Training tailor-made for young riders

A cycling skills camp provides the foundation necessary to succeed on wheels.

Sol Pereda tries to avoid being touched by Lucas Binette's foam sword in the 'Jousting Game' during the iRide bike skills camp on Monday. Children from age 8 to 12 have fun while learning cycling skills and safety.

Ten local kids should be cycling with excellent skills, after taking part in this week’s iRide bike skills camp.

The day camp was organized by Recreation, Culture and Airpark Services and taught by Nigel Thompson of Abbotsford.

Thompson came to town with a van carrying 30 bikes, helmets included, though many of the kids had their own bikes.

The gear and training aids are supplied by Cycling BC, which brings lessons to many Lower Mainland schools.

“We’ll go into a school and one grade gets four sessions,” said Thompson on Monday. “We like kids to bring their own bikes and helmets but we will provide gear to those who need it.

“Since we’ve been doing the iRide program, schools are reporting that their bike racks are full,” added Thompson. “One principal in North Vancouver said he’d have to buy another bike rack and I said ‘That’s a problem? It saves all the mess of parents shuttling kids to school in cars’ — and he agreed.”

From what he saw on the first day of the camp, Thompson said, “Hope is a great place for bikes — and kids do know how to ride.”

He was impressed with the new bike skills park and took the group for a walk-through on Monday. “We scoped it out and identified that there are four skill levels there,” he said.

“Tuesday, we’ll go there and work on basic skills and make sure they’re not trying to ride outside their ability. It will be tailor-made for the kids.”

On Monday, Thompson introduced the group to some fun activities that focus on training for being safe and attentive while riding.

Neela Gladue said she especially liked the “Lava Game.”

“He throws out hula hoops and we ride around and when he says volcano we have to stop in a hoop,” she explained.

“It’s like musical chairs,” added Thompson.

“At first, we allowed three to stop in one hoop but then we made it one-to-a-hoop — with one less hoop than the number of riders present.”

Another game had all the kids riding in one direction around a circle of cones.

One rider was given a pool-noodle sword and whoever got poked on the torso by the sword had to go and rest inside the circle.

The last one to be tagged was given a sword and the two combatants had to try and tag the other still riding the same direction and in the same circle.

On Monday, Thompson also taught them hand signals, rules of the road and where to look when you’re riding on the road.

This was the rec centre’s first camp of the summer.

Events planned for kids and teens are extensive. On the agenda is gardening, rock climbing, slacklining, golfing, paddleboarding, soccer, field trips  and more.

Parents can pick up a summer program guide at the centre’s reception desk.