A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Kidsworx Rotorua With Marcello Ojerio

Marcello Ojerio assists a rider at the 2017 Kidsworx Rotorua pump track

Crankworx is truly a celebration of everything magical about mountain biking. The world class events take place in New Zealand, France, Austria, and Canada. Each year, Mountain Bike Rotorua helps put together the Crankworx event in New Zealand. One of the fun offshoots of the Crankworx spectacle is the family-focused Kidsworx where young riders get to learn, compete, and meet the stars.

Marcello Ojerio assists a rider at the 2017 Kidsworx Rotorua pump track

Marcello Ojerio and his staff played host to hundreds of kids at Kidsworx as part of Crankworx Rotorua.

Three years ago, the creators of Kidsworx approached Mountain Bike Rotorua’s own full-time tour guide Marcello Ojerio to gauge his availability and interest in starting the Kidsworx program in Rotrua. Three years later, Marcello still heads up some of the kids’ events/facilities each year. The events include: Kidsworx Pump Track Skills Coaching, Kidsworx Pimp My Ride, Tiki Tour Scavenger Hunt, and the ever evolving pint-sized Tamariki flow track. Marcello’s colleague, Tim Farmer, focuses on making sure the Kidsworx racing events (Hipster DH, Skyline Warrior DH, Pump Track Challenge) are organized, staffed and managed throughout the Crankworx week.

Planning for Kidsworx Rotorua starts right after Christmas. Staff and volunteers focus on improving the trail system, the overall site, and the Tamariki track. Marcello works tirelessly to have everything in tip-top shape for the event’s commencement each year.

Kids pump track at Kidsworx Rotorua 2017

This is the pump track designed specifically for young children at Kidsworx Rotorua.

Kidsworx Rotorua has grown in popularity for the events that Marcello supervises. Last year’s participation numbers reached 360 kids. Interestingly, 50 to 60 percent of those children were 5 and under. This was a significant increase in numbers from the previous year when participation was only 258 kids.

Volunteers are Critical

For the week of Kidsworx, Marcello and his wife Heidie work full time with the children. Thankfully, they aren’t alone. Last year they had about 300 individuals sign up to volunteer for the Crankworx event in various capacities. Over the course of the three years that Marcello has assisted with the Kidsworx events, he has had a core group of volunteers come back each year to help out.

Everyone works as a team to make Kidsworx an unforgettable experience. Grandparents, parents, and many biking enthusiasts volunteer to ensure that Kidsworx is an annual hit that keeps families wanting to come back year after year. Volunteering isn’t just a quick endeavor because it’s a significant investment of time. Most work all day with the kids to create a memorable, upbeat, positive experience for everyone involved. Volunteers spend an average of six to seven hours per day at Crankworx. Marcello works to set up the entire area so it not only caters to the kids participating in the event but the entire family and the volunteers that make it all happen.

Coaching the Groms

The large number of participants results in a wide variety of needs. Smaller children really just want the opportunity to ride their bikes.  Older children came to hone and learn new biking skills. Last year, to meet the needs of the older children Marcello brought in the accomplished athlete and educator Mark Leishman to work with the more experienced children. He was able to pass on pointers and tips to the parents on how to improve their kids on the pump track. Recently, involving the parents in the various aspects of Kidsworx has become a focus for Marcello in order to enrich the experience for the children and everyone involved.

Young riders earning their turns at Kidsworx Rotorua

Gravity doesn’t care how old you are. Young riders have to earn the descent just like you and me.

Fun Family Activities

Kidsworx isn’t about just riding. It’s about creating an atmosphere full of activities the whole family can enjoy across an entire holiday week. Event organizers have added a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt complete with a winner at the end of the day. However, not just the winner gets the prize, every kid gets a little something and fun is had by all involved.

Kidsworx Rotorua Sponsors

The success of Kidsworx also relies on the generosity of sponsors. Sponsors donate items such as tee shirts, hats, and stickers. The Pimp My Ride event utilizes donated stickers and other accoutrements so kids can dress up their bikes. Marcello has noticed that several kids’ bikes have been coated with more than one year’s worth of decals. Positive proof that families are making the annual event one of their mandatory stops for summer fun.

When asked about the gear used at the event, Marcello was quick to point out Giant Bicycles of New Zealand was key to the success of Kidsworx. He said “They worked to ensure that all the kids have bikes to fit their size by providing all the demos. Parents are often shocked that even their two or three year old toddler has a bike readily available.”

Keeping it Positive

The popularity of Crankworx and Kidsworx continues to grow by leaps and bounds. However, Marcello still expresses his heartfelt dream and goal to keep the event’s focus on kids and their families having fun. “I don’t want it to get so big that we have to have so much oversight and supervision, we lose the spontaneity that you are seeing in some of these pictures, seeing in these videos. So I feel that is the biggest challenge for me. It is not getting more stickers or getting more bikes. It is making sure that we don’t change that positive vibe that immediately greets every single family, every single kid that enters our space.”

Marcello’s lifelong love of bikes and working in bike shops has bestowed the nickname ‘Bike Guy’ on him and he wears it proudly. He loves inspiring the enthusiasm and passion of biking in children and their families. There is little doubt that every coming year Kidsworx will continue to leave happy families smiling.

Marcello OjerioWe cannot thank Marcello Ojerio enough for taking the time to contribute to this article. His genuine, unabated devotion to mountain biking, hospitality and overall heartiness make him one of the true ambassadors of Crankworx. Follow him on Facebook here.

Ezra NewickEzra Newick was kind enough to give us permission to use some of his photographs from Crankworx Rotoura. Thank you Ezra! You can contact Ezra through Facebook here. And, you can follow Ezra on Instagram @mrezra here.

Leidy MonsalvesLeidy Monsalves is another contributing photographer for this article. Follow Leidy on Instagram @lelemonsalves to see more stunning photos of colorful New Zealand.

Trikes To Trails Is A Great Way To Get Your Young Rider Mountain Biking

Trikes to Trails program in Salt Lake City, Utah

Trikes to Trails was born two years ago when Bart Gillespie, a Salt Lake City professional mountain biker, wanted a program where his young girls could learn to enjoy mountain biking with their peers.

Registration for this program is open now. The first session starts on June 7th, 2017. REGISTER HERE

The program focuses on introducing young kids ages 6 – 12 to mountain biking. It provides professional coaching in mountain bike skills, cycling safety, trail etiquette and trail maintenance. Our primary focus is to help kids develop an early love for cycling.

  • Mountain bike handling skills are introduced, demonstrated, and implemented in a suitable, safe environment.
  • The Trikes To Trails program gets kids on the pump track, too.
  • So many lessons to be learned in this mountain biking course
  • This is what everyone is working for. Good times on good mountain biking trails for riders of all ages.
  • Mountain biking with kids on single track!

Gear Rush Skills provides a team of trained coaches to teach our riders basic skills such as ready position, shifting, braking, and cornering. We achieve this through parking lot instruction, skill park practice, trail rides, and fun games. Each session will have an opportunity to do trail maintenance project to give back to the community.

This program doesn’t just get kids on bikes. It also demonstrates the importance of trail construction and maintenance.

We offer three once a week sessions in June – July prices ranging from $125 – $230.  This is includes a custom cycling jersey, swag bag, snacks and guaranteed fun! We meet on Wednesday mornings from 9-11:30am in a different location each week including Corner Canyon Trails & Cycle Park, Trailside Park, Park City, Mormon Pioneer Trail and the UOP trails. Participants must have a geared mountain bike with 20” wheels or larger and a helmet.

We don’t want finances to limit a child’s desire to get into mountain biking so we offer a scholarship program, “Rog Rides On”, in memory of Roger Gillespie. As a peach Farmer and avid mountain biker, Roger touched the lives of many people. We are excited to honor Rog by getting more kids on bikes!

Bell Super 2r Helmet Review

Bell Super 2r Helmet Review - Mountain Biking With Kids

UPDATE: Read our review featuring the Bell Super 3r, too.

Our kids have both hit their faces while falling off a mountain bike. A few years ago, we were making them wear their full-face helmets on any ride that was even slightly technically difficult. They hated wearing their hot full face helmets on cross country trails. But I was traumatized by visions of knocked out teeth and fractured jaws inspired by their previous falls.

The Bell Super2R was a great solution for all of us. This helmet covers more of the head than a regular cross-country helmet – extending farther on the back, sides, and forehead. Bell helmets are comfortable and are easily adjustable to fit securely. The 23 large vents keep it much cooler than a traditional full-face helmet.

  • Bell Super 2r Helmet Review - rear clasp being done by 10-year old
  • 10-year old fastening the side clasp of a Bell Super 2r chin bar- mountain biking with kids
  • Accessory mount for Bell Super 2r helmet review - mountain biking with kids

Chinbar Details

We love that the removable chin-bar can easily be secured hydration packs (and can fit inside a small backpack) for the climbing portion of the trail. The bar can snap onto the helmet while you’re still wearing it, but we usually are not in that big of a rush.

There are three lever buckles that secure the chin-bar to the helmet. These latches are easy for the kids to do by themselves. Note that it is possible to close the latches without having them secured to the helmet, so it’s a good idea to give the chin-bar a tug before you start to ride. Once the chin bar is snapped on, the helmet feels very solid.

Where To Buy The Bell Super 3r

Bell Super 3r MIPS for sale 01

Bell Super 3r MIPS available for kids and adults at Backcountry.

Bell Super 3r MIPs for sale - red

Bell Super 3r MIPS available for kids and adults at Jenson USA.

These are affiliate links. When you visit them and make a purchase, we earn a small commission. More here.

There’s a mount on the top of the helmet which is formatted for a GoPro camera. Additionally, we also discovered that some light manufactures also offer adapters to fit this bolt-on connection.

We have had these helmets for over a year. We have not had any problems with durability. Personally, I feel more confident on descents when I have the “face saver” chin bar snapped into place. Luckily we have not had the opportunity to test the ability of the chin-bar to protect the face in a crash yet. Knock on wood. However, the Bell Super2R helmets are certified with CE EN1078 and CPSC standards, so I still feel that this helmet would be much more protective than a half shell in the event of a crash.

Getting The Wheels Off the Ground

Photo of the week - mountain biking with kids

Do your kids jump their bikes? This is a skill that takes a lot of time and practice. It’s best to start small – very small. And, never eclipse your comfort level. This picture was taken at the old Redbull Rampage site near Virgin, Utah.