Bike rodeo

Early morning rain deterred some from participating in the 2016 Bike Rodeo in Athens but not all. Around 40 people braved the weather to learn bicycle safety techniques.

A little rain never hurt anyone and even though it may have put a damper on the turnout, children still took the opportunity to spin their wheels during the Athens Bike Rodeo at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital Saturday morning.

The annual community event, which was held in the hospital’s parking lot from 9 a.m. to noon, is designed to provide bike safety lessons for children of all ages.

While the early morning rain may have kept some from the event, about 40 people attended of the 58 registered through the hospital.

“Normally, when the weather’s good, we’ll see between 80 and 100 people,” Jim Shultz said.

Children learned proper techniques with speed, braking, balance and safety equipment as they navigated and zig-zagged through an obstacle course made of cones.

“We’ve been coming for years.” Athens resident Tammy Hawk, who attended with the youngest of her two sons, said. “It’s always a great event.”

Athens Bicycle employees offered bike inspections and aid on the course while students of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine offered free helmets and fittings.

“The most important thing is to protect the head, and that’s what we’re encouraging.” Mark Seckinger, president of OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, said.

In addition to helmet fitting and distribution, anyone riding a bike at the event was required to wear a helmet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately half of the bicyclists who were killed or sustained bicycle-related injuries that required emergency department care in 2010 were children and adolescents below the age of 20, and 26,000 of such injuries to children and adolescents annually are traumatic brain injuries.

Meredith Erlewine, an owner of Athens Bicycle, said teaching children how to slow down and stop a bike is just as important as teaching them how to pedal.

“Kids are often a lot more confident getting rolling than they are knowing how to stop,” Erlewine added.

She also called kids a “fantastic” group to work with for their confidence and lack of fear.

“Kids get proud of doing stuff in front of all these adults who are watching.” Erlewine said. “I mean, they see adults go off on bike events and stuff, but this one’s for them.”

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