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DARE to ride

Marshaling the troops on Harvard on the way to Balboa Island. In the foreground (from left to right) are IPD Officer Matthew Aragon, IPD DARE Officer Alex Mendoza, and Eastshore's Bill Brooks.
Marshaling the troops on Harvard on the way to Balboa Island. In the foreground (from left to right) are IPD Officer Matthew Aragon, IPD DARE Officer Alex Mendoza, and Eastshore's Bill Brooks.

On Harvard in Irvine, especially on the section between Michelson and University that parallels the Sand Diego Creek bike trail, on any given morning you will encounter a slew of cyclists. Last Tuesday there was a huge pack of riders, all "kitted" out, marshaled, chomping at the bit and itching to go. No, it wasn't Coffee Crew or the OC Cyclists or the BCI ride. It was a group more than 100 kids and supporters from Eastshore Elementary School on a ride to Balboa Island and back.

There were more types of bikes than Bubba Gump shrimp recipes. But there were two consistencies that offset the diversity of the bikes. One was the gray DARE shirt all the kids were sporting, like one gynormous Pro Tour team. The other was the smiles and excitement that abounded. The kids were, after all, on the clock…and in that way being paid to ride their bikes. Smart kids.

The ride was "…the culmination of the school's sixth grade physical education program, according to Eastshore teacher Bill Brooks " We had 89 students, three officers on bikes, our DARE officer Alex Mendoza in the truck. We also had 15 parent volunteers and three teachers. " He added that Jax Bicycles (in Irvine) assisted with staff participants and through bike maintenance training at the school. And principal Lisa Kadam provided sag support during the ride.

The bicycle unit is not new: Brooks has been involved with it for the better part of 30 years. It's one item in Eastshore’s sixth grade physical education curriculum, and runs for six weeks. "DARE, our health, and our physical education curriculum have health and safety components. Students are taught to safely ride a bicycle, and they learn the rules of the road, Brooks noted "The unit is taught collaboratively between the three teachers at Eastshore, Jax Bicycles, and our DARE officer, Officer Alex Mendoza. The three sixth grade teachers names are Patricia Goheen, Patrick Compton, and myself."

Goheen, Compton and Brooks teach quite a well-rounded program. The "courses" include skills tests, obstacle course navigation, how to look over your shoulder while riding, bike maintenance, and riding in a group.

But there more to the class than bicycle safety, added Brooks. "The other purpose of the unit is to show students they have the power to do something positive in their life such as bicycle riding for both health and enjoyment.

For those of us who are interested, there actually are written standards for teaching a P.E. course involving bicycling, and here they are.

State of California Physical Education Standards for Bicycling

1.9 Combine relationships, levels, speed, direction, and pathways in complex individual and group physical activities

2.1 Explain how to increase force based on the principles of biomechanics (this would be pressure on a pedal combined with leg extension)

2.3 Analyze and correct errors in movement patterns

2.5 Identify practices and procedures necessary for safe participation in physical activities (this would be rules of the road, safe riding, etc.)

3.4 Participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity a minimum of four days each week.

3.6 Monitor the intensity of one's heart rate during physical activity.

4.6 List the long-term benefits of participation in regular physical activity. (This connects to the environmental benefits of bicycling.)

5.1 Participate productively in group physical activities.

5.2 Evaluate individual responsibility in group efforts. (This is how we successfully ride as a group.)

5.3 Identify and define the role of each participant in a cooperative physical activity.

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