KOBRA Rides (Kids On Bikes Riding Around)
What is a KOBRA Ride?
The KOBRA rides are for younger riders with a focus on fun, fitness, and some bike handling. Depending on location, KOBRA rides can include fire roads, a combination of fire roads and singletrack, easy singletrack. As you might imagine, these are no-drop rides that are typically parent/kid rides. The schedule is up to you and the other ride leaders. For evening rides, we’ve typically had good luck with rides starting at 5.30. The rides can be a standing ride - every Tuesday night for instance. Or can be ad hoc.
The rides are typically about [an hour and a half max], but with plenty of breaks as needed (especially when it’s hot out). Of course, helmets required. Water bottles are a good idea.
A Little History
KOBRA rides were started by Team HammerCross as a way to keep these kids riding through the spring and summer after our structured CX program. We wanted the kids to ride for fun and keep it open to all, so we just created standing group rides and cross-posted them with our local MTB club (Triangle Off-Road Cyclists - TORC). Over the last few years, the KOBRA ride has grown into pretty consistent crowds, and a lot of the kids that started riding with us a few years ago are now riding on NC Interscholastic MTB teams (NICA). We attract mostly later elementary through middle school aged kids, with a variety of skills. We have encouraged others to start KOBRA rides, and have been pleased to see other rides pop up in our area. We encourage you to use this name and format.
How to Lead a KOBRA Ride
For anyone that wants to lead a KOBRA ride, please take a look at the tips below. We want the kids to have fun, so they keep coming back!
Location: Pick a location that’s convenient for you, and offers trails that kids with limited skills can do. You won’t necessarily know who’s going to show up, so you don’t want them to get in too deep. Having a standing ride at that location can help you build up an audience, versus constantly changing the location.
As you’re thinking about a location, think about the route beforehand. Choose a route without a lot of technical challenges, or obstacles like narrow bridges that may challenge a new rider. These type of obstacles tend to slow down a KOBRA ride much more than they would slow down an adult ride. Also consider bail out points, so that any riders who are tiring can jump out and head back to the car.
It’s a good idea to carry a small first aid kit, and I’ve saved this link to my phone: http://www.nationalmtb.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/3.61-ConcussionAssessmentCard1.2.pdf .
Should you be interested in learning more, you can take a free concussion assessment course here: https://nfhslearn.com/courses/61064/concussion-in-sports
For each ride, here are some good practices:
* Find a place to gather everyone that is not the middle of the parking lot. As you know, kids tend to ride around the lot without being concerned about traffic, so get them out of that situation as soon as possible (asking them to walk bikes in the parking lot is a good idea).
* Do a round of introductions (help create community).
* If you don’t know the kids, you may want to ask a bit about their skills, whether they’ve ridden singletrack before, etc.
* Talk about the route so they know what to expect.
* Let them know that they should only ride obstacles they are comfortable with. So if they’re intimidated by a section or a feature, it’s perfectly OK to skip it, but the ride leader won’t know that unless they speak up.
* If there are features that you’d like to let them do, it’s a good idea to stop them and get them off the bikes to look at it. Talk about how to accomplish it. And use adults to spot on things like that. Be mindful of both their skill level and their risk assessment skills.
* Make sure you recruit a sweeper from the parents that is familiar with the trail.
* Is also a good idea to get a count of your riders, so you can know when everyone is at the stopping points.
* Treat it like a beginner group ride and make sure to stop at intersections so as to keep the group together. Stop more frequently than you would with an adult ride.
* If it’s a bigger group, you can split into skill-based subgroups and recruit parents to lead various subgroups. If you’re not sure how to split them, pick an easy section of trail to ride first, and see who rides faster/more skillfully.
* Ride more slowly than you would expect. For the kids, this is about having fun riding their bikes in the woods - they generally don’t care about how much ground they cover.