During the Aldergrove Bike Jam, one determined seven-year-old cyclist wanted to try the more advanced long track at the bike park, which begins with an abrupt drop, then bounces over several hilly rises.
“Are you sure?” Jam organizer and starter Heath MacKenzie asked.
When the young rider nodded, he got a ‘go’ sign from MacKenzie.
Seconds into his ride, the small cyclist snapped his bike chain, but still got a round of applause as he walked his bike off the track.
“Good job, buddy,” someone yelled.
“The idea is that it’s casual,” McKenzie explained.
For 150 young riders and their families, the Father’s Day weekend was an opportunity to hit the bicycle tracks at the Aldergrove Athletic Park for the eighth annual Bike Jam, a free, open-to-all event presented by Fraser Valley Mountain Bikers, Aldergrove Business Association and Cranky’s Bike Shop in Aldergrove – which is owned by MacKenzie.
While Bike Jam aims to give dads a chance to see their kids navigate a range of different courses, no one is excluded, MacKenzie said.
“Anyone who can ride… We welcome other people coming from outside the Aldergrove area, but it’s mostly Aldergrove,” noted the organizer.
Kids as young as two can take part, even ones with ‘run’ or ‘balance’ bike that have no pedals, can participate on the less-demanding short track.
Age categories were from two to seven, then eight to 10, and 11 to 13, plus 14 and older.
This year, because there were so many 13-year-old riders, they were given their own age class.
More challenging forms of racing and dirt jumping “usually start around eight years,” according to MacKenzie.
MacKenzie was one of the people who helped get the Aldergrove bike track built in the first place. Once it was done, it seemed only natural to have a competition, he recalled — a friendly, casual kind of competition, for riders of all ages and abilities.
That was accomplished by the simple expedient of running timed races, where only one rider at a time is on the track and there is no concern about collisions.
He described the bike facility as a “neat community initiative that we were involved with [working], with the Township on the initial planning stages.”
“It’s great to have that facility and we wanted to see it used and used well,” MacKenzie observed.
READ MORE: Big turnout for Aldergrove Bike Jam
In addition to cycling races, scooter competitors got to show off their moves on the concrete riding arena next to the bike tracks.
A team from Havoc Pro Scooters came out and demonstrated advanced tricks, then stuck around to help with the scoring.
Usually, it’s just kids flying down the tracks, but occasionally adults will have a go, MacKenzie said.
“A few years ago, we had enough parents with bikes, that we did have a dad’s race [that I rode in as well],” he remembered.
“It was pretty neat. “
This year, he said, just two dads tried their skills on the long track.
Any level of ability can have fun at the event, and no one should be “scared off” thinking they need advanced skills, MacKenzie stressed.
“That’s something we’re trying to get the word out about. I like to see people who have just started riding come out and try it.”
He would like to see more girls riding, too, noting that some did show up at the event, but almost none of them actually took to the track.
“There were a few girls who were riding and participating but didn’t want to be in the races,” he recounted.
This year, the thing that stood out for Mackenzie was how well-mannered some of the riders were.
“I was really impressed with some of the young people who showed up and helped set up,” he elaborated.
“I had teenagers coming and saying ‘thanks’ and shaking my hand. It was kind of a new thing. It was really encouraging.”
MacKenzie was careful to point out that Cranky’s was not the only business backing the event and thanked the sponsors who keep it free and fun.
They include the Township of Langley, Havoc, Otter Co-op, Aldergrove Credit uUnion, Urban Echo landscaping, Bonetti Meats, Rotary Club of Aldergrove, L.E. Steel, iContext internet service, Norco bikes and Rocky Mountain Bicycles.
Anyone interested in taking part in the Bike Jam next year can contact MacKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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