Bethel's Bike Rodeo
Bethel's annual Bike Rodeo was held this afternoon in the big parking lot in front of the Community Health Services Building, a branch of the hospital. The rodeo is sponsored by the Bethel Parks and Rec Dept. and the hospital's Injury Prevention Program. Lots of kids show up for it, and for good reason--they have a great time. This year about 150 kids came out, and we had a beautiful sunny day. The wind was a bit nippy, but that did not bother them at all.
Registration started at noon, and within an hour there were kids and bikes everywhere. The first stop after registration was the helmet fitting station. Bethel has an ordinance requiring helmets on all cyclists under 18 years old. New helmets were given to all registered participants, along with instructions on how to wear it properly, and teaching about the importance of helmets to prevent head injuries. Non-registered participants could bring in an old helmet and trade it for a new one if they wished.
The next stop was the bicycle maintenance station. Bikes were checked for safety, bolts tightened, tires pumped up, chains cleaned, seats adjusted. This station was staffed by the local Boy Scout troop.
After bike maintenance, it was time to watch an educational video. A school bus was parked at the corner of the lot and a television monitor with VCR mounted in the driver's seat. A dozen kids at a time filled the bus seats and watched a short video on bicycle safety.
After the safety video came the most popular station: the obstacle course. Bikers had to follow a marked, unpaved course. They had to obey all signs, signal their turns and stops, do a figure 8 around barrels, go over a small jump (small riders could skip the jump), and go through a shallow sand trap. They were taught bike handling skills at each obstacle. Many kids did the obstacle course several times!
After the stations were completed, there were hot dogs, potato salad and lemonade for the hordes of hungry rodeoers. A big open course was marked on the pavement for free riding so that all who wanted to could practice their new skills.
A silent auction of bikes donated by individuals was held throughout the afternoon. These bikes had also been checked out by the Boy Scout bike mechanics to be sure they were in good working order. Some went for as little as $20.
Any conclave of kids and bikes has a high likelihood of skinned knees, so there was also a well-supplied First Aid station. I was asked to run the station again this year, with the able assistance of Iris, a former health aide. We cleaned up some minor road rash and dispensed a few band-aids, but fortunately had no serious injuries.
All in all, it was a fun afternoon. Kids in Bethel pretty much have to make their own entertainment, and they love a big organized event like this one, especially when they can race around and blow off kid energy.
Over the next month, the Injury Prevention Program will be doing an observational survey around Bethel to see how many kids are wearing helmets when they ride. As a long-distance cyclist, I have always been a proponent of bike helmets for everyone. It is all too easy to hit a patch of gravel or soft sand and go down quickly. I've done it standing still! The discouraging thing is to see a family out biking with the kids properly helmeted and the adults bare-headed. You only get one brain, don't scramble it!
Labels: Life in Bethel