- Balance driven youth races
- Community centered biking events
- Propulsion of an event without pedals
Midwest Meetings had the chance to talk to Ted Huettl, Events Manager for Strider Sports International Inc., about the Strider Cup races that started in their home town, Rapid City. They’re doing pretty well already, “We’re looking at Sioux Falls, and we’re doing our Strider Cup Race in Lincoln…” Huettl told us, “We’ve done it in Rapid [City] numerous times as well as Denver. We’re trying to spread to Minneapolis.” This race is an event that started innocently enough, “There wasn’t even a starting gate and it’s just been a natural progression as there started to be more and more kids on these bikes and demand for that.” The growth has been exponential since they started in 2007 with races being supported by USABMX and The Special Olympics. As Huettl put it, “There’s no mountain biking association for toddlers… so we have a nice relationship with the USABMX people, they come to our races and then moms and dads will ask ‘well, where do we go from here’ and we tell them to talk to their local BMX track and they more than likely have local weekly races for them.”
Though the Strider Cup races have grown substantially they still try to stay community oriented. “We try to make these events right downtown and in city centers,” Huettl explained, “The idea there is that there’s more local coffee shops, restaurants, and fun things for moms and dads to do versus…a BMX park where the race would be easier to put on, but not as fun for parents and only bring really serious competitors.” Having the Cup races in city centers not only helps the community but it takes some of the pressure off the event coordinators that are already having to wrangle toddlers, “It can be a bit like herding cats,” says Huettl, “We are dealing with the freshness of a two or three year old, it keeps things light. We try not to stress this competitive nature on it.” Huettl explains that the bikes are all about getting these kids dialed in on balance and coordination, the races are just a fun way to get everyone together. The challenges for putting together the Strider Cup races are as unique as the events themselves. “As far as organizing,” Huettl said, “I figure out things for the track like how to make it new or fun. You get to put yourself in the mind of a two year old to figure out obstacles like a bubble wrap obstacle or something.”
The initial focus for Strider Bikes was for younger children but they also found that youth with special needs could benefit from the balance training. The company manufactures 16-20 inch bikes for some of the older kids. “The bike is the same,” Huettl says, “and it’s trial and error, so we work with the Special Olympics…and the Down Syndrome Society to donate bikes a couple months prior to the races…so that they can work with a coach and learn to ride.” This method has worked well to draw more of the special needs community out to the races and has helped grow the races as well. As the Strider Cup continues to grow and find other communities interested in hosting, they always keep the children as the crux of their goal. Huettl told us about something new they’re trying this year, “We try to do a bike donation where we donate 60 bikes, and if we get a community member to match we can donate 120 bikes to the local population.”
As Strider Bikes continue to become more accessible they hope to hold the races in places like Minneapolis and Sioux Falls.
Starting as a small Midwestern company, they strive to bring not only their bikes, but their community-centered attitude to other like-minded areas. Balance is what the bikes are meant to teach but they do so much more, for children, for families, and for