Riding with the Rolling Tigers
A local Cub Scouts troop expands their bike skills and explores their neighborhood with a little help to have a lot of fun.
My 6-year-old son is an enthusiastic Cub Scout and an eager cyclist, so it felt fitting that I should volunteer lead the Cub Scouts “Rolling Tigers” adventure. Tigers are the first-year (and 1st-grade) Cub Scouts and the “Rolling Tigers” adventure, which centers around bicycles, is designed to impart responsibility, confidence building, and rule-following skills to the kids — all while they’re having a lot of fun.
Getting kids together to ride their bicycles is pretty straight-forward, but because there is a wide spectrum of cycling ability in first grade — from those who might be just starting with training wheels to those already riding on two wheels with some confidence — there was a little bit of challenge in figuring out a format that would work for the whole group. I decided to hold the meeting at the new “learning loop” at Glencarlyn Park with an optional longer ride up the W&OD at the end of the meeting.
We started out with talks about safety and equipment checks and demonstrating hand signals for turns and stopping. We talked about the importance not only to protect our heads with helmets, but also about being visible– and what it means to #BEaPAL. BikeArlington generously provided the Scouts with reflective zipper pulls, stickers, temporary tattoos, pins, bike comfort maps, and some cool shades. It was all a big hit. I figured the comfort maps might be most helpful for the parents, but the kids were excited to locate their school and where we were on the map.
After spending 20 or 30 minutes riding around the loop and practicing the hand signals and looking before entering the trail — and, sometimes, just using brakes at all to come to a stop — a few of the Scouts joined in a slightly longer ride up on the W&OD to the Glencarlyn playground. No accidents and lots of smiles, so I’ll call it a success. A bicycle is exhilarating and empowering — for all of us, but maybe especially for kids; it’s fun to see that possibility spark.