Trips for Kids Mid-Columbia

About Trips for Kids

Trips for Kids Mid-Columbia is a local chapter of Trips for Kids that is sponsored by Wheelhouse Community Bike Shop. We started our local chapter because a handful of parents wanted access to mountain bike skills building and to create some positive peer pressure to drag their kids out into the natural environment. The mission of Trips for Kids aligns well with the Wheelhouse mission of making biking and mechanic skills accessible to all. We continue to seek partnerships and opportunities to expand our chapter to meet under-served communities.

Trips for Kids Mid-Columbia holds at least twelve events a year. The events include Trail Rides, Shop Days, Mobile Bike Clinics, and Earn-a-Bike workshops. In order to participate, each child needs to be a Wheelhouse member ($20/year, scholarships available), must wear a helmet, and a parent must complete a liability waiver. Wheelhouse will provide a bike if necessary, either one of the five designated Trips for Kids Liv bikes or another suitable bike from our library. Trips for Kids is intended for children aged 10-17 years old, however, we have found that siblings as young as 5 can be accommodated in a parallel family ride when their parent or other caregiver participates.

Trail Riding

A ride leader and two riders ride their bikes through a native plant landscape with a river in the backgroundTrail rides are between 3 and 5 miles and they primarily occur off-road. We have taken children around Chamna, on the trails behind the REACH Museum, at the BMX track, and along the Sacajawea Heritage Trail. Children learn skills like ride and trail etiquette, ABC Quick Checks, and basic mountain biking skills like neutral position, ready position, front-wheel lifts, stopping, gear selection, and so on. These rides provide a safe space for kids to try, fail, and try again. They push themselves beyond their comfort zone in a supportive and safe atmosphere. Trail rides primarily occur in the spring and fall.

Trail rides occur in a low-stress environment, usually separated from vehicles and often in natural vegetation.

Shop Days

Two teens work on a bike that is in a bike repair stand

Shop days serve two purposes: to teach kids basic bike maintenance and mechanics skills and to make sure that each kid has a safe bike that is ready for the riding season. Kids begin by performing a safety inspection of their bike using a checklist and then address any issues. Common activities include cleaning and lubing the drivetrain, tuning and repairing brakes (e.g. new cables, pads, and levers), and tuning derailleurs. Shop days also include bike builds and refurbishments for their chapter, for Wheelhouse, or for other non-profits in the Tri-Cities.

Mobile Bike Clinics

Not every child has an operational bike or a parent who can transport them. Mobile bike clinics are where we bring the bikes or the bike repair resources to the children. These may be mini-bike rodeos that teach safe riding skills, trail rides, or bike build or bike repair days. We provide these free to our partner organization that hosts the children, but we do need sponsorship for mobile bike repair days to cover the cost of parts and consumables.

Earn-A-Bike Program

Trips for Kids is piloting an online earn-a-bike curriculum. In the future, we will be able to access this curriculum and reward kids who participate with a refurbished bike of their choice. We believe that every child deserves a mechanically-sound, safe bike that fits them. Many of the existing bike donation programs in the Tri-Cities focus on small children. However, a bike can change a teen’s life, providing access to recreation and job opportunities and a means to exercise and sustain their mental health. Through the earn-a-bike program, we intend to meet the needs of tweens and teens, providing them the mechanics knowledge to maintain their bikes through the curriculum and the bike itself as a reward.