​FUNdamentals of cycling from an early age

Cries and cheers of excitement are heard as dad passes by on his bike, and the smiles of admiration and wonder on the faces of the young supporters are enough to fill anybody within a twenty metre radius with the same energy. The younglings and future rock stars of cycling are as important as our top athletes, and it’s imperative that the love for cycling within these young ones is nurtured from a very early age.

Cycling offers a number of health benefits and healthy elements like cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle tone, improved coordination and mental health that places an all round positive effect on our bodies.

When it comes to “Cycling for All”, BMX forms a good foundation of cycling skills for a rider to learn from a very young age. Youngsters starting out are able to acquire new development skills such as depth perception, quick decision-making, balance and coordination, which are instilled in them forever during their cycling career. Many cyclists have their roots in BMX before demonstrating brilliance in other disciplines later in life.

 
BMX rising starlets enjoy a rest between races: (from left): Jonathan Duarttee, Salvador Cronje and Lee Singh Photo: Kevin Bender

BMX rising starlets enjoy a rest between races: (from left): Jonathan Duarttee, Salvador Cronje and Lee Singh Photo: Kevin Bender

 

Other off-the-bike life lessons include manners and respect for fellow riders and elders, sportsmanship and a pure love for the sport of cycling.

BMX racing includes quick bursts of speed and skill in a short time period. This way, children are exposed at a very young age to competition environments without necessarily putting as much strain on their bodies as long endurance road races or technical mountain biking races would. Young riders under the age of five can explore their own physical limits on a BMX track as soon as they are comfortable to ride a bicycle alone without assistance.

Cycling is competitive, but also about having fun. Fun is a vital element in the basic foundations of childhood, and BMX brings joy to all ages involved. Being part of a sporting community gives anybody a sense of belonging, which in turn helps youngsters feel included and make new friends. This builds self-confidence in young and older riders.

Cycling SA BMX Commission Director, Margot Gerber, said: “Besides the fact that it keeps the kids active and gives them a sporting interest, this is a great family environment where they learn bike skills by playing on a BMX track. The youngsters are determined and motivated to overcome any obstacle by watching and learning from fellow riders – they are the future of our sport!”

If parents aren’t participating with their children, BMX Parks and tracks are usually situated with seated areas to sit and watch them. This provides a safe practice environment out of the way of cars and traffic.

Cycling is a community sport and encourages participation from all ages. By getting more children involved from an early age, cycling in South Africa’s depth and talent poolwill be bolstered and the sport will continue to flourish across the nation.