The racers lined up.
Helmets secured, they planted their feet on the pavement and waited for the signal.
Within moments, two zoomed ahead of the pack. One reached for his mommy, and one stopped to have a meltdown.
This was the Strider Cup Race, where toddlers to preschoolers raced bicycles through an obstacle course Saturday morning in Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth.
Strider, the world’s leading manufacturer of no-pedal balance bikes, sponsors the races around the country. This was the first Strider Cup Race in Texas.
Competition was, at times, fierce.
Take 2-year-old Carter Tate, of Fort Worth. Carter was racing when he paused to splash in the fountain.
“He got a little distracted, but he did a good job,” said his father, Carree Tate.
A couple of lanes over, 2-year-old Hazel Bravo, of McKinney, grew impatient with the course and tried to navigate her own way outside the ropes. Her mother, Irma, directed her to stay in the race.
“You did so good, Hazel,” her mother told her as Hazel held her medal.
Ryan McFarland, CEO and founder of Strider Sports, said the races seek to encourage cycling among young children. Strider bicycles help children to learn balance, lean and steer, eliminating the need for tricycles or training wheels.
“When you get kids active and outdoors, it develops habits that will last a lifetime,” McFarland said. “Too many kids get sucked into video games or just play structured sports. But riding a bike is something you can do every single day, from age 2 to 100.”
Oliver Zuniga, 2, rides his Strider bike almost every day outside and inside his family’s home in Fort Worth.
Moments before the race, Oliver began to cry, but his father, Nathan Zuniga, helped him gain composure, and Oliver raced around the cones and over ramps.
When he crossed the finish line, he spotted his mother, Sadie Murray, and ran for her arms.
“It’s amazing to watch him learn how to ride a bike,” his mother said. “He loves it.”