WINTER HAVEN, Fla.—Every year the Chain of Lakes Cycling Classic interrupts its competition schedule to give some time to the children of the local spectators by staging a short race just for the four-to-nine-year-olds. Any child with a bike and helmet is welcome to participate free of charge.
Since the first run in 2009, The Kids’ Race has been a high point of the day for everyone—the parents like it, the kids love it, and even the competitors have to smile, seeing the toddlers on training wheels circling the course.
This year’s event ran Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3, with road races and a time trial Saturday in Alturas and criterium races in downtown Winter Haven Sunday. The Kids’ Race was right in the middle of Sunday’s schedule.
For the first four years Cycling Classics divided the field in half, and had the smallest children ride just the length of the front straight. This year, the whole field ran together around the entire eight-tenths of a mile course. Even the youngest riders proved able to complete the course, and the extra time on track increased the smile factor exponentially.
Every participant got a medal, and the first three across the line were invited to stand on the podium, but no one kept score, the last riders across the line were as happiest as the first.
While the whole two-day, three-event Chain of Lakes Classic weekend was a huge success (again,) the expanded Kids’ Race was probably the single greatest improvement over past years. Count on it returning as a regular feature.
The Chain of Lakes Cycling Classic is sponsored every year by Cycling Classics, Inc. All proceeds go to the Polk County Humane Society’s no-kill shelter program. Visit www.cyclingclassicsinc.com for more information.
Before the race, the riders are listening to starting instructions from the organizers, listening to encouragement from their parents, and checking out the competition—or lost in thought or nervous anticipation.
Halfway through, the riders pass their cheering parents once again.
Finally back to the finish line and the adulation of the crowd, medals, and the podium ceremony.
(All photos: James Fish/The Epoch Times)
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