Ride Nation – AusCycling’s participation arm – officially launched its first school-based Bike Immersion Day in Wollongong today as part of the campaign to get 10,000 Illawarra children on bikes over three years.

As part of the UCI Road World Championships Legacy Program, Wollongong is the first city in Australia to trial the one-day bike education program that teaches students in stages two and three bike skills, road safety and basic bike maintenance.

Pleasant Heights Public School became the first of 30 schools to participate in a Ride Nation Bike Immersion Day, with 120 students learning about the UCI Road World Championships that are coming to Wollongong in September and undertaking the program.

AusCycling CEO Marne Fechner said the launch of Ride Nation in Wollongong was a significant milestone for the community and an important step forward for cycling across the country.

“Our ambition is to engage the next generation of bike riders via Ride Nation – from future athletes to club members to recreational riders who might one day take their own families for a bike ride on a weekend,” Ms Fechner said.

“Ride Nation will give these children the skills, awareness and confidence they need to ride safely and independently, which is so important to fostering growth in all aspects of bike riding, particularly for active transport and leisure where we are often sharing the roads and pathways with others.

“Wollongong has an opportunity to lead the way in getting children on bikes for the betterment of their health, the environment and our community by capitalising on the excitement that comes with hosting the UCI Road World Championships.”

NSW Minister for Tourism and Sport Stuart Ayres said the Ride Nation Bike Immersion Day supported the NSW Government’s goal to leave a lasting legacy for the sport in the region.

“While hosting global events like the UCI Road World Championships is important, it is just as important to leave a positive legacy that creates a life-long love for cycling among the region’s children and boosts health and wellbeing,” Mr Ayres said.

“With just over four months until the world’s leading cyclists battle it out for the title of World Champion, programs like this help build excitement throughout the community for the main event.”

Wollongong 2022 CEO Stu Taggart said the Ride Nation program would leave a legacy for the city and region.

“Hosting the 2022 UCI Road World Championships is a transformational moment for the city of Wollongong and we are proud to be part of a culture and behaviour shift around bike riding that will create long term benefit for the entire community,” Mr Taggart said.

“We are working with AusCycling to provide these Bike Immersion Days to schools that are close to the courses where the World Championship racing will occur in September, to help build awareness about the event and the sport, and to give back to these communities that will need to adjust some of their day-to-day activities in the event period.”

For more information about Ride Nation Wollongong: ridenation.com.au/promo/ride-nation-wollongong