Spring fever got you geared up to get outdoors and bike with your tyke? Before you take to the open road for some freewheeling fun, be sure your tot is properly equipped and ready to ride.
This Sunday, Beaufort Memorial Hospital will host a kids' bike rodeo featuring an obstacle course where children can learn basic cycling skills and the rules of the road.
Experts also will be on hand to ensure bikes are in good working order and are adjusted to fit your child.
Cycling Sunday takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. in a closed-off section of the hospital's parking lot. The event is free and open to children of all ages.
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"Bicycles are wonderful toys in a safe environment, but once on the road they are transportation vehicles and should be viewed as such," said cycling enthusiast and Beaufort Memorial general surgeon Dr. Gordon Krueger. "No parent would let a child play with the family car. The same level of precaution should be exercised with bicycles."
The kids' bike rodeo is being held in conjunction with the Beaufort Memorial Cycling Classic, a criterium race running May 3 in the city's historic district. Some 200 of the best criterium cyclists in the country will be participating in the competition.
Members of Lowcountry Velo -- the Beaufort-based cycling group organizing the Cycling Classic -- also will be setting up the obstacle course for Cycling Sunday. It will include small rolling hills, a figure-eight track and traffic signs for kids to practice their riding skills.
"We want to make sure they know what to do when they get to a stop sign or yield sign," said Joe DeVito, one of the Lowcountry Velo volunteers working the event. "We'll finish the rodeo with a one-mile ride from the hospital to a nearby neighborhood."
Children will need to have their own bikes to participate. Training wheels are welcome.
"More important than the type of bike is the fit of the bike," Krueger said. "When choosing a bike for your child, think small and used. Do not get a bike that will be big enough for next year or you risk endangering your child by placing him or her on a piece of equipment that is too large to operate safely."
A well-fitting cycling helmet and gloves also are a must. Beaufort Memorial will be distributing free helmets to rodeo participants who need them while supplies last.
If your child is not quite ready to cycle solo, Krueger suggests taking the toddler for a ride in a child seat or cart attached to the back of your bike. Once they are ready to go it alone, start them off on a closed, safe space such as a yard, empty parking lot or park. And be sure to practice what you preach.
"Your handling of a bike and adherence to the rules you're teaching will leave a lasting impression on your child," Krueger said.
Children 12 and younger will also have the opportunity to race down the finishing stretch of the .6-mile Cycling Classic course just prior to the start of the professional competition Tuesday. The kids' event will start at 5 p.m., followed by the women's heat at 6 and the men's race at 7:30.
Registration for the young cyclists starts at 4 p.m. at the clock on Bay Street. Children who wish to participate must wear a helmet.