Let’s Ride Rowan offers bike training for kids

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 30, 2018

SALISBURY — Janet Gill said the excitement had been building all day. Her twin granddaughters, Anna and Ava Gill, received bikes for Christmas but had not learned to ride them yet.

“Those bikes at home are really nice, and we saw that Salisbury Parks and Recreation was offering this event,” Gill said. “It seemed perfect for the girls to learn to ride and be safe. The girls have been excited all morning. They got up early and were ready to go out the door.”

Volunteers from the city Parks and Recreation Department, Pedal Factory Community Bike Center and the Salisbury Rowan Runners partnered for the training at Knox Middle School’s track.

While kids could bring their own bikes, many started off on specially prepared bikes with the seats lowered and pedals removed. By making these modifications, they were taught to learn to balance the bike and coast before actually trying to pedal.

A dozen adult volunteers gave individual help and encouragement while making adjustments to the bikes and manning an obstacle course.

While in town visiting family, Cindy Honeycutt and 6-year-old Lila of Raleigh read about the training in the Salisbury Post’s Community Calendar.

“Lila has not been motivated to take the training wheels off, and I hoped she would today,” Honeycutt said. “I wanted her to get help on pedaling and balance and just get more comfortable on the bike.”

Janelya Baker brought her 5-year-old daughter, Briana, and 7-year-old son, Evan.

“We have been excited and very ready to do this,” Baker said. “I made them both put on long pants and shirts just to keep down the scrapes, but they are both adventurous and this event is very timely for us. We had no idea what to expect, but bike training near the end of the school year is a good fit.

“When we got the bikes, we didn’t think about all the things they would need to know,” Baker said. “We just sold our tricycle this week so this is the first day on the bike. Being able to ask questions is important to us.”

Wendy Barnhardt brought her 3-year-old grandson, Lincoln Howe of Spencer.

“I am hoping that he will at least get comfortable coasting today,” Barnhardt said. “Lincoln is getting some real training here.”

Mary Rosser worked with Kara Hagler as she tried to master the art of pedaling. Rosser cautioned Kara not to watch her feet but to look forward as she made progress.

“If I did it a little, I can do it more,” Kara said.

Volunteers Wayne Crowder and Luann Fesperman spent time working with Lila Honeycutt.

“She used one of the training bikes for a while and then asked if she could use hers,” Crowder said. “We took the training wheels off and she started pedaling and gaining distance each time. She had trouble starting on her own but she kept getting better. It all reminded me of the Wright Brothers — just a little farther each time.”

With Fesperman running beside her, Lila rode the complete quarter-mile track without stopping. Her reward was to attempt the obstacle course set up for more experienced riders, and she succeeded with Fesperman’s help.

“It is very rewarding to see them take off and go,” Fesperman said. “Those smiles are hard to beat.”

Pedal Factory Executive Director Rosser helped plan the Let’s Ride Rowan training along with Steve Clark of Salisbury Parks and Recreation.

“Our first Let’s Ride, Rowan session exceeded my expectations in every way,” Rosser said. “We had a great group of young riders attend even with the questionable weather today. Every kid out there had a positive attitude and so much determination. Our goal is to help kids realize the feeling of fun, freedom and confidence that comes on two wheels. And we hope to also ignite a love for bike riding that lasts a lifetime.”

“I am happy for the turnout and the many successes today,” Clark added. “Most said they are coming back for the next session. We will do two more rounds of Let’s Ride Rowan, and I want to encourage potential riders of any age to join us. This training is not limited to kids, and adults are encouraged to attend. The training is free with bikes and helmets provided if needed.”

The next session of Let’s Ride Rowan is set for June 9 at the Salisbury Civic Center with the final session planned Aug. 25 at Hurley YMCA. Bike training is open to new riders, ages 3 and older. Call 704-638-5289 or email Clark at sclar@salisburync.gov for more information and to sign up.

There is no cost.

After her big success, Lila Honeycutt said, “I was scared at first to do this, but now I am really happy.”