Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tarheel Trailblazers Kids Ride

Some images courtesy of Lunchbox, and others (the big ones) from Doug and Dawn. Thanks!

Rather than clutter up yesterday’s post with, well, clutter, I decided to wait until today to provide a recap of Sunday’s Tarheel Trailblazers Kids Ride. Since there’s no racing going on for me right now, it’s better not to throw everything out on a Monday anyway. The bi-weekly kids ride are a huge part of my mountain biking experience, and it’s great to be out there helping all of the little ones gain confidence with their bicycles.

Lunchbox and I got to the parking lot of one of the area’s favorite trails, Sherman Branch. We met up with the Dirty Party Cycle shortly thereafter, and waited for the kids to arrive. The parking lot was as busy as I’ve ever seen it. It was a pretty chilly day, with highs around 50 degrees. This called for jersey-related warming undergarments and leg warmers (at least for me.) I guess I still have some Floridian in me.

Speaking of Florida, the main ride coordinator, Gramps, is headed to the Sunshine State at the end of the month for a permanent relocation. Looks like he will be giving up his bike for a fishing pole from now on. Since this would be his last kids ride, we hoped it would have a huge turnout. We weren’t disappointed. Kids started showing up in droves, with some parents in tow. Everyone was sad to know that Gramps would no longer be running the kids rides, but they will go on. I will be the kids ride organizer-guy from now on, and we will keep the tradition alive.

After everyone gathered around the Trailblazers Tent, we headed out on the trail. We had such a huge group, and we hit the trail like a giant train (of children, like a Disney movie or something.) As usual, we stopped on all of the trail features to give the kids a chance to try them without fear of crashing. These kids thrived on the encouragement we gave them, and tore it up. Just like life in general, these kids are the future, and the future is bright for mountain biking in Charlotte if you ask me.

We omitted a lot of the trail as we usually do, keeping the ride fairly easy for all skill levels. After the ~4 mile ride concluded, the kids had a surprise waiting. Mrs. Gramps brought some cupcakes and Halloween candy for the youngins. We all sat around the picnic table at the trailhead and enjoyed some tasty treats. Lots of smiling faces all around, even from the adults. A lot of these rides have adults coming out that aren’t super-skilled mountain bikers, so they get a chance to polish up their act as well. This is why I have thought about changing the name to the Tarheel Trailblazers Family Ride. Just a thought, we’ll see how it goes.

I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoy watching people get hooked on the sport that has been so good to me. These kids are an inspiration to us all. Fortunately, we didn’t have any accidents or any kind of serious crashes, so I didn’t have to perform any Bike Patrol duties, aside from a dropped chain repair. If I had to choose between racing and these kids rides, I would pick the kids rides 100% of the time. If you are in the Charlotte area, check out the Tarheel Trailblazers website for more information, and you can join us on one of our rides. All skill levels and abilities are welcome and encouraged. See you next time!


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