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“Kids On Bikes” Race Around Downtown Library Deck

Ready, Set . . . Race!

by Cheryl Hodges

Last Saturday downtown Roanoke was crowded with people taking in the Festival’s many events, vendors, and food offerings that have become a staple heralding summer’s arrival. But in the midst of the hubbub, the Roanoke Main Library partnered with Bike Roanoke and KIVA (Kids in the Valley Adventuring!) for a “Kids on Bikes” event on the upstairs deck which attracted a good crowd in their own right.

Bedecked with balloon flowers, and infused with the unmistakable sweet smell of cotton candy, the area was a mini-Festival just for kids … and their bikes. Organizer River Laker, along with helpers Jeremy Holmes from Ride Solutions and Chip Donahue, (from KIVA) scuttled about running interference for all the near-misses as the kids navigated obstacle courses and balanced biking with eating cotton candy—in some cases—all at the same time.

The bike course came complete with a “filling station” and rather fittingly, connected kids with the library by imbuing their library card with special privileges: “Your library card is your license to ride!”

It was a lot of fun “helping the children on bikes,” said Laker. While some came to conquer the obstacle challenges, and see how fast they could go before an adult intervened, one little boy, Finnan Donahue, was just learning to ride a bike. His dad Chip was lending a hand with the classic wobbly ride – that lasted about eight feet or so before Finnan tipped over, with feet somehow ending up tangled in the handle bars.

Donahue said he was “so pleased River invited us [KIVA] to come on out.” He explained that KIVA is an outdoor nature club for families, dedicated to getting families involved in things like hiking, biking, and park clean-ups; “everything we can think of we can do as a family to get out.” They plan an event each month.

Roanoke artist Katherine Devine brought a slew of art supplies and helped a steady stream of children who were decorating their bikes with personalized “license plates” – drawings the kids made themselves and then laminated and hung in front of their handle bars, some quite proudly.

Laker summed up the morning calling it a “fantastic time for families. We rode our bikes through and over obstacles, decorated our helmets and bikes and created bike cards for that fantastic humming sound that we made when we were kids.”

It is somewhat gratifying to know that the nearly lost art of “bike card humming” is being passed to another generation.

With all the video gaming going on, this is no small feat.

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