ECHSMTB Club says, Thank You, MTBR!
People celebrate this time of year for many reasons. In the Northern Hemisphere, for eons, this has been a time to celebrate the bounty of our work, to share it, and give thanks. It is a time to allow our richness to sustain us in revelry, fantasy, and the magic of human warmth, which abides the child in us all. It is a time to be unfettered, to forget our cares for little bit. Most of all, though, it is a time to remember. It is a time to express our goodwill to all those who have moved along life’s path with us. In this case, though, those who have helped us move along our trails.
Our MTBR community is just a click away and, for many of us, as incidental as the newspaper we pick up in the morning. It sits there on our digital porch every day and a simple click takes us to a place where, first hand and better than a periodical, we can share information with people of common interest. And, better yet, over time we come to know and understand and value the people who share that porch.
So it is hardly a secret that on this forum I have shared, with anyone willing to click on my posts, about the work we have done here in the San Francisco Bay Area to build and develop the El Cerrito High School Mountain Bike Club. In the past three seasons much has been done to discover what the heck we were supposed to do to make this work and how to solidify our gains to sustain it. A non-school district funded program developed volunteers, financial strategies, ride programs, insurance, transportation, branding, jerseys that all finally solidified into something very tangible
At advent of our 4th season this fall we were victims of our own success. A Club, which had been designed to be lean and mean at 10 members, was staring at 25 new applicants. Some were kids from the Band with no riding history, some from riding families. Some had bikes, some not. Some could get bikes but many couldn’t or weren’t going to be able to manage the costs involved. Last year, by emptying our parts boxes and with a few community donations we were able to create 3 nice team bikes but we needed to create many more, somehow.
Knowing what I knew about cyclists I knew that there were, in boxes under benches, in closets, in sheds, in garages, perfectly good used parts which all piled together, would make some pretty nice rides. So I presumed upon my relationship in the MTBR community (after asking Gregg) and asked for help. My primary effort was within the Norcal Forum for parts and such. The Norcal Forum came through big time. And, as our program was working very hard to develop new girl mountain bike riders, I shared about Getting Girls Started in the Women’s Lounge. The response was wonderful. Everyday, on my porch were oblong boxes with forks and bars or flat ones of wheels and cranks and regular ones full of components. The Women’s Lounge came forward with a Sponsorship for one of our more challenged girls and encouraged me to set up an account to accept donations at PayPal (Michael@echsmtb.com.) There were people in both forums who networked and kept their ears to the ground for opportunities or worked their own personal connections on our behalf. Clothing, beautiful Kenda Kits, tires, cyclometers from Cat Eye, shoes, gloves, pedals, sox; all that stuff you need to ride.
Within the Club our Dr. Link busted a hump to put things together. It was so cool when we would hit a snag and need a fork, it would show up on my porch the next day as if by magic. I swear; this happened several times. One by one our kids were on bikes and not crappy bikes either. The average bike was somewhere between LX-XT and 26-27.5 pound HTs. They were crisp, effective, and handsome rides. Some of the rides were so nice, XTR and sub 26 lbs that they went to more advanced riders and they gave their former rides to new riders. In the end we put 6 Bone Soup bikes under riders this fall. Our Club, now numbering 28 mounted and outfitted riders, has a total of 11 riders on Team Bikes created, one way or another, through these methods. And most of these will remain a permanent part of our fleet to maintained and improved through the seasons.
I spent a fair amount of time traveling around our area to pick up donations, talking with donors over the phone and via email. What I found was the enormous general support and the respect this community has for the work that we do to develop young mountain bike riders and racers. This disposition came not only from donors but also from well-wishers or people with ideas and people just curious about how we make this work. It came from people all over the country and around the world. And it taught me something; the spirit of cycling is a very pervasive thing and it draws its power, not just from volunteers and donors but also from every rider who shows up at the trailhead to create this two-wheeled joy.
I guess what I am trying to get to is a thank you, but there is not enough room here to express all that means. What I am also trying to get to is a way to thank all our contributors. I have memories and lists and names but I’m not going to publish those. Everyone knows who they are. Perhaps you will all accept this: there is no picture of you guys and gals on the podium for the work you have done. Let’s save that for he kids. Yet know in your hearts that you have done a great deal to get them to the Starting Line and that if they stand on the Podium or succeed to their personal best that you have been an enormous part of that.
And I make a promise to you all. These kids will know what this sort of giving means; this is a huge part of the way we believe things should be. Thank you.
Ride well to ride better tomorrow.
Michael Mejia (aka Berkeley Mike)
El Cerrito High school Mountain Bike Club
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