The Fifth Annual iCan Bike Camp starts Monday, June 14 and runs till Friday, June 18 at 54 Country in Fulton.
The iCan Bike Camp is a week long day-camp that teaches people with disabilities how to ride a bike.
This year there will be 30 riders ranging from ages 8-75. Volunteers will come out and assist riders as they go through the process of learning how to ride a bike. So, volunteers will walk along the side of their rider, spot them and cheer them on.
Typically, iCan Bike Camps are run in larger cities by nonprofit organizations, but camp host Nancy Hanson decided a few years back to bring the camp to Fulton after her daughter, Shelby, attended one in St. Louis. That's when Hanson became a mom with a mission and wanted to give everyone the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike because she believes there is something more for everyone.
Of the 30 bikers, several of them are adults who are looking to either get back on their bike or ride for the first time. There is one individual, a stroke survivor, who is excited to get back on their bike, and another who had brain cancer as a child and never got to learn.
"It's the neatest camp," said Hanson. "There's so much joy and fun. And it's more than just teaching people how to ride a bike. Our volunteers get really invested in the success of our riders; we all really come together, it's like a family."
The bikes used for camp don't look like typical bikes; they have different apparatuses on the back, so instead of a wheel there is a weighted roller. This helps alleviate any anxiety riders may have with falling off their bike because instead they will just wobble back and forth a bit, which will eventually help stabilize their balance.
So on the first day, riders will bike around with these weighted rollers and as they become more confident, more balanced and improve their steering, at they will move down a weighted roller. Usually, the children are unaware of the weight change because volunteers will have them take a snack or water break. As they make their way down the rollers and make it to the lightest one, it mimics a two wheel bike.
The second day is Tandem Tuesday, where they will get to ride a tandem bike to see what it feels like to ride a typical bike. Since tandem bikes ride much faster, bikers are always excited to hop on their own bike and take off.
Wednesday and Thursday are Launch Days in which those who are doing really well and have their bikes at the lowest roller weight will get the back wheel put on. They are then taken outside and are able to bike around the parking lot where they then work on turns and breaking. By Friday, the goal is to have them transition over to their family bike.
Last year, since Hanson wasn't able to put on a camp, her and some volunteers did bike riding every Monday morning to anyone in the community who wanted to learn how to ride a bike. They ended up teaching 65 children. It was so successful, she is considering doing it again this year in July and August.
"It was so neat because we had some of our iCan bikers who came to practice, but then we also had some typically developing children and they all mingled together," Hanson said. "It was great to see them learning together."
Though all the rider slots are full, the camp is happy to accept more volunteers.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Nancy Hanson at [email protected] or 573-826-0223.