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Pedal power

John Simmons | Nov 20, 2017

A cyclist navigates the safety course at the Historic Roswell bike rodeo.

A light Georgia drizzle this past spring couldn’t keep more than 150 of Historic Roswell’s kids from taking part in one of their hometown’s best-known family fun events, the Kids’ Bicycle Safety Rodeo.

The Historic Roswell Kiwanis Club has held its annual kids’ rodeo for 16 years. The brainchild of Roswell Mayor Jere Wood, the rodeo is part of a much larger cycling festival sponsored by Roswell Bicycles Inc. That festival, which includes spectator-friendly professional bicycle races, begins with Wood leading participants on the Mayor’s Ride.

Historic Roswell Kiwanian Ron Jackson has been at the helm for 10 Kids’ Bicycle Safety Rodeo.

“Jere’s still an avid cyclist and wears those funny (biking) pants,” Jackson says with a laugh.

Kids must be at least five years old to participate in the rodeo, which is co-sponsored by the Key Clubs of Centennial, Milton and Roswell high schools and by Builders Clubs from Crabapple and Elkins Pointe middle schools.

This year’s safety fair also sported a new location: the parking lot of Historic Roswell Antique and Interiors, which Jackson says, “brought us right next door” to the action from the day’s professional bicycle races.

At the rodeo, kids first learn the basics of cycling safety through a series of classes. A rigorous five-point inspection of each bike follows to make sure all are in top working order (especially the brakes). Helmets must be snugly in place. Then, it’s off to tackle the obstacle course, followed by a final quiz on the rules of the road. Kids keep their scorecards as souvenirs, while those six years and older are eligible to participate in the Kids’ Race, which is held on the same course the pros use.

“The thing that makes the rodeo so special is that it’s a safe, fun, family event that can be put together on a modest budget,” Jackson says. “The rodeo is something that can be done in any city in America.”

It’s also another example of the Kiwanians’ commitment to kids.

“It’s important for kids to know the rules of the road and to know that there are adults who care.”

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