Monday, November 12, 2012

Ride Like a Kid 6

 Ride Like A Kid 6

Jeff Morgan
                Saturday October 6th 2012 was the International Mountain Bicycling Association(IMBA)  Take a Kid Mountain Biking day, this is a worldwide event that last year had 13,000 parents and kids participating in countries such as the United States, Canada, Italy, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and Malaysia.  2012 marks IMBA's 8th year promoting this event that is aimed to get kids out on the trails with their parents.  In the words of IMBA, "Besides being good, healthy fun, the goal is to develop a connection between kids and the natural world around them. Today's children are tomorrow's land managers and politicians — future decision-makers for important matters like recreation and access to public lands."  While IMBA is the main promoter of this event, it is much too large for them to run worldwide so what they have done is offer resources for  local grassroots organizations to host their own events under the umbrella of the IMBA Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day.  IMBA aimed this event at groups like the Boy/Girl Scouts of America, local riding clubs, race teams, local bike shops, or any other group who can get kids out riding.  For the people organizing the rides they supply commemorative number plates, and Clif Zbars for the kids participating. 
Adam Davidson running the show!

                The local event in Orange County California has adopted the name "Ride Like A Kid" and is in its 6th year and is held at Irvine Regional Park.  This is the first year that I have been able to make it and after having attended "Ride Like A Kid 6" with my three kids, I am sorry that we have missed out on the previous five events.  The RLAK event is not put on by any group, but by an amazing guy named Adam Davidson.  Adam started this event, like the name says, six years ago and it has grown exponentially since the first one.  They even had online registration this year.  In past years Adam has put this event on mostly by himself, but this year he had a great staff of volunteer to help him and a huge amount of sponsors that put in money and products to make this the best Ride Like A Kid to date.

                For my family the event started at 7:00am when I went in to my kid’s room to wake them.  My youngest son was up and ready in a matter of seconds, my daughter, the middle child, was a little slower but still excited to go, my oldest son was nudged in an attempt to wake him and he told me,"I don't wanna go.".  He was then reminded that we were going riding and he was out of bed quicker than he has ever moved in his life.  Breakfast was a combination of Clif bars, bananas, and orange juice that was eaten while I loaded 4 bikes, filled hydration packs and water bottles, gathered pads and helmets, loaded fruit for the after ride potluck BBQ, made sure that the helmets donated by the shop I work at were loaded, and that everyone had shoes on.  We were loaded and we were off!
Shoe are important if you want to ride.

                We arrived at the park at 7:45am and there were already people there.  My oldest son and I made ourselves available to help set up.  The set up was very smooth and well organized.  At 8:00am they were checking families in.  Once again the process was smooth.  You signed your waivers, told them your names, the kids were given color coded wrist bands.   Each color corresponded with a different level of ride.  Then you stepped to the end of the table where each kid was handed a giant swag bag and a T-shirt.  By 9:00am they had checked in over 100 kids.  At 9:30am they gathered everyone up, explained how the different rides would work, got everyone for each ride together and got rolling.
Awesome goodie bags

Organization was top notch

Ryan, Jake, Ryan, and Vincent ready to roll

Small group

the rest of the group

                I had volunteered to help lead or sweep a ride so my two oldest kids and I were placed with the "Groms" group 1 which was for more advanced riders.   My youngest was riding with my mother in law in the "Cool Kids Crew" for kids who could ride in the dirt but were not ready for singletrack action.  Groms group 1 was led by a guy named Kevin and swept by me.  We had 18 people big and small in our group.  We rode our planned route once, but it was not enough for the kids in the group so we did it again and then added a couple more trails to total 9 miles of dirt.  At each regroup Kevin did a great job of educating the kids on trail rules and courtesies, riding techniques, safety, and environmental impact.  I counted and made sure we were all together.
Kevin in the lead

Me bringing up the rear

                On our groups return the BBQ was well underway and the huge raffle was about to start.  We got our food and the kids turned in their wrist bands for two raffle tickets each and the raffle was under way.  Adam had a table full of raffle prizes that had been donated by local bike shops, bike companies, and individuals that was unbelievable.  In the raffle they gave away several bikes, helmets, gift certificates, clothing, riding shoes, cycling accessories, and many other items.  There was a push up contest for a pair of Teva Links shoes, that my oldest son won, and a tube inflation contest for the adults (the winner walked away with a brand new set of riding shoes).  There were kids at the raffle, there were kids riding everywhere you looked, and the best part was that they were all smiling!  Every kid (and adult) at Ride Like A Kid 6 had a great time at an excellently run event.
The big rig
When she races Ryan is never far from the front, it was the same here

Big Kids!

Alyssa and Ryan
A kid named RL Policar follows another kid


                I was able to hit Adam up with some questions about his event and here is how that went:
                This is an event you have been putting together for the last six years. What is it and how did you get started with it?
-Adam Davidson-
                 I had been mountain biking for years when my son was born. As most dads know, ride time comes at a premium when you have kids.  So while my ride time dropped, my whining about not riding increased at an exponential factor.  One day while I was on the IMBA website fantasizing about riding like I did before my son and I noticed they were promoting a “Take a Kid MTB Day”.  I thought the idea sounded cool and decided to post up a similar kid’s ride on a local ride board and to my surprise people actually joined in.  My guess is I was not the only sniveling whining no ride they saying goes misery loves company, right?.  Obviously I am kidding as the sole motivation was to share our love of dirt with our kids and have them experience riding with other kids their age

                How have you seen this event grow over the years?
-Adam Davidson- 
                While the event has seen dramatic growth over its 6 years the “recipe” hasn’t changed much.  We meet, ride, BBQ and kick into the off the hook kids raffle.  The first year we had 15 kids (30 peeps total) rising to over 100 kids this year (200+ total).  What’s amazing is in the early years I knew most all those joining in; clearly not the case these days.  That said, it’s pretty cool to routinely meet new riders and their kids as well as see some of the same faces each year many of which I only get to see and ride with at this event

                What were the stats this year? (how many attended)
-Adam Davidson- 
                This was our biggest ride event to date with over 200 participants but most noteworthy 112 kids!

                 This year it looked like you had a good amount of help with the event. Who is this mysterious staff of volunteers? And why are they so dang good? Don't be afraid to shower them with praise, they did great! 
-Adam Davidson-
                 In prior years I can candidly say I did most all the planning and organizing while others would step up and volunteer the day of.  This year however was quite different.  I knew there was no way I could do this on my own and sent out an open invite to anyone who wanted to help out and plan the event.  We had a chill “meeting” and discussed what we liked about the event and areas of possible improvement.  They all had great ideas.  We divided up the key responsibilities and I trusted them to get the job done and indeed they did.  While many helped out throughout the day of the event the key folks included Dan Sands, Colin Ip, Roxanne Soto, Kevin Gaffney, Steve Larsen, Ken Rands and Lyndie Bradshaw.  They took on coordinating the registration, BBQ and the rides.  All of which took a huge burden off of me. Simply stated there was no way I could have done this year’s event without all those listed above.  While I have told them all multiple times they did an amazing job!  I guess I should also give props to Andy Lightle, who you can consider one of those cherry pickers loitering around the goal and slamming it in while everyone else does the hard work.  This guy shows up on the day of the ride, says gimme the megaphone, does his thing and gets all the cheers.  What’s up with that?  Kidding aside, while Andy and I sort of know each other from the local ride community (in which he is a legend) I didn’t know what to expect when I asked him to help out...and more than help out is what he did.  He did an amazing job of keeping the smiles on the small and big kid’s faces throughout the day.  Thanks Rut!!!

                How long does it take you to get RLAK in motion, do you start a month ahead or are you getting ready for the next one as soon as you are done the current one? 
-Adam Davidson-
                Well for the most part the date is “dictated” by IMBA as it is always the first Saturday in October (hold the date brah!).  Prior to this year the hardest part was soliciting and getting the donations.  The rest of the stuff is a lot of work but mostly in your control.  The problem is if you start too early everyone says call me when it’s closer.  Unfortunately, as it gets closer all the industry trade shows lick in and these very generous companies have real business to deal with as opposed to a talking to a non-industry poser like myself.  Trust me after this year’s event was done, my last plan was to reminded peeps to hold next year’s date.  As soon as I am done responding to your questions, I’ll put RLK on hold, ride more and kick back for a bit.  By the way did I mention next year’s ride is October 5th :)

                RLAK 6 had a ton of sponsors this year who it seemed helped out quite a bit. Tell us who they were? 
-Adam Davidson-
                The Sponsorship continues to grow which has been highly fortunate as the grom count seems to increase at a mind spinning rate.  This year we have record number of supporters. Some have been involved from year one and many more jumping in for the first time this year. Listing them in no special order they include Share Mountain Bike Club, REI, The Path Bike Shop, Fullerton Bike Shop, Orange Cycle, Rock N Road Cyclery, Jax Bicycle Center, Two Wheels One Planet, Jenson USA, Decline Magazine, Dirt Rag Magazine,  Camelbak, RokForm, Road ID, Pearl Izumi, Osprey Packs,  Injinji,  HydraPak, NiteRider, CatEye, Speedplay, Sock Guy, Over The Hump, Enduro Stuff, Wheels 4 Life,  Niner Bikes, Black Market Bikes, Intense Cycles, Ellsworth Handcrafted Bikes, Jamis Bicycles, Tykes Bykes, Giant Bicycles, Focus Bikes, White Industries, Ibis Cycles, Santa Cruz Bicycles, Clif Bar,  InterBike,  & of Course IMBA

                 Who were your biggest sponsors? 
-Adam Davidson-
                As I believe you witnessed at the event and even before I am very vocal in promoting ALL the vendors irrespective of what they donate and the value.  We receive all forms of donations in the form of stickers, gift cards, clothing, gear, components and even bikes. Trust me the kids get as much stoke from a hoodie as a bike (well almost?).  Anyway, while I truly don’t consider any sponsor above the others, this year in particular REI and SHARE mountain bike club who have been sponsors since the first year stepped up in a major way both in financial support and hand on in planning and organizing the day

                 What is your favorite part of this event? Why?
 -Adam Davidson-
                While so much gets talked about in regard to the raffle/giveaways for the groms, from my perspective this is on the periphery of the days relevance.  Yes, it’s cool to see the anticipation and excitement on the kids’ faces during the raffle, but for me and I honestly hope all the kids and parents joining in; the ride is their favorite part.  I honestly love seeing all the kids tearing it up.  While I know my son has a blast riding with tons of other kids his age, challenging himself and others, there is no way he has as much fun riding as I have riding and watching him.  I can only expect this is the same for any parent who rides.  If there is a very close second place favorite it would have to be anything Colin brings/cooks to the BBQ whether it is ribs, pulled pork, brisket you name it!  

                RLAK 6 was a lot of fun, it ran smoothly and every kid (even the big ones) had a smile on their face, is there anything you would change for next year?
 -Adam Davidson-
                 Each year I see things that can be improved.  This year was huge for us.  For the first time we reserved a group site, got a permit and insurance.  It’s an expensive proposition as I carried most all the costs in the past but it was obvious we needed to do it as the event has grown so fast over the years.  That said, as alluded to before a few sponsors really stepped up and also made monetary donations that were extremely helpful in absorbing added costs. as far as improving the event for next year, similar to prior years I will solicit feedback from others and address what can be improved.  one idea I already thought of was to bring a close hander or slim Jim to the event in case anyone gets locked out of their truck :p

                Was there a kid out there who really impressed you this year?
-Adam Davidson-
                Ha, I think this is a loaded question.  I guess the PC response is my son continues to amaze me each time we ride together but all the kids did great today.  Can I stop there?  Honestly, the hardest part for me is not getting to see all the kids ride.  I see the pictures after but since I always ride with my son, I don’t get to witness the kids in the other ride levels big and small ripping it.  That said, this year on our ride there was a grom named Conner who was rocking a 12.5” bike but keeping up with most all the kids even through the sandy sections.  He charged each steep and pointed it down fast on the descents.  His desire and attitude was absolutely killer.  My guess he will be riding better than his old man in a few years.

                Conner happens to be my youngest son!  What can we expect for RLAK 7?
 -Adam Davidson-
                No real secrets here, as the primary goal is to continue to make it more fun and safe for all the kids no matter the age or skill level.  This year we had a bit more representation from the “sponsors” and it seemed to work out very well.  In the past we have had a few professional riders join in.  As you might expect the kid stoke factor was super high.  I wouldn’t mind getting that going again
                This year’s Ride Like A Kid was a great experience!  The kids had a blast, made some new friends, and saw that there are other kids out there that love the dirt as much as they do.  If you missed it this year I would highly recommend that you keep October 5th 2013 clear and make it to Ride like A Kid 7.  If you are not in the area check out the IMBA website at to find an event near you, if there isn't one then take a page from Mr. Davidson's book and start one, you won't regret it.


Andy "Rut" and Adam

Push up contest for Teva Links shoes, Jake won!

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