Raising a New Generation of Cyclists

Written by Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Racer and Club Member, Barry Cox

I have known about the LapDogs for years and this season finally joined the club. I have found that like many things, the more I put into being a member of the LapDogs, the more I have got out of it. One of the ways I have become involved is by helping to launch the club’s new youth program.

Two of my absolute favourite things are being a dad and riding my mountainbike. Getting involved with the youth program has allowed me to combine the two. This is the youth program’s first year in many ways we have started off small. That said, after just a couple of months we have a core group of riders and a number of members have expressed interest in getting their kids involved.

One of the cornerstones of the LapDogs Cycling Club is group rides, and with this in mind, we at least one kid-friendly group ride a month (check the club calendar!). We had a really good turnout for our youth ride at the Spring Fling in May, and the weekend before the Canada Cup, Paul Reinis, Rob MacEwen and I took a couple of our more competitive kids, Max Chalovich (age 12) and Findlay MacEwen (age 9) – seen below – on a pre-ride of the race course. Rob, Paul and I had an absolute hoot coaching the boys, and as a bonus, Max and Findlay both placed very well in their categories the next day.

I have also found out the hard way that it is not easy to ride Albion Hills while towing my 5-year-old son Wesley on a trail-a-bike behind my singlespeed, although we both enjoyed every minute of it (although Wesley could probably have done without the somewhat shambolic descent of Tea-Cup…).

For those of you who have read this far, and are interested in getting your kids involved, here are some other things you should know about the program:

• Although some of the kids on the team (like Max and Findlay) do race, racing is definitely not the emphasis of the youth program. The emphasis is on riding with good friends and having fun, just the same as it is with the “grown ups”. Experienced members are on-hand to give tips if needed;

• Parents are welcome on the youth rides too. In fact, we prefer it if Mom or Dad come along, as we shoot for a pretty even ratio of adults to kids;

• Again, just like the rest of the club, on most youth rides it is necessary for insurance reasons for participants to be club members. The club has rolled out a new “ Family Membership ” for 2012 so that the kids can get out and get involved – more details on this at www.lapdogs.ca .

We have a lot of ideas for future events in the hopper as well. We want to do a couple of road rides (although probably on a bike path and/or back streets) to encourage safe riding and help kids develop proper group-riding skills, and you can count on us having an event at Joyride before the end of the year. If you have not ridden at Joyride, trust me – you do not have to be a kid to have a blast. We also hope to a couple of talks on basic maintenance and bike repair for the kids over the off season.

The great thing about this being a new program is that it can take whatever direction the members want, so if you have any ideas for youth program activities, don’t be shy – let us know. I cannot tell you how happy I am to be part of the Lap Dogs, and to be involved with this program. I hope to see you all out at youth events soon, and if I haven’t met you yet, please feel free to introduce yourself.

If you have any questions about the youth program, please feel free to drop us a line at [email protected] and one of myself, Andrew Ryan, Rob MacEwen and Adil Quereshi (who have all volunteered time and effort to this program) will get right back to you.

Happy trails…