The First Annual Avignon Children's Bike Classic

An Enjoyable Event Designed to Build Relationships

by Dale Fisher

Let's face it. It's sometimes difficult to build community relationships in our local neighborhoods. Progress is usually made in small steps. It will likely take time.
Our home is in the Avignon Homeowners Association. Marti and I have wanted to get to know our neighbors and build a sense of community with them. While doing so, we'd of course want to positively influence people toward Christ.
One idea I recently had was to get neighbor children to meet and play with one another, while bringing their parents out on our street to watch their children. As you'll see in the photos below, the parents would also get to know each other — new relationships could start or existing ones could grow stronger.
Here in Redlands, there's an annual bicycle race for professional and amateur male and female cyclists: the Redlands Bike Classic. Seeing how it brought people of all ages together, around a single event, I came up with an idea a few weeks ago: I'd organize the first annual Avignon Children's Bike Classic.
I set the date was set and gave personalized invitations to each neighborhood family with kids. Because one of these dads works in the paving business, he was quick to volunteer to provide road construction cones to lay out the course boundaries. He also chalked off the starting and ending lines and built two small bike ramps. I collected pine cones and plastic milk jugs for the event's slalom portion. Two mothers provided refreshments.
Children and parents invited . . . the course designed and assembled . . . we were ready to start the event. Participants were given colored event armbands . . . they had me fill their tires with air . . . then the fun began.
I thought it best to not describe this as "an event with winners and losers" but simply call it "a fun time," which the following photos will document.
Our first-ever Avignon Children's Bike Classic was indeed unique. It included a unique "bicycle croquet course" on a lawn; a cones-and-milk-jugs slalom; two small bike ramps to ride over; a challenging pine cone slalom on the protected street; and, lined up on the pavement were carefully placed water balloons that each participant attempted to pop by riding over them. On the spot, I got an idea to add another bike classic feature where each participant would carry three beanbags as they rode, dropping one in three collection buckets held by three dads. Finally, as the event ended, the children rode their bikes or scooters ride under a waterfall, compliments of a garden hose.

Click each thumbnail image to enlarge it, read its caption, and shrink it.
• Start in the upper-left corner, moving across to the right.

Dale ties an armband on a girl contntant's armEach participant receives her or his own official event armband.       A young man gets his official armbandDale enjoys tying an official armband
on the arm of participant number two, a.k.a., Scooter Boy.
      An eager participant warms up her engineAn eager event participant "warms up her engine" by doing a practice lap
once one of the dads protects the street with a safety sign.
      Parents come out to talk with one anotherParents come out to talk with one another
and see their children gear up for the big event.

The bike classic event beginsThe Avignon Children's Bike Classic has indeed begun!
One of the girls starts her event while another parent arrives
to check things out. Dale activated his stopwatch and,
with a smile of contentment, blows the official start whistle.
       Dale blows his start whistle for the next participantWhile a few parents ready their children for their event, Dale is about to
blow the start whistle for the second participant: Scooter Boy.
       Scooter Boy leaves the starting gateScooter Boy has left the starting gate! A father waits for him who will soon toss
one of his three beanbags into that father's bucket.
       Scooter Boy tosses a beanbaginto a dad's bucketArriving at the first bucket, Scooter Boy negotiates his vehicle
as he prepares for beanbag drop number one.

Another beanbag is tossed into the next bucketScooter Boy has no difficulty approaching the second bucket
as another dad prepares to accept his beanbag.
      Organizer Dale readies the next participantBike Classic organizer, Dale, readies the next event participant.       Blond Bomber races his trusty scooterOff and riding high on his trusty scooter, Blond Bomber
annihilates handily the slalom portion of this bike classic.
      A boy rides over and busts a balloonFollowing the slalom portion of this bike classic, the kids jubilantly start
the event's popular "burst as many water balloons as you can" feature.

Another participant busts his water balloonBike classic participant Robust Red delights in riding over and bursting
that one evasive balloon he had his eyes on.
        Scooter Boy rides over and detonates a water balloonScooter Boy returns to detonate a chosen water balloon.         Parents and participants pose at the event's closeOnce ended, neighborhood children and parents teamed up
for a special Avignon Children's Bike Classic celebration photo.

Results of our first annual Avignon Children's Bike Classic made the event worthwhile. Absolutely everyone had a fun time. Kids got to know other kids — some had never played with each other. Parents laughed and began to strike up relationships with each other.
The following week, one boy asked me, "When will we have our next bike classic?" Since then, I've seen him a few times, playing with another boy his same age, who lives a few doors down.
Marti and I feel that organizing community events in the neighborhood is so worthwhile. It's enjoyably rewarding for us when we see children and parents meeting and relating with one another. Our ultimate goal, which is to build relationships with neighbors so we can talk to them about Jesus, has just begun. We eagerly look forward to next year's neighborhood bike classic event.

With thanks and in expectation,

31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved (1 Corinthians 10:31–33).

another Christian fish with a cross

Take a look at two other February family photo pages.