County offers graduation from training wheels

Reminisce back to the day your parents took the training wheels off your bike. That first time you rode on just two wheels was probably exhilarating … and terrifying.

Learning how to ride a bike with no training wheels isn’t always easy, but longtime mountain biker Eric Pullen and experts at Suck Creek Cycle are here to help. They have teamed up with the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department for an ongoing cycling initiative.

The partnership’s next event is Training Wheels Graduation Day at Chester Frost Park, Shelter 1, Saturday, June 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

During the event, the experts will take the training wheels off each kid’s bike and teach the Strider style of riding. A Strider bike is one without pedals, so it forces the kids to focus on finding their balance on the bike.

“We have a pretty good success rate,” said Pullen, who has instructed these types of events in the past. “Usually the kids do learn to ride 50-100 feet by themselves before they leave. We see a lot of kids leaving, riding their bikes without training wheels.”

Parents are required to stay and take part in the learning, he noted.

“The parents need to be there because they need to see what we’re doing so that they can continue the practice with the children after we finish up,” Pullen said.

Pullen, who also directs the Tennessee Youth Mountain Bike Racing Series, said he wants to see more kids in the county get outside and be active.

“As I think back, being a kid I used to ride my bike everywhere. You don’t see a lot of that anymore,” he said. “This is a program that we are hoping will get more kids outside and exploring the outdoors, riding their bicycle and getting some good exercise.”

The initiative continues in the form of mountain bike camps at Enterprise South Nature Park and with the Tennessee Youth Mountain Bike Racing Series.

Pullen added that he is thankful for Ron Priddy, director of Hamilton County Parks and Recreation, and Lee Greene, Enterprise South Nature Park superintendent, for their “willingness to allow us to put together a cycling program for Hamilton County’s children and looking past the traditional ball sports. We’ve found a lot of kids that really didn’t think of themselves as athletic have found themselves to be comfortable riding a bike.”

Participants in Training Wheels Graduation Day must preregister by June 27 by calling 842-6748, and bring a bike and a helmet.