Two Wheels of Awesome 101: Dawson Elementary Bicycle Skills Challenge

This fall the students at Dawson Elementary had their first Bicycle Skills Challenge (BSC) which is an advanced level bike rodeo taught by Ghisallo Cycling Initiative.

For two days, over 130 students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade participated in the BSC. They began by answering surveys to assess their knowledge of safe biking techniques prior to the lessons: The 5 Steps to Fit a Helmet, the Power Pedal Position, the 3 Basic Hand Signals, and Scanning. Student who did not know these techniques would learn them within the hour.

The instructors began by coaching the students through the 5 Steps to Fit a Helmet. After the helmets were fitted they discussed easy starting and proper braking techniques.

The Dawson students have filled their surveys and finished fitting their helmets. It’s almost time to bike!

The Ghisallo crew set up a two-lane bicycle course on the school’s outdoor basketball court. Students went around 6 times to practice their skills. First, the kids had to learn how to safely stop using the proper brake levers (instead of pedaling backwards). Two students would pedal up to a little stop sign and yell, “Stopping!” before squeezing their handbrakes as tight as they could.

Students practicing how to stop using handle brakes.

Next, the kids learned how to use the hand signals for “left turn,” “right turn,” and “stop,” and then practiced applying those skills on the bike course.

Students signaling, “left turn.”

Finally, the students learned scanning, one of the most important lessons of the day. Scanning involves quickly looking behind themselves before stopping or turning—this helps prepare kids to look out for traffic when they ride bikes on sidewalks and streets.

Students scanning by looking back at the instructor before stopping or turning.

When the students finished their last rides around the course, it was time to return to their surveys and record what they had learned during the BSC. The Dawson kids had lots of fun, some even wanted to do the BSC again the next day. We hope these kiddos will utilize the skills they learned the next time they get on two wheels!

These kiddos are ready to ride!
Students who did not know how to bike could run around the track holding “handle bars.” Here, a girl practices using turning signals.

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