Helmets on and ready to roll, five young bike riders gathered Monday morning outside 54 Country in Fulton to learn to pedal.
An hour and a half later, the learners left with more confidence and no skinned knees.
Rider Kambree Vandloecht, 9, was a bit hesitant to climb on the bike — her last attempt ended in a tumble. But Monday, Vandloecht wasn't alone — she had the support of volunteer spotters.
The free riding practice is the project of Nancy Hanson, host of the annual iCan Bike Camp.
Hanson usually organizes the annual program aimed at helping people with disabilities learn to ride a bike and gain independence in June — this year, she had to cancel.
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanson didn't want to risk the health of any riders or volunteers. However, she also didn't want to let a summer go by without the chance to help children who want to learn. Instead, she started hosting bike-riding sessions in May.
Hanson and volunteers will be stationed outside 54 Country, 400 Gaylord Drive in Fulton, from 9-10:30 a.m. every Monday.
"It is not the same equipment or program as iCan Bike Camp, but it is as much of the same environment of love, celebration and confidence building," Hanson said in an email.
Hanson brought the iCan Bike program to Fulton after seeing her daughter learn how to ride a bike in a similar program in St. Louis.
"We learned how to ride a bike in a week, and I thought it would be impossible," Hanson said. "I got to watch her do something that I thought was impossible."
The free weekly rides are open for all ages and abilities. For those still dependent on training wheels, Hanson and a collection of young volunteers take the training wheels off and attach handles to the back of the bike. Running alongside the bicyclists, they help make sure no one topples over.
Some of those who came out Monday, like Anna Peuster and Harsha Sunder, have been through the iCan Bike program before and just needed a few rounds of spotting to gain the confidence to ride alone.
The only things needed to participate is a bike and a helmet, though this week Hanson had a couple extra helmets.
The iCan Bike Camp will return officially next summer, from June 14-18.