Editor’s note: Michelle Barker is an avid mountain biker and trails advocate. She is president of the Linn Area Mountain Bike Association and on the board of the Linn County Trails Association. Barker is a high school English teacher at Midland and an employee at Northtowne Cycling and Fitness. She enjoys riding single-track with her husband and children, and introducing others to cycling.
By Michelle Barker, community contributor
As April fades into May, signs of summer greet us at every pause.
Summer means the end of the school year, warm weather, longer days and keeping the kids busy. Topping that list for many families is a summer vacation.
With the ever-present cost of gas and activities, many are looking for local, healthy, fun filled adventures for the whole family.
Bicycles should be near the top of that list.
Cycling is an activity that is increasing in popularity and this year Cedar Rapids is the proud host of RAGBRAI. Many might think cycling is exclusive to that commuter or racer, but that is a flawed assumption. Stop and think of all the fun you had riding your bike as a kid.
Many think of how much freedom those two wheels created and all the excitement and adventure that resulted. Ask almost any adult, and they can tell you about their first bike or an experience (sometimes a scar) in which a bike was central. With those stories in mind, it is time to move family cycling adventures to the top of the summer vacation list.
Riding bikes is a great activity for kids. Dawn Crist of Cedar Rapids rides with her four kids, all under the age of 10. Two ride in the bicycle trailer and the older two ride their own bikes. On their bike rides around the city, the kids learn about bicycle and street safety in addition to exploring the world around them. They plan to ride to the pool this summer, too.
For those whose kids seek competition, there is a local cycling race scene that has events for youth. The Hawkeye Bicycle Association will be hosting a road race at Squaw Creek Park and a cyclocross race in the fall. The Linn Area Mountain Bike Association will host a mountain bike race in Beverly Park in July. There are even beginner races for that adult with a competitive spirit.
Bike rodeos and skills clinics also take place throughout the year.
No bike? No worries. Cedar Rapids has two great local bike retailers with passionate professionals who will help you and your family select the perfect ride.
As families begin to plan summer vacations, don’t forget to include a place for riding bikes. Our family goes on many family bike rides, often the highlight of the summer. They can generate some of the best adventure stories, even if they are right in our backyard. Not only will you learn more about your community and engage in a healthy activity, but you also will get to spend time creating new family stories.
Here are some links to help you this spring and summer:
The Iowa Bicycle Racing calendar can be found at: http://iowabicycleracing.org/?page_id=6&month=apr&yr=2012
For local bike retailers, check out: