Posts Tagged ‘league cycling instructor’

Not too long ago, I wrote about how I had observed kids at one of our bike rodeo events that were really having trouble with their bike skills.    So, when our fearless leader of BikeIrving was talking to someone about what we could do for bicycling in Irving, she ended up talking with someone at Bear Creek Community Church.  It seems they were also interested in doing something along the lines of helping with cycling.  About that time, I was also talking with our fearless leader about how I would like to do something that teaches folks how to maintain their bikes.  This all led to BikeIrving partnering with Bear Creek Community Church to have our first Earn-a-Bike event this coming March 1st at the church.

Our plan is to hold the event with Bear Creek across two Saturdays, this coming Saturday, the 1st from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and March 15th from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.  Volunteers at Bear Creek have been taking donations of older bikes.  We have quite a few in kids sizes, but could still use more in the adult sizes.  Parents can come with their children to pick out a bike and then some of us “experts” will be on hand to help them fix up and make the bike safe and ready to ride.

We really want to make this something that gets parents and kids out on bikes together, riding.  As you recall, my soapbox moment was that kids should be out riding.  The skills learned and the adventures shared are priceless.

When we were learning to become League Cycling Instructors, the teacher asked us all why we rode bikes as a kid.  Almost to the person, the one answer was ‘freedom’.  Riding bikes gave us freedom to go where we wished and to see places that we couldn’t reach by walking.  I remember in my neighborhood how we would ride around to find cola bottles to return for deposits and earn money for more cokes and candy.  Made a good Summer living that way.

But, I digress.  We want to give other parents and kids that same taste of freedom we shared.  We also hope to have more folks out cycling for their benefit and the benefit of the community.  Yet, we understand that even inexpensive bikes are often out of reach for many kids, and if you include adults, it gets more difficult.  The amount of donations of bikes so far show us that there are enough bikes out there if we can get them and put them back into circulation.

That’s where you come in.  We need help.  Lots of help.  If you live in the Irving area, please consider being a volunteer at one of the event days, March 1st or March 15th.  You do not have to be an “expert” at cycling or at fixing bikes.  I have already read “Zen and the Art of Bike Maintenance” for both of us.  If you have a few tools, great!  If not, no problem. Come on anyway.

We also need supplies.  We need tubes in 16″, 20″ and 24″ sizes.  We do have some help from a local bike shop, but we may need much more as well.  In addition, we need helmets.  We do not yet have a sponsor or someone to donate helmets and we would really like to hand those out with each bike. And, if you have an old bike, especially adult size, we can use those as well.

If you wish to drop off a donation at Bear Creek, please contact me via e-mail at bigmanrunning@gmail.com and I will put you in touch with the volunteers there.  You can click on my e-mail address or the e-mail link on this blog.  If you wish to volunteer, please be at Bear Creek Community Church on Findley Drive thirty minutes before start time (7:30 AM this Saturday or 12:30 PM on the 15th).

Growing up, I think many of us took riding around on bikes for granted.  Yes, I know all the stats on safety and bikes and kids.  Part of what we are doing is encouraging each parent and child that receives a bike to be part of a Smart Cycling class to be held on a Saturday in April.  There we will teach both children and their parents how to ride safely and defensively.

It is my belief that we should do what we can so that all kids (even a few big kids) can share what we have learned about riding our bikes.  BikeIrving’s Earn-a-Bike event seeks to  help with that.  But, we can’t do it alone.  We need your help.  In addition, if you or anyone you know of could benefit from this event, please pass the word along.  Since you are reading this on either Twitter, Facebook, or WordPress, that is really easy.  Click a share choice below and happy cycling!


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Mid-July.  That’s a long time in blog years to be off the Interwebs.  Truth is, I haven’t been able to think of too much too write about since then.  However, something recently happened that finally moved it’s way up my nervous system to become important enough to write about.  Bicycling.

A few weeks ago, I helped another LCI (League Cycling Instructor) in a nearby city with an event.  He was putting on a Bike Safety Town at his city’s Ecofest event.  Bicycling is green you know.

This was the first Safety Town type of event I had worked as an LCI.  The city of Arlington did most of the set up for us and provided the bicycles for the kids to ride.  Our job was to teach kids safety skills and then put them out on the course and have them practice those skills.  For the most part, all of that went as expected.  What got my attention was not the kids attention to safety, but many of them had real problems with the most important skill, bike control.

From my experience as a cyclist and my training as an LCI, I know that the first and most important skill in being safe on the road is simply to be able to control my bike well.  That includes riding in a straight line, making proper and controlled turns, being able to look behind and see dangers, and stopping.  While we teach these skills to riders of all ages, much of the skill comes simply from riding bikes often enough and long enough to become proficient in controlling your bike.

What I observed at this Safety Town was what I considered a high quantity of kids that could barely ride a bike.  I’m not talking about four and five-year-olds just starting out, but nine and ten-year-olds.  The most common comment I got from the kids was that they just hadn’t been on a bike very much.

I remember what it was like when I learned to ride a bike the first time.  It was scary.  It took me a year before I could completely ride without my feet touching the ground (we didn’t use training wheels).  I was seven at the time and I was a good bit behind my peers on learning to ride.  However, as soon as I could pick it up well, my riding advanced well.  Primarily because of the time we spent outside on bikes.

Bikes were major in my crowd at least until I was about thirteen or fourteen.  We rode everywhere in our neighborhoods.  While we had to work up from riding on our block to fully around the block and on to other streets, we covered a lot of ground.  Riding gave us access to our school friends and to places like parks and stores near us.  From about sixth grade to junior high, we rode the neighborhoods picking up soft drink bottles to turn in for their deposits.  We made a good bit of money this way that kept us in drinks and snacks all Summer long.

I am fairly certain that the lack of time kids spend on riding these days is primarily due to safety.  Though I know my streets as a kid were no more safer than today, the appearance of safety was different back then.  Blame it on media or whatever, parents are afraid of their kids being outside.  The rest of the problem may be too many video games, but mostly I think it’s the perception of safety that keeps kids off of bikes.

Regardless, my recommendation would still be — Get ’em on their bikes!  Yes, there are dangers outside.  Teach your kids how to ride safely.  Take them to Safety Towns run by LCI’s and let us teach them.  Put them in the proper safety gear (a helmet) and then watch them.  Make your neighborhoods safe.  Get together with neighbors and share watching over the kids while they are out riding.  Plant yourself at city hall with other parents and demand more paths and trails that actually, honest to God connect with places kids want to ride to, like school even.  Get the kids to ride in groups when they go out to keep them safe.

Trust me. Riding a bike is too important for your kids and mine to miss out on during growing up.  I probably didn’t get mine out enough, but I do know that they can ride. Riding is freedom and it’s responsibility.  Two things our kids need and need to practice.  Just because times change and things seem different is not a good enough reason to shy away from the real kinds of things that help kids grow up well. Get ’em on a bike…a lot.

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This past week was fierce.  For those that might be new, I am in the midst of two large and important activities.  On the one hand, I am trying to search for a new job, preferably in the IT field (Linux/Unix server admin etc.).  On the other hand, I am trying to find out if I can do enough things to just work for myself.  To that end, I am starting up a business doing handyman/home repair work.  I’ve been trying to get the word out via social media and the Internet.  There are a lot of things to set up to do that.  In addition, I had a couple of repair jobs to do this week and I had some call backs on applications.

The final pieces to this fierce week were a 16 mile long run and a three day class on learning how to become a League Cycling Instructor with the League of American Bicyclists.  The long run went well but I had to squeeze it in on Thursday so that I would have time for the class.  In addition, I had stuff to do beforehand to get ready for the class.

This part of the journey on my path happened to come about because of a dedicated lady in my city that somehow got into contact with me about helping with our city’s Bike Lane Task Force.  I got connected with the task force through responding to a call for volunteers on NeighborsGo.  I’ve helped with several things on the task force and some time last year, she asked several of us if we would commit to becoming League Cycling Instructors (I’ll just use LCI from now on).

Not really knowing what I was getting myself into, I agreed and this past Spring, we did the first step by spending an entire Sunday afternoon in a church parking lot learning how to ride a bike.  Yes, you would figure after 6 years of cycling I would know, right?  I was so wrong.  Yes, I could ride, but could I ride safely on city streets and control my bike in emergencies?  Those I had to learn, even though I had commuted for a good while in the past, but also what we as future instructors need to know as well.  And, that was just step one in the process.

From Friday evening, all day (and part of the night) Saturday, and most of Sunday, we brave few candidates went through an exhaustive list of things we would need to know about not just riding, but also teaching others how to do the same.  The candidates and the instructors were a very varied bunch coming from all over the Dallas County area and two (the chief instructor and one candidate) from Austin.  After this much time in class and out on the bike, I slept really well last evening.

We spent a great deal of time in class work where we not only learned all the information and issues that cyclists need to know, but also that we as future instructors need to know as well.  We also spent the classroom time practicing how to teach others about everything from traffic law to basic bike maintenance, in teams and individually.  We had to learn how to approach dealing with many different age and skill levels of riders as well as how to adjust and teach cycling safety in an age-appropriate manner for children.

This is my individual presentation on Gearing, Cadence, and power output. I used “Caveman Ogg’s” bike for reference.

Out in the parking lot of the facility we were using (generously offered to us by Keep Irving Beautiful), we had to learn how to teach and prove we were competent in basic handling and avoidance skills on the bike.  Our added challenge to this was the clock that timed us and the fact that this weekend was the first real cold spell for this Fall.  The days hovered in the lower 50s and a North wind as well.  Our teams all managed to get through this exercise and to be observed and graded on the skills on Sunday.

Then, it was out on the street.  Each of the candidates had to spend time taking our team (we were all placed in teams of 3 or 4) out on the road and through intersections while ‘practicing’ as an LCI.  This was possibly the toughest part for me.  While I ride quite a bit, it’s usually alone.  That is a difficult task when riding city streets, but when you become responsible for a group of other riders (and in Real Life they may be novice cyclists), the anxiety level rises quickly.

Because of the facility location, our chief instructor chose what I would consider one of the really busy intersections in my area.  That added to the stress of guiding a group around and through traffic while also watching their progress and then shifting off LCI duties during the ride to others.  On Saturday afternoon, we all practiced learning the skills we would need on training road rides and on Sunday afternoon, we had to do the task for real and be observed and evaluated by our instructors.  Our group had learned through Saturday’s ride that we needed to communicate clearly, loudly, and effectively in order to get everyone around the intersection safely.  It’s a great feeling of accomplishment to complete a skill like this, at least, it is when you can get everyone safely back to the classroom.

We were all quite exhausted when Sunday afternoon rolled around, but we were happy when our instructors and evaluators finished their chore of determining if we were ready to be full-fledged LCIs.  I believe we all succeeded in passing the test, though we must now wait upon the League to finish up our paperwork and assign us our LCI number.  We all met privately with our instructors to hear how we did so I cannot speak for certain.  Though we will all be restricted for a while because we must teach for a period with another qualified LCI, a few, like myself, have added restrictions.  In TS101 (our first class) and still today I have difficulty doing a correct quick-stop (it’s harder than you think).  So, I will have to improve upon this one before I can teach the skill.

I cannot say enough good things about our instructors.  I’ve chosen to use no names in this post because I respect theirs and others privacy.  They possessed a wealth of knowledge and freely gave themselves to the task of both teaching us and encouraging us that we can succeed as instructors on our own.  Cycling and cycling advocacy are very important to me.  I want people to realize that the path to better health and a greener planet is possible on the bike.  Being an LCI is a huge responsibility and I will have to learn how to seriously execute that task.  But, if it can result in my city gaining more riders, safer riders, and helping all of us–motorists, riders, and pedestrians–to use our roads and pathways together, then it will be worth the sacrifice.

Finishing LCI training is not an end, but a beginning of sorts.  We left class with assignments on taking our new knowledge out and putting it to good use for our neighborhoods.  In one weekend, my city went from only 1 LCI to gaining 5 more, so I am encouraged that we can do well.  I look forward to being able to share with  you all what happens next.  Stay tuned and I’ll let you know when my LCI number arrives.  Happy cycling (and running too)!

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