DECATUR – Natiliee Martin just learned to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels.
“I want to learn to ride better so I can do it by myself,,” said the 8-year-old, who attended the Cub Scouts' Bike-O-Rama on Saturday at Stephen Decatur Middle School. She was also sporting a black bike helmet with flexible spikes in a Mohawk shape on top of it.
Her aunt, Rebecca Martin, said she only had to push Natiliee a couple of times before the youngster had it all figured out.
The Cub Scout event was open to the public, but the chilly weather kept the attendance from being what pack leader Jonathon Tish had hoped for. With April upon us and warmer weather on the horizon, he said, he hoped kids would come and be inspired to play outside and ride their bikes instead of playing video games indoors.
“We go for bike rides as a family,” said Tish's wife, Shantel, who is also a Scout leader. She doesn't let their son, Austin, play video games nearly as much as he wants to because she wants him to be outdoors.
A big part of the day was Decatur Police Department's bike patrol officers and Macon County Sheriff's Deputy Shane Wendell, who provided bike safety tips and a course in obeying traffic laws, which bicycles are just as required to do as motor vehicles are, said Officer Robert Murray.
“They have to follow the rules of the road same as anybody else does,” he said. “They probably don't know that. Most people don't know that.”
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Both men enjoy bicycle patrol, and Officer Josh Davis had to rib his co-worker a little about how difficult it is to ride a bike all day for someone “all out of shape.” In turn, Murray joked about how when they arrest someone, they give that person a ride on the handlebars back to the jail.
They walked the kids through safety checks before getting on their bikes to ride, that they should make sure the tires are fully inflated, and the pedals and chain are tight, tuck in their shoelaces so they don't get tangled and cause an accident, and that their helmet is on correctly. They advised that proper helmet placement means the front should be on their forehead, not pushed back, and the chin strap tight enough to keep the helmet in place, but not so tight that it's uncomfortable to wear.
Ted Weiscope, who has been riding BMX since the 1980s, was on hand to give trick riding demonstrations. He competes in the USA BMX competitions and his daughter, age 20, is in a finals competition this weekend in North Carolina.
“Yeah, you get hurt,” he said with a laugh. “You get hurt a lot.”
It takes practice and skill to ride BMX, he said, but he loves it and can't imagine giving it up.
Tish split the kids up into groups and they fanned out across the Stephen Decatur parking lot to stations, where they learned to stop safely, anticipate having to stop, look both ways, give hand signals to indicate a turn, and other traffic safety rules.