As the parent of boys, I sometimes end up in places and doing things that I would not be naturally drawn to, myself. That can include watching sports on TV when I’d rather be watching Antiques Roadshow, or pretending to be interested in a variety of video games that, frankly, don’t make any sense at all. Other times we end up in pretty cool places – like watching monster trucks careening around a noisy stadium at Monster Jam, or learning how to ride dirt bikes with Honda Canada’s Junior Red Riders program that runs this weekend at the Honda Indy Toronto.
The Junior Red Riders program was designed to introduce children as young as six years old to the fundamentals of safe off-road riding. Launched in 2004, nearly 15,000 children aged 6-12 have gone through the half-day program taught in more than 10 locations across Canada.
“If you are able to ride a two-wheel bicycle, you can learn how to ride a motorcycle,” says Larry Lamanna, Manager of Sales and Field Operations, MC at Honda Canada. You might be thinking that handling a motorized vehicle at a young age would be tricky, but in fact kids generally take to it pretty quickly. Lamanna went over all the safety equipment, pointing out shoulder pads, boots and the rest of the lightweight but essential gear necessary to handle any minor bumps or spills that could happen on the enclosed course area covered in soft dirt and mulch.
It’s clear from the protective gear to the professionally trained instructors that Honda makes the safety of their Junior Red Riders a priority. This program was designed to teach both parents and children about proper safety equipment and to ride a motorbike responsibly on trails and roads. The Junior Red Riders lessons progress in stages as children get suited up in smart red and white Fox gear, sized for the right bike, and then listen to instructions astride their rides.
The bikes have automatic clutch, a throttle limiter and don’t stall on takeoff. Engines range from a small, three-speed transmission, 50 cc engine to a larger, four-speed, 110 cc one on bigger machines for older kids. They first learn to feel by foot where their brake pedal and foot pegs are so they aren’t looking down when they are riding. Then they learn throttle control and how to ride in a straight line across the course to stop in front of their instructor. Once that’s achieved, it’s onto the full course as they learn to control their speed and not bump into the other children riding in front or behind them!
My own son was excited but apprehensive at the idea of being in control of a motorized machine. The step-by-step instructions helped him to overcome any concerns and he easily learned to control his bike and was very quickly off and racing around the course. He told me, “At first, I was doubtful of my abilities, but I quickly realized how easy it was and how much fun I could have doing it.” By the end of it, he felt confident in his newly-developed abilities and had a cool new experience under his belt.
If you are attending the Honda Indy in Toronto, the Junior Red Riders program is free with a minimum $10 donation to Make-A-Wish Canada. You can also find a program running near you and learn more at www.JRR.ca.
About Jo-Anne Craine
Jo-Anne is a parent of two and a freelance writer and editor at Type A Creative, which delivers premium editorial services to local and international clientele on a spectrum of projects from article writing and blogging to copy editing and comprehensive manuscript editing in many genres. She writes for Metroland Media’s community section at Save.ca and has been published in YummyMummyClub.ca and Wedding Essentials magazine, among others. You can follow her on Twitter: @TypeACreative1 and Facebook or at www.typeacreative.ca.