By Jeff Frazer
Caprock High School, Amarillo
AP Government/ U.S. History
I got into the bicycling projects by accident. Several years ago, the Amarillo Library was having its International Week with the featured country being France. The students got extra credit for each activity that they went to. One activity that year was a bike race in Palo Duro Canyon. I told them (Government students at Caprock High School) that if they found out about the race, we would participate as a group. They followed through with their end, and I have been going to bicycle races ever since.
I personally am not a bicycle racer, but these races have been excellent teaching tools.
1. They teach kids to finish what they start. That is the one rule that I have with the students. They must finish the race to get credit. They can’t quit. A few years ago, I had a student with Cerebral Palsy. He could not even ride a bike, but he came with a bike and pushed it for 9 miles in Palo Duro Canyon. That took real courage. Bicycle racing is about finishing what you start.
2. These bicycle races have given students a place to plug into some activity with the school. It gives them a chance to work and laugh and get to know other students from their school. Many times, I have had parents come to these races to cheer on their kids. Many do not even speak English, but they want to support their kids. This may be the only thing that the student has ever participated in at school. These races teach team work and build unity that make the kids do better in school. It gives them an experience they will all never forget. I always hear from past graduates: “Are you still doing the bike races?”
3. I still continue offering the bike races as part of my class because of the support that I have received from the members of the Amarillo cycling community. They always make us feel so welcome and a part of each event. I believe some of the best people that I have ever met are cyclists. I truly appreciate them and the Old Tascosa Cycling Club.
Today, we had 5 senior students race in the Thin Mint Challenge. They were: Eric Suddeath, Jorge Castillo, Jonathan Luna, Brianna Diaz, and Vanessa Valasquez. Eric Suddeath happened to win 3rd in his Beginner/Junior Division with a time of 32:10. I should also have about 10 more kids riding in the Pain on the Plains Race in Palo Duro Canyon on September 24th.