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Cycling Thu May 05 2011

Trail Days Program Takes Kids Off-Road


A West Town Bikes-sponsored rider at a 2010 cyclocross race / Photo: Amy Dykema

Many people cite a feeling of freedom among the reasons why they ride a bike. In Chicago it can mean freedom from cars and traffic or freedom to get around the neighborhood without relying on a bus schedule.

Outside the city, this freedom can mean something else entirely.

West Town Bikes and The Bonebell are partnering to help help kids explore this feeling with West Town Bikes Trail Days. The program will take youth and young adult participants to Palos Forest Preserve to try off-road riding. It will offer urban kids a rare opportunity to escape the pavement and explore nature while they try out a different way to ride a bike. The first ride is scheduled for May 7.

[UPDATE: The first Trail Day is still pending, due to weather and transportation conflicts. Sorry!]

Volunteer ride leaders from various local cycling teams will take small groups of kids out on the trails, instructing them on the technical handling skills needed to steer bikes over small roots and rocks. Bicycles and helmets will be provided by West Town Bikes and sponsors are helping cover picnic lunches and transportation costs for the four tentatively scheduled Kids Trail Days, but total fundraising goals have not yet been met.

If a participant shows particular skill and dedication, West Town Bikes will sponsor his or her entry in the Palos Meltdown mountain bike race on Aug. 14. A few West Town Bikes riders were seen at local cyclocross races last year, trucking through the sand and mud to the encouraging roars of spectators.

The ride is only open to participants of other West Town Bikes programs to keep the instruction focused and trail traffic to a minimum. For more information email Michael Young at

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