But before the “We All Ride” group took its inaugural ride Wednesday on the new bike trail, the seven kids and their instructor familiarized themselves with the landscape on foot.
“Once we do this a bunch more, you will get to do the blue trail,” group leader Joe Jankoski said, referring to the longer, tougher bike loop on Coldwater Mountain.
The Anniston kids following him along the milelong “green” trail grinned and murmured to each other.
“Man, that’d be monstrous,” 16-year-old Chris Fantroy said to fellow Anniston High classmate Ki-Jana Byrd. “I like the wilderness.”
Since Jankoski and other leaders within the biking community launched We All Ride a couple of weeks ago, the kids have been brushing up their bike skills on the track and lawns near Carver Community Center. The group was formed as a way to introduce kids at Anniston City schools and in west Anniston neighborhoods to the Coldwater Bike trail system and to encourage them to live healthier lives in the process.
As storm clouds gathered on Wednesday evening, the We All Ride group prepared to take off the proverbial training wheels and cycle around the mountain for the first time. Jankoski explained the basics of the trail etiquette, such as how much space to keep between bikers, reviewed bike safety lessons and assuaged fears about snakes before the bikes — all provided to the group by donations — were unloaded and helmets strapped on.
“We have been practicing at the community center,” 17-year-old Byrd said as he walked along the loop he’d soon ride. “We have had like little races and stuff.”
Marilyn Stansil, the mother of twin Anniston Middle schoolers, said We All Ride has been a wonderful opportunity for her sons. “We wanted to do this, because it was different,” Stansil said. She gestured to her son Stephen, the 12year-old who didn’t want to try the group out at first. “He loved it after the first session.”
After posing for a few pictures at the trailhead, the We All Ride members pedaled to the start of the trail. The excitement was evident in the loud chatter and laughter as, in a line, they began their first ride.
Anniston bike shop owner Patrick Wigley watched as the bright helmets faded into the green of the mountain.
“It’s all about that sparkle in their eyes,” Wigley said.