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Posted by Editoress on 04/7/04
Sprockids Riding Clinic
Courtesy Doug Detwiler
For most young children, playing in the dirt just comes naturally. Something in our genetic makeup drives our creative instincts as we use our hands to mold and sculpt dirt into some organic shape. Pediatricians even recommend parents allow their babies to eat small amounts of dirt to help strengthen their immune systems. Many of today's youth are still playing with dirt, riding trails, moulding burms and building jumps that allow them to leave the security of Mother Earth. Today's young people live in a very fast paced, demanding, competitive, and complex world. The pressure to conform to a preconceived image is enormous. Sprockids has always been about involving young people in the life long sport of mountain biking while teaching them the skills, values, and strategies to succeed in life. Being active should be something everyone, regardless of age, gender, physical ability, or economic situation should be involved in. Obvious are the health benefits; however, mountain biking also provides a venue in which youth experience and internalize many of the character building lessons that will guide them throughout their lives.
Over the April 3/4th weekend these benefits could be witnessed in their purest form on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. The Sprockids "Coastriders" Club was hosting its annual "Dirt Jump/Skills Work Party and Riding Clinic." On Saturday over 90 participants came out to get their hands dirty, and create new components to add to our extensive Sprockids Mountain Bike Park. Three generations of active individuals worked side by side and throughout the day, sharing a lot more than just riding stories. Each generation would take their turn assuming a leadership role,guiding the others through their specific area of expertise. Adding to the mix was over 20 members of the Norco Factory Team and Staff, who came out to contribute their own special skills and talents. Norco has always been a huge supporter of Sprockids, promoting the importance of involving all ages and user groups to create a strong and vibrant cycling community. The young people at the event were thrilled to have the opportunity to work along side the Pro riders they read about in the magazines and see in the videos. The Norco Crew were extremely positive and approachable and served as great role models for the young riders. The interpersonal dynamics were something very special, resulting in something truly remarkable. The younger riders did some much needed trail maintenance on our network of trails within the park, while the teenagers focused on building dirt jumps, berms, and wooden stunts.
After a very busy and productive morning everyone was treated to a BBQ. Next, it was time to enjoy the fruits of our labour. The tools were replaced with body armor, full face helmets, and the desire to soar. The group was divided according to age and ability. The younger riders headed to the skills area to receive some instruction on riding "skinnies", teeter totters, and ladder bridges. From here the groups headed into the woods to enjoy the newly buffed trails. The teenagers divided into two groups, one focused on dirt jumping while the other one headed off to the very challenging "North Shore Style " stunt trail called "Wildman." Each group had an incredible experience emerging from the woods sporting huge smiles on their faces. Back at the dirt jumping area the group was treated to an amazing show, as the Norco riders and our local teenagers displayed their jumping talents. It was inspiring to watch how the sport has evolved. As the event drew to a close, and the last vehicle rolled out of the park one could not help but feel proud of what had been accomplished during this day and the legacy that had been created for the community. That evening the Norco Crew and many of the parents gathered for a dinner and some great conversation.
The next morning we all woke up to another sunny day on the Sunshine Coast and the anticipation of a day of riding. Once again the Norco crew would provide the inspiration for our young riders to take it up a notch. We met up in the Roberts Creek area, known for its amazing stunt trails, single track, and downhill specific trails. We again divided the riders into groups and set off to burn some calories. That day, one of our special guests, unicyclist Kris Holm, of the Norco Factory Team was here to challenge our trails. Kris is a world famous unicyclist who has traveled all over the world riding trails many of us would have difficulty attempting on two wheels. He was joined by two of our teen age unicyclists James and Shaun. These three unicyclist were truly amazing as they rode everything the coast had to offer.
The turn out for the two day event was incredible, the amount of work accomplished inspirational, and the riding epic; however,there was much more to this event. Today's youth are regularly portrayed as a generation of self centered, unmotivated members of our society who seemingly want everything handed to them. This view may make for a controversial news story, but it really only focuses on a very small segment of youth. When given the opportunity, proper motivation, and the recognition they have earned, young people are a force to be reckoned with. Over the weekend they were the driving force in making things happen. This was their project and their park. They were giving back to society and you could see the pride and feeling of accomplishment in each of their eyes. They had taken ownership of this park and it was theirs to maintain and sculpt in their vision. The Sprockids Park is a work in process and it will continue to grow and evolve, along side the sport of mountain biking.
What happened on the Sunshine Coast can serve as a blueprint for other communities. I have always believed young people are the greatest and most powerful ambassadors of our sport, and when young people become involved in a positive way, amazing things happen. If the cycling industry, whether it be on an international, national, or local level truly wants to grow the sport of mountain biking, it has to get behind programs, like Sprockids, until it enjoys the status of a mainstream activity among members of our society. Mountain biking itself is evolving and today's riders possess a quiver of skills drawn from trials, bmx, downhill, freeriding, dirt jumping, street, stunts, xc and yes, even road. Many young riders work after school, evenings, and weekend to support their riding habit. An ever growing number of them own more than on bike to enable them to participate in the different disciplines. It's all about riding and it's all good!!
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