Volunteers on bikes + books + kids = best bike experience EVER!
I have a lot of great memories from riding a bike.
The entire summer of 1978 when I wrapped a plastic jump rope around the handlebars of my blue Schwinn and pretended I was riding my faithful horse ‘Old Blue’. The first time I rode my bike to the park without an adult and tasted the sense of freedom and independence that brings. And adrenaline-saturated moments such as nearly breaking the sound barrier (I exaggerate. We were within the speed limit, of course.) on the back of a tandem while riding down Highway 267 to Kings Beach, Lake Tahoe.
A new great memory
On May 13, 2016, at the age of 45, I had a new “Best-Ever Bike Experience” when twelve other volunteers and I delivered 750 books to Kullerstrand Elementary in Wheat Ridge by bike.
We rolled up to the school ringing our bells, panniers loaded with books, and 250 kids went absolutely nuts, cheering like we were celebrities. For the first time in almost 20 years, I felt that rush of pure joy only experienced on a bike.
We unloaded the books while the mayor spoke and the kids took a pledge to read their books at least twice, to stay active and to be safe. Then, the kids descended on the tables to select three books to take home. We were treated to big smiles, high-fives, hugs and expressions of thanks. The kids asked questions about our bikes. We gave them stickers and bookmarks and safety cards.
Over the course of an hour, almost 300 human beings connected through a shared love of riding a bike, a love of reading and a love of doing something special as a community.
Advocacy organizations make a difference
My professional work at Bicycle Colorado connects me with communities across the state, while my personal volunteer work connects me with own local advocacy organization, the Wheat Ridge Active Transportation Advisory Team (the ATATs).
The ATATs encourage our city to continue bike-friendly investments and encourage our neighbors to ride and walk more. Scott DeJong (one of our amazing community volunteers) suggested Ride for Reading as a way to engage with local youth. This national program connects students in Title 1 schools with education on staying active mentally and physically.
Preparing for Ride for Reading took a lot of work. We solicited book donations from our community in partnership with local businesses. We organized volunteer riders including the mayor, our public works director, Wheat Ridge Police Officers, a couple visiting from North Carolina and a local author. We coordinated with the school. We took time off from work.
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Local advocacy organizations are a terrific way to learn more, make a difference, improve conditions for people who ride and connect with other bike-minded neighbors. If you have a passion for experiences on two wheels, I encourage you to reach out to your local advocacy organization or, if none exists, start one. It’s guaranteed to give you and your community more “Best Bike Experience EVER” moments, no matter your age!
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The Grand Enduro on May 27–28 will challenge you on three demanding stages in and around Grand Junction's Lunch Loo… https://t.co/W6FT7cRu24
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- Dec 22, 2022
- by Bicycle Colorado
Kimberly L. DeJong -
This really was an amazing experience. You did a wonderful job of capturing that here. I share your joy of bicycling and have many memorable times as a kid and throughout my life involving cycling. To share this joy with kids (and tie it in with reading no less!) just takes it to another level. Thank you for all that you do!
Rachel Hultin -
Thanks Kim! I’m so grateful that Scott suggested Ride for Reading and then worked to make it happen. When we recognize that working together across the community to connect bikes with good experiences and opportunities… everyone wins! #MoreRideForReading!!