It’s said you have to walk before you can run, but children as young as 2 will compete in next weekend’s Strider World Cup race in Oldsmar.
The daylong Saturday event at Oldsmar BMX, 3120 Tampa Road, is sponsored by Strider Sports International, developer of Strider No-Pedal Balance Bikes.
The Strider World Cup Series gives children ages 2 to 5 the opportunity for friendly competition at events nationwide. The races are perfect for beginners and more experienced readers alike, said Kyla Wright, spokeswoman for Rapid City, S.D.-based Strider.
Registration will be from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The race is at 11:15 a.m.
The Adventure Zone will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Riders can test drive their favorite Strider bike on the obstacle course while playing, learning and socializing with their peers on two wheels, Wright said.
Oldsmar’s Strider world Cup is being held in conjunction with the USA BMX Gator Nationals, which runs Friday through Sunday. Children will ride a portion of the same track used for the Gator Nationals and the UCI Pro Series race featuring the world’s fastest BMX racers, including some who competed in last summer’s Olympics in London.
Strider’s World Cup Races are held throughout the year at events worldwide. The U.S. events are organized and run by USA BMX, formed by the 2011 merger of two groups founded in the 1970s, the American Bicycle Association and the National Bicycle League.
Strider No-Pedal Balance Bikes were developed specifically to help toddlers and young children “learn to ride on two wheels, avoiding tricycle tip-overs and training wheel wobbles,” according to the company. The bikes encourage development of spatial awareness, balance and basic motor skills so children can reach maximum riding potential faster, better and safer, according to the company website, http:www.StriderRacing.com.
Strider Sports International CEO Ryan McFarland, who founded the corporation in 2007, said the company is committed to supporting a fun, safe and healthy lifestyle through bicycling. “Our partnership with USA BMX has introduced hundreds of children to bicycling at a younger age than ever before,” he said.
All young riders must be USA BMX members. The $25 annual fee includes the child’s first Strider World Cup race and BMX membership card.
There are four race classes by age: 2, 3, 4, 5, and older riders race first. A parent or guardian must sign a waiver and provide proof of the rider’s age.
Strider No-Pedal Bikes are sold at Target, Walmart, Toys R Us and other retailers.
For bike specifications and required safety equipment and apparel, visit usa/bmx.com; click on riders, then rule book and download 2013 Strider Racing Rules.
“It’s a great individual sport for little kids to get out there and socialize with other kids,” said Brian Coakley of St. Petersburg, whose son Logan, 3, started last year and is now an avid competitor. “It gives them their independence, and it’s good for the family to go and have a good time and meet all the different people there, see what different athletes are doing.”
It is also an alternative to traditional team sports for kids, such as soccer and baseball, he said. “And it’s a good bonding experience for me and Logan. We travel all over Florida doing all the races.” The duo plan to be in Oldsmar on Saturday for Logan to compete.
Though Logan initially did not like the Strider bike, “I can’t get him off the thing now,” his dad said. A pedal bike was among Logan’s Christmas gifts. In a day and a half, the boy achieved “almost expert status” on that, his dad said.