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Kids given 80 bikes at CamelBak event in Petaluma

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Little kids dressed in bright summer clothes giggled with joy as they rode their sparkling new bikes around a makeshift track Tuesday at CamelBak’s Petaluma headquarters.

The bike giveaway and kids’ fair was put on by CamelBak, Strider bikes and Bell helmets, and about 200 people — kids and parents — showed up to take part in the afternoon of fun.

In all, some 80 bikes were given away to the youngsters, who flitted back and forth among craft tables, lawn games and the race track as parents watched.

Joe Locke, 28, and his wife Elisa Locke, 29, were there with their two children, Cylas, 5, and Evyan, 1. Cylas, rocking a helmet modeled after Star Wars character BB-8, appeared a little blasé about the Strider bike, which has no pedals and instead is meant to help teach kids to balance before graduating to real bicycles. Cylas, you see, is well beyond training wheels. Nonetheless, he took off around the track, joining other kids his age as his 1-year-old sister looked on from Daddy’s arms. Someday, Joe Locke said, the bike would go to Evyan.

Leilani Clark, 42, was there with her daughter, Gabby Law, 3, who chose a red bike and a black helmet with purple designs.

The two live in Santa Rosa.

“Free bike and a free helmet?” said Clark, laughing. “I’m like, yeah!”

Fifty of the bikes were pre-awarded to the Sonoma County Bike Coalition and the Moms of Petaluma group, members of which could pick up their new toys at the party, and another 30 were handed out during a raffle.

Quinn Warfield, 3, of Petaluma chose a bright pink bike and a pink helmet to match, but she appeared more excited by the prospect of getting her face painted than racing her new bike.

“(The bikes) just help kids learn how to ride a bike, so these they can do themselves — they can use their own feet,” said Quinn’s mom Michelle Gottlieb, 36. “And my friend’s son has motor coordination problems, so they help kids who need a little extra help.”

These kinds of events really allow the company to circle back to its roots, said Kerri Tuuri, VP of Human Resources at CamelBak.

“The first CamelBak was invented for a bike race in Texas,” Tuuri said of the company’s hydration systems. “With the bike industry in our heritage, it’s exciting for us to see people at a very young age get on bikes.”

Strider reached out to CamelBak to organize the event first, and because CamelBak is owned by the same company that owns Bell helmets, the partnership seemed obvious, Tuuri said.

“It was just fun,” she said. “We had a lot of employees that I wouldn’t expect that just came down and pitched in, and I really enjoyed seeing the joy on children’s faces as they were riding bikes. Those are our future bike enthusiasts!”

This was the first year the partnership has taken place, but Tuuri said it wasn’t a stretch to say it’s the kind of event that might happen again.

You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 521-5205 or christi.warren@pressdemocrat.com.

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