Students have role in Amgen bike race

Event makes way into classrooms

February 15, 2009 

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An avid bicyclist, Curtis Reynolds is taking advantage of the Amgen Tour of California to teach his sixth-grade students about bike racing.

After watching last year's race, Reynolds said students are excited about the race and meeting some of the athletes. Students even are riding their bikes more often, he said.

"A lot of kids don't know much about bicycle racing," the Enslen Elementary School teacher said. "These guys are rock stars in the countries where they're from."

But it's not just about the two-wheel sport. Reynolds and other educators are using the bike tour to teach such subjects as math, science, weather and geography. About 4,000 free Amgen workbooks have been distributed to county schools.

Some Stanislaus County schoolchildren will participate in the bike tour, whether by volunteering, singing the national anthem or lining the route wearing school colors and shaking cowbells.

Hart-Ransom School in west Modesto sits on part of the tour's route along Shoemake Avenue. Some Hart-Ransom students will be cheering on the athletes as they whiz by.

Enochs High School's Interact Club members will carry flags representing home countries of the bicyclists, said John Ervin, Modesto Schools director of community affairs.

Beyer High School's band will perform during the day's events. And the Stanislaus County Office of Education is setting up a booth and giving away fresh fruit and treats as part of the agency's Fit for the Future campaign.

"Bicycling is something we can do well into our adult lives. It's a wonderful opportunity to be outdoors," County Superintendent Tom Changnon said.

Although the racers aren't set to make their way into Modesto until about 4 p.m. -- after schools are done for the day -- many students and parents will stick around near campuses to watch the riders.

Educators have used the Amgen tour as a theme for other activities. Along with the Modesto parks and recreation department and Mocse Credit Union, Enslen School held a bike awareness event where students were given bike helmets.

With all the hoopla, school officials are making plans to ensure student safety.

Because the bike tour will pass near Enslen Elementary, students will be dismissed at the back of the school.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.

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