Breckenridge Bike Rodeo teaches elementary school kids how to stay safe on Colorado’s roads and trails

From experienced bikers to newcomers to Summit County's bike trails, the Bike Rodeos hosted by Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District aim to help keep kids safe this summer

Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News
Fourth grader Alice Grabham dips under obstacles during the Bike Rodeo at Breckenridge Elementary School on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

Another school year is ending and summer is just around the corner.

For Summit County students like Leo Gilbert, a fourth grader at Breckenridge Elementary School, that means it’s time to grab the bike from the garage and hit the trails.

Leo, who is 10 years old and a member of the Team Summit bike team, said he is excited for “riding with my friends and hitting jumps” during summer break.

To help prepare Leo and his fellow students for a season of fun, Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District hosted a Bike Rodeo at the elementary school on Tuesday, May 30, focused on bike safety.

“It’s a finale to the end of the school year,” Deputy Fire Marshal Jackie Pike said of the Bike Rodeo. “Definitely a lot of these kids are going to be out on their bikes this summer.”

With biking being so popular in Summit County, Breckenridge has seen some tragic accidents involving children in years past, Pike said, noting fatal crashes involving juveniles in 2018 and 2019.

The Bike Rodeo — which Red, White & Blue organizes every year for Breckenridge Elementary and Upper Blue Elementary students — helps teach students bike safety while also sharpening their skills ahead of summer.

The event consists of six stations, each of which puts the students through an obstacle course focused on specific skills — like avoiding rocks or maneuvering with one hand — or involves fun games aimed at driving home safety tips. At one of the stations, the students even got their bikes tuned up by professionals from Carvers Ski & Bike and Mountain Wave in preparation for summer.

“It’s a matter of life and death, really, for the kids,” Pike said. “They need to know how to maneuver and be comfortable on their bike. They need to know the rules of the road.”

Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo
Students at Upper Blue Elementary practice road safety skills at the Bike Rodeo on May 27, 2023.
Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo

On Tuesday, dozens of bikes scattered the pavement around the third and fourth graders as they sat listening to a presentation by Lizzy De Juia, a nurse and injury prevention specialist with Centura Health.

“This is Melvin,” De Juia said, holding a small watermelon with a face drawn on it. “He doesn’t want to wear a helmet.”

She also held another smiling watermelon. This one, named Melony, was wearing a helmet.

Then De Juia had students drop the watermelons. When Melvin hit the ground, he split open, exposing the juicy watermelon. But, when Melony hit the ground, she remained intact, still showing her watermelon smile.

After the demonstration, students — who were all wearing their own helmets — went running for their bikes.

Fourth grader Alice Grabham said she was excited to practice her bike skills so she could get better at doing jumps and slaloms.

“I’ve been riding bikes for like my whole life and this bike for like one and a half years,” Alice said, showing off her wheels.

Other students just moved to Summit County and experienced, for the first time, the great trails the area has to offer.

Third grader Addison Ray biked in the driveway and cul-de-sac in Georgia before moving to Colorado this winter. Now, Addison and her father have been doing bigger and bigger bike rides on local trails. Addison said she and her father just recently biked the Keystone Aqueduct Trail. 

“Always wear your helmet,” Addison said. If you don’t, she added, “You can get really hurt.”

Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News
Leo Gilbert, a fourth grader at Breckenridge Elementary School, runs over as many sponges as he can during a drill at the Bike Rodeo on May 30, 2023.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

At one of the six stations, De Juia taught students how to properly fit a helmet. Helmets can reduce risk of serious injury on a bike by over 80%, according to Centura Health. 

Helmets shouldn’t feel too loose or too tight, De Juia said, so choosing the right size is important. She told the students to shake their head from side to side to make sure it’s not too loose.

Helmets also shouldn’t be too far back on the forehead or too far forward, De Juia said, because that can make them less effective or can make it hard to see. The chin strap shouldn’t be too tight or too loose either, she said. There should be enough room to fit about two fingers under the strap.

De Juia also taught the students to use hand signals on the road to indicate if they are turning or stopping, while Red, White & Blue firefighters at another station focused on obeying the rules of the road, like stopping at traffic lights and stop signs.

Bikers use their left arm to indicate if they are turning or stopping, De Juia said. A left arm straight out means someone is turning left. If they raise their left arm and point up, they are turning right, she said. A raised left arm pointed down indicates a biker stopping.

As the kids rode through the obstacle courses, the sun poked out from behind the clouds, hinting at summer. Alice said the Bike Rodeo will help her prepare for the annual camping and biking trip her family takes. Addison said it will get her ready for new adventures in Summit County.

Meanwhile, Leo said that the obstacle courses “go bigger” this summer with Team Summit.

He added a safety tip he had learned: “If you don’t feel comfortable, just don’t do it.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.