Boulder, Colo. welcomed 18-month to six-year-old competitors for the “cutest race in the world.”
Skye Chernaik has a look of determination on her face. With her hands steadily placed on her handlebars, helmet secured across her chin, Skye knows this may very well be the most important race of her life.
Considering Skye is only three, it’s likely that statement is true (she later placed second in her heat).
To round out the day as a sisterly success, Skye’s older sister, Asa, also won her heat in the five-year-old category, proving that the blood of a champion really does run in the family.
Skye and Asa competed in the Strider Cup World Championship this past weekend in Boulder, Colo., where tots from the age of 19 months through five gritted their teeth and left it all out on the race course, which featured speed humps, gravel trail, and a grass section.
This year, the world championship featured 320 participants from 15 countries and 27 states. In case you’re unfamiliar, Strider Bikes are bikes sans-pedals for young racers learning the key concepts of balance and forward progression.
Founder Ryan McFarland embarked on this journey in 2007 after wanting to give his son the earliest possible opportunity to experience the joy of riding.
The idea to start Le Tour de Tots, as some affectionately call it, began when McFarland’s kids started setting up race tracks in the neighborhood to challenge themselves on their Strider Bikes.
“My kids have been about racing since day one—they were setting up little tracks and starting lines to race each other, and it just kept evolving,” said McFarland as he kept a watchful eye over the races to ensure all were clean and fair in this yellow-jersey environment.
While Skye celebrated the podium with a yellow jersey of her own and high-fives from her fanbase, three-year-old Huxley Fair was just getting ready with his heat to defend his top-10 title after a fourth-place finish at the world championship in 2017.
“Huxley goes on six-mile rides every day as part of his training,” said his mother, Tovah Fair. “He asked for a way to keep track of his rides, so we got him a Garmin Edge and set up a Strava account for him so he can track his ride data.”
When asked about his future goals, Huxley said he has a few things in mind to set him apart from his competitors.
“I’d like to get a bike with shocks on it to race down a mountain that’s at least 90 feet tall,” said Huxley. “I’d like to ride in Italy, too, and take my racing international.”
Huxley was successful in reaching his 2018 goal, stunning the crowd with a gutsy sixth-place finish.
With Strider Bikes having just sold its two-millionth bike, this year’s World Championship also drew attention from across the pond.
Cohen Jagielski, a five-year-old from the United Kingdom, hopped on his first bike at 10 months old and never looked back. From day one, he knew he was destined to race.
“Cohen’s life revolves around bikes,” said his mother, Kirsty Jagielski. “He could ride before he could walk.”
This international sensation went on to place third for the day, solidifying the notion that the British are formidable striders on any race course.
After a gritty day on the course, all riders went home proud of their efforts, but it was Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand who claimed the overall World Championship titles.
As for Strider Bikes’ future plans, McFarland said he is in awe of what the World Championship has evolved to be, from a driveway race track to drawing hundreds of athletes each year who put their best stride forward for a chance at a world title.
No matter in what place the athletes finished, both racers and parents alike agreed that the Strider Cup World Championship instills a level of confidence and independence in the athletes that sitting inside on a computer screen simply doesn’t do.
Is your toddler the next Strider Cup World Champion? It’s never too early to get them striding as evidenced by our fearless racers. This high-stakes race demonstrated that the next generation of great endurance racers is already well on their way to claiming podiums across the globe.