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Strider Cup Race Series gets the little ones on the track

Mary Pickels
| Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Heather Husband and her 19-month-old son Kevin, check out a new Strider bike, as they play in the living room of their home in Hempfield Township, on Monday, May 22, 2017. The Strider bike is a peddles bike that is supposed to help kids transition to a regular bike sooner. Kevin will participate in the Strider Cup in Pittsburgh, on May, 27th.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Heather Husband and her 19-month-old son Kevin, check out a new Strider bike, as they play in the living room of their home in Hempfield Township, on Monday, May 22, 2017. The Strider bike is a peddles bike that is supposed to help kids transition to a regular bike sooner. Kevin will participate in the Strider Cup in Pittsburgh, on May, 27th.
Heather Husband and her 19-month-old son Kevin, check out a new Strider bike, as they play in the living room of their home in Hempfield Township, on Monday, May 22, 2017. The Strider bike is a peddles bike that is supposed to help kids transition to a regular bike sooner. Kevin will participate in the Strider Cup in Pittsburgh, on May, 27th.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Heather Husband and her 19-month-old son Kevin, check out a new Strider bike, as they play in the living room of their home in Hempfield Township, on Monday, May 22, 2017. The Strider bike is a peddles bike that is supposed to help kids transition to a regular bike sooner. Kevin will participate in the Strider Cup in Pittsburgh, on May, 27th.
Lucas Pavelka, 2, of Greensburg will compete in the upcoming Strider Cupe Series Race.
Submitted
Lucas Pavelka, 2, of Greensburg will compete in the upcoming Strider Cupe Series Race.

At 19 months of age, Kevin Husband Jr., or “Bubster,” as his family calls him, seems more interested in spinning the wheels on his 12-inch lime green Strider Bike than riding it.

His mother, Heather Husband, hopes that will change on May 27, when the Hempfield toddler joins other children at SouthSide Works in Pittsburgh for the Strider Cup Series Race.

The event also has a category for children with special needs.

Children use foot power, rather than pedals, to propel their bikes forward.

According to the company, the goal is to teach young riders balance, leaning and steering, transitioning to bike riding without the need for tricycles or training wheels.

Families are coming from across the U.S. and Canada to compete in the event, which requires participants to use Strider brand balance bikes.

Bubster is the youngest rider to date.

After seeing a friend's child riding a Strider Bike on a Facebook page, Husband, 30, ordered one for her son.

Bubster's sister, Hollie, 7, is learning to ride her bicycle with training wheels, a step her parents hope their son may be able to skip.

“It gets them comfortable balancing. I think the main thing is self-confidence,” Husband says.

She decided to register him for the race with the hope that he will emulate other children riding their bikes, Fred Flintstone-style.

Strider Sports International Inc. founder Ryan McFarland says fatherhood led him to develop a bike his then 2-year-old son could master in 2006.

“I grew up around motorcycles and all things racing. ... I've always had a strong connection to riding motorcycles, mountain bikes, anything with two wheels,” he says.

After seeing his son struggle with a tricycle and a small bike with training wheels, he “chopped up” and “stripped down” the bike into what he thought was most relevant.

“It was amazing to see how much he could do on it and the skill he exhibited,” McFarland says.

Soon strangers were stopping the family to ask about the bike.

McFarland built several prototypes and launched his business in 2007.

“All the riding skill that you learn on this bike carries directly over to a pedal bike,” he says.

Two-year-old Lucas Pavelka also will race in the event, riding his custom Suzuki Strider Bike.

His mother, Samantha Pavelka, 31, of Greensburg, says her son calls it his “racing bike.”

She and her husband, Matthew Pavelka, 35, bought him the balance bike after seeing how well he did with a different brand he received as a Christmas present.

“He is on the bike from morning to night,” she says.

Pavelka says she puts her 1-year-old daughter, Eliza, in a backpack and, with Lucas on his bike, they can cover 3-and-a-half miles.

Her son, who she calls “Lucas Mischief,” has a lot of energy, and likes to prop his feet or knees on the bike's foot rests so he can “glide” faster, she says.

He's learning to steer and uses his “foot brakes” to stop.

His bike's adjustable seat will let Lucas ride until he's about 5 years old, Pavelka says. At that point, they plan to transition him to a pedal bike sans training wheels.

The race is billed as a 600-foot plus journey over obstacles such as dirt mounds and wooden ramps.

Those attending can enjoy a free Strider Adventure Zone ride and play area with Strider Bikes to test ride.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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