Member Story – Youth Off-Road Riders – IA

Submitted by member Audrey Wiedemeier, serving at the Iowa City Bike Library.

On the first day of Spring Training for the Youth Off-Road Riders, Kendra, an 8th grader at NW Jr. High, asked Coach Tony, “How long does this program last?”

Tony wasn’t entirely sure what aspect of the newly created youth mountain bike club she was referring to, but answered, “Forever – until you graduate from High School if you want.”

Perhaps she was wondering how many days the training camp lasted or whether they would be able to continue after school is out in May.  One thing is certain – this past week Kendra and eight of her fellow teammates embarked on a journey that will hopefully last a lifetime.

I asked Tony what his hopes are for the team this year. He said, “I hope they enjoy every moment and experience they have during the program, but I mostly hope they become passionate cyclist and enjoy cycling for a lifetime.”

In recent years, grassroots youth cycling clubs across the country have followed efforts to get more kids on bicycles.  Of course, school athletics continue to be
dominated by track, football, etc.  Yet, some kids are getting introduced to the bicycle lifestyle at a young age and all us bicyclists can be thrilled to know that Iowa
City is home to it’s own youth cycling club.

The Youth Off-Road Riders presented by the Neighborhood Centers, provides youth with the coaching and camaraderie that will help them achieve both competitive and non-competitive cycling goals.   Spring Training week focused on developing skills for mountain biking.  Youth Off-Road Riders have their first race scheduled for Chamois Mountain Bike Time Trial June 27th out at Sugar Bottom Trails—a great race for beginner and experienced riders of all ages.

Tony Branch, Coach and Program Coordinator at Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County, started the Youth Off-Road Riders in an effort to introduce kids to his own
newly developed passion for bicycling.  With help of donations from World of Bikes, the Iowa City Bike Library, and Sugar Bottom Bikes, the Youth Off-Road Riders are
off to a killer start.

When asked what was special about this first year, Tony responded: “I think what strikes me about this group is that they are open to trying something new, and they
are extremely excited about being a part of this first year program.” Branch said his vision for this program “would be to have on-competitive and competitive cycling clubs in the ICCSD schools”.

Thanks to the Bike Library mechanics and World of Bikes for donating bicycles, Sugar Bottom Bikes for donating helmets, Donald Baxter for creating a sick logo,
Nick Sobocinski for being such a great coach, Sam Cohen for helping out with bike maintenance skills, and Tony for making it all come together.

Audrey Rose Wiedemeier
Audrey Rose Wiedemeier received her bachelors degree in International Studies with an emphasis in Global Health from the University of Iowa. Previously she has worked for the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, and interned at Washington Parks and People in Washington, DC. Serving as an AmeriCorps member at the Iowa City Bike Library allows her to continue encouraging and supporting people to use bicycles for transportation. She’s committed to learning more about bicycle transportation planning. Through Energy Corps she’ll be working to get more people riding, and helping to inform interested but concerned community members about bicycling as alternative form of transportation. Think globally, bike locally.

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