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Thread: Youth Cycling

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    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    I like to take the Scouts in my troop cycling. However, they sure don't learn anything about cycling in school, so there has to be a educational process. But once they learn how to cycle correctly, there's a lot of interesting rides in So Cal they can go on.

    Maybe some of you Scout, Church, or other youth group leaders also take your crew on bike rides. Let's hear about it! Maybe some of you would like to try, but aren't really confident enough yet. Maybe the responses to this thread will put you over the "tipping point".

    Most youth organizations have rules for adults that take the youth on outings. Be sure you conform to these requirements.

    Many posts to this forum complain that the kids aren't being taught to cycle correctly. So...here's your chance to step up and make a difference!

    The following is the basic sequence I go through for Scouts wanting to earn Cycling Merit Badge.

    The first step is to bring all the bikes to a meeting for Tech Inspection, flat tires and all. It's amazing the condition some of these bikes are in. Any broken or otherwise unsafe parts have to be fixed or replaced before the ride.

    Then we teach the guys the proper way to fit the bike. Most guys seats are waaaay too low! When we raise the seat to the proper height, they are amazed at how much easier it is to pedal.

    Now the fun starts...don't expect ME to fix your flats!

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    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    I run a bike club at my sons middle school. Last evening we had a turn out of 18 to ride. We live in an awsome MTB area so we are just trying to get them out on the trails so they can give it a try. They have to bring their own tube and the like, and helmets are a must. We have even had some parents start coming. Many kids have gotten new bikes since starting(good quality). All skill levels are welcome, my son has been riding for years and races XC and we have first timers.We are in the process of putting together a race team for 12 and 24 hour races. Watching kids progress is really cool.
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

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    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Just a question, what are those white gloves for?
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
    Stay calm and bring a towel.

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    cab horn
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    Lol.

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    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    I conduct cycling merit badge for my son's troop. Over 3 years I've learned that the boys need to ride all of the shorter distances with the troop before attempting the longer group rides. I'll pass on a lesson I learned the hard way - one boy showed up for a 25 mile ride and he had previously attended the Intro/Safety, Bike Inspection, and Repair sessions, but had done none of the group rides. I told him he would have to ride with the group on shorter routes before he could go 25miles. His mother raised a big commotion and wanted to see in writing where he was required to do the shorter routes. Two other Dads urged me to include him as he was strong enough to finish. The result was that he unexpectedly stopped suddenly with boys behind causing 3 crashes, luckily everyone continued but our "newcomer", who had enough road rash to justify being taken home. My process now calls for written sign-off of all shorter group rides before stepping up to more distance.

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    cab horn
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    Sounds more like he didn't pay attention to the intro/safety rather than the distance being a problem. His mom was right.

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    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UmneyDurak
    Just a question, what are those white gloves for?
    Hahaha. I like to run a clean shop.

    Actually, I worked my way through college working on cars. I could never get my hands completely clean, and everyone could guess what my job was. At the time, I was kind of self-consious about it.

    So now when I work on my car or bike, I use latex (or nitrile) gloves. I keep them in my tool kit and first aid kit. The Scout in the photo was just following my lead....as he should!

    Wildwood, I agree with the progression of ride distances. It's not a specific requirement, but it's a good idea. I explain everything up front, so there's no misunderstanding with the parents.

    To earn Bicycling Merit Badge the Scout has to ride two 10 milers, two 15 milers, two 25 milers, and finally a 50 miler. The 50 miler must be completed in 8 hours or less. The rides are spaced about two weeks apart. Following this schedule, we have had 11 year olds complete the 50 miler with no problems and energy to spare.

    In my day, the requirement was four 25 milers and one 50 miler! Agh!

    Also, we start out on a MUP. This gives me a chance to assess their riding skill and gradually teach them the rules of the road. They typically won't absorb it all in one "safety lecture". By the second 15 miler, they are ready to take to the street.

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    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    Sounds more like he didn't pay attention to the intro/safety rather than the distance being a problem. His mom was right.
    Paying attention to a safety discussion is not enough. The skills of longer road rides is only learned by participating in shorter routes and riding in relatively close proximity to other cyclists. But I do agree that the Mother was technically correct, I did not spell out a requirement for a progression of rides. Now I do. If the inexperience of one person had caused serious injury to others boys then I would have had a hard time continuing as a Scout counselor, especially when I knew better but allowed myself to be over-ruled.

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    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildwood
    I conduct cycling merit badge for my son's troop.
    Just curious, are you a LAB instructor? If so how long is the certification course and how was it? Id like to take the course but have not freed up the $$$.

    BTW - My instructor for the LAB Effective Cycling course helped to write the book used for the Boy Scouts. There is an acknowledgement to him on the inside cover. The example of the route in the book is the route we cycled near Harrisburg.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

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    The bike program should also include more variety, as not everybody is turned on by the same things. Include bike polo, slow ride races, control stunts like wheelies, bunny hops and track stands. Its not just about learning, it must also be fun.

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    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    The bike program should also include more variety, as not everybody is turned on by the same things. Include bike polo, slow ride races, control stunts like wheelies, bunny hops and track stands. Its not just about learning, it must also be fun.
    Thats fer sure! The biggest smile I see out of our kids is when they ride their first set of stairs. We try to let them progress without getting in over their head.
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

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    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildwood
    Paying attention to a safety discussion is not enough. The skills of longer road rides is only learned by participating in shorter routes and riding in relatively close proximity to other cyclists.
    Point taken. Looks like you've solved that problem anyways so that's moot.

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    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    The bike program should also include more variety, as not everybody is turned on by the same things. Include bike polo, slow ride races, control stunts like wheelies, bunny hops and track stands. Its not just about learning, it must also be fun.
    Good point.

    Bunny hops, for instance, are good for avoiding on-road obstacles. Sponges make good dummy rocks, train tracks or potholes.

    What is humorous to me is that although many guys can DO a bunny hop-these are guys without clips- they don't know HOW they do it. I alway enjoy giving a physics lesson...

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    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeR
    Just curious, are you a LAB instructor?
    Not an LAB instructor. 20 years riding roads and 2 classes in bicycle safety, I think 1 of the instructional booklets may have been an LAB pamphlet.

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    A good source of ideas can be found on www.bsca.org.uk. Click on to Awards section and go thro' Introduction, and pp1-4. I've got kids through bronze, silver and gold Trix stages, but can't do them all myself. Gold level they usually figure out for themselves with some advice from me, tho' it takes much longer than bronze and silver.

    Our kids club covers circuit, TT, 'cross, mtb x-country, grass and hard track racing and hill climb TTs. Ages range from 5 - 15. We're fortunate enough to have an 950yard tarmc circuit, two all-weather socccer pitches and grassy areas to meet on.

    Happy to discuss details either on-forum or by private email. I appreciate that conditions vary between UK and US, but basic principles remain the same, on or off-road.

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    Obeying Gravity
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    I wish my high school had a MTB club

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    Stand For Something mntbikedude's Avatar
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    Yeah I have worked with the scouts cycling merit badge as well. We have done simular to what you did which was inspect the bikes and teach them about some maintainance and then about safe riding. We have done a few short rides around here and then head on down to Moab for a fun week-end ride.

  18. #18
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildwood
    Not an LAB instructor. 20 years riding roads and 2 classes in bicycle safety, I think 1 of the instructional booklets may have been an LAB pamphlet.
    I'd like to offer my services to the BS to help with any cycling merit badges but I don't really want to pay the $$ for LAB certification. Glad to know that it is not essential.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

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    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    MikeR, If you would like to be a counselor for any BSA Merit Badge, we would love to have you.

    You will need to register as an adult volunteer, but since you are a counselor, it won't cost anything. Pick up a registration form at your nearest Troop or Council office.

    In our district, we require the counselors to take a one-hour course on how to be an effective Merit Badge counselor. It's a piece of cake.

    Good Luck!

  20. #20
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eubi
    MikeR, If you would like to be a counselor for any BSA Merit Badge, we would love to have you.

    You will need to register as an adult volunteer, but since you are a counselor, it won't cost anything. Pick up a registration form at your nearest Troop or Council office.

    In our district, we require the counselors to take a one-hour course on how to be an effective Merit Badge counselor. It's a piece of cake.

    Good Luck!
    Thanks for the info - I'm going to contact our local troop and get set up before next spring. Mmaybe we can get some kids cycling in our area.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattP.
    I wish my high school had a MTB club
    So start one!

    1. Find out how many would be interested
    2. Find a staff member who would be interested in acting as co-ordinator (if not organiser)
    3. If there are no suitably qualified members of staff, contact the local mtb community - your local bike shop whould help here
    4. Put forward a proper plan to your school principal/management board. This will need to answer their concerns about numbers involved, safety, school insurance liabilities, its value as an educational tool (v. useful that - pushes the right buttons), how it might be funded, etc.

    I also suggest you log on to www.sprockids.org - altho' it's Canadian, they have chapters in US. The founder has also produced a programme (my UK spelling) showing how mountain biking can be integrated into the curriculum. www.tripsforkids.org has some useful and relevant material as well.

    Doing this and getting it started (I assume you are a student) will look good on your resume when you move on.

    Remember the old Chines proverb, bunnyhopper - A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single pedal stroke (or a puncture)

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