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Thank You Notes and Slippery Bridges

The way our schedule has worked this fall, we have had to be very careful with our time. Every minute has counted! So it's been a challenge to find a time to write thank you notes to the folks who helped us with the pump track. Finally on Friday morning I pulled out the cards that had been written by students so we could all sign them. After signing the cards himself, a 7th grader offered up his back as a writing surface for the others. This was kind of emblematic of the way we have grown as a group from riding together this fall. 
Students all help each other bring the bikes out to the corral when they arrive each morning, and work together to put them back into our storage room after our ride. They have learned to be patient with each other, to cheer each other on, and to help each other out. There are times, still, when kids are jockeying for position and trying to squeeze by each other, but these make for teachable moments. 
The temperature on Friday was just below freezing, but…
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Hanging On

It shouldn't have been a shock that it got cold in Maine this week, but after a fall of unseasonably warm weather, it kind of was. Especially when we have this pump track to ride!
Barb Mills and I keep arriving at school in the frigid morning air thinking "there is no way the kids will ride today," only to hear the tap-tap-tap on the door at 6:55. Our early arrivals begin the process of walking the bikes from the storage room to the corral on the side of the school. As more kids arrive, more bikes get moved. By 7:05 the bikes are lined up outside and the crew is busy doing their ABC Quick checks and snapping on their helmets.
With such a short window of warm weather in midcoast Maine, we are realizing we will need to build a stable of loaner gloves and jackets for kids to borrow. Until that time, we are riding cold weather  routes that keep the speed low and incorporate some climbs to get the blood pumping.

On the way back to school on Tuesday, I rode sweep and got to h…

So, We Built a Pump Track!

This preliminary report of our amazing pump track construction was created by David Wood of The Specialized Foundation. Thanks Dave!

Riding For Focus by the Numbers

BMS's eighth grade Riding For Focus Ambassador, Elliot, put together this infographic about all the riding we've done this fall. Numbers tell a story, and this one is pretty impressive.

Just Ride!

Sometimes you've got to just get on the bike and go. Today was one of those days. It was cool out and wispy mist hung over the athletic fields. After moving the bikes outside and setting them in the corral, the kids jumped right on their ABCQuick checks. They lit up the LEDs on their helmets, and waited for me to finish taking attendance. 
Today's plan: Warm up. Ride. Reinforce skills covered (shifting, weaving, cadence, starting and stopping). Cool down. One of my 7th graders took me under his wing to try and teach me how to bunny hop. I could almost do it!
At the end of the ride I offered a more challenging alternative for kids to get back to school. There is a root-strewn, technical trail that leads back to the fields. A brave few rode the whole thing, but most had to walk at least part of the trail. They were so psyched to have the chance to let loose for a brief moment.

The joy and excitement the kids exude as we ride is palpable. We've begun a tradition of riding over a…

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

The Riding For Focus crew enjoyed another morning of unseasonably warm weather today. We began by taking a resting pulse rate before riding.  Most kids had no trouble finding the pulse at their carotid artery, but we showed them their radial pulse as well. Calculating heart rates is a great way to embed mental math into our riding sessions. Count your pulse for fifteen seconds, double the result and then double it again. That number is your heartbeats per minute (BPM). I asked kids to remember this number so we could compare it to another reading after riding for a bit. 
As we headed toward the dirt roads of Oak Grove Cemetery, the adults watched the kids ride and reminded them how to shift, what cadence to maintain, and how to start and stop while in control. The exit from the fields is a steep, unpaved dirt path, and many kids took on the challenge of this short climb successfully. I only heard a few cringe-worthy gear grindings as a couple of kids tried to shift in the middle of the…

And so it begins!

The mornings have been cool and crisp as we kicked off Riding For Focus this week. Fall is in the air, and we have twenty-one rosy cheeked middle schoolers eagerly hauling their bikes "hand over hand" from the storage area to the bike corral each morning.  They are motivated to get out riding as quickly as possible, so they manage to be focused and efficient, even at 7:00 am.
So far we have been going through the curriculum lesson by lesson, checking off skills as we see them demonstrated. Fitting and checking your bike before riding, fitting your helmet properly, how to start, how to stop, how to shift gears, how to maintain a consistent pedaling cadence. It's brilliant to have kickstands on these bikes so we can create a mobile bike corral wherever we go. Getting kids in close, momentarily asking them to separate themselves from the distraction of those shiny new bicycles, and then releasing them back to their rides after instruction creates the space for clear deliv…