Kids are given bikes and some safety lessons.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Joella Bau­mann

Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon, some of the world’s best cy­clists kicked off Stage 3 of the Colorado Clas­sic — a gru­el­ing 81 mile out-and­back course from Den­ver to Gilpin County.

Sat­ur­day morn­ing, how­ever, was all about get­ting kids in­volved as Mayor Michael Han­cock led a mile­long youth bike ride.

Be­fore the ride, kids and vol­un­teers as­sem­bled 25 new, bright green Huffys and the kids who re­ceived them were fit­ted with hel­mets. The bike win­ners were cho­sen at ran­dom from John Amesse Ele­men­tary School — a north­east Den­ver school that demon­strates high fi­nan­cial need, with 96 per­cent of its stu­dents in the free or re­duced-cost lunch pro­gram.

Lil­iana Her­nan­dez and her 9-year-old son Adrian Garces were thrilled when the prin­ci­pal called to of­fer them a spot at the event.

“Yes,” said Her­nan­dez. “Very much so, this will help us to be more ac­tive.”

Davita Inc., a health and well­ness com­pany that spe­cial­izes in kid­ney care, spon­sored the bike pa­rade while Bi­cy­cle Colorado, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, hosted the event.

The two or­ga­ni­za­tions have part­nered to give away more than 1,000 bikes to youth in Colorado in the past year.

Be­fore cut­ting the rib­bon at the start/fin­ish line and hop­ping on an adult three-wheeler, Mayor Han­cock talked about how health and ac­ces­si­bil­ity were fuel­ing his ini­tia­tives for the city.

“Events like these are help­ing us to tran­si­tion our city, our re­gion, into a multi-modal state,” he said. “We want kids here to grow up and say, ‘Maybe I don’t need to buy a car.’ This is more than a bike ride. It’s show­ing peo­ple of Colorado how im­por­tant it is to be healthy and well.”

Eleven-year-old Car­son Smith crossed the fin­ish line first and gave a big smile when he re­al­ized he had won. “It’s my first race,” he said.

Af­ter the race kids could head over to the fes­ti­val’s kid zone, where ed­u­ca­tion and safety were the goals.

Mo Mc­canna with Bi­cy­cle Colorado man­aged a safety sta­tion where kids were mea­sured for a cor­rect hel­met fit, learned about safety checks, street signs and sig­nals. They also prac­ticed turns.

There was also a snail ride, where kids learned how to ride slowly and prac­ticed quick, safe stops.

Mc­canna said most crashes hap­pen be­cause ei­ther the bike or the rider are not ready to go.

“Most of the kids we see, it’s a good age to talk about rules of the road,” she said. “It’s a space for kids to bring their bikes that shows them safe bi­cy­cling, but also a good time. They won’t keep rid­ing if it’s not fun.”

For the kids from John Amesse, it’s all about the joy of a new bike.

Flora Davis came with her 6-year-old grand­daugh­ter Shane­ice Jhon­son and her friend Mar­cus Jiner.

“I learned to ride it,” said 6-year-old Mar­cus with a smile. He rode his new bike, with no train­ing wheels, by him­self for the first time and crossed the fin­ish line.

Pho­tos by Kathryn Scott, The Den­ver Post

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