Stop at the Truckee Bike Park on any given day and it’s not out of the ordinary to find children as young as 2 or 3 perched on a balance bike, doing their best Fred Flintstone and using their little feet to push their way around the track. Here in Truckee/Tahoe, biking is more than a way to get from point A to point B (see Pedal Power): It is an integral part of our outdoor lifestyle culture. With countless trails nearly right outside your front door, it’s practically a given that in one way or another, biking will find its way into your life.
Whether it’s hitting the trails with breathtaking views of Big Blue or road-riding around the insane hairpin turns by Emerald Bay, cruising along the Truckee from Squaw Valley to Tahoe City or shredding it at the pump track, you will likely find yourself on a bike at some point in time. Recognizing that biking is an essential part of life here in Tahoe, various organizations have ramped up efforts to bring biking into the lives of young ones.
“Introducing a child to biking is like giving them fertilizer for the brain. Just 30 minutes a day of exercise gives the brain so much for [it] in to operate at a higher level,” said Brooks McMullin, executive director of nonprofit Biking for a Better World and cofounder of the Truckee Bike Park. “The bike shows a child a healthy lifestyle that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.”
Truckee/North Tahoe Junior Development Cycling Team
Founded in 2015, TNT, as it is known, is a local nonprofit with the goal of promoting and supporting youth mountain biking in Truckee/North Tahoe area. TNT is all about getting kids out on bikes, exploring trails and the natural environment, hanging with friends, getting in shape, and having a good, productive, and healthy time doing it. The group does this by organizing rides and training, offering coaching support at events, securing funding from sponsors and donors, and involving riders in trail stewardship and advocacy.
TNT offers three programs: The Development (Devo) team is generally for younger riders but is intended to be for any rider building their confidence level. The Sport team is geared toward any rider looking to develop skills, confidence, and endurance. This team is for competent riders who want to adventure and advance but are not necessarily interested in competing. The Elite team is open to riders interested in maintaining a high level of skill and fitness, with the option of racing. Elite members will have coach/equipment support at various local events, and coaches are available to help develop fitness programs.
North Tahoe Boys & Girls Club Mountain Bike Program
The Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe in Kings Beach was presented with 20 new Specialized mountain bikes through a partnership between the Tahoe Fund and The Specialized Foundation. Designed to help children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) concentrate at school, the goal of the Specialized Foundation’s Riding for Focus program is to use cycling as a tool for kids to achieve academic, health, and social successes.
The Boys & Girls Club was also presented with helmets, spare parts, and mountain bike coaching for youths. The bikes will provide kids greater access to a new trail that will be constructed next spring just two blocks from the program center. As part of the program, sponsored by the Reno-Tahoe Audi Cycling Club and local donors, mountain bike instruction will be provided by coach Ryan Solberg and the Truckee North Tahoe Mountain Bike Club. The Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe also plans to offer week-long summer mountain bike camps starting this summer. bgcnlt.org
Biking for a Better World
Tahoe City-based BBW is a nonprofit organization which raises funds and awareness to improve the cycling community in North Lake Tahoe and Truckee, and focuses on strengthening youth programs, trail systems, and local cycling events.
In 2007, founders Jake Spero and Duncan Sisson rode over 15,000 unsupported miles from the Arctic Ocean in Alaska to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. Through the generosity of sponsors, this trip completely funded the building of a school in Nicaragua and launched the Biking for a Better World initiative.
BBW supports the Truckee Bike Park. Open to all ages, the park has a pump track, dirt jumps, and other features that help improve bike-handling skills. Funds raised through the organization are used to maintain the park as well as build new features.
The Little Big Bike Festival and Skills Clinics will take place at the Truckee Bike Park on Sept. 21 and 22. The event caters to all ages, disciplines, and skill levels of mountain biking. The festival features a two-hour group clinic for kids, a women-only clinic, and men’s and women’s amateur and pro dual slalom and dual pump track races. There will be a strider bike jam and jump jam for kids as well as men’s and women’s amateur and pro jump competitions. Proceeds of the event go directly into the Truckee Bike Park. Anyone can help out whenever the park is open by sweeping and keeping it clean. truckeebikepark.org
Woodward Mountain Centers inspire and empower kids to realize that anything is possible. While during the winter months Woodward Tahoe focuses on ski and snowboard training at Boreal Mountain Resort, their year-round indoor facility features skateparks, foam pits, trampolines, a digital media lab, and more. The goal is for every child to have an opportunity to participate, helping them develop friendships, confidence, and independence, all of which will live with them for a lifetime.
One priority area for Woodward is to bring kids financially less fortunate to camp by awarding scholarships to children of households with an income of $75,000 or less. In order for the Camp Woodward experience to impact as many kids as possible, it is requested that applications come from those who have never been to Camp Woodward. Scholarships are also offered to kids for one week during each summer. Woodward’s giving program financial support ranges from partial to full awards of camp tuition and does not include travel to and from camp.
Scholarships are awarded starting Feb. 1 each year. Every application is reviewed based on in-need criteria and notice of award will be made monthly from March 1 through July 31. Scholarships are not available for every week of camp. If awarded a scholarship you will be notified of the sessions available for redemption.
Download and complete a scholarship form, then send it and any additional required documents to the desired Woodward location. campwoodward.com/about-woodward/community/scholarships