Most of us remember hopping on a bike around age 9 or 10, trying desperately to balance as Mom or Dad helped us “bike” along the sidewalk. Scraped knees and tumultuous tumbles were the price we paid for vehicular freedom from training wheels.
The Central Alabama Mountain Pedalers do it a little differently.
Every Saturday at 10 a.m in Chewacla State Park., the members of CAMP run Base CAMP, a kids biking development program that helps kids as young as two years old learn to mountain bike.
“You, me and everyone else learned how to bike with training wheels,” said Philip Darden, president of CAMP. “But that’s not the best way to learn balance, which is why we fall so much when trying to learn. You need to learn the balance first.”
CAMP has a fleet of Strider balance bikes for Base CAMP, which are bikes that have no pedals.
“The kids push along with their feet,” said Eric Smith, creator of Base CAMP. “It helps teach them balance first so when they get on a real bike they won’t need training wheels.”
Eric Smith took the idea for Base CAMP from a program in Durango, CO. “It made so much more sense to teach kids to bike that way,” said Eric Smith. “It seemed logical to bring that skills development here.”
During Base C.A.M.P., kids ride along with the members of C.A.M.P. on the many trails that made up the interconnected loops of Chewacla State Park.
“It is so awesome to watch a kid realizing that they are balancing a bike on their own for the first time,” said Hiro Fukai, member of CAMP. “It’s a great program for the kids, parents and volunteers.”
Base C.A.M.P. is open to kids (and parents!) of any age that want to learn how to bike while also experiencing the great outdoors.
And no child is too young to start learning.
“Both my boys started biking at 18 months,” said Eric Smith.
The main goal of Base CAMP is to help kids be more confident on a bike, whether it is in their neighborhood or crunching across leaves, boulders and other obstacles on a mountain biking trail, although the members of CAMP favor the latter.
“Base CAMP is a way to develop skills and introduce the mountain biking culture to the really really little guys,” said Philip Darden. “Because little mountain bikers grow up to be big mountain bikers.”
For more information, visit www.camp-sorba.org or email Philip Darden at email@example.com.
By guest writer Rachel Pipan