Big Shark Visits Bike Camp

Big Shark Visits Bike Camp

When your next door neighbor is Forest Park, a bicycle is a must. There are two bike camps at Summer Discovery, for older and younger cyclers, and much of the week is spent in Forest Park. Although we call it bike camp, this experience is focused on the St. Louis landmarks in the Park: visits to The Muny, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum and the St. Louis Zoo.

Deborah White, Co-Director of Extended Day Programs, leads these camps, with the help of 7 college-age counselors for a group of 24 kids. In addition to touring the Muny or visiting the Zoo for the Sea Lion Show, campers learn how to ride safely and navigate bike trails. 

This year, Ms. White decided to expand bike safety to include the care of your bicycle. She tapped Mike Weiss at Big Shark Bicycle Company for advice, and he stepped up with a fantastic, interactive lesson on bike maintenance and repair. It should be noted that Mr. Weiss, owner of Big Shark, is Mike Weiss, FS ’78 – he’s a Forsyth alum. The first sixth grade to graduate from Forsyth was the Class of 1970, so Mr. Weiss was an early graduate of the School.

The older campers rode their bikes from Forsyth School, up Wydown, to Big Bend, and across Clayton Road to Big Shark. “It was a great lesson for the kids,” reports Ms. White. “They learned how to ride along and cross busy streets with stoplights and traffic.”  Mr. Weiss had blocked off part of the lot at Big Shark for Summer Discovery’s bike camp. Mr. Weiss talked to the kids about the correct use of gears, how much air goes in the tires, how often to “tune up” your bike. The kids went into his store for lessons on bike maintenance.

Younger cyclists had the same opportunity, but at Forsyth. It was the hottest day of the summer, so campers rode around campus through sprinklers before heading inside to meet with Mr. Weiss. Using campers’ bikes, Mr. Weiss showed the kids how to gauge tire pressure, pump air into the tires, and repair the bike chain. He fixed and unfixed bikes, and passed the tools to the kids to let them work on the bikes. Hands shot up. Questions were answered. Bikes were fixed by kids. It was a firsthand lesson.

“He is the nicest man in the world,” said Ms. White. “He was so patient and generous with the kids.” The campers loved it. With our new awareness about bike safety, a bike first aid kit – with a tire pressure gauge, air pump & chain repair tools – is now part of every Summer Discovery bike camp, and everyone knows how to use it. Thank you, Mr. Weiss!

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