Tuesday, October 16, 2007

MORE Bicycling with Boy Scouts

I mentioned a few days back that I'm working with some Scouts (age range 11-15) on the Cycling Merit Badge.

As much as I love cycling... riding with these kids has had its share of frustrations. As I told one of the other adult leaders, "I've always been impatient, so this is a good exercise for me." (We've completed two 25-mile rides now; the grand finale 50-mile ride looms, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, October 27.)

What's frustrating?

We schedule a ride for 8:30 Saturday morning. The participants arrive STARTING at 8:30, and going out to 8:50 or so. (And some NEVER arrive; we end up riding past their houses and rousting 'em.) Their bicycles are in various stages of readiness. We end up being "on the road" by maybe 9:15.

Once we're underway... they don't seem to understand the concept of pacing themselves. One minute they're hammering at 18mph; the next minute (literally) they're plodding along at 7 or 8mph. And of course, the "weakest link concept" is in effect - we end up going the pace of the slowest kid. (There doesn't seem to be one overall-slowest kid, however. They take turns at it.)

Both of our 25-milers have been out the "greenbelt" toward Lucky Peak. With occasional road/traffic exposure. They actually seem to be OK on the road; at least so far I haven't had a heart-attack moment due to a close call. (We've discussed the concepts of safe cycling at length... ya just can never know for sure when they're paying attention.)

One poor kid seems to be gravity-challenged. He's had crashes on both of our 25-mile rides. The first time, "horseplay" was involved. The second, he'd barely started pedaling (still in the parking lot) and I guess he hit some slippery leaves. Fortunately, neither crash was serious.

It's taken us 2 1/2 - 3 hours to finish each of the 25-milers. We need to finish our 50-miler in 8 hours or less. (Oh, what a day that promises to be.) I'm not sure we can all make it. (I'm not sure I can make it, if it ends up taking 8 hours. I could ride 50 miles in 3 hours; I'm not sure whether I can do it in 8 hours; my tailbone will be complaining bitterly!)

3 comments:

danielo said...

I don't envy you one bit.

When I was about 15, my Boy Scout Troop, headed by my father, took at 400+ mile, 8-day trip down the Oregon Coast, from Washington to Oregon. There were about 12 boys around my age. Looking back on it as a 30+ year old adult, I don't know how my Dad managed it. We rode every mile of Highway 101, and there were parts, with trucks and trailers whizzing by on narrow, twisty, foggy sections, where it's a miracle no one died. There was one major accident, resulting in a totaled bike, where a boy paying no attention ran full-on into the back of a parked car. He was uninjured.

Good luck, Bike Boy, and more power to you!

db said...

Oh, man, don't get me started on parents arriving right when an event starts. Uh, you think maybe your kid(s) would benefit from a little stretching or orientation before actually diving into something? Maybe?

The same folks who can't possibly attend a meeting before 9:30 a.m. are the ones who drop off the kids 5 minutes after the scheduled start. And then they probably wonder why they can't find an activity that the kids actually enjoy.

I'll quit griping now, and second Danielo: good luck, Bike Boy. You're definitely doing a good thing here.

Bikeboy said...

Danielo... I've got the cold sweat going, just READING about your 2-lane kid-bicycling adventure. WOW! (I bet you'll NEVER forget that adventure, however... how awesome!)

We crossed paths with another bicycling scout group. Geoff (an adult) later said to the kids, "Did you see that other group of Boy Scouts?"

One of the kids asked, "How do you know they were Boy Scouts?"

Geoff: "Well, it was 6 kids and 2 adults who looked like they didn't want to be there. What do YOU think they were?"

Stretching and orientation would indeed be good, db. I'm sure we'll get a better start on the 50-miler. (It's the ending I'm concerned about.) The PLAN is to camp out there, and then get started on the bike ride in the morning. (Perfect combination... a physical feat that none of 'em have done before, following a night of sleep deprivation.)