Youngsters on 2 wheels
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Source of this article - Ventura County Star, February 1, 2008.
Three groups collaborate to give bicycles to 50 members of Boys & Girls Clubs
Christmas 2008 arrived 11 months early for 50 members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Conejo and Las Virgenes who picked up new bicycles this week.
In a gift worth $21,900, students in the organization's programs at Colina, Sequoia, Redwood and Los Cerritos middle schools in Thousand Oaks were taken on Tuesday afternoon to Newbury Park Bicycle Shop to receive their presents.
Scott Mitchell of the Conejo Valley Cyclists club, right, gives riding tips to Jose Caudillo of Thousand Oaks on Tuesday. At left, Mitchell helps Jose secure his new bicycle helmet at Newbury Park Bicycle Shop. The cycling club paid for new bicycles for 50 members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Conejo and Las Virgenes. Newbury Park Bicycle Shop donated helmets for the children. ( Jason Redmond / Star staf)
Blustery winds outside didn't put any chill on the happy children, ages 11 to 14, including some who were receiving their first bikes, said Dianne McKay president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Conejo and Las Virgenes.
"It's very exciting for all of us since this is not something in our budget," McKay said. For some of the children, the high-end two-wheelers will mean more than sheer fun.
"It's freedom, gets them outdoors, helps them get exercise, gets them to school faster," McKay said.
The gifts originated with an idea from the Conejo Valley Cyclists club, whose classic "Cruisin' the Conejo" annually attracts more than 1,100 riders and generates philanthropic funds, said president J.C. Simmons.
"We've given bikes before here and there, and several times up to 30 to the Conejo Valley Unified School District — 200 over the past three years — but not this many at one time," Simmons said at the give-away.
The Conejo Valley Cyclists club members are recreational and touring riders who "want to see the next generation of cyclists," Simmons said.
The club paid for the bikes and also paid for a bus to take the children to get them.
Also involved in the project was the bikes' manufacturer, Giant Bicycle Inc. of Newbury Park, which offered them at what officials described as a "severely discounted rate."
Giant is the world's largest manufacturer of bikes, from tricycles to Tour de France models, said Jeff Resnik, the company's western regional sales manager. The average value of each bike presented to the youngsters was $400.
The third partner in the project was Newbury Park Bicycles, a retail store that had parts shipped to its warehouse and then lugged to the Newbury Road shop where staff volunteers assembled the bikes and figured out where to store them. Also, it donated 50 latest-model Bell helmets.
Even in its 6,000-square-foot store, "we had to work this all out because meanwhile, we're still handling business," said Michael Ciocchi, co-owner with Ben Cox.
A lively carnival atmosphere prevailed as bikes were fitted to each child.
"What's your name?" asked cyclist Rae Lynn Milley of Moorpark, who filled out a label for one of the new bike owners to tie on.
"How is that chin strap?," asked Anthony Aker of Agoura Hills, fitting a helmet on Gustavo Cuadra, 11. The laconic Gustavo said he was "happy" about the new gear.
Once done, bike club members and shop staff members loaded up the spokes for transport to the Boys & Girls Clubs for the students to pick up later, but the proud kids did get to take home their helmets.
A clinic to explain a bike's workings and safety rules will be scheduled soon, said another official of the Boys & Girls Clubs, Madeline Sattler, who described the unexpected gift of the bikes as a "monumental moment."
The bike buffet isn't over, according to its organizers. Simmons said his cycling club had so much fun with the event that it will donate another round of wheels.
"This went extremely well and we were done in 2 1/2 hours," he said.
"We're going to be doing this again soon, as soon as we can arrange part-two logistics," said cycling board member Jeff Vranesh of Newbury Park, event coordinator. "Our cycling club enjoys giving to children in our communities."
Officials said more information about Conejo Valley Cycling is available by calling 961-2508 or visiting its Web site at http://www.cvcbike.org.