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Longmont Kids Triathalon

`The athletes are asleep, resting up for a big day of competition early the next morning. In the garage, the team mechanic runs through each bike to ensure optimum performance. I lube chains and adjust shifters. I set each tire to max pressure and make sure brakes aren't rubbing. These athletes will be facing immense physical challenges.  I want their bikes to perform flawlessly and not provide any extra anxiety.
  This responsibility is felt by bike mechanics at every level of cycling competition, in this case the bikes are prepped for the Longmont Kids Triathlon. This is the second year my girls have done it and both times they have had a lot of fun. The city has hosted  this fun event at Centennial Pool for the past fifteen years.
  The kids start the event swimming laps in the pool. Encouraging cheers echo off the walls as each swimmer completes their segment. Then they make a barefoot dash out to the parking lot where their bikes are waiting. Here they towel off, slide into shoes and buckle on their bike helmets.



The bike course for our age group was two laps around the big block containing Clark Centennial Park. Kids pedaled down Alpine Street, turned onto 9th and came up Lashley.  They then had to climb the gradual hill of Mountain View. For the safety of the kids, the bike lane was outlined with cones, and volunteers were spread out along the way to cheer them on.


Once the riders complete this section, they park their bikes and take off for the final run along the walking path in the park. By the time she got to the run, my youngest was slowing down a bit. My encouragement was met with a few icy glares and comments about how much she hates running. But she pulled through and walked  across the finish line powered by sheer anger and determination. Her sister kept a smile and a strong pace all the way to the end. Pizza and ice cream was waiting for each competitor at the end. And after a few minutes of recovery everyone was smiling while they waited for race results.

  This race is obviously open to everyone, so it was interesting to witness the full spectrum of kids on bikes, and try to judge how cycling fits into each kid's life. As I mentioned before, I made sure the girls bikes had proper air in the tires and some oil on the chains. I cover all the minimum safety requirements of bike maintenance, and I try to keep the bikes properly fitted to my kids. As I cheered and watched the parade of kids crank up Mountain View hill it occurred to me that I fall somewhere right in the middle of a 'Time and Money Committed to Kids Bikes' spectrum.
  A few of the bikes in the staging area were carbon road bikes that probably receive a shop-level tune before each triathlon. Other bikes might have been pulled from weeds in the back yard and Dad just gave the tires a squeeze to make sure they weren't flat.



  I understand that in some households the condition of the kid's bikes might be the last priority on the list. And I could never fault a family who can't immediately purchase the next size bike for a kid who's outgrown one.
  I just wish I could reach out to parents and mention one tiny thing that can make a bike safer and more comfortable for their child,  correct seat height. I watched kids riding past, scrunched onto seats too low. with their knees coming up past their hips each pedal stroke. It made my knees hurt just watching them. And the kids don't know anything is wrong, they just think that's how their bike rides.
 I want to repeat myself, if your kid has outgrown a twenty-inch  bike and you can't yet buy them the twenty-four inch that's fine. Bikes are designed to adjust to a wide range of body sizes. The handlebars can be raised and so can the seat. A seat post can be raised all the way to the line engraved at the bottom. If there isn't any indicator line, leave 3-4 inches of post sticking into the frame.

   Many times these bikes even have a quick release seat post clamp, the adjustment can take seconds. Or, take the bike into any shop and just ask the bike employee if the seat height is correct. I'm willing to bet most shops can raise a kid's bike seat for no charge.
Making this one little change could have a major effect on how much your child enjoys riding bikes. And if you think your kid would like to try next year's triathlon, find more information at longmontcolorado.gov.



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