Lessons Learned From the Bicycle

In our blog today we asked Coach Lizzy to reflect on her time at Nine13sports and what she is taking away from her experience with us…

As my time with Nine13sports draws to a close, I have taken some time to reflect on what I’ve learned in my past few months. Beyond the skills and knowledge used to kick-start my career in the nonprofit world, I believe the most important lesson is that you can learn many life lessons from the bicycle. As a kid, I grew up with the privilege of to riding my bike around my neighborhood with other kids, not having to worry about anything except being home for dinner on time. Little did I know, there was so much more to be learned from the bicycle…

The bicycle taught Lizzy many fundamental life skills during her time with us.

Sportsmanship 

One of key competencies promoted during school programming is sportsmanship. Students are encouraged to give their personal best, and cheer on their teammates once they finish. As former MLB pitcher Mike Marshall once said, “Victory is in the quality of the competition, not just the final score.” This rings true not only for baseball, but during the bike simulator races as well. While students are able to see what place they are in, their speed, and how far they are behind their opponent, it is not the final score that holds value. Students who support their classmates and cheer for the final rider are the ones who get praised. While sometimes hesitantly, you bet that final rider still ends with a smile.

Self-Control

When you are 10 years old and have the freedom to ride a bike as fast as you can, it is hard to then be told to slow down and pace yourself. Students in school programs will end their time on the bikes with a “cool-down” ride, in which they are encouraged to stay below a certain speed. For many athletes and competitive kids, this is no easy feat. They are challenged to practice self-control, and learn about the benefits of cooling down after an intense workout. Many students won’t learn this skill until middle school or high school when playing competitive sports, but they will have the opportunity to learn how to do this during Kids Riding Bikes at a young age.

Maintenance skills 

Through our recently launched Kids Building Bikes program, students are taught how to build and maintain a bicycle. As a college graduate, I can tell you that in no time in my life have I been given the opportunity to build a bicycle, or anything even closely resembling a bicycle for that matter. Kids as young as 9 years old can have the opportunity to work with their hands to create and build something of their own. By learning these skills, they will have a better understanding of the mechanical engineering process behind the workings of a bike. In a time where smartphones and Apple TV’s tend to take up a large majority of kids’ free time, it’s nice to see students working with their hands to learn skills that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Inclusion

According to CreditDonkey, a website that provides financial spending statistics, families spend an average of $396 per year on costs related to extracurricular activities. Therefore, only around 23% of children living below the poverty level play sports. With programs free of charge to students and their parents, Nine13sports gives kids of all backgrounds the ability to learn and grow their physical ability. Due to the fact that our bikes for Kids Riding Bikes are also stationary, this gives the large majority of students in adaptive P.E. classes the chance to ride a bike without worrying about having to balance themselves. Staff may also choose to add in a recumbent bicycle based on the abilities of the class, adding even more access to those who may need a little more stability. As you may hear the CEO and other staff often say, the bicycle truly is the ultimate equalizer.