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Being ‘spokes’woman is a calling for Kids on Bikes director

Thu, Jun 21, 2012

One on One

When Nikki McComsey was a kid, she rode her bicycle everywhere. She was on her bicycle everyday with her family or on adventures with the neighborhood kids.

“It’s an experience I loved,” she said.

Now, McComsey, 30, heads up the nonprofit organization Kids on Bikes and is dedicated to making sure children have bicycles. Bicycle riding promotes health and wellness — but, it’s a lot of fun too, she said.

This year, her love of cycling spilled over to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which will storm the state, and Colorado Springs, Aug. 20-26. She is the Ancillary Events Chair and planning the parties and other events surrounding the race’s Stage 5 stop Aug. 24 in the Springs. She has big plans: Rally Week will feature a bike ride and party at a downtown establishment each night of the race leading up to the Stage-5 finish in Colorado Springs. And of course, she said, there is the big Finish Festival downtown on the day of the event with live bands, food, beer garden, kids zone, and lots more.

You rode your bike everywhere when you were a kid. What did you love so much about biking?

When I was a kid my bike was my life. I rode my bike everywhere and so did all of the other neighbor kids. We would practice riding down the street with no hands, take it down a huge grassy hill to the swimming pool, ride to and from school every day and go on grand adventures together. It is a part of my childhood that I cherish. It gave me a sense of confidence, freedom and responsibility that came with navigating a bike on my own. That experience as a kid gave me an adventurous spirit and a love of the outdoors. Not to mention, I grew up healthy and strong.

What is the mission of Kids on Bikes?

Kids on Bikes mission is to inspire and empower kids to lead healthy, active and happy lives through biking. For us, that means that we provide bikes to deserving kids through an earn-a-bike program; we empower kids in a healthy lifestyle, bike safety and bike maintenance; we create opportunities for kids and families to ride in the community, and we connect and collaborate with partners that promote biking. We want all kids to experience the benefits of riding a bike.

Where do you get the bikes; and how many have you given away?

We are extremely fortunate to have a very supportive biking community in Colorado Springs. Throughout the year we raise money to buy good quality bikes at cost from local bike shops. The bike shops have been incredibly supportive by building the bikes, providing maintenance days with the kids, and helping coordinate our bike ceremonies. In 2011, we worked very closely with CS West Bikes, Pro Cycling and Specialized. Since Kids on Bikes was founded in 2005, 527 kids have earned a new bike, helmet and lock and an additional 331 kids and teens have received a bike through our bike scholarship program.

You took on a pretty big job with this year’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Colorado Springs Stage 5 — you’re planning all the parties. What made you get involved?

Bicycling is a nearly universal experience that most people can relate to. Cycling is exciting no matter how serious you take it. I have always loved biking for fun and recreation and I really believe that it can change the face of a community. After the inaugural year of the Pro Challenge in 2011, I knew I wanted to be involved. There was so much excitement and energy around the event which drew nearly one million spectators. The fun thing about watching a bike race is that you get to be up close and personal — and it’s free!

What kind of parties are you throwing for the community? What is new or different this year about the ancillary events?

Being the Ancillary Events Chair is one of the best ways to be involved with the Pro Challenge. I get to be part of the fun and excitement that promotes public participation with the race. This year it is all about big crowds, big parties and lots of action. Rally Week will feature a bike ride and party at a downtown establishment each night of the race leading up to the Stage 5 Finish in Colorado Springs. There will be a Criterium downtown on the circuit right before the pro racers come through with professional, amateur, citizens, family and cruiser categories. Then of course there is the big Finish Festival downtown on the day of the event with live bands, food, beer garden, kid’s zone, and lots more!

You watched the event last year. What would you say to convince folks to get out to this year’s event?

This is an event you won’t want to miss. The energy and excitement is like no other sporting event. Last year nearly one million spectators viewed the race from the roadside along the route making it one of the largest cycling events in U.S. history. Colorado Springs has the only downtown circuit finish in the entire race this year. That means that there will be huge viewing opportunities from Colorado College all the way downtown where they will be sprinting around the circuit for the win. Ditch work, ditch school, come out and watch!

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