Amy’s Big Canberra Bike Ride is just days away and organisers are anticipating a blow-out in entries from children if numbers at other ACT cycling events are anything to go by.
Event Manager, Stuart Jones, said children as young as six can ride the shorter 20km and 35km routes as long as they are accompanied by an adult, with younger children welcome to ride in trailers, bike seats or tag-alongs. The longer 68km and 110km are only open to riders 12 years or older. He's already noticed an increase in children’s entries over last year.
“The first 10km for all routes is on roads closed to cars over Kings Avenue Bridge, along Parkes Way and Lady Denman Drive. I think the novelty of riding on those roads car-free really appeals to parents and kids. It’s safe, it’s fun, it’s different and there are hundreds of other people doing it,” said Jones.
He says entry numbers reflect a trend he has witnessed at other cycling events.
Raynie McNee Director of Cycle Education, who organises the kids ride at the Mont 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race says they are considering creating new tracks to accommodate the growing number of children (from under 4 to 13 years of age) who want to take part:
“2014 will be the fourth year we have offered a kids ride. We are limited to 100 children and those places sell out within days. We hope new tracks will allow more children to take part.”
Nathan Edwardson is the Club Secretary for Canberra Cycling Club. They run a junior division in their Wednesday night summer criterium series. They’ve also noticed an increase in numbers:
“Two years ago we would have six or seven juniors racing each Wednesday and they were likely to have parents who were competing anyway. Now we regularly have over 20 kids racing, many of whom are from non-cycling families.”
Canberra Off-Road Cycling Club (CORC) conducts the Scott 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race which incorporates a race for kids in three categories – under 9, 11 and 13.
“We get between 100 and 150 children entering each year and it’s certainly growing in popularity,” said club representative Neil Dall.
CORC recently introduced a weekly social ride for kids 5-16 to cater for growing interest in the sport from the younger generations. It’s early days yet but organiser Kris Nicholls has been impressed with the turn-out.
“We had 11 the first week but it was so hot I wasn’t expecting anyone to turn up. Last week we had 13 children riding and I am expecting more this Friday. There’s definitely growing interest in mountain biking among children and we’re looking to also expand our cross-country races to incorporate younger riders.”
Amy’s Big Canberra Bike Ride is on Sunday 2 March 2014. It is run by Pedal Power ACT in conjunction with the Amy Gillett Foundation. There are four rides to choose from – 20km, 35km, 68km and 110km. Online entries are now closed but you can enter at teh Event Hub (Federation Mall near Parliament House) between 12 noon and 4pm Saturday.