Today’s parents begin involving their kids in competitive sports as early as 3 or 4 years old, and USA Cycling wants a piece of the action.
“What we’re seeing, in terms of both races and gran fondos, is that events need to create more of a family atmosphere to make them attractive to everyone,” Guillermo Rojas Jr., director of marketing and communications for USA Cycling, recently told Sports Destination Management. “A lot of bike events take hours and hours to complete, so we’ve added some fun, non-pressure events. One of those is our use of Frog Bikes that allow young kids to race one another on a short course. They can get the finish line experience and have some fun while the racers are off competing, and it also keeps their parents happy and engaged.”
Frog bikes are designed and manufactured by a British company (and sold in the United States) to fit children’s bodies and introduce them to the sport of cycling. Strider is a leading manufacturer of such bikes in the United States.
In fact, Strider recently announced a new recreational event called the Strider Discovery Ride, slated for Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., on Nov. 17. Strider riders ages 3 to 6 will navigate the quarter-mile track on their pint-size Strider bikes to various stations where they’ll learn about and discover all things NASCAR, according to press release about the event. All registration fees will benefit Charlotte Speedway Children’s Charities.
The Strider Discovery Ride and similar events are helping kids realize that bicycling also can be a fun competitive outlet. For example, the Strider Cup series, a collection of races held worldwide for children ages 6 and younger, “offer a safe, fun and slightly competitive atmosphere where children can show off their Strider skills in front of a cheering crowd supportive of all riders,” according to Strider’s website.
Organizers of gran fondos, fundraising rides and other cycling events might want to consider partnering with manufacturers that provide bikes for little kids, such as Strider and Frog. As Rojas Jr. notes, offering activities for an event’s youngest attendees could be the beginning of a lifelong love of the sport.