Newark Parks Foundation's 1st Annual Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day event was a 5-mile out/back along the Alameda Creek Trail from Quarry Lakes. Alameda Creek Trail hugs the banks of Alameda Creek in southern Alameda County from the mouth of Niles Canyon in east Fremont westward to Coyote Hills Regional Park in west Fremont for a total distance of 12 miles. The planned 5-mile stretch is a relatively flat dirt (and some gravel) trail, providing a nice balance of challenge and leisure. From the outset, this was a rain-or-shine event.
Before starting, the ride the bike organizer summarized biking etiquette, gave a plug for Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay for making this ride possible, and thanked Cargill for financial support. There was one rule that came across loud and clear: "No smart phones allowed!"
We brought out 44 riders, mostly newbies, representing residents throughout the Tri-City area with an overwhelming majority from Newark. We're very proud that both genders were equally represented.
Though relatively easy to organize, there were some event preparations that resulted in a larger than expected turnout: We provided three loaners bikes and helmets to a few adults, two of whom expressed a desire after the ride to run out and buy mountain bikes; taught one girl how to bike without training wheels; and fixed a couple youth bikes in advance.
We had a few downhill falls, but nothing that ice cream couldn't resolve. In record time—our 6 skilled leaders managed to resolve 3 flats and several chain derails, and installed a tire boot; during that time, one onlooker stopped to ask what group we were with and if they could join next time.
Some kids attended with their parents in tow, but the kids quickly ditched them as soon as they touched dirt. There were nothing but smiles the entire way, even from the two adults with trailers that braved the ride pulling hefty toddlers and the few youngsters that endured a tumble or two.
Our midpoint was a stop at Niles park, where kids mingled with one another, and grubbed on their bagged lunches. Soon after, we headed for the Niles Ice Cream Shop (delicious!). The most spectacular site was the swarm of mountain bikers leaving the trail for the road, "taking the lanes" down 3rd Street toward downtown. Niles residents looked on with amazement as our posse of bikes made the turn onto I street with confidence.
On the return we split into two groups so that the teens with a bit more energy could "go all out" at a faster pace on an alternative route through Quarry Lakes. Before regrouping at the parking lot, a few minutes apart, mother nature decided to pelt us with rain, as if she were giving us a pat on the back. Everyone grinned from ear to ear; after "touching down", some kids performed happy dances in the rain and others didn't want to let go of their bikes and so proceeded to do "donuts" in the parking lot.
One bike leader asked the kids, "What's your favorite, ice cream or biking?" To which the kids replied, "BOTH!"
Thank you Cargill and BTCED (Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay) for your support, and a big hugs to our wonderful volunteer bike leaders, Pete, Mike, Steve, Damian, Karen, and John - we couldn't have done it without you!