The Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA) has launched a youth bike skills program they’ve been planning for years. We’ve written about NWTA’s work helping get kids on bikes before – they’ve held mountain biking camps and other clinics to encourage Portland-area kids to get on the trails – but this new program marks a new ongoing effort to work with youth.
The first event was held on March 18, and it looks like it was a success! Here are some photos NWTA shared of kids getting their mountain biking on.
“After being properly outfitted and a safety talk, the students started with practice drills in the parking lot. Once mastered, they made their way across the max platform, down the 205 multi-use path to Gateway Green,” NWTA says in an event recap article. “Several laps later, everyone was all smiling. A success! From learning to start and stop, proper braking, and bike handling, students could navigate the trails with newfound skills.”
Check out the video NWTA shared about the event to get an idea of the work they’re doing.
NWTA teamed up with Portland Parks and Recreation and Project^, a local real estate developer, to provide these classes free of charge. Last year, Trek Bicycle Portland gave a $5000 donation to NWTA to help expand programming to underserved communities, and they’ve also provided loaner bikes for this youth skills program.
NWTA President Juntu Oberg talked about the importance of the Trek-NWTA partnership for the youth bike skills program in an article last year:
“This project is very close to my heart. Growing up in a large working-class family in Portland, recreating outdoors wasn’t easily attainable. Having mountain bike trails in the city along with access to top-of-the-line bicycles (and gear) and professional instruction removes so many barriers to introducing kids to this wonderful sport.”
NWTA says they’ll release more information about programming soon, but for now, we know the next youth bike clinic will take place this Saturday, April 2, at Metro’s grand opening event for Newell Creek Nature Park. This will be for beginner/intermediate kids ages 8-11. You can register for the class here.
If uncrowded mountain bike trails interest you check out the Alsea Falls Mountain Bike Trails on Trailforks.com. Every time I’ve been there I’ve never run across more than two or three other bikers, usually I have it all to myself (but I go during the week). A bit of a drive from Portland, but would make for a nice day trip.
Heck yeah! NWTA has done a lot of good things over the years, and this is one of the best. It’s a great thing to give kids a reason to get outside and get their bodies moving. It’s so easy to get stuck doing online stuff all the time, and it’d be a real shame if kids grew up without learning how to have fun that’s not a computer game.