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Boy Scout cycling merit badge

Old 11-24-23, 12:55 PM
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Boy Scout cycling merit badge

Once upon a time I was a boy scout I'm 43 years old now anyway there's a cycling merit badge and was curious if anyone here has ever been a counselor for the badge? The requirements are fun to look at too!
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Old 11-24-23, 12:56 PM
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https://www.scouting.org/merit-badges/cycling/​​​​​​
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Old 11-24-23, 01:16 PM
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I was not. I served as an adult leader for years, about 10 IIRC. Funny thing is during that time my fitness decreased until near the end of it when I discovered cycling. One troop that I was involved in did the merit badge as a troop in preparation for a several day tour down the Oregon coast. (This was after I left and started anew Troop with another Scouter.)

There are significant challenges to be a MB Counselor. 2 Deep leadership, youth protection training (online), registration as a volunteer adult leader, and Scouts must use buddy system. It's worth the hoops though and the hoops are in place to ensure a safe experience for all involved.
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Old 11-24-23, 01:29 PM
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Ride Requirement:
  • (b) Avoiding main highways, take two rides of 10 miles each, two rides of 15 miles each, and two rides of 25 miles each. You must make a report of the rides taken. List dates for the routes traveled, and interesting things seen on the ride.
  • (c) After completing requirement 2 for the road biking option, do ONE of the following:
  • (1) Lay out on a road map a 50-mile trip. Stay away from main highways. Using your map, make this ride in eight hours or less.
  • (2) Participate in an organized bike tour of at least 50 miles. Make this ride in eight hours or less. Afterward, use the tour's cue sheet to make a map of the ride.
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Old 11-24-23, 06:01 PM
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I was in Boy Scouts, but never got cycling merit badge, but ended up bicycling for over 40 years now.
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Old 11-25-23, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by SoCaled
Ride Requirement:
  • (b) Avoiding main highways, take two rides of 10 miles each, two rides of 15 miles each, and two rides of 25 miles each. You must make a report of the rides taken. List dates for the routes traveled, and interesting things seen on the ride.
  • (c) After completing requirement 2 for the road biking option, do ONE of the following:
  • (1) Lay out on a road map a 50-mile trip. Stay away from main highways. Using your map, make this ride in eight hours or less.
  • (2) Participate in an organized bike tour of at least 50 miles. Make this ride in eight hours or less. Afterward, use the tour's cue sheet to make a map of the ride.
This agrees with my memory that the requirements weren't that challenging.
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Old 11-25-23, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by KerryIrons
This agrees with my memory that the requirements weren't that challenging.
I wasn't a scout, but reading the above, that's what I thought too initially. But then I thought about the heavy, balloon tired, single speed bikes sold in small town hardware stores and such that a lot of boys probably did this with.
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Old 11-25-23, 10:33 AM
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Never made it to Boy Scouts as I got kicked out of Cub Scouts for making home-made fireworks and sky-rockets. I guess they didn't appreciate our self-acquired knowledge of chemistry and physics back then.
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Old 11-25-23, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Chuck M
I wasn't a scout, but reading the above, that's what I thought too initially. But then I thought about the heavy, balloon tired, single speed bikes sold in small town hardware stores and such that a lot of boys probably did this with.
Those requirements are light... did you click the link I posted for the full requirements? I think that the requirements are challenging for a novice young teen.
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Old 11-25-23, 04:39 PM
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Cycling Merit Badge

About 30 years ago I was a Cycling Merit Badge counselor. Over the years I probably had 10 groups get the merit badge. Groups were 6-8 kids to start, with 2-3 dropping out.
At the time only road riding was included, no mountain biking. I did the rides with the kids; early Sunday mornings to avoid traffic. These kids weren’t cyclists so 25-50 mile rides were a challenge. And the bikes were usually cheap Huffy types, not quality road bikes. Bill
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Old 11-25-23, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by KerryIrons
This agrees with my memory that the requirements weren't that challenging.
It was challenging if you were trying to do it on a 20” BMX bike, which was what most of us were riding when I was in the Scouts.
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Old 11-25-23, 07:20 PM
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I was in scouts and remember thinking this badge was too challenging. 50 mile rides were a lot when you had a department store mountain bike and wasn't into cycling.

We did do a few cycling trips, but it was mostly downhill rides.
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Old 11-25-23, 07:38 PM
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I led a number of groups earning the badge. I don't recall any scout who started the badge failing to complete. I offered three a week training rides, starting at six miles week one. Most kids did all the training rides, as did many parents.

One stand out was Alex. Riding a good quality BMX bike, he was always right on my back wheel regardless of terrain, when other kids and parents were stringing out behind us.

Another standout was a very overweight kid on a BSO, who's parents waited at the start/finish, smoking up a storm. He completed the badge with an impressive amount of stubbornness.
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Old 11-26-23, 10:52 AM
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I wasn't a counselor, but I got the merit badge. I learned a few things that I use to this day (that's true about many of the merit badges). No adult came with us on our rides: my elder brother had done it a couple of years earlier so I pretty much knew what was entailed. The first few rides were done on a coaster brake balloon tired "paperboy" bike with a two-speed hub; I used my sister's 3-speed for one ride, and I borrowed my brother's 10-speed for the 25 and 50 milers.
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Old 11-26-23, 11:17 AM
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The badge surfaced when my Boy Scouts tenure wound down.
Slam dunk badge, if memory serves, but not part of the Star level.
Many difficult ones to earn to attain Star, like first aid, life-saving, and backpacking.
Then we discovered girls, cars, jobs - so long, Scouts!
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Old 11-26-23, 11:22 AM
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.
...I had that merit badge on my sash, but I have no recollection at all about how it was earned. I do remember I had a three speed Dunelt at the time. Strange.
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Old 11-26-23, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuck M
I wasn't a scout, but reading the above, that's what I thought too initially. But then I thought about the heavy, balloon tired, single speed bikes sold in small town hardware stores and such that a lot of boys probably did this with.

Correct. Eagle Scout here. Was involved supporting some troops as an adult and explored becoming a cycling merit badge councilor. The requirements and distances are a big deal for a kid.

We get so deep into the hobby we forget that even 10 miles is a lot for average people, on average bikes, who don't regularly ride.

I once commented to a work colleague about taking a bike I was considering buying out for a 20 mile test ride. He laughed incredulously at the idea that "20 miles" ( a super long ride in his mind) would be a throw-away test ride to me.
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Old 11-26-23, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by KerryIrons
This agrees with my memory that the requirements weren't that challenging.
For a 13-year old kid with no cycling background, even the 10 mile rides can be a challenge. If they're undersized or late developers, even more so.

Before our family left BSA, I was a counselor for two merit badge groups. I was pleased that most of them stayed at it and took an active role in route planning and riding, and encouraged each other, even if from different troops. Most of the boys showed up with old mountain bikes or newer big-box bikes, often in the size that was in stock or the "one they'll grow into", not the size that would fit them at that time.

If my son's experience is typical, then that's not a good sign. Unlike other parents I've known, I never pushed him into cycling or tried to be the "sports dad" that had to have junior follow in his footsteps (or in this case, draft) no matter what. I tried to make rides reasonable and fun since he was little, and in general we had a good time whether on the tandem or separate bikes. However, after completing the 50 miler and achieving the badge about 6 years ago, he's shown little interest in riding or even talking about why he's no longer interested. I think it's because in his mind during the merit badge process cycling changed from something you did to go someplace or for fun to something you endured for "long distances" to check off a box; e.g. it became homework.

I've asked if he wants to do some rides since, but all I get is a short "no". I'm hoping when he goes off to college to finish his degree he rediscovers the advantages of bicycle travel, but I'm not entirely optimistic.

As mentioned above, our family permanently left Scouting several years ago (for reasons unrelated to cycling), so I no longer counsel any merit badges.
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Old 11-28-23, 09:25 AM
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Eagle Scout here.

The embryonic idea for Scouting began when Baden Powel organized the local adolescent boys into the Mafeking Cadet Corp to provide support services during the siege of Mafikeng (1899-1900).

Bicycles being useful in military scouting, cycling was a component of Scouting at the very start.



Text at:
https://onlinebicyclemuseum.co.uk/19...ng-boy-scouts/

The usefulness of trained boys on bikes was on the minds of the British public as some Hitler Youth cycletoured southern England in 1937:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...sts-boy-scouts

In the movie A Bridge Too Far, there's a minor subplot involving a Dutch boy cycle-scouting German deployments.



We forget what a large impact Scouting had on society and culture during the 20th Century. Anyway, just for fun, note the handlebars on this 1941 Schwinn:


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Old 11-28-23, 03:11 PM
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Keep in mind the joining requirements for Boy Scouts:
Youth can join Scouts BSA if they are at least 10 years old, currently in the fifth grade and register on or after March 1st; OR have earned the Arrow of Light Award and are at least 10 years old, OR are age 11 but have not reached age 18.
Most scouts are at the lower end of the age range. The requirements are age appropriate. However like all scouting merit badge requirements the older scouts have less physical issues meeting them. It may have changed but when I was involved the average age of a scout attaining Eagle was under 15, not that Eagle rank is any sort of an important metric of success of the program.
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Old 11-28-23, 03:29 PM
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Cycling was the first of my merit badges back in the '60s and I recall a combined 50 miles requirement, not a 50-mile ride. My 3-speed Schwinn Corvette did that duty and also helped deliver newspapers.
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Old 11-28-23, 04:25 PM
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Merit Badge

When I was counselor in the 1980’s, the riding requirements were 6 rides of 25 miles each over a three month period. Then a 50 mile ride to
finish the badge. Bill
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Old 11-29-23, 09:02 AM
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From that 1910 Cyclist Scouts Training manual:



Can you imagine in 2023? Much better to have the boys in their rooms, playing first-person shooter video games.

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Old 11-29-23, 08:55 PM
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The 50 mile requirement included planning the ride. I held them to that, helping them choose a route but only helping not doing it. So each kid ride their own 50 miler. That part was fun.
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Old 12-03-23, 11:24 AM
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Earned it

Originally Posted by BillRS22
When I was counselor in the 1980’s, the riding requirements were 6 rides of 25 miles each over a three month period. Then a 50 mile ride to
finish the badge. Bill
I earned the badge on my way to my Eagle Scout rank. I rode on a mountain bike from Walmart for the 25 mile rides. My dad said he would join me on the 50. The bearings fell out of my mountain bike’s rear cassette and switched to the hybrid bike to finish the route.

one of my favorite merit badges and one I most proud of. I have a few. I was able to earn 2 silver palms and one bronze.
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