Thursday, October 21, 2010

Eliot School Bike Rodeo

Yesterday IBC supported a kids bike rodeo at the Eliot School in Needham. Before I continue, allow me to describe what a bike rodeo is, because it might not be what you think. In fact, it wasn't what some of the kids thought, "this isn't like a REAL rodeo" one sharp kid observed, "there aren't any bull riders or anything." "And there aren't any clowns either" I added. "Well you LOOK like a clown with that stupid beard" another kid chimed in. OK, that last part didn't really are so well behaved these days, what, with the no cyber-bullying work shops and all. What happened to the good old fashioned cruelty of children? And what happened to back packs? Kids are now wheeling around carry on style luggage instead of backpacks. Don't they know it's never too early to start destroying their spines?

Although there wasn't actually a quip about me looking like a clown, there was one kid who said "Hey, I like your beard, you look like Abraham Lincoln." I told him that I normally don't sport such a weird beard and that it was for a Halloween costume. When I'd finished checking out his bike he said "Thanks Abraham Lincoln." I think that kid is going to do alright.

Ah yes, the beard:

So anyway...

A bike rodeo is an event put on by particularly awesome P.E. teachers at the elementary school level. The kids are rotated through a series of stations where they get tested on their knowledge of the rules of the road, they get their helmets fit properly, they get their bikes checked over for safety (that's where IBC comes in), and finally, they get to go cruise around and bicycle safety obstacle course to demonstrate their real world skills.

If they pass they entire course, the kids get a license to ride to school, and many of them end up using their licenses.

Checking out kids bikes doesn't take a whole lot of tools, allow me to make a bullet point list of what is required:

  • 13, 14, and 15mm box wrenches for axle nuts and stem bolts
  • 8mm Allen wrench for loose kickstands (there will be many)
  • 5mm Allen for stem bolts and assorted loose items
  • 6mm Allen for stem bolts (Lots of loose bars)
  • Chain lube (bikes get left out in the all expensive toys)
  • Pliers for straightening out crooked valve stems (Magna's come stock with these)
  • A well-functioning floor pump

The floor pump...

by the end of a kids bike rodeo your arms will be destroyed from pumping up all the tires. A great ploy is to bring at least two pumps and rope the kids into pumping their own tires. They will actually be completely psyched to do it too. And they love putting valve caps back on. Of course I will tell them that valve caps are not really all that important, and that they will likely wreck their tubes on a sharp curb edge (probably because their parents didn't pump up their tires for three months) before the valve begins to degrade from exposure to the elements. This I do for posterity, so that in twenty years these kids won't come into IBC and say "I am really, really ANGRY with you people. I just had a computer installed yesterday, and after I drove for over two hours back to my house, I noticed that there was no valve cap on my rear wheel (they never say tube, never)... this is unacceptable, I demand a new valve cap for FREE!" Such is the over-inflated (pun intended) role of a valve cap in people's minds, they think that they are actually worth something. Ya, the ones in the form of light-up skulls and dice are, sure, but the standard black ones...they're about as valuable as Zimbabwean pennies.

Most of the bikes (at least in Boston's suburbs) are generally in pretty decent shape: a little lube, a little air and they're good to go. But then there are a always a few bikes that make you go "Wow, this thing is a death trap. I wonder if this kid gets 'running scissors' and 'eye-poking sticks' for his birthday?"

Bike rodeos are always fun and the end result is that you get kids riding to school, which is pretty cool. Thanks to Craig Brenhiser and the Eliot School for putting this thing on!

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