LAPEL — It was a perfect day for a ride.

But instead of heading out on rural roads, over a rugged trail or around the neighborhood, young cyclists gathered at the Lapel Branch of the Anderson Public Library for a bicycle rodeo.

Spoke and wheel enthusiasts began to gather at the library around 10 a.m. Saturday. Bike decorating, helmet giveaways, an obstacle course and a drawing for two bicycles were all on the agenda, but Stephanie Holloway, community relations manager for the Anderson District Library, said the event was intended to promote both fun and learning.

“We’re really using the event the kick off our summer reading program,” said Holloway. “The event is also going on at the main branch (in Anderson). It’s a great opportunity to get kids interested.”

Children navigated an obstacle course set up in the library parking lot, guided by chalk lines and arrows. On tricycles, BMX bikes, 10-speeds, mountain bikes and even one motorcycle-style bike, they wove figure-eights through cones and practiced stopping and watching for traffic. All participants were required to wear helmets.

Lapel Branch Manager Kristin Herr was in the spirit of the event, donning a bicycle helmet, even when not riding and clutching a box of chalk to keep the obstacle course in perfect condition.

Young cyclists added flair to their vehicles with pink, orange, green, blue, yellow and white colored tape, shiny handle bar streamers, plastic pinwheels and bright colored straws.

Children were given balloons in tiger, leopard and zebra patterns as they signed up for door prizes and the summer reading program. Representatives from the Travelers Protective Association provided helmet fittings and helped children register their bicycles with the Lapel Police Department.

“We have helmet giveaways, we’ve got two bikes — a boy’s bike and girl’s bike — we’re going to draw for,” Herr said. “It’s just a great event for the community.”

Members of the Lapel police and fire departments relished their roles as obstacle course guides, requiring many riders to repeat portions of the course until they achieved perfection.

“It was pretty easy, but they made me go back and do it again,” said Jenna Clouse of Lapel.

Inside the library, information on bicycle and road safety was available including a pamphlet from the Indiana Bicycle Coalition. Children could also complete an entry form for the Bike Smart 2006 Poster Contest, with the theme: “Bike IN Shape Indiana.”

“We’re doing it simultaneously with Anderson and Lapel, and we expected a pretty good turnout,” Herr said. “It’s the first time either location has done it so we expected people would be interested.”

The 2006 program, “Wild About Reading,” will take place through July 29 and its three divisions are open to children 12 and under, teenagers and adults. Participants in the children’s division record each book they read and receive prizes for reading five, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 books.

Several businesses, organizations and individuals helped make the bicycle rodeo possible, including the Anderson police and fire departments, Anderson Spoke and Wheel Bicycle Club, Barbara White, Bicycle Depot, Culligan, Wendy R. Gooding and Jim Swain of State Farm Insurance, Friends of Anderson Public Library, Indiana Bicycle Coalition, Indiana Safe Kids Coalition, Lapel fire and police departments, Meijer, Riley Hospital For Children, Tim Thompson of Nationwide Insurance and the Travelers Protective Agency.

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