MARQUETTE - During the summer there are many ways to get children outside and active. This summer a new way to do that is the Youth Mountain Biking Development Program of Ishpeming and Negaunee.
The YMBDP was started to help youth learn healthy living through active lifestyle choices such as mountain biking. It's currently being funded by the Red Earth Classic and is a free program for children 5-years-old and up.
"We do the Red Earth Classic. The first running of that was last year and it was very successful, so we wanted to offer a youth program where we bring kids in from the west end of Marquette County who are interested in mountain biking drive down to Marquette for their (mountain bike) program," said Justin Koski, co-director of the YMBDP. "So our idea was to give those people an option more locally and make it more convenient."
Youth Mountain Bike Development Program co-director Justin Koski, left, talks about how to maintain a bike properly during a workshop May 24 at Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Ryan Kerkela, 9, of Negaunee rides his bike through an obstacle course during a Youth Mountain Bike Development Program workshop Sundayat Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Starting June 10, the YMBDP will have a weekly ride at 6:45 on Tuesdays at Al Quaal for anyone who wants to go for a ride. There will be three riding groups that will be broken up by skill level. There are also monthly clinics being held to educate parents and children on bike maintenance, proper fitting for bikes, nutrition, safety and mountain biking techniques.
"The idea is to use mountain biking as exercise that we are promoting and healthy living," Koski said. "For example, if you are going to be out for more than 45 minutes, bring a snack or some sort of calorie like Powerade or Gatorade."
The YMBDP has rounded up a few mountain bikes, so kids who want to learn mountain biking - but they don't have a bike - can show up and possibly ride. Though the program doesn't have very many bikes, so they are still looking for donations.
"A lot of these kids want to mountain bike, but might not have a bike, so we've rounded up a couple of bikes and we'll continue to look for donations," Koski said. "If anyone has geared mountain bikes that are in good shape that their kids have outgrown, they can donate them to us. We can clean them up and even they are missing parts or have something broken on them, but it's relatively easy to fix we can fix them up.
"That way if we get a handful of kids show up for the Tuesday night ride we can basically give them a bike to use."
Monthly clinics are scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon June 28 and August 23 at the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming. A clinic won't be held in July because the hope is that some of the kids will race the Red Earth Classic Junior Classic on July 26.
"We want to get kids excited about biking," Koski said. "Just as people train for a marathon or half marathon, we want kids to train and do a race in the UP, whether it's the Ore to Shore kid race or the Red Earth Classic junior classic race."
For more information about the Youth Mountain Biking Development Program of ishpeming and Negaunee visit their Facebook page.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.