Sep 09, 2023

Kids pedal to victory, complete series of challenges at Westmoreland Fair’s bicycle rodeo

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For almost 20 years, Laura Ament has been running the bicycle rodeo at the Westmoreland Fair — a tradition she kept up from her father.

Though the competition has changed somewhat, Ament, of Unity, said it’s “grown a lot” over the years.

As superintendent of the bicycle rodeo, Ament’s job is to explain the rules and various rides to the participants, as well as inspect their bikes and helmets before the first ride.

She said the inspection confirms the bikes are safe to ride, and not “rusty and falling apart.”

There were three separate rides during this week’s event at the fairgrounds in Mt. Pleasant Township: the steady ride, the slow ride and the obstacle course.

During the steady ride, Ament said the goal is to ride three laps around the course and keep a consistent lap time.

For the slow ride, Ament said “it’s all about balance” because the competitor who completes the lap in the longest amount of time wins that round. If they touch their toes to the ground or run into something, it counts against them.

Ament said all of the kids usually “hate” the slow ride the most.

“I snicker because every year, they complain about the slow ride — they don’t like it,” Ament said. “It takes the most balance and the most skill … they’re getting better at it.”

But for Seraphina LaFosse, winner of the junior division, that wasn’t the case. She said her favorite part of the competition was the slow race.

“It was super fun,” said LaFosse, 9, of Latrobe, “because you’re going so slow, and you’re trying not to touch the ground.”

The last ride of the competition is the obstacle course, which includes following road signs such as mock railroad tracks and stop signs.

Though Ament said the ride isn’t timed, participants are scored on correct use of hand signals and following directions.

For Cole Hribar, winner of the cloverbud division, the obstacle course was his favorite part of the competition.

Hribar, 7, of Smithon, said it was “fun” encountering the obstacles.

Linda Hribar, Cole’s grandmother, said this year was the third year both of her grandsons participated.

“It’s something they really have fun with,” the Smithton woman said. “They look forward to it.”

Both Cole and his brother, Jase Hribar, 10, of Smithton, ride their bikes “constantly” at home, Linda Hribar said.

“They are definitely bike riders,” she said.

Ament said the rodeo is open to children ages 4-18, “although, by the time they get their driver’s license they’re not interested in bicycles anymore, so it usually goes to about 14.” Her only restriction is that the children aren’t allowed to use training wheels.

Linda Hribar said the rodeo gives riders a chance to “be competitive” but also learn about “good sportsmanship.”

After completing all three rides, participants were tasked with identifying the parts of a bicycle during the written portion of the competition, with older age groups having to identify more parts.

Ament’s favorite part of the rodeo is “interacting with the kids.”

“They’re all nervous, and that’s why I try to joke around with them when we start the inspection just to get them to lighten up a little bit, just to have fun a little bit,” Ament said.

Megan Swift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1204, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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