This fall we have run two Earn-A-Bike classes – one for high school students and the other for all ages 8-18. Students spend most of their time in the shop fixing up their bikes rather than outdoors riding. Some of our favorite days, though, are when we get outside, once for a bike safety rodeo and a second time to test the bikes we’ve fixed up at the end of the class.
In those two classes, students either show off their riding skills or struggle. While some students maneuver easily between cones and practice signaling to traffic, others grip their handlebars tightly and keep their gazes forward, unable to spare a backwards glance. These are the students we root for the most on ride days. We hope that their involvement with NBW will spark an excitement in riding and exploring. We hope that by riding in a group of their peers, they’ll gain confidence and find joy in an active lifestyle.
This fall, Aisha joined our high school Earn-A-Bike class with a big attitude, but shaky bike handling skills. As a teenager she still wasn't confident on a bike. During the safety rodeo she rode in fits and starts.
But six weeks later, her determination won out. She mounted her newly refurbished bike, a bright red step-through road bike, for a test ride. This time she rode steadily, if slowly. Aisha's usual sass was replaced by focus. As she rode smoothly past the instructor, a tear rolled down her cheek.
Our younger students surprise us too. Two of our new students, ages 8 and 11, signed up to build a bike without yet knowing how to ride. When they picked out bikes to work on, our instructor knew both bikes would need training wheels and both students would need a healthy dose of support and confidence to roll the bikes forward on their own.
Last week, during a fitness lesson, the two had the chance to practice riding on indoor stationary trainers. This week, with a donated pair of training wheels attached to each bike and traffic blocked off, the young riders will have their first chance to recall the muscle memory from the trainers. We'll be rooting for them at Saunders Park.