Words by All Kids Bike
Why would a star-studded group of pedalers head to flyover country during COVID to ride bikes?
For a thruple of reasons. To explore the trails of the up and coming MTB mecca. To help out some cool organizations. And to give back by spreading the two-wheel stoke to some young ‘uns.
Brian Lopes led the multidisciplinary crew from MTB, BMX, road, and even the kayak world to Bentonville, Arkansas. Pedalers included Kialani Hines, Austin ”Bubba” Warren, and Eliot Jackson, to name a few.
The athletes were there to support All Kids Bike, a nationwide movement of the Strider Education Foundation, that’s on a mission to teach every child in America how to ride a bicycle in kindergarten PE class.
The trip provided some time for the athletes to reflect on the age-old question posed by a Texan more than a decade ago: is it about the bike?
“Learning to ride a bike builds confidence and defines ultimate freedom to go as you please and go from point A to point B on your own terms,” explained Hucker.
“Riding bikes builds so much confidence and creates community. I met some of my best friends riding bikes,” says World Cup DH racer and Grow Cycling Foundation founder Eliot Jackson.
“The future starts with investing in the youth. The bicycle transcends your life. It’s the common denominator that changes the course of one’s life to be healthier, which inevitably will be passed down to the next generation,” says 10x National Crit Champ and founder of the Bahati Foundation, Rahsaan Bahati. Bahati knows a thing or two about mentorship. The founder of L39GION of Los Angeles — the team that’s disrupting American road racing — Justin Williams, gives Bahati props on the regular for taking his tutelage. Williams is one of many.
“The pace for onboarding schools and delivering bikes is picking up exponentially,” said Ryan McFarland, All Kids Bike Founder, who was in attendance all week. “Riding bikes is a wonderful activity for kids, especially this year. It’s naturally distanced, great exercise, fun for the kids, and it gets them off their computer screens.”
Over the past two years, All Kids Bike funded 231 schools in 36 states, impacting more than 37,000 students. Thanks to donations from individuals, businesses, and organizations like the Walton Family Foundation and BikeNWA, All Kids Bike places Kindergarten PE Learn-to-Ride programs into public schools for free.
The Kindergarten PE Program supports critical health and safety needs, including spatial awareness: Teaches the concept and understanding of “safe distancing” to a child. And if this photo shows us anything, it’s that Kialani Hines took the message of distancing to heart.
The Walton Family Foundation, at the direction of Steuart Walton and Tom Walton, gave a grant to Bike Bentonville and Visit Bentonville, which organizes the All-Star Week event to showcase the local area. The schools are supported by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation to BikeNWA, which implements the All Kids Bike program.
Thinking about throwing a few bucks to a good cause this holiday season? “We have a lot of schools on our waitlist for funding and for bikes,” says Ryan McFarland, All Kids Bike Founder. “We’re always looking for funding, but what we can raise now – before the end of this year – gives us time to train teachers and order equipment, so programs can be in place for the Spring semester. We can have thousands more kids riding bikes next Summer if we can raise the necessary funds now.”
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