by Marilyn Stemp
The weather gods smiled down on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) November 17th for the first-ever Strider Discovery Ride helping to create a spectacular experience for 3- to 6-year-old Strider balance bike riders and their families.
Said Strider President Ryan McFarland, “The event has two objectives: To provide a bucket list experience for parents, and an educational, hands-on experience for kids - incorporating the bike. When we find that intersection, we’ve got it.
Yes, it was great fun watching the pint sized riders earnestly tackling the obstacles on their tiny bikes but as motorcyclists, why should we care? Because when kids get on two-wheels this early, before other activities fill the mental and physical space, it bodes well for the future of motorcycle riding. With the help of parents and a dedicated staff, Strider is actively developing new riders.
The Strider Discovery Ride took place on a closed portion of the actual CMS racetrack with guided tours and epic access to the Speedway for everyone. Race pros brought real NASCAR vehicles for interactive pit stop demos and hands-on opportunities. There was a Strider adventure zone for heat races, and up-close access to real fire trucks, police cars and ambulances thanks to partnerships with local agencies. The day was capped with a Strider rider “race” complete with Bubba Blackwell waving the checkered flag and a winner’s circle ceremony that included a revving racecar, trophies and confetti.
For their part, the Strider staff gets high marks for organization. Think about it: 70 kids under 6 on bikes with parents, grandparents and younger siblings in strollers! But the schedule was kept and toddler meltdowns were rare. McFarland says future Discovery Rides could be held at other race facilities, football stadiums, even the nation’s capitol, the Great Wall of China or a European castle. Because creating family events that are fun for everyone ensures participation. And keeping two wheels as a component of that fun should make every rider smile.