When it comes to teaching kids how to ride a bike, Rob Barron is developing quite a reputation as a spin doctor.
Although Barron, the owner of Re-Buy-Cycle Shop in Langford, has been hosting free riding lessons for kids on Sundays since 2016, it’s really picked up lately.
“Lots of moms are connecting through social media,” he said. “I taught five kids last week in an hour-and-a-half.”
It’s been on a drop-in basis so far, but Barron may have to look at asking people to book a spot by email if the increase in demand continues.
“I’m now known as Grand Master Bones, Teacher of Kids to Ride,” he said with a sheepish smile in reference to a moniker one of his partners came up with that has stuck.
Barron has taught more than a dozen children with autism to ride, with many of their parents noting that they struggled to teach their kids to ride for years without success.
“I put no limits on what kids can do,” Barron said. “My motto is if you can stand on one foot and you can walk a straight line, I can teach you how to ride a bike in no time at all.”
While most kids are riding within 15 to 20 minutes, Barron said he’s had several learn in less than a minute after he’s made them feel comfortable about what they’re trying to achieve.
“Establishing a connection through something as simple as finding out their favourite colour for a bike or streamers is key,” he explained. “The record is four seconds.”
“I really enjoy working with kids,” Barron said. “I think a lot of kids respond better when the instructions come from someone else instead of their parents. It’s really rewarding when you see them ride off for the first time, and it’s remarkable how grateful the parents are.”
Barron has continued to provide free refurbished bikes with wheels up to 18 inches for kids who can’t afford one, a give-back-to-the community effort he started at the old shop on Goldstream Avenue before he moved to his new location on Jacklin Road.
He’s also working on a project to send a shipping container filled with bikes he’s refurbished to Africa. He was able to set up a meeting with representatives from across Uganda during a vacation with his wife in March 2020, shortly before the pandemic put the brakes on the plan.
That meeting started the process to set up as a registered charity in Uganda, which would provide a tax exemption that saves about $12,000 US on the cost of the project, he noted.
“The biggest problem right now is that we don’t have the space for a container at the shop,” Barron said. Anyone who may be able to help can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 778-679-9560.