TRURO – The sun in shining down on the gravel trails, as dust rises through the air. Coming around a blind bend in the forest, a pair of children rip over the dry dirt, battling neck-and-neck to jockey for position.
Lining the trails along the side, parents and kids cheer them on as they approach the finish line. Coming up quickly behind are more racers, one by one finishing the race.
Gathering the next group to the starting line is Darrin Belliveau, the idea man behind Colchester Short Track Cycling. If you ask him where the idea to gather 80-plus children in the woods for an adventurous bike race came from, however, he won’t take credit.
“I stole it,” he laughed, explaining how he borrowed the idea from a group in Halifax.
While the Halifax group only garners about 20 racers, Darrin’s wife, Tina, informs him they’ve surpassed the 80-mark tonight.
“We have fantastic volunteers,” Darrin said. “We promote it through the schools, and really it’s all about fun.”
The Belliveaus run two sessions – a spring and fall– with each week alternating between Victoria Park and the Pat Mahaney Mountain Bike Trail in Bible Hill. The spring session runs for six weeks, while the fall session is cut short to four weeks due to limited daylight.
Sunshine is no issue on this evening, however, as the rays break through the trees in Victoria Park. Darrin stands in the middle of the trail with his Oakleys on, directing traffic to the starting line as he talks about his wife’s involvement.
“She’s the brains,” he said, noting Tina takes care of all registration and stat keeping. “I’m just the guy in the sunglasses.”
After the races, Tina goes home to calculate the results. At the end of each season session, trophies are handed out to the kids who finish at the top of their division. It’s clear, however, trophies don’t dictate the fun.
“It’s a fair bit of work,” she said before pausing midsentence as most spectators turn to look at a rogue toddler in a Batman cape, inching closer towards a mud puddle while looking back daringly at his mother.
Moments before, the miniature Batman came around the bend with the help of his mother and finished his race with an excited smile.
“But it’s more fun for us than anything,” Tina said, finishing her sentence.
The Belliveaus are a cycling family, and decided to bring the activity to the community. With two children interested in racing and BMX riding, it’s a family affair.
“Cycling is a fantastic way to get out with your family and have fun,” Darrin said. “It’s great exercise and it’s easy to do.”
In a region that was the second-most obese in the country in 2012, getting children moving is the target of Colchester Short Track, Tina said.
“The ultimate goal is to get kids active, and get them outdoors. And maybe to get them interested in riding, too.”