By Elaine Bothe
These kids didn’t know they were groundbreakers at the very first indoor/outdoor bike after school program for Montavilla Community Center!
The kids knew they were having fun, but they didn’t know they were breaking ground as they rode bikes as participants in the first ever kids’ afterschool bike class series at Montavilla Community Center in Portland, Oregon! The program ran for seven sessions starting in late October into December, 2023. This team effort between NWTA and a team of their experienced instructors, Portland Parks & Recreation, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) SUN program and Montavilla Community Center brought together as many as 9 kids each session, learning bike skills indoors and provide a new use for the community center. 14 kids participated at least once during the series, and there was a core group of 5-6 regulars.
Fortunately, we didn’t need to stay indoors all the time. The weather held out on many days for us to ride outside, too. The parklike setting at Montavilla CC has a trail that is part gravel, part asphalt that was lumpy in places from tree roots, to keep it interesting. The kids enjoyed the confidence building fleet of sweet Marlin hardtails donated by Trek as we held relay races, scavenger hunts and played follow-the-leader through the trees and across the fields.
Indoor games included slow races, cornering skills, ratcheting drills, riding on skinny boards as well as relays that included handing off objects such as pool noodles, balls and stuffy toys or tossing them into a bucket. And lots of hot laps on snaky courses outlined by cones!
Not even the ’23 Portland Public Schools teachers’ strike slowed us down, but we did change up the hours for three of the classes during the seven-week course. All the kids made impressive progress throughout the series, including some kids who didn’t really know how to ride a bike or use hand brakes.
One of many highlights of the series included the Green Geckos jerseys provided by NWTA on the last day!
Big thanks to Ray, Robert, John and everyone at the Montavilla Community Center; Robin and Ryan from the SUN Program; and the instructor team led by Elaine Bothe of Elaine B Bikes with instructors Jenn Phillips, Nanne Heijenga and Ruandy “Roo” Albisurez.
Photos by Sean Benesh (and Elaine Bothe)