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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Nowak: Local schools should sponsor cycling sports

  • I am really glad to see that the Santa Fe Trail Bicycle Racing Team in Leavenworth has several youth members who seem to regularly show up to race in sanctioned races.
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  • I am really glad to see that the Santa Fe Trail Bicycle Racing Team in Leavenworth has several youth members who seem to regularly show up to race in sanctioned races. I personally think that kids should start learning how to race at a very young age because learning how to ride well enough to race a bicycle results in safer riding skills in general.
    We all see quite a few kids riding their bikes all over town, especially in the months without snow on the ground, but even when there is cold weather and snow for some kids. I know that I used my Schwinn to deliver newspapers and that meant all year including snow, ice, rain, sun, wind, etc. There is a very dedicated group of riders with which you can connect online called Ice Bike. They adapt their bikes to be ridden all winter in Alaska and all points north.
    I hate to bring up the obesity and youth issue, but it is what it is and there are lots of young kids who may live a not-so-wonderful life with obesity and then die at an earlier age than their parents. I am not saying that riding a bike will solve that issue by itself, but I do think that kids who ride bikes on a regular basis are less likely to experience obesity.
    That is one reason that I highly recommend that you should encourage your kids to join up with a bike club and a bike racing team. They are quite likely to develop very good bike riding skills in the process and will almost for sure be better riders than those who do not belong to a club or race. I can guarantee that they will get great adult support when they belong to a club and to a racing team.
    Speaking of racing teams, I think that the local schools are missing out on a great sport for kids in school that has the potential to last a lifetime for them. It may be fun to watch kids bang heads playing football, but really, how many adult football leagues do you see in any city? On the other hand, there are more than 30 bicycle clubs in Kansas and I believe that several of them have a few hundred members.
    I really think that any local college or university is missing out on a great sport for its students, too. Most kids who attend a community college or university are not going to become professional athletes, but many of them would enjoy a competitive sport that they could continue playing well into their seventies or older. Bicycling is the kind of sport that may involve an accident or two, but they are truly unplanned accidents, not the head-banging and body smashing that is part of some of the main line school sports.
    Page 2 of 2 - Every answer that involves football seems to end up with money as the key issue. Even basketball is tied to the money that it brings into a school sports program. To me, school is about learning knowledge and skills and developing abilities with which a person can grow to support himself and herself and their community. Sport is supposed to be a side issue, not the driving force in our schools. Competitive sports are great, but in a public school funded by our taxes, the emphasis should be on academics and not on sports. In addition, any sports program should emphasize those sports activities that can be carried on for a lifetime and not regularly cause severe injuries to the students.
    Now is the time to start training for the annual summer classic youth bicycle racing series in Leavenworth. The best way to do that is to join a club and the local bike racing team and to learn how to train successfully so that you stand a chance at winning. I am looking forward to seeing more youths becoming better bicyclists and bicycle racers.
    Matt Nowak lives in Lansing and works as a natural resources manager.

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