, 13-year-old Gerardo Mendez, and 16-year-old Jackie Luevano--to learn about their experiences with the group.
Ricky: How often do you guys ride your bikes?
Michael: Every day after school. But I ride on the weekends, too.
Gerardo: I use my bike to get to and from school and to get to my after-school program. I don't like to ride my bike if it's snowing, though!
Jackie:I only ride my bike in the summer, but when I do, I like to ride often-like three or four times per week.
R: What's the difference between riding in the city and in the mountains?
M: You have to follow more rules and laws when you ride your bike in the city. In the mountains there are laws but not as many. The tricks you can do in the mountains are pretty cool, too!
J: It's definitely harder riding in the mountains, but it's more peaceful. The hardest part is learning to use your gears, t was used to riding a city bike that doesn't have gears and then when I started to ride in the mountains I had to learn that gears make it easier to ride.
R: What is the best part of the mountain rides?
G: My favorite thing is getting a break from being indoors. After being inside all day, it's nice to enjoy the fresh air and feel the wind.
J: Our group is usually really loud, but when we ride in the mountains, we are quieter and we can hear the birds and the water.
R: What have you learned about bikes and biking from the program?
J: I've learned not to lay my bike down on the chain because that's not good for the parts, I've learned not to change gears when I'm riding up hills because the chain can break or fall off.
M: Always wear a helmet, always carry your tools, and double check your bike to make sure everything's secure. Don't play chicken with trains and cars!
R: What advice do you have for kids who want to try mountain biking?
J: Use your gears or you'll get tired very quickly. Don't rush (especially when going up hill), and drink lots of water.
G: Respect adults, take care of your gear, and follow the trail signs. Oh--and don't forget to pedal!
For more info on Trips for Kids Denver/Boulder check out tripsforkidsdenver.org
STARTING A BIKE CLUB IN YOUR TOWN
Take a cue from Trips for Kids and start a bike club in your community. Here are some tips to get you started!
Gather a group of biking buddies and get your parents' permission to start a club. If you don't have a ready-made group, ask around at local bike shops, schools, or at other kinds of clubs (such as Scouts) to find kids who are interested.
ASK AN ADULT FOR HELP
You'll need an adult to help organize the club and pick a location and time to meet. Consider asking parents, teachers, bike shop employees, members of adult biking clubs, members of community service groups, or staffers at youth agencies.
LEARN YOUR ABCS
No, not those ABCs, silly! The ABCs of biking--air, brakes, and chain. Before you start riding, ask your adult to teach the group how to check your bike's tire pressure and add air, test the bike's brakes, and maintain the bike's chain.
After your club is organized and you've checked your ABCs go for a ride with your club! Don't forget to bring your adult. Plan a trip to someplace fun such as the movies, the park, the pizza place, or the frozen yogurt shop. If your town has designated bike paths, make sure to take advantage of them. Happy pedaling!