Between Memorial Medical Center giving away bike helmets, BMX stunt riders wearing and encouraging safety gear, and a wheel of fortune awarding little prizes like flashing bike lights and reflectors, there were plenty of “roll” models for kids at Saturday’s Family Cycling Festival in downtown Modesto.
On a breezy day with temperatures barely breaking into the 80s, the 19th annual festival drew die-hard cyclists, occasional riders and folks who don’t ride but know a day of kid-friendly fun – free bounce houses, face painting, rock-wall climbing and more – when they see it.
Seven-year-old University Charter School student Kennis Schroeder was conquering all three faces of the climbing wall as her parents, Justin and Ngan, cheered her on. The Schroeders didn’t bike to the fest, but they did drive “our electric car, powered by the solar panels on our house,” Justin said.
Kennis is the cyclist in the family, riding around her neighborhood with friends, and she’d like it if her parents got bikes, too. Justin said they just may do that.
Talking with members of the Stanislaus County Bicycle Club, he was encouraged to learn about steps Modesto has taken to become more bike-friendly, such as extending the Virginia Corridor trail and installing bicycle corral parking downtown.
The cycling festival and the Modesto Bike to Work Day held two days earlier are other efforts Modesto is making to encourage cycling. A few families on Saturday said they learned of, or were reminded of, the festival from advertising on city buses.
Johanna Orozco, her children and several other family members turned out for helmets, the stunt show and all the kids activities. She was taking the bus recently and saw an ad for the festival, which she’s enjoyed in the past. Her 2½-year-old daughter, Neydelyn, is just starting to ride, on training wheels, so was being fitted for a helmet. Her family likes to bike around its neighborhood near Coffee Road and Scenic Drive, Orozco said, and in East La Loma Park. When on a family ride, Neydelyn is buckled in a child seat on her dad’s bike.
Over at the Modesto Rideshare booth, volunteers Annie Norenberg and Christine Murphy, both seniors at Beyer High School, had a line of children waiting to spin a prize wheel for things like flashing reflectors, spoke reflectors, pens, stickers, even T-shirts.
Though she’s been volunteering at the booth since she was in eighth grade – rideshare coordinator Megan Distaso is a neighbor and friend – Annie said she’s not much of a cyclist herself. “I’m not very good on bikes – I tend to crash a lot,” she admitted.
Christine, on the other hand, is in the saddle a lot. “I use my bike every day during the summer,” she said. “I ride around my neighborhood and to friends’ houses.”
And, yes, she always wears a helmet. “One time when I was younger, my dog ran in front of me and I flipped and landed on my head,” she said. “Ever since then, I always wear a helmet.”
She quickly added, “I was wearing one then, too.”
To stay up on bike events in Modesto, go to www.modestogov.com/pwd/transportation/transit/bikes.asp.