How Our Bike Program Works
Years of research, months of planning by your local bike camp hosts and hours of volunteer ‘spotting’ by wonderful, concerned people from your community lead to your child attaining confidence to last a lifetime – achieved in just 5 days. At our iCan Bike programs, riders learn to balance, pedal, steer and take off on their own, many in five days or less – a feat parents say is miraculous.
Our minimum age for participating in an iCan Bike program is 8 years old, however, there is no upper age limit. Although most riders are between the ages of 8 and 18, approximately 10% to 15% of our riders are over the age of 18. Each rider will be assigned to a 75 minute riding session which they will attend each of the 5 days (M – F). During this time, they will ride a bicycle that gradually introduces the natural instability of a conventional two-wheel bike at their own individualized pace of progression.
Two volunteers are assigned to each rider to serve as their ‘spotters’ providing physical support, motivation and encouragement throughout the week. While all individuals learn at their own pace, some will be ready to ride on two wheels as soon as the third day of camp, and historically approximately 80% of the individuals who participate in iCan Bike ride a two-wheel bicycle independently by the end of our five day program. The other 20% of these individuals make tremendous progress towards this goal.
We strive to teach individuals to ride such that they can be independent lifetime riders. In other words, such that they have sufficient riding skills that they can start, ride and stop their bike without any assistance in a safe and controlled manner. New riders need practice and time to generalize the skills learned during the iCan Bike week. A family member or other designee is trained to continue working with the rider following the program. Having a bike suitable for learning and regular practice are the two most important factors in nurturing a new rider.
We adapt our approach to each individual rider based on the accommodations they may need to benefit the most from our program. Our staff are well-trained and experienced in working with many different types of disabilities and behaviors. We stock all our fleets of bike equipment with ‘tricks of the trade’ motivational tools that we find are often successful to motivate riders to participate and succeed.
Generally speaking, we try to establish early on at our iCan Bike programs that learning to ride is fun but serious business. We use a ‘kind yet firm’ approach so that riders cooperate with the program protocol. We take a team approach whereby we collaborate with parents for their advice and tips on how to most successfully work through any behavioral difficulties with their rider.
Benefits of riding a bicycle
- Increase in self-esteem and confidence spills over into many other aspects of their lives
- Positive changes in family dynamics
- Inclusion opportunities
- Independent transportation
- Recreation improves physical fitness, mental health and overall quality of life
Our program works! Success rate of riders independently riding a bicycle by the end of our iCan Bike programs is approximately 80% and all riders progress and gain skills during the week.
To determine if someone is a good candidate for the iCan Bike program please review the requirements for participation and indicators for success below. Click on the below orange image of the U.S. to find a program near you:
Requirements for participation
To ensure the safety of our riders and the best use of our limited resources we have established certain criteria that all riders must meet to be eligible to attend an iCan Bike program. The rider must:
- be at least 8 years old
- have a disability
- walk without an assistive device (e.g., walker or cane)
- be able to side step swiftly to both sides
- be able to wear a properly fitted bike helmet at all times when on a bicycle
- have a minimum inseam measurement of at least 20” when measured from the floor wearing sneakers
- not exceed 220 lbs.
As you evaluate this program it is important to consider behavior. A person may be physically able to ride a bike, but if their behavior is such that they cannot be persuaded to get on the bike and follow instructions, then it is likely this program will not be beneficial. Although we strive to make the experience fun and productive for all riders, individuals with severe behavioral issues may be removed from the program if their actions are detrimental to the overall function of the program or potentially harmful to themselves or others.
Indicators of Success
Certain skills increase the likelihood of any given rider’s success in learning to ride a two-wheel bicycle at an iCan Bike program including when the rider:
- is able to keep feet on pedals
- is able to keep hands on handlebar
- has adequate strength to maintain riding speed
- has adequate stamina to ride 75 minutes per day for 5 consecutive days with short breaks
- is able to follow basic instructions in a group setting
- is motivated, or able to be motivated, to learn to ride a bike
- has a personal bike suitable for learning
- has an opportunity to practice skills immediately following camp
Riders Need a Bike
All riders must have an appropriate personal bike available for the iCan Bike program by no later than Thursday (Day #4) of the program. Our goal is to transition all riders to their personal bike towards latter part of the iCan Bike program such that they are comfortable with the bike they will be riding at home. Parents may or may not have an appropriate bike available. The video and documents below are designed to help guide parents through the process of identifying and purchasing a suitable bike for their rider.