Learning lifelong lessons at Pioneer Bike Club

City of Auburn
4 min readMar 27, 2024

By Jonathan Glover, Communications Manager

Some things in life are never forgotten. When it comes to a seat, handlebars, pedals, two wheels and a chain, a sense of balance and momentum — a childlike wonder transitions into adult fascination, ubiquitous with longevity. After all, anything can be like riding a bike. Especially the exact thing.

Just ask the peppy group of 3rd through 5th graders at Pioneer Elementary School, who soon this spring, will spend several afternoons a week riding the trails, bumps and curves of Cedar Lanes Bike Park. It’s all part of the City of Auburn’s Pioneer Bike Club, an after-school program meant to not only give kids something to do after school, but also teach them how to ride. And how to ride well.

“It means happiness,” said 8-year-old Obed, who minutes earlier was winding his way down a tricky s-curve.

The program is funded through a King County Youth Sport Grant. The KCYSPG supports additional free bike programming at Cedar Lanes including: Summer Ride program, REC Riders, Pedal Power Learn-to-Ride program for the Auburn School District ECEAP Preschool and Transitional Kindergarten and community events.

Cedar Lanes Park — tucked away in South Auburn behind homes and aptly named elementary school — is a unique combination of native woodland, well-kept lawn, and lively playground. Dominating the landscape for many months, a multi-phase, under-construction bike park, set to be finished in the spring.

The bike park includes a new bike skills park, constructed by the City of Auburn in partnership with Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. The clever system of trails and skills courses blend masterfully with the bushy green and dense foliage. If you didn’t know what it was, you’d assume it had always been there.

Phase one was completed last summer, with phase two — the pump track set to open in April. And then, a new restroom facility and picnic shelter later this summer.

Along the same time as the park’s new bike course, the City of Auburn premiered the Pioneer Bike Club, featuring about 40 kids from Pioneer Elementary. Staff meet with kids at school and then walk them to the park each day of the program. All participants are given a journal and record how they feel that day, what goals they want to work on, and how they might get there.

And then from about 3:15 to 5:15 p.m., they can be found out and about mastering the curves.

Many of the kids had never ridden a bike before, especially not on dirt trails.

“Most of the kids were not great riders,” said Recreation Coordinator Kjerstin Lange, who manages the program. “And as you can see, they are now easily circling the trails.” She continues, “ Getting kids active in the park is great; especially for those who are learning to ride a bike for the first time. But that’s not all that Bike Club is about. It builds confidence in kids and empowers them to try new things. It gives them a community outside of their family and their school where they belong. And it lets them just be kids!”

The program is set to pick back up in spring, with additional courses this summer, meant for kids two and a half to 17. They’ll teach bike safety, how to ride, and how to master everything in-between.

For Lori Hawkins, mother of spry 9-year-old Connor who just “loves riding bikes,” the program makes sense — help parents get their kids’ energy out after school? And teach them a lifelong skill? Something this sensible is hardly forgotten.

“I love it,” she said, turning her head to glimpse the passing of neon green helmets half a football field away. “He can come here and just ride.”

Bike programs will be available to the entire Auburn Community this spring and summer. Join Auburn Parks as the Pump Track officially opens on Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m. - noon. Coaches will be available for instruction, bikes and helmets will be available for check out, vendors and more! Check out Summer Ride- a free drop-in program held in partnership with Cycle Therapy Racing, July 9th-Aug. 16 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5–8 p.m.

Summer Ride will offer a free 30-minute skills workshop and open riding in the park with coaches on hand to offer instruction. Bikes and helmets will be available for check out with the completion of a waiver. For the full program lineup visit auburnwa.gov/bike