First Ride

I’m in Salt Lake City, about to embark on a six-day ride from here to Las Vegas. For the last five years Specialized has hosted a ride from its headquarters in Morgan Hill to Las Vegas and the Interbike trade show. This year, the ride is happening a little differently and its being run from their West Coast distribution center, which is in Salt Lake City.

This year the ride is being used to promote one of Specialized’s advocacy initiatives, called First Ride. The purpose of First Ride, in a grand sense, is to put kids on bicycles. Period.

The International Rescue Committee works with refugee families and is currently working with some Burmese families in Salt Lake City. Twelve children were given bicycles at an event at Specialized today. Some of these kids, such as the boy pictured above, had never ridden a bicycle before. After a brief reception when the bikes were given out, the kids participated in a bicycle rodeo where they learned basic cycling skills.

It’s easy to be cynical about made-for-media events. It’s easy to miss genuine experiences, too. Watching the boy above roll down the walkway, feet off the pedals, balancing and then just before rolling to a stop putting his feet on the pedals and spinning down the parking lot was the best thing I’ve watched this week. In my shot he’s being shown how to operate the hand brake—they had to catch him to stop him.

I’m going to get my ass handed to me tomorrow by some very fast guys on our opening 113-mile ride, but to see those kids today makes it totally worth it.

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