The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • LV Times columnist: Racing series an excellent offering for children

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  • The highly successful annual kids' bicycle racing series is back again this summer on Wednesday nights on the parking lots near Warren Middle School.
    The series, called Late Nights Under the Lights, begins at 6:30 p.m. May 28.
    As in the past, I highly recommend you get there early so you can register your kids for the races in plenty of time, otherwise they may miss their race or you may hold up races while everyone waits.
    These are USAC-sanctioned races, so that means a parent or adult must sign a waiver for each youth for each event. It does not take too long to fill out the form, but I believe it can be done in advance. Unless you have done so before, I recommend you visit the Santa Fe Trails Bicycle and Coffee Shop on Delaware to learn more about it. You can also pick up a flyer that will have all of the dates posted so you can be prepared.
    Several years ago, the Leavenworth Bicycle Club added trophies to the event so it went from four or five separate races to a series of racing, which includes an overall trophy for the series winners.
    Since you are awarded points based on your placement in each race, and the points are accumulated over the series, it makes sense to participate in all of the races to earn your points.
    There are medals for each race and they are given to those who place on each night. The number of groups is at least partially dependent on how many racers show up each evening, but there are usually at least three age categories, starting from about as young as you can get a kid on a bicycle, including the strider-style bikes that have no crank and pedals and are pushed along Fred Flintstone style.
    In fact, there are medals specifically for those who place who are riding a strider bicycle.
    These strider bikes are probably the best way to teach a kid how to safely ride a bike while developing the balance skills needed. Striders do not use training wheels and that usually means that kids actually learn to ride a bike with pedals a bit faster than those who use training wheels.
    Probably the most important thing is that an adult does not have to break their back running alongside holding onto a new bike learner trying to balance a bike.
    Check them out. They are great.
    Last year, there were as many as 60 kids who showed up to race, which means the racing series is getting to be very popular and is highly successful. As far as I know, it's the only kids' racing series in the entire Kansas City metro region, including Lawrence.
    Page 2 of 2 - People come from Missouri for the chance to have their kids participate in a USAC-sanctioned bike race. If you live in Leavenworth or Lansing and you have kids who ride bikes, then you really should be checking this out.
    I'll say it again: bicycle racing is probably the best and quickest way for kids to learn bicycle safety and riding skills because they have to be able to ride with a group without crashing either themselves or others on the bikes.
    That translates into having better skilled bicycle riders on our streets. It also results in kids who are in better physical and probably mental shape as a result of getting outside and getting some serious and regular exercise in some sunshine.
    You may not remember the dates for the races, so just check in with the Bike Shop to get a flyer and maybe a helmet if you don't already have one for the kids since they are required for each race and for each participant.
    In the meantime, it's not too early to begin training for the races, especially if your little someone is interested in earning a series trophy.
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