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I Can Bike Success

13 Aug

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The I Can Bike camp ended Friday, and as advertised, most of the campers could ride a regular two-wheel bike on their own! If you’ve ever taught anyone how to ride a bike you know what an astonishing accomplishment that is.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I Can Bike is a national program designed to teach individuals with disabilities the skills to ride a bike independently. Their approach is solid, using a variety of different sized rollers in place of wheels/training wheels they teach the skills necessary to ride a bike. As a person’s skill develops they move to a smaller roller, allowing for more movement of the bike thus mimicking the feel and movement of a two-wheeled bike.

For instance my rider, Parker, Monday used the full size roller; on Tuesday he progressed to the smaller roller and most importantly rode on the front of a tandem with one of the instructors. This gave the instructor a good idea of Parker’s biking abilities and any areas he might need to work on – like steering or leaning.

On Wednesday Parker and the other riders made a big jump in their biking ability. There were way fewer starts and stops and more fluid pedaling and better turning. They were also faster which meant more running for volunteers to keep up with them!

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Thursday is known as launch day – the day the rollers come off and participants ride a regular two-wheel bike and use a hand brake for the first time – outside. Up to this point we were inside in the gym. I wasn’t able to be there on Thursday unfortunately so I missed the launch, but from what I heard they primarily worked on braking and using either a power start (using the traditional foot on upturned pedal to start) or a frog start which is both feet on the ground pushing off for a count of 3 then pedaling.

On Friday Parker graduated from the “frog start” to the “power start” and as the session went on his braking and pedaling became smoother. His balance and turning also improved as did the speed in which he rode – and for volunteers (and Parker’s dad) the difficulty in running to keep up grew exponentially!

Watching Parker and the other campers biking around the parking lot was incredible. The transformation that took place over 5 days was nothing short of amazing and to be a part of it was something special.

Besides being a great guy, Parker had a very cool bike, retro style with a crimson and cream color scheme going on.

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Although this was Oklahoma City’s first I Can Bike camp, the plan is to do it again next year. I plan to volunteer again and encourage you to consider it. You can find more information here.

I Can Bike

6 Aug

Most of us who ride a bike believe everyone should ride a bike. When we aren’t riding we’re frequently preaching the gospel of riding to anyone who will listen. Or, pretends to.

We try to get family members, friends, even strangers to give cycling a try – or as is the case for most adults anyway – another try. My husband and I bought our grandson and granddaughter their first bikes and helped teach them to ride. Spreading the love of cycling – something as natural to any cyclist as, well, riding a bike.

So when I learned of a program to teach individuals with disabilities how to ride a bike, I knew I needed to help. Besides my affinity for bikes, I have an affinity for people with disabilities. I worked in the field of disabilities for 20 plus years, so the I Can Bike program seemed like a great thing for me to be a part of.

I Can Bike is a part of the I Can Shine program. I Can Shine focuses on teaching persons with disabilities a recreational skill by providing supported experience in the recreational skill – like riding a bike. It is a nationwide program which utilizes local volunteers and instructors to teach various recreational skills.

The Oklahoma City I Can Bike camp runs all week, offering 40 individuals the opportunity to learn to ride a two-wheeled bike on their own. What could be better!

Each day is divided into 5 sessions of 75 minutes each, with 8 “campers” in each session. Yesterday was my first day with my camper and we had a blast. He worked hard, but had fun and by the end of the session had progressed in his riding ability. I had progressed too in learning the right ways to support him without getting in his way or over-helping. A skill, I’ll tell you – besides I got a decent workout walking/jogging along while he pedaled. He’s a sweetheart; I’m looking forward to working with him again today.

Our goal is for each camper to be able to ride his or her own bike by the end of the week.

Check out the I Can Shine/I Can Bike website to learn how you can be involved, including making a donation. I’ll keep you posted on how my camper is doing as the week goes, so check back.

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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.loveofbikes.com.