The idea for Tuesday was to have a “mob” of cyclists enjoying spring sunshine and delivering books on a trek from the Governor’s Mansion to nearby Bordewich Bray Elementary School, according to Ride for Reading organizer Chelsea Kincheloe, also president of the local nonprofit Muscle Powered.
But winter had a different idea, interrupting the second official day of spring with wet, fat snowflakes, making the road grimy in places and ice-slick in others. No matter. Kincheloe busted out a 10-speed with “gravel” tires. Coordinators of the Western Nevada Safe Routes to School program — Scott Bohemier and Erica Roselius — had mountain bikes. They each sported a fluorescent-green safety jacket and a helmet. And off they went, laden with books.
“I think this is such an exciting event,” Kincheloe said of the Ride for Reading campaign that combines cycling health with books and literacy. “I’m very excited we’re able to bring more books to students and schools and increase access to books.”
Before Tuesday, roughly 2,000 books for elementary school students sat in the Carson City Public Works facility off Butti Way. The books were donated by the literacy nonprofit Spread the Word Nevada. About a fourth of those were delivered to Bordewich Bray, though weather limited bike deliveries.
“We’re getting some books to the kids to support some reading and talk about bike safety with them,” Bohemier said. “And do a little bit on how to keep the bikes in shape and just get that reading out to them.”
Bohemier was at the school earlier in the morning for Nevada Moves Day, which focuses on physical activity. Because of weather, the activities had to be hosted inside, but students still participated. Bohemier relayed how such programs were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said since then, students have been reenergized.
“We’re really seeing the kids want to be part of it,” he said.
Bohemier himself was getting reenergized, having suffered an injury last fall. Tuesday’s snowy bike ride was his first time on a bike since the injury.
“At least we have tread,” he joked about the mountain bike and gravel tires.
At Bordewich Bray, volunteers unloaded books across tables in the multipurpose room. Bohemier addressed assembled students before each child picked out their own book.
“My rule is my kids have to play outside before they play videogames,” Bohemier told students.
He also emphasized proper safety equipment to protect bodies, bones, “and our brains.”
Among the volunteers Tuesday were Carson City Supervisor Lisa Schuette, Mayor Lori Bagwell, and neighborhood resident Katelyn Keyloun.
The parent of a 4-month-year-old, Keyloun expressed admiration for Muscle Powered and interest in growing awareness of safe routes to school. When asked if she’d volunteer again, she said yes.
Fifth-grade teacher Ainihkwa Barr described how she and other teachers often use their own money for class books. The Ride for Reading event provided more options.
“We are pretty much always trying to get more books,” Barr said. “If you can find what they (students) are interested in, you can expand their interest from there.”
Fifth-grade student Haidyn Smith, 11, said she’s a reader and has a mountain bike. When riding, she’s careful to wear her helmet, which has lights on it, she explained.
“It’s exciting to have more books,” she said of the event.
Finley Handelin, 10, is another fifth-grader with a mountain bike. She described her sequined helmet as “fancy.” Besides riding bikes, she likes to read when she’s bored.
“Some can be chapter books or others picture books,” she said.
Classmate Rylan Myler, 10, said biking is more physical, teaching one how to maneuver and get around the city, while reading works out the mind. When he’s not riding his bike to school, Rylan enjoys fantasy and mystery books.
“It (reading) improves your mindset and vocabulary,” he said. “You get smarter as you keep reading.”
More local volunteers are needed for additional Ride for Reading book-drops in May during National Bike Month. Those interested can email Kincheloe at email@example.com.
For information about Spread the Word Nevada, visit https://spreadthewordnevada.org/about-us/.
For information about Safe Routes to School, visit https://www.carson.org/government/departments-g-z/public-works/transportation/western-nevada-safe-routes-to-school.