One of the greatest traditions in all of sports is players of the Green Bay Packers riding young fan’s bikes to training camp. This decades-old tradition dates back to the days of Vince Lombardi. Young fans would gather outside City Stadium (now Lambeau Field) with their bikes at the ready for players to ride to the neighboring practice fields.
With each new season, ESPN celebrates the start of summer football camps with clips of the players wearing the Packers Green and Gold riding youth bikes, while a young fan walks along side carrying the player’s helmet to and from the practice field, a tradition like no other in football.
My son and I want to share how to participate in the Packers training camp bike ride tradition. Here is our experience.
As a lifelong packer fan, and the father of a Packer fan, I knew we had to experience this firsthand. The night before our visit to Packers Training Camp, I helped my son design a “Packer Training Camp Rookie” sign to ensure he caught the player’s eyes. The morning of, we packed my son’s bike in the car and made the drive to Lambeau Field, arriving around 6:30 am to get his bike in line. We were there about three hours before practice, so we walked around Lambeau and tossed the football in the plaza while waiting for players to emerge from the locker room.
A little after 9:00 am most kids started lining up next to their bikes, and there was a long line of bikes. Around 9:40 am the players began to emerge from the locker room to the excitement of kids and parents alike. The order of your bike and your placement in line was not the most important factor in being selected. Many players walked deep in the line looking for something special that caught their eye.
My son waited patiently but I think both he and I were getting a little nervous that despite our early arrival, he might not be selected. However, I believe our sign and his enthusiasm might have helped. Packer Tackle Alex Light made eye contact with my son and asked if he could ride his bike. I believe my son’s love for the Packers had been solidified prior, but at this moment it was cemented in permanency. The smile on his face, I will not soon forget.
Light talked to him about our Door County vacation, our favorite Door County restaurants, about his career, and a variety of other topics while Peter walked alongside with Light’s helmet in hand. We learned after arriving at the training fields that the players find the same kid and bike for the return trip which was a neat surprise.
We loved the practice experience, especially seeing Aaron Rodgers tossing balls through tires from ridiculous distances. After the return trip to the locker room, Peter was able to get his jersey and sign autographed by several of the players.
Here are our tips for a successful day at Packer’s Training Camp:
- Arrive by 7 am to get the bike placed in line
- Bring a ball to throw to fill the time between arrival and start of practice
- Decorate a sign to catch the attention of players and serves as something to be signed
- Bring a few sharpies for autographs