Santa Ana Bike Rodeo

The Aldea of Santa Ana is a small vibrant community nestled just outside of Antigua, Guatemala. However, unlike it’s big brother Antigua, Santa Ana is not the sort of place that tourists pass through very often. Even with its close proximity to the great town of Antigua, Santa Ana is by comparison to most Antiguan suburbs, a reasonably poor community. It’s 2000 some odd residents however, are of the proudest and happiest Guatemalan’s we’ve met, and despite the local conditions retain an amazing level of civic pride.

The public elementary school in the square next to the cathedral is by any first world standard, out-dated and in a complete state of disrepair. The lights do not work properly and there is no blackboard for the teachers or the students to write on. Student seating and workspace is very limited. The students do not have the adequate basic supplies necessary to promote a real educational environment and facilitate educational growth.

Old Town Outfitters is an outdoor sports center and adventure tour company based in Antigua, Guatemala. We have been openly involved with the community of Santa Ana for nearly one year working with the school and the community to improve the conditions through donations and profits from fundraising efforts.

We bring tourists to Guatemala from all over the world, where basic school supplies, are often the last things in shortage. As a shop we encourage our international clients to bring with them a handful of the hundreds of pens, pencils, erasers, rulers or whatever that seems to clutter their desktops back home. It is these types of things that we take for granted back home, and are in such need here. Our client’s donations are made in their behalf through Old Town Outfitters to the school children of Santa Ana.

In our latest community development efforts we hosted the first Annual Santa Ana Bike Rodeo. Now understandably, a bike rodeo is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of community assistance programs in rural Guatemala. However, that is exactly what took place on the morning of June 6, 2001 at the town square.
Bike rodeos are not events where cowboy clad schoolboy’s show up to wrestle and tame wild, steel stallions. A bike rodeo is an educational bike fair stressing the importance of bike handling skills, safety issues such as how to deal with the local traffic, and the basics of bicycle maintenance. Finally, any good bike rodeo should always finish with bike races complete with prizes for the winners.

After weeks of planning and promoting by Old Town Outfitters the bike rodeo in Santa Ana finally became a reality and a success. Over 200 kids showed up to participate in the events and Instructional demonstrations. We brought with us repair stands, tools, and enough bike repair parts to provide free bike maintenance and instruction to the kids of Santa Ana.

The day’s events were ended in true competitive fashion as we sponsored the first Annual Santa Ana Crit bike race. The racecourse was set around the central park with two laps and the finish line at the cross in front of the church. The top three riders in each category, 5 year olds on up to the older kids at age 14, were given prizes at the finish line. However, everyone who participated in the bike rodeo walked away with big smiles on their faces and felt like winners.
There was fierce competition to be had in all categories. However, the boys and the girls in the 12 to 14 year olds category were by far the most competitive with both first place finishers breezing through the course in record time and placing well ahead of the rest of the competition.

As the nature of things go we of course brought one too many prizes to the Rodeo. So we had one more event to decide who would take home the last of the prizes. The final event of the day was held in the new freshly painted, town coveted, micro football/soccer field with myself, Matt Hartell, tending goal. The first one to score on my 6’5 giant gringo sized frame would win the final prize of the day.

I held off the penalty kick onslaught for as long as my Wilt Chamberlain sized reach and North Carolina trained soccer skills could handle, but a goal was finally scored by a 13 year old up & coming mini-Maradonna. The kids roared as they cheered on their companero who had so decisively beat the giant gringo keeper. Shaking off the defeat the last of the prizes was handed out to my victor and the kids from the public elementary school in the Aldea of Santa Ana, all went back to their classrooms without their blackboards and without their lights.

In conjunction with a generous client of Old Town Outfitters, we are currently planning the installation of proper lighting for one of the school’s classrooms. This unfortunately is only the tip of the iceberg as far as what they need. Any contributions are greatly appreciated and needed. I encourage anyone who is interested to help out the children of Santa Ana to come by and talk with us at the shop, or mail us directly at: