In Southern California this week, USA Cycling presented its first “Let’s Ride Bicycle Camp” in partnership with LA Galaxy, Bahati Foundation, East Side Riders Bicycle Club, and Streets Are For Everyone.
About 100 South Los Angeles youngsters, ages 8 to 16, and their parents worked with professional cycling coaches and Olympic competitors. The goal of the bicycle camp was to motivate the next generation of Olympic competitors in preparation for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. As their children learned to ride bicycles for the first time, their parents stood by and recorded the event on their phones.
Riders who were already familiar with the bike taught crucial skills such as how to turn properly and, most critically, how to stop. All of the children learned how to correctly fit their helmets as well as other crucial aspects of safe riding, such as how to signal a turn with their hands.
A special tour of the VELO Sports Center, a 100,000 square foot, $15 million edifice that serves as an official Olympic training facility for indoor competition cycling, was part of the day’s festivities. Three Olympic athletes from the United States and New Zealand led the tour, coaching and inspiring the children.
Mari Holden, a silver medallist in the 2000 Olympic Games, brought her Olympic medal to the VELO Sports Center for all the kids (and parents) to witness as part of the VELO Sports Center tour.
“As an Olympic medalist who was inspired after watching the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles; I recognize the impact that elite athletes have to inspire the next generation. I realize that not all kids will aspire to be Olympians but we, at USA Cycling, hope to help teach them about bike safety and skills and create lifelong enthusiasts.” — Mari Holden, Silver Medalist 2000 Olympic Games, World Champion, and 6 time US Champion cyclist.
The day ended with a group ride around the Dignity Sports Complex at Cal State Dominguez Hills led by world-renowned champion cyclist and Los Angeles native Rahsaan Bahati and world champion and Olympic silver medalist Mari Holden.
Everyone who attended the event received a commemorative event t-shirt, a new cycling helmet, event goodies, and a free USA Cycling introductory membership. At the end of the day, all of the kids who arrived without a bicycle and rode one of the restored bikes on hand were told that they may retain their bikes and practice riding at home.
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee recognizes USA Cycling as the official governing body for all competitive cycling disciplines in the United States, including BMX, cyclocross, mountain biking, road cycling, and track cycling. Let’s Ride is a grassroots campaign aimed at getting more youngsters on bikes and introducing them to the sport of cycling. Let’s Ride’s objective includes reaching out to youngsters in underserved communities and assisting them in connecting with local community foundations that work with children.
Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE) organized the event in collaboration with LA Galaxy, Herbalife Foundation, USA Cycling, VELO Sports Center, East Side Riders, and Bahati Foundation.