By Susan Nolan
For many adults, bicycles and happy childhood memories go hand in hand. Having our own set of wheels gave us confidence and independence—and fun, especially in the summer. We roamed the neighborhood with friends, raced along trails, and even ran an occasional errand for Mom and Dad.
According to Rachel Varn, however, knowing how to ride a bike is no longer a given. Many children grow into adults who have never learned the basics of bicycling. After assisting friends in teaching their children to ride, she founded PedalPower Kids in 2018. She is now on a mission to spread the joy of safe bicycling.
The Severna Park-based business offers individual and group classes as well as summer camps and clubs. They utilize public trails, parks and parking lots throughout the Annapolis area.
“Not every parent is the ideal bike instructor,” says Varn. “Depending on the parent-child dynamic, learning to ride a bike can be frustrating and time consuming.”
Once everyone in the family is comfortable on a bike, it’s not uncommon to see bicycling become a hobby for the entire family. Varn finds this aspect of her work especially satisfying.
“Parents want their kids to ride,” says Varn. “But often, families are over-scheduled.” Hiring outside help offers the bonus of making learning to ride a bike a priority and no longer a point of procrastination. While some children will learn to ride in just one or two sessions, four or more are recommended to give them additional confidence and to teach safe bicycling practices.
Varn sees many benefits to bicycling. The exercise and time outdoors promote both mental and physical health, and of course, using bikes as transportation is good for the environment. “There are social benefits, too,” she adds. “Our clubs give kids the opportunity to be ‘on a team’ without the competition and the opportunity to socialize with other kids in a safe environment.”
As for adults who never learned to ride as children or just feel a little rusty because they haven’t been on a banana seat in years, PedalPower Kids offers private lessons. For more information, visit pedalpowerkids.com.